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The Dillinger Food and Drinkery

The Dillinger Food and Drinkery

Our Favorite Bars

Desert Companion

To open this feature, we’ll defer to the wit and wisdom of none other than Oscar Wilde, who famously wrote, “I love this bar/ It’s my kind of place/ Just walkin’ through the front door/ Puts a big smile on my face.” What follows is not an exhaustive list of happy hours or hot mixology destinations. Rather, it’s fervid scribblings on our unapologetically personal favorites when it comes to drinking. Who are we? Authoritative lushes, apparently. Cheers!

 

The Dillinger Food and Drinkery

1224 Arizona St., Boulder City, 702-293-4001, thedillinger.com

Thankfully, the namesake-gangster theme at The Dillinger, in Boulder City, is pretty understated. Much more than the current wall sculpture, shotgun door handles, and scattering of framed images would seem way too precious in this small space. And that would be a shame, because the casual atmosphere — kept lively by the servers’ precise mix of efficiency and personality — is almost as much of a draw as the food. Almost. The burgers come fancy: The Baby Face Nelson includes fig marmalade, and the Yakuza is topped with “a secret Asian sauce” that’s “so secret we’re not even sure what it is.” This is no secret: the Frickin’ Pickle appetizer, a pickle, wrapped in ham and cheese, and deep-fried in wonton dough. Worth doing time for. Afterward, stay for live music, or stroll Boulder City’s unbearably quaint downtown. SD

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Beauty & Essex

In The Cosmopolitan, 702-737-0707

There are numerous pawn store-centric drinking experiences to be had in Las Vegas — of varying levels of enjoyment, to be sure. But surely the elaborate, retro lobby of the super-sultry and very cool Beauty & Essex in The Cosmopolitan offers the most tony and eye-pleasing secondhand retail setting. And surely the tastiest drinks, too, beyond the inner sanctum door. Sexy and alluring to the max, but still friendly, this Strip destination proffers sippable gems such as the Pink Panther with herbaceous Botanist gin, elderflower-based St-Germain, and pink peppercorn syrup under golden-hued, down-low lighting. GT

 

Huntridge Tavern

1116 E. Charleston Blvd., 702-384-7377

Sometimes you want to go where not everybody knows your name. Sure, some of them do, but most of them don’t know and don’t care, which is why both Anthony Bourdain and Exene Cervenka can drink here undisturbed. The Huntridge’s velvet wallpaper, faded Budweiser regalia, and AM/FM sound system add to the low-fi, low-key atmosphere— not to mention that you can imbibe the most top-shelf of liquors here for the price of a domestic beer on the Strip. It’s not always mellow — bands, DJs and open-mic nights pop up on weekends — but, for the most part, the HT is where you can hunker down with a glass and hide from the world, even if only for an afternoon. LTR

 

Vamp’d

6750 W. Sahara Ave., 702-220-8849, vampdvegas.com

Grow up in Las Vegas? Then you know Vamp’d. It’s Moby Grape, Paradise Alley, and the Rainbow Bar & Grill, all mashed up into a delicious phantasmagoria of hairspray, tight jeans, eyeliner, and guitar riffs. Sure, it’s all big hair and leather pants, but there are girls, girls, girls here, too; they’re the ones with the bustiers and the blue eye shadow. But get past the Sunset Strippiness of it all (or embrace it, as I do), and you’ll discover a legit live music venue with perhaps the best off-Strip sound system in the city. The roster is usually tribute bands of the best kind (Mojo Risin’, Petty & The Heartshakers, Sin City Sinners), but I love when owner/Las Vegas native/former late-night movie host Count Cool Rider/Counting Cars star Danny Koker’s band Count’s 77 takes the stage. Crank it up, pass the chicken fingers, and raise a fist, dude! JPR

 

Sporting Life Bar

7770 S. Jones Blvd., 702-331-4647

Don’t get me going about the small-plate pork belly at Sporting Life Bar, or about the creamy polenta it’s served in a puddle of. Or the bacon-wrapped dates. And you really don’t want me rhapsodizing about the 50-cent deviled eggs — we’d be here all day. (And what a tasty day that would be.) Suffice to say that amid the many five-foot TV screens — 24, to be exact — ideal for sports watching, and the plentiful homey touches — bars and tabletops made of reclaimed wood from old barns and such — and a wide-ranging beer and cocktail menu, the food more than holds its own as a reason to schlep out to Jones and Robindale on game day (especially if you’re an Ohio State University fan). If only it were a Denver Broncos bar, it’d be perfect. SD

