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It’s our 11th annual Best of the City issue, celebrating the best Las Vegas has to offer in everything from dining to entertainment to family fun! Also in this issue: Making sense of the Whitney Hologram Experience | An activist fights Big Solar with … poetry? | Writer in Residence Krista Diamond considers The Real World’s infamous 31st season | How America’s Got Talent is changing Strip entertainment | And more!Read the digital editionDownload the full issue as a pdf

Best of the City: Shops & Services

photo courtesy Arielle Mosses
Artistic nail work by "indie nail fairy" Arielle Mosses

 Best Women’s Clothing StoreRockin Bettie

Tucked away in an Arts District bungalow, this boutique specializes in retro-inspired clothes for the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend set. From 1950s-style pinup dresses made for a tiki bar dance floor, to sultry pencil skirts perfect for slipping into a banquette at a dimly lit steakhouse, Rockin Bettie’s selection proves that even if you can’t go back to mid-century Las Vegas, you can still dress like you belong there. KD
1302 S. Third St., 702-877-3000,

Best Suit StoreIndochino 
Specializing in made-to-measure suits, Indochino gives customers a bespoke product at an off-the-rack price point. You can pick the style, fabric, lapels, buttons, pockets, and lining of your suit, and even have your name or a message embroidered on the inside. They take your measurements, and then your suit arrives in just three weeks. CM
Fashion Show, 3200 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 725-500-0533,  

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Best Outlet StoreJohn Varvatos Company Store 
It’s crazy to think of Downtown’s North Premium Outlets as a Las Vegas retail institution, but it is. And my favorite shop there is happily an institution as well: the John Varvatos Company Store. My go-to spot for stress-free retail therapy, the John Varvatos Company store boasts the same signature styles as the mainline store, but at prices that are beyond low — think half to a third of the price you’d typically pay retail. Add to these amazing deals a boutique setting with hardwood floors, rock ’n’ roll artwork, groovy music, and a knowledgeable staff, and the only thing that will remind you you’re at an outlet is the price at checkout. CM  
In the Las Vegas North Premium Outlets,,

Best Nail SalonKiwi + Bee
Located inside Mystique Hair Studio, Kiwi + Bee is a hidden gem offering gel nail services and spa pedicures since January 2020. Owner Cristina Ball is the only employee, so one-on-one service is guaranteed, and her spirited attitude and creative mindset keep sessions fun. Retro touches, such as macramé flower hangers, make the location feel like someone’s cozy living room. Kiwi + Bee is equipped with 390 color choices and a massage chair. Its only drawback is you’ll have to plan ahead: Appointments are booked four months out. LBM
3801 W. Sahara Ave., 702-797-0486,

Best Nail ArtistArielle Mosses

Self-proclaimed indie nail fairy Arielle Mosses lives up to the internet hype about her work by seeking inspiration from experimental visuals and various art mediums. Sessions with her are unlike those with a typical manicurist. It’s just you and her sitting down in an art-filled space without the bustle of a salon, almost as if you’re visiting a friend. However, there is a seriousness in Mosses’ face as she zooms in on the canvas of your nail beds, perfecting every detail in her freehand designs and leaving you with the trendiest set you will have ever seen. GR

Best Massage StudioNeko Massage
Located in the same small business complex that holds Carson Kitchen and Donut Bar, Neko (pronounced “neck-o”) Massage is a warm, unassuming little studio that opened in the spring of 2019 and has since established itself as Downtown’s most reliable spot for affordable, relaxing massages. Neko is one of those rare off-Strip businesses that’s cracked the code of satisfying both locals and tourists — in this case by offering a wide range of services, from a 15-minute session ($20) in one of two full-body automatic massage chairs, to an 80-minute signature massage ($105) by one of the licensed staff therapists. I’ve had great massages by everyone I’ve seen there so far, but if you need a name recommendation, you can’t go wrong with Neko Owner Cesar Castaneda, who bought the studio in September 2020 from its previous owner. HK
124 S. Sixth St. , Suite 170, 702-768-5450,

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Best Vintage Décor DealerFunky Little Suite
Funky Little Suite fulfills your vintage dreams with unique finds that exude the coolness of generations past. Ranging from Art Deco mirrors, to mid-century lamps, to ’80s glassware, the selection will inspire you to toss your current furnishings and redecorate. Founder Pamela Pereira devotes her time to discovering the stuff, which also means pieces go quickly. So, be sure to turn on post notifications when following Funky Little Suite. GR

