January 21, 2020 AccessVegas.com Insider Vibe

Newkirk’s Notes

Access Vegas Founder Ted NewkirkHello From Las Vegas! – While we sit here and watch snow on TV in places ranging from the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, and even Texas, we’re enjoying seasonal temperatures of near 60F with plenty of sunshine.

This is good, because as long as the weather cooperates, arguably the biggest and best Superbowl watch in town is downtown at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center (a full city block directly behind the Four Queens). Owned and run by Derek Stevens (The D, Golden Gate, Circa), he’s a big sports fan and knows how to do it right.

Admission is free to the general public, but if you want to reserve a table or a “man cave”, supply is getting low. Plus, if you are roaming, all of Fremont Street will be a massive party during and after the game!

Going, Going, Sold – MGM Resorts has sold the dirt and buildings which comprise MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay. What does that mean to you? Nothing. MGM will continue to operate the resorts. This plus the past two years of layoffs and “nickel-and-diming” increases have been an effort to shore up their shareholder value.

Long term? Who knows! The are now renting (leasing) the buildings. If a recession hits them fairly hard and they can’t make those payments, we may see some shake-up. The “buyer” was Blackstone Group, which already owns Cosmo and owns all but 5% of Bellagio. However. MGM maintained just slightly over 50% ownership in the last two sales.

I’m not seeing a particularly great future for MGM Resorts. Especially if Eldorado (Caesars) starts to get more aggressive on turning back the clock on some of the nickel-and-diming, bad table game rules, paid parking, and similar “customer unfriendly” choices which MGM pioneered here.

Our “Secret” Route Is Paying Off – We recently told you about a best-kept secret route between Las Vegas and Southern California. It adds 40 miles to the trip, but on the busy weekends when I-15 turns into a parking lot, the route we noted (go back a couple of issues in the archives) gives you non-stop smooth sailing, and a quicker trip. Once again, don’t take my word for it:

In addition, a police chase which ended in that area with the suspect being shot recently closed the freeway for 20 hours.

Bummer that those thousands of people are not our members! They would have been home two hours sooner.

More Best Of Las Vegas – We’re continuing going through some of the Review-Journal’s Best Of Las Vegas picks (as voted by readers) and doing some critiquing as to better either help you decide if something is for you, or simply fill you in on something you may not be aware of!

I won’t be running through the Top 3 in each category. Instead, I’ll take the liberty of highlighting and commenting on the picks which most pertain to our visitors.

Fast Casual – Shaq’s “Big Chicken” could be passed off as a celeb gimmick. But, it isn’t. This chicken joint, with a full bar, is worth the stop. Note: I said “Worth the stop”, not “worth the trip”. It sits across from (what used to be) the Hard Rock Hotel. My advice? If you are all checked out and really done gambling and have some time to kill before you need to be at the airport, make this your lunch/dinner stop.

Rachel’s Kitchen is a local fave that has seven locations around the Las Vegas Valley. The one you would care about is in the Ogden condo tower downtown. Finding it is simple. Get to Fremont Street and Las Vegas Blvd. Walk north 1/2 block. Look to your right!

Breakfast and lunch (no dinner service) lets you go healthy with juices and wraps and such. However, they have no shortage of comfort food (pasta, burgers, great sandwiches, even grilled cheese for that hangover).

Cheap EatsEllis Island is no stranger to our long-time members. I probably bring it up 2-3 times per year, and with good measure. Imagine a friendly, locals casino (in terms of food prices, table limits), a brewpub on site (good beer and a great price) and more. Inside, you’ll find a coffee shop with a sub-$10 complete steak dinner that should cost twice the price, Metro Pizza (long time locals fave), BBQ, Mexican, and their newly opened “Front Yard” beer garden.

Plus, it sits right behind Bally’s on Koval Lane. To put it in perspective: The walk from the (pay to park) MGM Grand’s parking garage (at its farthest), to The Strip, is basically the same distance from Cromwell to Ellis Island. You are out of excuses now!

Owned by the same people who (now) own The Strat and something like 60 PT’s Pubs around Las Vegas, Arizona Charlie’s (especially the west side location) is a step back in time. All the way around! Darker, older casino, really low limits, and a coffee shop with menu pricing that looks like the have not changed what they are charging for about 20 years.

