Whoa. It’s Best of the City 2020. Sorry. We’re a bit frozen with awe by the momentousness of it all — the compressed hype packed into the “best” premise, the gravid ta-da of the year 2020. Indeed, what better way to kick off a new decade than by celebrating Las Vegas’ most excellent people, food, places, and experiences? Happy best year!
Best Women’s Clothing Store
The word “bohemian” doesn’t mean much nowadays, but there’s a certain breezy freedom to the clothing of Johnny Was that nonetheless calls it to mind. Maybe it’s because the clothes are flowy and free but sturdily crafted. Or maybe it’s because the silhouettes are always relaxed, effortless, and playful, but the fabrics and embroidery run to the luxurious and timelessly fashionable. Johnny Was opened its Las Vegas location in September, and it’s quickly become a welcome — and necessary — staple in the Fashion Show Mall. CM
Fashion Show Mall, 725-214-1933, johnnywas.com
Best Beauty Store
Even if you’ve never been to LUSH, you’ve almost certainly caught its scent while shopping. This cruelty-free, sustainable cult favorite is one that grabs your attention (after grabbing your nose) with its bright branding, fragrant cosmetics, and quirky product names. Better yet, their colorful products not only deliver results (pro trip: try their RUMP product for any rubbing/chafing on thighs or feet — total lifesaver!), but also leave you feeling as though you’ve been on a glittery, fragrant adventure. Plus all that other good stuff: ethical, organic, 100% vegetarian, handmade, no animal testing. CM
Multiple locations, lushusa.com
Best Nail Salon
Nohea Nails at the Gramercy
Focusing on the latest trends in nail art, Nohea Nails offers manicures, pedicures, and gel systems, and boasts one of the largest selections of nail decals around. Whether you want to rock a full set of Golden Girls decals or just glam up one nail with your zodiac sign, they have you covered. And when you’re done, check out their array of non-toxic polishes and natural spa products. CM
In The Gramercy, 9275 W. Russell Road #160, 702-985-4888, thisisgramercy.com
Best Hair Stylist
McDonald at Atelier by Square Salon
“What are we doing today, my love?” That’s not a quote from every weekend with my husband, but the beginning of every visit with Alex McDonald. Those words are often followed by a scalp-tingling, toe-twinkling shampoo. Sometimes there’s light, frothy conversation. Sometimes it’s serious and subdued. But always, there’s magic when Alex does her thing. And her thing is impeccable texturizing and precision cutting. This is hairstyling as luxury and necessity. Sitting in that chair and trusting her to create beauty that is practical is pure opulence. Leaving that chair and feeling like you could own every room you walk into — that’s addicting. A good salon session can unlock the doors to confidence, calm, joy, peace, and pleasure. Alex is simply the best key-maker I’ve ever seen. VK
1225 S. Fort Apache #135, 702-906-1770, atelierbysquaresalon.com
Best Outlet Store
John Varvatos Company Store Premium Outlets
John Varvatos signature style? Check. Boutique setting with rock ’n’ roll artwork? Check. Friendly, knowledgeable
staff? Check. Racks upon racks of stress-melting retail therapy? Check? Mall retail prices? Nope! The prices are the only difference at this outlet store filled with all the signature Varvatos pieces you could ever want — many of which are priced at half or even a third of what you’d pay retail. Thanks, John. CM
875 Grand Central Parkway, 702-508-0580, johnvarvatos.com
Best Vintage Store
The Red Kat
Vintage shopping has been happening in hip ’hoods since Aardvark’s Odd Ark landed on L.A.’s Melrose Avenue in the early 1980s. Downtown Vegas dove into the scene soon after with Vintage Madness (R.I.P.), followed by the recently reopened Attic. The pace of the past has picked up considerably along Main Street, and now numerous shops make an afternoon of shopping simple. Tops among them is Velma Campbell’s Red Kat. Opened in 2014, and featuring Velma Campbell’s personally curated, ever-evolving collection of vintage couture, Red Kat replenishes its racks via Velma’s regular road trips with her husband Derrick and their hot rods, which hint at the styles inside. In 2019, Red Kat’s reputation allowed Velma to grow her collection and double her shop’s footprint inside Arts District mainstay Retro Vegas. It now takes up both her original upstairs loft, and the downstairs space beneath it. JPR