 

Other MamaOther Mama

3655 S. Durango Drive, 702-463-8382, othermamalv.com

If there are more inventive craft cocktails shaken and poured west of Rainbow Boulevard beyond Other Mama, I’m buying the next round. Luckily for me, owner-chef Dan Krohmer’s seafood temple has amazing mixology to match its impeccable oysters, ceviche, and sashimi. The menu features evocative, old-timey lady names for its drinks, like the spicy Geraldine with bourbon, cherries, grilled pineapple, bitters, and togarashi; the punchy Rosie with gin, Lillet, framboise, and grapefruit; and the perfumed Billy Joe with gin, maraschino liqueur, cucumber, lime, and rose water. I like to scootch out of my day job a bit early on Friday afternoons now and then to stop by Other Mama for happy hour, as it’s halfway between my office and domicile. (Note: They literally mean one hour, 5-6 p.m.) GT

 

McMullan’s

4650 W. Tropicana Ave., 702-247-7000, mcmullansirishpub.com

From Poughkeepsie to Pakistan, the world is full of “Irish” pubs. Of course Las Vegas has more than its share, but the only one that really gives a taste of the Auld Sod is McMullan’s — and we don’t just mean those perfectly poured pints of Guinness. The McMullan family opened their first bar in Ireland more than 100 years ago before moving to this side of the pond and opening McMullan’s. Those news clippings, tea tins, boxing posters? Not bought in bulk at Pubs-R-Us, but treasured family heirlooms from the old country. No wonder your beer tastes better here. LTR

 

Herbs and Rye

3713 W. Sahara Ave., 702-982-8036, herbsandrye.com

Don’t let an unimpressive exterior discourage you from stepping into Sin City’s best craft cocktail bar with a side of beef. Once home to the Ruvo family’s Venetian Ristorante, Nectaly Mendoza’s Herbs and Rye is well on its way to earning legendary status of its own. Credit a superstar roster of surprisingly quick and friendly bartenders for the standout cocktails, and Vegas native Nectaly’s knack for forging a fantastic joint that’s at once classic and cool. Boasting a dark, chophouse feel, a soundtrack of swing and soul, and a cocktail menu spanning decades, this is one of the few spots that appeals to both the old guard and the young cats. JPR

Sep 27, 2016

Lift your spirits

Oh La La French Bistro

2120 N. Rampart Blvd., 702-222-3522, ohlalafrenchbistro.com

A French restaurant located next to a Starbucks on a six-lane suburban Las Vegas street corner? Sounds like something Jean Baudrillard would have loved about our hyper-real Mojave Metropolis. But Oh La La has authentic cred, too: Started by San Francisco restaurateurs Richard Terzaghi and Nicolas Sillac, Oh La La hosts frequent happy hours and wine-tastings for oenophiles. So let’s toss back a few glasses of Pinot Noir from the Old Country in this snug and stylish refuge in the Arrondissement Summerlin. GT

Moon Doggies

3240 S. Arville St. #F, 702-368-4180

Drinking cities are notorious for neighborhood dives like Moon Doggies. So what if its vaguely surfer vibe chills 277 miles from any tasty waves? Who cares if they screen all the Bills games when New Era Field is across the map? Just go with it. Hot outside? Moon Doggies boasts enough ceiling fans for liftoff. Thirsty? A full bar, natch, plus an updated beer tap. Hungry? Some say the city’s top pizza and wings fly directly into the bar from the Naked City window. And somehow, the internet jukebox always seems to be streaming Social D or Agent Orange (well, when it’s not “Eastbound And Down” or “Friends In Low Places”). This is such a regulars’ joint that the bartenders host themed birthday parties for ’em. Thankfully, they’re a friendly lot: We’ve met third-generation Las Vegans here, and so many graduates of the nearby Clark High School it was almost a class reunion. JPR

Boteco

9500 S. Eastern Ave. #170, 702-790-2323, botecolv.com

Hendertucky no more! More like Winederson. Over the past few years, the third-largest city in Nevada has made an impressive mark on the Mojave Desert drinking map, especially with pretty, quality spots like Boteco, named after the simple, unpretentious Brazilian pubs that focus on good food and drink at affordable prices. Stop in and relax with a glass of housemade sangria or a zippy ginger-Cognac mojito — all with real imported wines, not mixes. GT

 

Double Down

Double Down

4640 Paradise Road, 702-791-5775, doubledownsaloon.com

Were it not for the Double Down Saloon, I probably would not live in Las Vegas. It’s true. When I used to just visit this crazy town back in the late ’90s, the Double Down was my home away from home, the first place I hit when I got in and the last place I went before I left. I recall walking in at 7 a.m. for a pre-flight cocktail, to be greeted by a drunk punk pointing at me, shouting, “The last thing I’m gonna do tonight is buy her a drink!” “You mean the first thing today,” deadpanned Ian the bartender, the only other person present.