Best Thrift Store for Designer Goods Deja Blue Boutique
If you’re a fan of Nike, Coach, and Tory Burch, this Goodwill Boutique is for you and your fellow picky fashionistas (including me!). I’m the kind of person who wears four-inch stilettos to bake a cake, and I’m impressed with their selection. The staff keeps the displays organized efficiently and beautifully. You can find size 2 or 2x, and everything’s grouped into neat categories and subcategories. My proudest thrifting moment here: vintage gray velvet Christian Louboutins. Take my $50, and I’ll cherish those bright red soles forever. LBM
10300 W. Charleston Blvd. Suite 1, 702-586-1100,

Best Vintage Clothing StoreThe Attic Vintage Clothing Co.
The Attic, Vegas’ iconic vintage clothing store, is back. It was a Downtown staple in the ’90s, and it’s now owned and operated by Christina Politis, daughter of the original owner. Christina selects every piece the boutique carries, specializing in nostalgia-heavy garments from the ’80s and ’90s. She’s enticing a new generation of conscious shoppers who want to own unique pieces nobody else will have. CM
1010 N. Main St., 702-518-2657, 

Best Thrift Store for Random TreasuresDinosaurs & Roses
Dinosaurs & Roses offers the thrill of a great deal. This bazaar-style shop peddles unique and affordable treasures — and if the price isn’t right, they’re willing to negotiate. You can find artwork, clothing, coffee tables, rugs, and other donated goods, both gently used and new. On a recent shopping trip, I landed a century-old Japanese teacup set for only $30! And the big T-Rex-sized bonus of shopping at Dinosaurs & Roses: a portion of proceeds supports scholarships for students in Nevada. ZG
3335 E. Tropicana Ave., 702-277-3752,

Best Store for New BooksThe Writer’s Block

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The Writer’s Block has been open only since 2014, but it’s already carved its own niche in Las Vegas. During lockdown, their mail order/pickup service kept many of us sane, and they reopened with both shelves and the calendar fully restocked for the community. The store is filled with a handpicked selection of sellers, classics, and more edgy publications, but they can also order (and ship) a huge array of books. The Writer’s Block also offers the kinds of experiences you can’t order online — a coffee shop with brews and smoothies, as well as events ranging from book signings to Bourbon Book Club meetings. LTR
519 S. Sixth St., Suite 100, 702-550-6399,

Best Store for Used BooksDragon Castle
Just a humble strip mall storefront, no window displays, plain wood bookcases inside — but the real story is what’s on those shelves. Dragon Castle stocks books of all genres — sure, there’s fantasy and sci-fi, but also classical literature and trashy romance. In nonfiction, you’ll find biography, history, cooking, music … the sections aren’t vast, but each yields up treasures, both appealingly vintage and in like-new condition. In film, you may find a history of the Beverly Hills Hotel and its resident stars; in children’s books, a motherlode of mid-century Golden Books; and the comics will make you realize not only that there was an Evil Dead/Xena Warrior Princess crossover, but also that, yes, you need all four volumes. LTR
3142 N. Rainbow Blvd., 702-658-8583,

Best Comic StoreMaximuM Comics

MaximuM Comics opened its first store in Las Vegas in 2007 with the goal of sharing a love of comic books in a warm, welcoming, well-organized space. Owner Jay Bosworth nailed that target. There’s always something new and cool to see, including toys and books for kids (my 3-year-old already has a few tomes from MaximuM in his library, because you’re never too young to start pursuing geekdom!). Jay’s people are super knowledgeable without being intimidating. You don’t have to worry about proving your nerd cred, but they can keep up if you’re a superfan. MaximuM also grades and buys comic books if you’re looking to rehome some of your collection. NRC
Multiple locations in Las Vegas and Henderson, 702-701-8600,

Best Game StoreThe Gaming Goat
Whether you’re looking to revive family game night, find something new to try with friends, or unplug your gaming experience, the Gaming Goat can help. They specialize in board, trading card, and other tabletop games, and offer a varied and beautifully displayed selection. From party-style games like 5-Minute Dungeon and Munchkin, to a classic Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying adventure, you can find games for any skill level across multiple genres. Elaborate cardboard adaptations of popular video games jump off the shelves at me when I’m there—Fallout: The Board Game is one I recommend. In addition to major and mainstream titles, the Gaming Goat also has a publishing arm that supports independent developers. TGG Games coordinates crowdfunding campaigns for indie games and sells them in-store. NRC
Town Square, 6605 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Suite C135, 702-405-9193,