1131 S. Main St., 702-384-2700, facebook.com/theredkatlv
Best Antiques Shop
Antique Mall of America
They offer complimentary bottled water and cookies at the main desk at Antique Mall of America, and it’s not just a gesture of welcome — it’s a vital necessity for maintaining the stamina required to properly shop this place. Set aside at least two hours for a thorough graze of the booths spanning more than 40,000 square feet, but, honestly, you’ll need three or more if you’ve got an incurable niche obsession, whether it’s Matchbox cars, semiprecious stone jewelry, Hollywood Regency furnishings, analog cameras, vintage hats, or pristine speed metal LPs. (Ah, the fizzy, epiphanic tingle of stumbling across a vinyl reissue of Slayer’s Show No Mercy!) For all the complex’s wondrous split-level sprawl, though, the curation at Antique Mall of America is guided by informed taste and astute expertise, so, yeah, there’s a minimum of insufferable country-kitchen barnwood tchotchkes and old Coke signs. What is up with the old Coke signs? AK
9151 S. Las Vegas Blvd. #344, 702-933-2791, antiquemallofamerica.net
Best Game Store
Wii Play Games West
The words nerd and geek, once the height of sophisticated high-school insults, have been reclaimed by those who wholeheartedly embrace and worship what they enjoy. And there’s no place better to kneel at the altar of gaming than Wii Play Games West. Trading card, board, and video games can all be found here. Knowledgeable employees can guide neophytes through the dense jungle of contemporary gaming. But the real value of Wii Play Games West is in its role as a gathering place. Their online calendar presents different trading card events every day, making this the spot for hanging with old friends or finding new ones. (Extra points if
you stop next door at Nakata Market of Japan for Ramuné and Pocky.) VK
2350 S. Rainbow Blvd. #5, 702-550-4220, wiiplay2.crystalcommerce.com
Best Candy Store
Jean-Marie Auboine Chocolatier Factory Shop
Chocolate. Creamy, crunchy, crushingly perfect chocolate. At Jean-Marie Auboine Chocolatier Factory Shop, they have it all. That’s not an exaggeration. They have chocolate body lotion, hot chocolate, chocolate tea, candy bars, chocolate bars, barks, caramels, nougats, and myriad chocolate-covered nuts. But the undisputed stars of this modest, factory-attached retail area are the colorful, flawlessly shiny bonbons. Displayed in brick-lined, underlit glass cases, these small examples of master craftsmanship clamor to be consumed by all the senses; gaze upon them, breathe in their aroma, stroke their smooth curves, pierce their shells, and hear them shatter. Finally, let your tongue luxuriate in a triumph of flavors and textures. This is an elevated experience, well worth the price of admission. VK
4780 W. Harmon Ave. #1, 702-222-0535, jmauboinechocolates.com
Las Vegas lavishes itself with flowers. But when bouquets begin to bore, it’s time to call Stinko’s, a new-ish florist that will level-up your flowers beyond expectations. Owner Steven Stewart-Clark has a background in event floral arrangement, which goes a long way toward explaining the theatricality of his bold, beautiful, and statement-making arrangements. They wow whoever sees them, and his multipurpose space, in new Main Street buildings behind Arts Square, signals what’s to come in the Arts District. JPR
1029 S. Main St, 702-722-2494, stinkoslasvegas.com
Best Phone Repair
Horror, despair, disbelief — oh, the trauma of dropping your phone in the toilet. Or cracking the screen on a tile floor. With three valley locations, uBreakiFix is equipped to handle your worst phone nightmares as quickly as possible. While their speed is essential, it’s their honest and attentive service — which includes free diagnoses, price-matching, and a 90-day warranty on repairs — that keeps customers like me coming back. Worst-case scenarios are softened and best-case scenarios are all the sweeter when there’s good bedside manner involved. They can turn trauma into a funny story you tell at dinner parties while holding up your perfect-looking phone. Until the next time one of your most precious possessions takes a tumble, that is. VK
