Saturday, May 3, 2014

Best Steaks in Vegas

In my brain a nice base of steak in your stomach helps absorb alcohol so you can drink a lot and never get pass that point of being too drunk. Is this true? Well, the internet says protein (meat), carbs (mashed potatoes) and vitamins (does creamed spinach count?) are what you need to not be hungover…and I always trust the internet so it is a fact in my book.

Back in the day (2007-2011) your 360VegasOasis hosts would religiously dine at Austin’s Steak House in Texas Station every Friday night because we read it won “Best Ribeye in Vegas” for like 7 consecutive years.

When you get off the Rancho Drive exit on the 95 in Northern Vegas you have your doubts.

Now imagine it is dark. 

When you walk through Texas Station you really have your doubts.

$5 craps? Try 50 cent craps!

 But when you walk inside it is a nice steak house and the rib eyes are:

Yum...and this picture actually doesn't do it justice.

 We went to Austin’s for years until someone asked a doorman where the best steak in Vegas was. He said Del Frisco’s.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Del Frisco’s is amazing but it also has multiple locations all over the country (the Santa Monica location is two miles from my home) and doesn’t feel very ‘Vegas’. However, if you are staying at the Hard Rock or the Westin Del Frisco’s is within walking distance and I prefer it to Morton’s across the street (both are great though). Be sure to ask to see the James Bond wine bottle collection they have hidden in the restaurant.

This is actually a closed table that opens to 007 theme music. 
Thunderball is my favorite Bond for what its worth. 

Want to feel like you are eating steak in an ‘old Vegas joint’? Try the Golden Steer.

Epic signage.
The place has swanky, red velvet booths, tons of black and white photos of famous people (I ASSUME this means they ate there) plus it is located in a strip mall just west of the strip on Sahara. How is the value? Um, moving along…

…did you know there is a damn good steak house downtown? Vic and Anthony’s located in the Golden Nugget, is a perfect option if you are hungry for Steak and just won big on Fremont Street.

Previously in Chris eats a steak in Las Vegas...
So that’s it for the post. There are obviously tons of good steak houses in Vegas but what we are encouraging at 360VegasOasis is to venture out of the typical strip spots as good steak is all over.


Next stop for me? The Steak House in Circus Circus. No, I’m serious. I heard from a local it is the best steak in Vegas.

-Chris

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Guys Weekend At Mandalay Bay

(well, theHotel at Mandalay Bay)

If a someone asks, “I am going to Las Vegas…where is a good place to stay with a group of friends?” I instantly say “Mandalay Bay”.



And by Mandalay Bay I clarify THEhotel at Mandalay Bay.



Yes, Cosmo($$$$) is better and every other property on the strip has a better location by default but nothing gives you value, space for a room and great amenities like THEhotel at Mandalay Bay.

Mandalay Bay has one of the hottest clubs in Light.

It has a pool area that is second only to MGM in my mind (and, yeah, Wet Republic is better than Daylight).



It has tons of restaurants on property as well as those reachable from the Mandalay Place walkway.

Scientists believe burgers absorb alcohol better than any other food. 

It also has a pretty big sports book that you can reach in less than 100 seconds from the elevators to THEhotel.

Underrated

But the best part is the incredibly affordable THEsuite with two queen beds.


Basicallly this place has set up the prototype for how a group of guys fits comfortably into a suite. One room with 2 queen beds (with a door), one couch and an enormous amount of extra space for a roll-in bed. Also, it has a second bathroom! Which is useful with a group of guys. Trust me.

You can make that king bed two queens. 

This is all available for prices that, over the past few years, have been relatively cheap.

Alas, news that THEhotel is being turned into the Delano has filled this perfect property with uncertainty.. Will they continue to have an inventory of suites with two queen beds?(probably)  Will their prices  continue to be some of the best on the strip (probably not).  Will the toilet paper continue to say “THEtp on it”? (definitely not).

But in the meantime, THEhotel offers great prices for groups of friends in Las Vegas.



Saturday, November 23, 2013

Guys Weekend @MGM Grand & Luxor

GUYS WEEKEND AT THE MGM GRAND AND LUXOR

MGM Grand



The MGM might not seem like the obvious spot for a guy’s weekend but it really hits all the marks. Tons of restuarants? Check. Great gambling? Check. Nice, new nighclub? (haven’t been in Hamasaku yet but check). Great beach club? Wet Republic might be the best one right now – check.

Also, the MGM Grand’s general pool area is (IMO) one of the best in Vegas. I mean, look at this thing!



Still, the great hidden secret of the MGM Grand are the Executive Queen Suites (once upon a time known more charmingly the Bungalow Queen Suites).  These do not have separate rooms but they are a large 675 square feet of relaxation space with a huge couch and even two separate TVs.


Knock on wood as you read this because I still don’t think the MGM has caught on…the difference in price between a standard ‘grand’ room and the executive suite is less than 10%. Even if you are going with just ONE guy friend spring for the bigger suite. 3 guys? Bargain shopping.