Best Record StoreVegas Vinyl

The alliterative name of this shop says it all: When you enter Vegas Vinyl, you’ll find it looks like a storage room, and that’s actually one of its strengths. There are vinyl records and CDs everywhere, on the floor and on tables. You feel a certain coziness, not just because there’s music everywhere, but because it’s a mom-and-pop shop; and you’ll be able to strike up an intimate conversation with the owner, David Levin, while you shop. CAA
1641 E. Sunset Rd., Suite B104, 702-528-3738,

Best Florist With BoozeNaakiti Floral/Cork and Thorn
Naakiti Floral offers not only awe-inspiring floral arrangements, but also delicious cocktails. You can order an arrangement for pick-up or delivery, or take a design-your-own class to learn everything from succulents arranging to flower crown crafting. And while you’re there, check out the tempting tannins and charcuterie of Cork and Thorn. It’s like a choose-your-own-floral-adventure — with booze. CM
70 W. Imperial Ave.,

Best Plant StoreCarrie Lynn’s
A whimsical and intriguing spot in Downtown Summerlin, Carrie Lynn’s is for both experienced plant parents and those who decided the pandemic was the perfect time to test out their green thumbs. It has an impressive selection of indoor plants and unique pots. And if your window-
shopping excursion turns into a full-blown plant commitment, plenty of enthusiastic staff members are on hand to share their knowledge. KK
Downtown Summerlin, 1875 Festival Plaza Dr., Suite 170, 702-910-0400,

Best Dispensary for LocalsSahara Wellness
Almost five years after they opened their doors to recreational customers, dispensaries have become a regular part of the landscape. Some are bells-and-whistles tourist traps; others have the chill practicality of your local deli. The intimate Sahara Wellness is definitely the latter: plenty of nearby parking and product choices, no long waits or pushy salespeople — just mellow folks who want to talk about your tastes and budget before making a recommendation. Best of all, they’re happy to hustle your favorite strain out for quick curbside pickup. LTR
420 E. Sahara Ave., 702-478-5533,

Best Fitness ClassF45 Training Summerlin
It’s 45 minutes of fun. And hell. F45 stands for Functional 45 minutes. The high-intensity interval training (HIIT) classes take you through a series of super-challenging exercises designed to fatigue your muscles and supersize your workout. A professional trainer first demonstrates each station with proper form. Then, a timer starts, the music gets pumping, and your heart starts racing as you move through all the stations, doing multiple sets at each. I love it! And I hate it. LBM
1000 S. Rampart Blvd., Suite 12, 702-518-3332,

Best Auto DetailingGolden Boyz
I found Frankie Rodriguez, owner of Golden Boyz Auto Detailing, the old-school way — through word-of-mouth — and he delivered with old-school service, under-promising and over-delivering for a competitive price. Frankie showed up at my place with a pickup truck bed full of equipment, converted my driveway into a mobile detail shop, and went to work on my 9-year-old Nissan’s coffee-stained, dog hair-encrusted interior. By the time he was done (under three hours total), it was restored to its gleaming, just-off-the-lot glory, complete with new car smell! HK

Rockin Bettie, The Gaming Goat and Writer’s Block: Brent Holmes; nails courtesy of Arielle Mosses; Maximum Comics: Brent Holmes; Vegas Vinyl: Christopher Smith


Christopher Alvarez is a news producer and podcast audio editor at Nevada Public Radio for the State of Nevada program, and has been with them for over a year.
Zachary Green is the Coordinating Producer and a Reporter for KNPR's State of Nevada Program. He reports on Clark County, minority affairs, health, real estate, business, and gardening. You'll occasionally hear Zachary Green reporting and fill-in hosting on the State of Nevada program.
Kristen Kidman is the senior producer at KNPR’s State of Nevada and is proud to be from Las Vegas.
Desert Companion welcomed Heidi Kyser as staff writer in January 2014. In 2018, she was promoted to senior writer and producer, working for both DC and State of Nevada. She produced KNPR’s first podcast, the Edward R. Murrow Regional Award-winning Native Nevada, in 2020. The following year, she returned her focus full-time to Desert Companion, becoming Deputy Editor, which meant she was next in line to take over when longtime editor Andrew Kiraly left in July 2022.
Lorraine Blanco Moss is the host of KNPR's award-winning Asian American Pacific Islander podcast, Exit Spring Mountain. She's also a producer for State of Nevada, specializing in food and hospitality, women's issues, and sports. She started at Nevada Public Radio in October 2021.