Multiple locations, ubreakifix.com
Inyo Fine Cannabis
As cannabis powers up into a big economy, the small-business personal touch can become more elusive. One of the first dispensaries to open in Las Vegas, Inyo’s always had a low-key vibe and solid selection, but it’s the staff that sets Inyo apart. The budtender team is led by local cannabis legend Rob Ruckus, who’s been aiding and advising medical patients for more than a decade. Kwazi, Joe, Darla, and the rest of the crew are able to guide both newbie and veteran smoker, whether you’re seeking pain relief or recreational enjoyment, all without talking down or upselling. LTR
2520 S. Maryland Parkway #2, 702-707-8888, inyolasvegas.com
It’s not a traditional gym. You won't find the typical forest of hyper-specialized body machinery here. What you will find, according to those who swear by it, is a transformational class-based, instructor-led workout experience that can be social or solo, easy or hard, twice a day or thrice a week. It’s barre and yoga and kettlebell, and booty workouts that’ll have you creeping carefully around the office for days, all set to hip-hop, rock, and disco. Members can easily structure their own routine, thanks to a full roster of classes found on its user-friendly app. JPR
Three locations, trufusion.com
Best Auto Detailing
This mini-chain of eight car washes (five in Las Vegas) not only offers various levels of washing to suit both your budget and your steed’s need, but they can also detail everything from soiled seats to stinky rugs. Drop off your grubby sled and when you return, you’ll find your 1983 Mercedes shiny and smelling sweet. Or your 2018 Subie. Whatever it is, it drives better too, right? JPR
Five locations, fabfred.com
Let Us Count the Ways
Best Thrift Store
Castaways Resale Store
1 The layout is well-planned with sections from appliances, to glassware, to kids’ clothing and holiday décor.
2 No one can resist a Banana Republic cardigan for under $6.
3 Because there’s no room in your kitchen for a movie-theatre style popcorn machine, but at $14.97, that baby is coming home, space be damned.
4 The book nook carries Williams Sonoma tomes for under $2, and, hey, you’ve always wanted to make a meal that requires a minimum of 20 ingredients.
5 Castaways’ profits fuel the work of Vegas-based charity God Behind Bars, an organization working to reduce recidivism.
6 The staff is friendly and good-humored, even with customers looking to haggle over a $7 lamp (with bulbs).
7 The plush toys are stored in a large wire cage, and they still look happy.
8 It doesn’t smell like a thrift store. VK 241 N. Stephanie Street, 702-425-9146, castawaysresale.com
Best Suit Store
1 They’re a locally born shop on the Strip, just like the old days.
2 They do made-to-measure in house.
3 They also offer Baker, Ford, and Varvatos — the trifecta of trendy off-the-rack.
4 Dressing up. Remember how fun that used to be?
5 It’s the go-to for the young and restless Vegas VIPs.
6 If they can’t afford it, they talk about the day they can. 7 You can pair your shopping or measuring with a drink or dinner at the Cosmopolitan. JPR The Cosmopolitan, stitchedlifestyle.com
1. The convenience of late hours, as well as locations on the west side, Henderson, and the Strip, plus two in California.
2 The Las Vegas Boulevard store has a flashy green sign — and hooray for anyone who deploys old-school bulbs and neon.
3 Also hooray for locals’ discount and rewards program everywhere.
4 There’s usually a line, but it keeps moving, and budtenders don’t rush you.
5 Product selection is vast, with dozens of varieties of flower, concentrate, and edible for your perusal.
6 A number of daily deals, as well as regular $25 eighths. But if you want to spend on top-shelf, there are plenty of options there, too. LTR Multiple locations, essencevegas.com