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Desert Companion

At first bite: Park on Fremont

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Photo credit: Beverly Poppe

Hops, scotch and hopscotch. With the arrival of Park on Fremont, you can enjoy all three under one roof. Downtown’s first gastropub, which opened at the end of March, is the latest addition to the ever-changing Fremont East district. It also arrives hot on the heels of its nearby sister establishment, Commonwealth.

But if Commonwealth (as well as its clandestine counterpart The Laundry Room) is designed for well-behaved adults, Park on Fremont encourages you to unleash your inner child. Here, Las Vegas’ adult playground theme is interpreted in the most literal sense. A tile hopscotch board is embedded into the cobblestone patio floor, a see-saw sits in a secret smoking section and whimsical objects — including a life-sized Cinderella carriage—are randomly placed throughout the space to provide a Wonderland-like atmosphere.

While the hyper-styled décor straddles a fine line between beautiful and contrived, a menu of simple comfort food is playful and anything but pretentious. Fried chicken, crusted with crushed Cap’n Crunch cereal, is sandwiched between two waffles for a fantastic hand-held gut bomb. Grilled cheese comes in two forms: an unadorned, child-friendly version and a gussied-up interpretation made with Brie, Serrano ham and an heirloom tomato slice. Even French fries are treated to an unexpected twist. Swipe them through a pool of ketchup and you’ll notice a blast of heat from the addition of Sriracha. (Unfortunately, a gimmicky Philly cheesesteak topped with macaroni and cheese was less successful — both the pasta and roll were heavy and bland.)

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On the bright side, they’ll serve as a sponge for all of the drinks you can expect to knock back. Hangover victims should look no further than The Derby Breakfast Club — a Bloody Mary with bacon-infused rye, bacon strips and a pickled hard-boiled egg — for an unforgettable hair of the dog.  And a clever mix-and-match beer and shot menu appeals to every palate, from the Jäger-chugging college kid to the Fernet Branca-sipping food snob.

You can also just settle for a beer. If you don’t know your Old Milwaukee from your Old Speckled Hen, any of the preciously dressed servers can help you pick from more than a hundred selections. Because even if you want to revive childhood memories over house-made tater tots and a game of hopscotch, it’s better to leave the juice box in the past. 

Park on Fremont 500 E. Fremont St., 798-7000, parkonfremont.com // Daily 11a-3a

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