Note: Not for the Wynn/Bellagio/Cosmo crowd, that’s for sure!

Chinese Food – Adjacent to the Las Vegas Strip, sits Chinatown. (Head west on Spring Mountain Road from Treasure Island and drive 5 minutes). Interestingly enough, no Chinatown restaurants made the Top 3!

WuHu Noodle at The Silverton topped the list. While a fine locals casino, I can’t really think of a reason to send you to The Silverton.

Ping Pang Pong at Gold Coast came in second. And, deservedly so. We have a significant Asian and Pacific Rim population west of The Strip in that area. And, to keep their gambling dollar, they have to keep them happy and on the premises!

Plus, situated between Rio and Palms, you actually have a reason to head over that way and wander your way through the three properties noted. With Ping Pang Pong, you’ll find authentic food, great atmosphere, and priced right.

On the flip side of your wallet, Mott 32 at The Venetian rounded out the readers picks. As The Venetian caters to very wealthy Asian gamblers, they can’t slouch in this department. (Granted, The Venetian is a top-end resort and doesn’t slouch at just about anything). So, if high-end Asian and a “let’s set my credit card on fire” combo works for you, there you go.

Hope you are enjoying this issue!


Las Vegas Shows

KÀ is a story of adventure and conflict, but the real battle is against gravity. Cirque du Soleil’s ambitious production at the MGM Grand unfolds almost entirely on a levitating stage that tilts, turns and, at times, stands vertically upright.

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Book Now! Click to Save up to $65 per ticket!

Members: Read Ted’s Take on this story, and add your own comment or question for us

Las Vegas Dining

Three new restaurants at Wynn Las Vegas. A revamped restaurant from Wolfgang Puck. A cake vending machine from Buddy Valastro. A Japanese restaurant from Gordon Ramsay. Sliders from David Chang. All make up the new dining landscape of Las Vegas when they open in 2020.

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Members: Read Ted’s Take on this story, and add your own comment or question for us

Las Vegas Hotels

Already known for its iconic light beam, the Luxor has added an extra touch to its famous light show. According to a spokeswoman for MGM Resorts, the property started running a new LED light program on Dec. 19.

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Members: Read Ted’s Take on this story, and add your own comment or question for us

Las Vegas Tours And Attractions

Planning for your next trip to Las Vegas? That’s good. You might have already experienced the information overload and indecisiveness that accompanies the Vegas traveling bug. It’s normally a common phenomenon among many vacationers, taking into account the million and one things that Las Vegas offers.

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Members Mania

I promised to post a review of the club room at Golden Nugget. We paid $140/night for two nights, which included check in at VIP, no resort fees (but resort-fee amenities), and line passes for restaurants. We checked in on 6/28 mid-afternoon. We had no problems checking in at VIP. We were in room 1623 on the 16th floor of the gold tower. We had to use our room key to access the floor as it is private.

Click to watch video

In the elevator lobby they offer coffee and fruit in the mornings and fruit-flavored water and snacks in the afternoon. The room looked just like the photos on their website and was more spacious than I expected. We overlooked the pool area and downtown. Although there were earplugs on both nightstands, we never actually needed them — it was really quiet. We liked the room, but it is a very dark décor, so others might not.

Click to watch video

The bathroom at first glance was great! There were two sinks, which is rare, and robes and slippers in the closet. But the faucets came out to the middle of the sinks, really leaving very little room to actually use the sink. It was very difficult to wash my face as I had about 3 inches of space to work with. And the shower was terribly planned. The faucet and shower-head were on the far wall (next to the toilet). Only the shower door closest to the bathroom door opens and it opens out.

Click to watch video

So you actually had to step into the shower under the shower head to turn on the water. It was really awkward and not user-friendly at all. If the doors slid open, it would be much easier. But the amenities were nice. I’ve never used such thick towels in my life!

Click to watch video

The first night we went to the Chart House for their happy hour. I would highly recommend this! They offer a good selection of appetizers for $5-$8. They were plenty for two to share and were very good. They also offer a selection of cocktails, beer, wine, and spirits for $3-$7 each. The drinks were good sized and not stingy on the booze. This happy hour was very well attended & actually had a small line of people waiting for a seat.