If losing track of time is a sport in this town, the Double Down is where we train our Olympic team. You walk in for one and realize it’s three hours later, or six hours later. Or you go to the Double, leave, come back, leave, come back, like a moth around a porchlight. When I moved to Las Vegas, I knew no one, and the Double Down was where I made friends, got laid, got up to mischief. It was the first place in this city where people knew me.

But the days and years do pass. The Double Down will turn 25 in November — it’s become a Travel Channel-sanctioned tourist stop, many of the bartenders have become parents, I’ve become, well, old. The days of “Topless only on the pony!” (don’t ask), double-dildo pranks (don’t ask), and pig’s heads in the bathroom toilets (no, really, don’t ask) are in the past, but things can still get crazy. And this is still where I listen to loud music, drink greyhounds, stay longer than I intended, and feel like I’m home. LTR

 

German-American Social Club

1110 E. Lake Mead Blvd., 702-649-8503

Embrace the anachronism. A small, dollhouse-like chalet, the German American Social Club sticks out amid the gas stations and fast-food joints on Lake Mead Boulevard. Inside, white walls, wood beams, and German flags are the perfect setting for beer, comfort food, and the occasional accordion player. Tuesdays are jazz nights, with old-school Strip players blowing out some swinging classics, but other evenings might feature traditional German music, big bands, or pop and rock oldies. Other nights, it’s just chilling out with Pinochle and a potluck dinner. Las Vegas Boulevard may be only 100 yards west, but the Strip and its EDM bottle-service pleasures could not be further away. LTR

 

Golden Tiki

3939 Spring Mountain Road, 702-222-3196, thegoldentiki.com

C’mon baby, let me take you where the action is! And, even at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday, the Golden Tiki delivers sensory overload: The velvet paintings, the celebrity shrunken heads, the loquacious pirate skeleton, the hula videos, the Mai Tais. As the evening wears on, take in the burlesque queen cocktail waitresses, the tableside magic acts, perhaps a surf band or a jazz combo. Or get in on the act, as you dance to the DJ, cheer on the live tiki carving or step up to the punk-rock karaoke mic. LTR

 

Oak and Ivy

Oak & Ivy

707 Fremont St., 702-553-2549, oakandivy.com

Whiskey drinks reign supreme at tiny Oak & Ivy, the best yet start-up-and-stick-around endeavor to populate Downtown’s ambitious Container Park. And by whiskey, I mean a wide range of top-notch firewaters from across the globe are served for two-fingers of sipping, plus adapted classics like the Angel’s Envy Manhattan with choice Carpano Antica for the vermouth quotient. Rare craft beers are poured, too. GT

Prosecco

8878 S. Eastern Ave. #104, 702-776-7772, proseccolasvegas.com

Cheers to more Henderson in our Southern Nevada drinking landscape — with Italian bubbles, no less. Located in an immense strip mall complex (of course), Prosecco Fresh Italian Kitchen brings plenty of la dolce vita effervescence to the corner of Eastern Avenue and Pebble Road. Pop in for glinting glasses of sparkling pours from the Veneto and other viticultural regions. Beyond the bubbles, Prosecco is a full restaurant, too, serving everything from housemade pastas to wood-fired pizzas. GT

 

Bootlegger

7700 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-736-4939, bootleggerlasvegas.com

With origins reaching back to 1949, the Bootlegger flaunts its status as a faithful fixture in a city built almost exclusively on the cult of new. Sure, the building is newish, but the vibe is definitely old school: 24/7 food, booze, and gambling. Visit almost any night before 10 p.m., and you’ll stumble into live music in the classic casino lounge vernacular: Jazz, a piano, a chanteuse. Why not add a gin martini and get into the groove? I like Mondays, when a collection of classic Vegas characters — Strip entertainers, gamblers, guys, and dolls, each impossibly tan — takes over the joint for Kelly Clinton’s Karaoke. Hint: You won’t hear “Don’t Stop Believin’.” JPR

 

Pioneer Saloon

In Goodsprings, 310 NV-161, 702-874-9362

In these times, when it seems that there is no corner of the world left untouched by the slithering tentacles of urban sprawl, it’s reassuring to know that they’ll never quite reach the Pioneer Saloon. There will be no chillstep or craft cocktails or Millennial Pink here — just classic rock, whiskey shots, and bullet holes in the walls left from century-old gunfights. Built with the best materials Sears had to offer, the Pioneer has poured ’em cold for miners, bikers, and even Clark Gable since 1913. So, flee the LED and the EDM for the old school of the Pioneer. Oh, and watch out for the ghosts … LTR

 

Mandarin Bar

At CityCenter, 888-881-9367

The refined but welcoming Mandarin Bar in the elegant Mandarin Oriental at CityCenter offers discriminating imbibers one of the most stunning views in town. Perched with floor-to-ceiling windows on the 23rd floor of the hotel over the glittering Strip, this gorgeous aerie features advanced mixology, like the signature Golden Leaf — Hendrick’s gin, Aperol, muddled mandarin oranges, pineapple and lime juices, and a dash of simple syrup. GT

 

Downtown Cocktail Room

111 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-880-3696, downtowncocktailroom.com

Looking to trace the beginnings of modern craft mixology in Las Vegas? Definite props go to the one-and-only Downtown Cocktail Room. Celebrating a decade of serving advanced cocktail creations in its smooth, nocturnal room, DCR set the stage for many bars to follow, especially for local joints. The best way to take in the lounge’s snazzy vibe is with a classic absinthe service. Select your favorite brand of la fée verte, and watch it drip into cold water with a hypnotic, opalescent louche swirl. The night just took a different turn. GT

 

T-Bones Chophouse

In the Red Rock, 11011 W. Charleston Blvd., 702-797-7576

Maybe because it’s been around for more than a decade, the handsome central bar at T-Bones Chophouse at Red Rock Resort is something of an afterthought for local cocktail aficionados. That’s a shame, as it’s quite possibly the most stunning setting west of the Strip for tossing back a half-price Dirty Martini with Belvedere vodka, brine, and blue cheese-stuffed olives during happy hour. Or perhaps something less burly, like a honey-kissed Bee’s Knees or a civilized Old Fashioned. Plus, the patio is perfect for mild October evenings, and there’s live music most nights in a mellow vein. GT

 

Badlands

953 E. Sahara Ave. #22B, 702-792-9262, badlands-saloon.com

Ultimately, a bar isn’t about decor or drink lists, it’s about the people. Do you feel welcome when you walk in the door? Badlands always has a smile and a stiff pour for all comers, be they male, female, gay, straight, local, tourist, or any combo of the above. The bar’s Western theme has evolved from aggressive cow print to a subtler motif of natural wood and black-and-white photos of country legends (and the occasional shirtless cowboy), but the atmosphere is really created by the friendly bartenders, the fun patrons, and the good time you’re gonna have with them. LTR

 

Bottiglia Cucina & Enoteca

In Green Valley Ranch hotel-casino, 702-617-7075, bottiglialv.com

Big, bright, and bustling, Green Valley Ranch Resort’s Italian eatery is colorful and pretty, with lots of windows to enjoy the verdure outside. It features a respectable wine list, with numerous vintages from Italy to complement the fare (the house specialty, a rich, meaty pappardelle Bolognese, gets frequent praise). For a beverage with a bit more verve, savor glasses of heady grappa or sunshine in a bottle, a.k.a. limoncello. Tip: Thursday evenings bring half-price specials on select bottles of vino, a great opportunity to find your new favorite varietal. GT


My Happy Place

 

Dispensary

The Dispensary

2451 E. Tropicana Ave., 702-458-6343, thedispensarylounge.com

In a city all too often accused of ignoring its history, Dispensary Lounge embraces its own. The décor seemingly hasn’t been changed in the 40-odd years since opening: A thick, bushy carpet recalls grandma’s house, while the raised stage for jazz performances makes you think of the set of a pastiche, failed morning show (the backdrop of a large water wheel notwithstanding). Between the silk plants scattered throughout, lighting softer than one might expect and the mirror reflecting behind the bar, you’re taken to a Las Vegas of yore — that is, if one ever truly existed.