We had good luck gambling here and won a decent jackpot, so we went to Vic and Anthony’s Steakhouse the second night for dinner. This was old school Vegas – dark décor and dimly lit. The food was delicious but pricey, which we expected. We had breakfast at Claim Jumper, which is their 24-hour restaurant, and a small-plates lunch at Cadillac Mexican Kitchen, which we really liked.

Overall, we were very pleasantly surprised. Normally we spend an evening downtown but have never stayed there. We would definitely consider staying again.

Holly Haskins


Ted Responds:

Thanks so much for the great report! As much as we tout downtown for the better food and drink prices, better gambling and similar, I do want to emphasize that some may find doing an entire trip downtown could feel limiting.

Make sure to really stretch your wings a bit. Main Street Station, The Cal, and Downtown Grand are a block off of Fremont Street, and easy to overlook. Especially with Circa construction and more Downtown Grand construction going on. El Cortez and East Fremont need to play a part of your visit. Familiarize yourself with Container Park and also pull out your fave map app/site and type in “restaurants” when you are in the vicinity of El Cortez. Some great gems are a block or two just off Fremont in that area.

Make sure you get all the way down to Atomic Liquors, the oldest bar in town. Do NOT go farther east than that. It gets questionable and there isn’t anything to see!

Also, a downtown stay would be a good time to avail yourself of the Arts District. This is a local’s “best kept secret” that all of the out-of-town bloggers and podcasters will be touting as awesome. Like, in two years. (You are ALWAYS ahead of the curve with us).

The arts district essentially sits between Las Vegas Blvd. and Main Street, in the 3-4 blocks both north and south of Charleston, Blvd. Let us suggest Rebar (antiques and drinks) or Velveteen Rabbit for drinks, and then Esther’s Kitchen or Casa Don Juan for dinner. Since you’ll be surrounded by locals who know that area, ask for any suggestions on what else to do or see in Arts District and you’ll have no shortage of awesome knowledge.

Plus, the prices are right. Casa Don Juan has a 2 person dinner special for $19.99. No, not each. I mean, for TWO of you. Draft beer starts at $3 and wine/well drinks and cocktails $4 at Rebar. We do suggest Ubering the 1.5 miles from Fremont Street simply because the area between Arts District and Fremont is still pretty so-so. However, you’ll more than save your Uber fare with the locals-friendly prices we just exampled!

We have answers to your Vegas questions!

But, you have to ask the questions.

Email us at [email protected], and let us know, what YOU want to know!

Las Vegas Sports

The highly anticipated Feb. 22 rematch between heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder and lineal champion Tyson Fury is now official, with a site deal complete and tickets ready to go on sale on Saturday.

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Book Now! Wilder vs. Fury II Tickets!

Las Vegas Gambling

QUESTION: My wife pointed out something you wrote about the slots, that a reel could have nine 7s and one lemon, but that the programming could make the lemon come up 90% of the time. It was about three-reel slots, but we were wondering, do video slots work the same way?

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Members: Read Ted’s Take on this story, and add your own comment or question for us

Other Las Vegas News

What We’re Watching!
Vegas Videos You’ll Enjoy

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Peppermill Restaurant Las Vegas – CLASSIC Vegas Diner!

(Producer’s Notes) Since the 1970s, the Peppermill has kept Las Vegas well fed with its oversized breakfast plates and classic diner food.

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Walking Thru Luxor Las Vegas & Buffet Review

(Producer’s Notes) Walk with us and explore the Luxor Hotel & Casino located in Las Vegas. We did stop by the buffet. This was recorded on Wednesday Dec 12, 2018 around 8PM.

Click to watch video
Magician Hans Klok Dazzles at Excalibur Las Vegas

Hans Klok has dazzled audiences with his illusions and sleight of hand the world over.

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Fremont Street Experience All-New Visuals

(Producers Notes) The massive LED screen at Fremont Street Experience has undergone a $32 million upgrade, but that’s not all. There’s all new visual content in the works, to be officially unveiled on New Year’s Eve.

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January 21, 2020 ISSN: 1529-2770 About Us   Privacy Policy
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