Barkeeps introduce themselves by name (hello, Carl), meticulously taking down your tab on carbon paper as you linger. Your copy will be issued at the end of your stay, covered in hieroglyphs, with a number circled at the bottom. In most cases, it’s a comically low number for the quality of what you get: ruthless attention to your cheap and cold beverages, with “next round?” asked once you start to run vaguely low. They’re bartenders who would double as friends if you became a true barfly, sharing in their amusement when younger people stumble in asking if they can buy weed there because of the name. The typical response — a wry, yet rueful smile — says it all. Oh, and did I mention they have the best hamburgers in town? CM

 

Frankie's Tiki Room

Frankie’s Tiki Room

1712 W. Charleston Blvd., 702-385-3110, frankiestikiroom.com

The way the vintage pink neon glances across the hood of my decades-old Mercedes, alighting it with a reflected vision of a quickly disappearing Vegas, is both comforting and addictive. I’ve snapped so many shots of this scene that my Instagram followers must judge me a lush, a hopeless nostalgist, or both. The neon is gorgeous, and the night beautiful, but I didn’t come to Frankie’s to stand outdoors admiring it.  

Inside, a dense, heady mix of hairspray, perfume, and tobacco transports me back to the Rat-Packy era of Las Vegas. Instantly, Mike, the dreadlocked bartender, steps over with a handshake and a question: Business or casual? “Casual” usually means Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum and Diet Coke. But it’s been a long day, so tonight it’s all business, and Mike masterfully mixes my customary tiki concoction, Three Dots & A Dash.

This allspice-forward rum sipper scores four skulls on the Frankie’s scale — less boozy than a Ninth Island but more so than a Dr. No, my other two faves. Its name is Morse Code for
“victory” — something I’ve achieved each time I step inside this living lollapalooza of a late-night Vegas that never ends. On the first sip, the allspice does its job of taking me far, far away: Another place, another moment. It’s Midcentury Modern in a glass, a Vegas I would visit if H.G. Wells built his time machine. The Castaways, Don the Beachcomber, the Aku Aku. The deeper in the Dash I get, the more misty-eyed I become. There’s simply no escaping that Frankie’s is the best escape from Las Vegas, to Las Vegas, in Las Vegas. JPR

 

 

rebar

ReBAR

1225 S. Main St., 702-349-2283, rebarlv.com

Whenever I hear the name of my friend circle’s go-to happy hour hangout, I think back to my ex-, in the ’90s, pounding 3-foot metal rods into the ground along the base of our chain-link fence to keep our crazy rescue dog, Phaedra, from tunneling out of the yard. A throne-sized painting of Phaedra in Victorian gown and tiara — like the one of the pug that hung above my friend Kevin’s head at ReBAR on a recent Friday evening — would fit in at this Downtown watering hole. The “Re” is for “repurposing,” as in selling curated kitsch — the shake weights that dotted the place a few months back, for instance, or the yellow ceramic owl Kevin’s wife Heather got for $2. It’s also for “retro,” apparent in the bathrooms’ Borax hand-soap dispensers and mid-century red Naugahyde diner booths. And it’s for “reinforcing” community, which owner Derek Stonebarger does by developing cocktails for local charities and then giving them part of the sales on those drinks. For my crowd, the “Re” is for “relaxed,” since we don’t feel quite this at home in any other bar. “Everyone actually does know my name,” said my friend Michelle, “but that might be more of a reflection of my drinking habit than their friendliness.” Or, it could be that another one of our neighborhood friends tends bar there. He, his wife, and their favorite sock monkey, Hubert, will host Socktoberfest at ReBAR on the 21st of this month. We’ll all be there. You should stop by. HK

 

 

Hank's

Hank’s Fine Steaks & Martinis

In Green Valley Ranch hotel-casino,  702-617-7515

I always slightly overdress when I go to Hank’s because a) the lambent white movie-set bar and glittering glass seem to deserve it, and b) frankly I’m self-conscious that otherwise, some hidden detector is going to flash and buzz, revealing me as some Green Valley pretender trying to bite on their breezy, tanned insouciance. But Hank’s makes me strive, and that’s what matters. And I mean it when I say the bar deserves it. I’ve been coming to Hank’s for years, and its arrant, consummate reliability — potent martinis, perfect steaks, and oh, god, that buttermilk chicken — suggests some dutiful, familial commitment to quality worthy of the Hank Greenspun imprimatur. Even the sorority martinis (and, yes, I’ve tried them all, shockface emoji) have an alcoholic sturdiness and underlying dignity. Once I’m settled in, it’s onward with the boozy people-watching: The bejeweled and braceleted matrons, the lawyer dads basking mutely in phonelight, defrazzling happy-hour yoga moms, geese-quacking Sex and the City extras, the date-nighting parents sipping with gratitude and relief. I’m not completely sure that, like most neighborhoods in Las Vegas, Green Valley really exists beyond an afterimage of municipal map-making or insistent developer brand, but this classily blingy suburban casino bar, ironically or not, exudes a decided sense of place. AK

 

Born and Raised

7260 S. Cimarron Road, 10050 S. Eastern Ave., Henderson, 702-685-0258, bornandraisedlv.com

Las Vegas knows different. Hell, it was built and continues to thrive on different. Different is our ACME-like magnet that attracts some 40 million-plus outsiders, and a big reason why 2 million-plus of us choose to call this place home. Which is why I’ve always found it infuriatingly ironic that our neighborhood watering holes lack the same kind of ingenuity that fuels the rest of our city. You know the drill: Uninspired food and drink menu; dark, smoky atmosphere; the ring-a-ding-ding of poker machines — lather, rinse, repeat … and repeat … and repeat. 

Thank goodness Las Vegas native Scottie Godino came along a few years ago to break the cycle with Born And Raised, which turned the ho-hum Las Vegas tavern concept on its head. Yes, both brick-and-mortar, 24/7 establishments — one in the southwest, the other in Henderson — have poker machines lining the bar. But the focal point and main gathering spot is a peculiarly decorated (in a good way) lounge that offers seating options ranging from an L-shaped couch to comfy chairs and booths that were cribbed from every design era from 1920 to 2020.  

If I were an interior designer, my head likely would’ve exploded the first time I walked into BAR. But I’m not. What I am is a sports fan, and BAR scores big points with its massive TV wall, which can be configured to show any number of games and which adds to the lounge’s family-room vibe. 

Speaking of sports, you know how many owners of so-called “locals” taverns are quick to affiliate themselves with non-local sports teams? Not here. Although he didn’t attend UNLV, Godino made certain his places bleed scarlet and gray, not only showcasing every televised UNLV football and men’s basketball game, but also hosting weekly in-season coaches radio shows. A locals bar that truly is meant for locals—now that’s refreshingly different! MJ

 

Chicago Brewing Company Cigar Lounge

2201 S. Fort Apache Road, 702-254-3333, chicagobrewinglv.com

It’s Wednesday night, and Bob Saget is in the house. He must be, considering how the off-duty bartender, Brad, is shouting his name every few minutes — “Bob Sah-git!” — with a ferocity that suggests contents under pressure, a tea kettle filled with dynamite. The outbursts come every few minutes, and the patrons look on, unfazed, some joining in on the impromptu game. It’s bizarre and obnoxious, and it’s absolutely the reason I love this place. Chicago Brewing Company’s upstairs cigar lounge is a bar in the suburbs, but it isn’t a typical suburban bar — it’s slipping backstage, behind the stucco and strip malls, into a dark and cozy den populated by brag-worthy house-brewed beers, good food, and a diverse mix of people. It’s impossible to go there for happy hour, between 4 and 7 p.m., and not make a new friend, even if that friend is just a giant mug of beer for $4 and a cheese pizza for $6. If you do go, ask for Brad, and tell him Bob Saget sent you. KT

 

Starboard Thai hotdog

The Starboard Tack

2601 Atlantic St. 702-684-5769

The original Starboard Tack was a swanky, storied neighborhood eastside bar that had a spotlight moment in the Vegas labor wars of the ’70s as the site of a would-be car bombing. Located on the same site, the new Starboard Tack is a nod to the swank part of that era, offering rum, rattan, and enchantment-under-the-sea vibe without going into hipster-pandering thematic overdrive. Sure, it’s got a custom cocktail list and grown-up bar food like oysters and exotic sandwiches (like their Thai-style hot dog above), but my favorite thing is its odd location: on a desolate side street off Sahara, huddled against a cluster of apartments. It is hidden, which makes it alluring, which makes it a hideaway promising sweet momentary protective oblivion from my daily whatevers beyond what a typical bar can offer. (Seasoned drinkers get it: The magnetic pull of that bright tavern sign in the night ... beacon, respite, escape.) Inside the Starboard Tack, there are inviting nooks and vignettes, from a living room-style chill spot (complete with a terrarium) to a partitioned dining area to quieter corners of the bar that seem judiciously draped in an extra layer of inviting dim. The fact that it’s practically around the block from my house has resulted in the development of a decidedly Vegas ritual. I’ll decline to say how often I partake in said ritual, but I will attest to the powerful therapeutic benefits of a dozen oysters, an Old Fashioned, a $20 bill in the video poker machine, and endless, private, cozy twilit gloom. AK

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