 LUXOR



I have stayed at the Luxor far more than I care to admit. The main reason? It always came up as the cheapest MGM strip hotel not named Excalibur. And Excalibur is a bounce house

There is nothing wrong with Luxor as much as there is nothing undeniable about it. It has a bunch of cool places to eat (Burger Bar on the walkway to Mandalay Bay is a favorite) but nothing that you would travel elsewhere to find. It has a pool area but it is essentially two large pools without much design. It has cheap gambling with $5 tables but the action is generally a bunch of 22 year olds acting drunk. It has a club but LAX is a place where you are either cramped on the dance floor or sitting at a table looking at the people cramped on the dance floor. The crowd is younger and generally looking to be on the strip without spending a lot.


 Luxor pool area – adequate, not spectacular.

Which is I guess is the point; the Luxor is like the best grind joint around. If you are in your 20s, on a budget but want to be on strip the Luxor is your ticket. Their Pyramid Suites technically offer the two queen beds / couch format we desire but it is extremely crammed in thanks to the slanted ceilings.


 Looks ok...but note how those ceilings are slanted. 

We will close out our discussion on guys weekends with Mandalay Bay next week…






Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Guy's Weekend at Caesars and Hard Rock

Caesars Palace automatically gets consideration for a guys’ weekend property because of its existence in the classic Vegas movie, “The Hangover”. That night in Vegas should have been a great guys weekend (err, night) but Alan bought rufies from the guy outside the liquor store where he went to buy Jagermeister (see, I did watch "The Hangover Part 3"). 

Anyway, we all know that suite doesn’t exist but supposedly it was patterned after the Forum Towers Emperors Suite. I am sure that room will do the job for a guys’ weekend but it runs over $1,000 a weekend. Good news: from what I can tell the Octavius Tower Suite with 2 Queens will do the job just as well and for essentially half the price.

However, Caesars offers more than a room for guys. 

First, its sports book is epic. It is a gigantic, huge space that doesn’t make you feel claustrophobic (like a lot of sports books do for me) and multiple, enormous screens to enjoy games on. 

Claustrophobic-approved sports book. 


Second, it has Pure. Now I am alone in my belief Pure is the best nightclub in Las Vegas amongst my friends yet we have gone into Pure more times than any other nightclub but every single time we go we have a good time. 

It actually gets way more crowded than this. 

Yes, they cram people into Pure in such a way you assume the fire marshall has been paid off. Yes, the drinks are like $18. Yes, the idea of a Pussycat Lounge is about 8 years past its prime. Yes, the balcony area is essentially useless as people just stand shoulder to shoulder. But where else are you going to see Ndamukong Suh dancing on the DJ booth?

video
October 5th, 2012, during the Lions bye week. 




When I first went to Vegas (like 10 years ago), the Hard Rock was considered one of the best places for people in their 20s to party. It was cool, people still listened to rock music, Body English was always a good time and Rehab defined beach clubs.

However, that was 10 years ago and I now see more people with babies in their hands on Facebook than beers. And the Hard Rock has aged in a similar way. 

It also doesn't help that the Hard Rock is isolated off-strip which is seriously the ONLY unrealistic thing about "Con Air".

"Con Air" lied to you - Hard Rock is off-strip. 

Still, they have the Joint, they have Body English (it has gone downhill), they have something called Vanity nightclub (haven't been), Tony claims the Prime Rib dinner is amazing and it is within walking distance of the excellent Del Frisco’s Steakhouse.

And although I haven’t stayed in it yet, the HRH All Suite Tower seems to have several rooms that are perfect for a group of guys. 

Looks perfect for 3-4 guys in one suite. 

More on places for a guys weekend next week…






Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cosmopolitan Experience


I've been going to Las Vegas at least once a year since 2003. From the first time I went as a wide eyed 22 year old, I have always enjoyed my experience. I've stayed at many many properties, both on an off the strip. I've gone out the clubs, had some amazing meals, been way up at the tables, and been way way down on my luck -- hell I've even lived in Vegas! But until the Cosmopolitan opened in December of 2010, I can honestly say that I never had a "classic" Vegas experience.

Dictionary.com defines the word Cosmopolitan as "So sophisticated as to be at home in all parts of the world or conversant with many spheres of interest: a cosmopolitan traveler" -- and the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino exemplifies this.

Whether you are valet parking your car and walking in next to the front desk area, or whether your wander in from Las Vegas Blvd, you will be greeted by elegant sophistication.

 Cosmopolitan Lobby

From the moment you wheel your suitcase up to the front desk past columns lined with screens you know you're in a special place. Beautiful high definition graphics dance along the columns, giving you plenty to take in while you wait patiently to get your hotel room keys.

The View from a Sweet Cosmo Suite

When you get up to your room you will be greeted with the latest up to date modern amenities including flat screen TVs, lighting dimmers, room service, and check out which can all be controlled with your wireless device. If you have the cash to spend, ask for a suite overlooking the Bellagio's fountains. You will not be disappointed, especially at night. Every forty minutes you have yourself a great show.

Cosmopolitan Chandelier Bar
The Casino floor is beautiful! Both the clientele and the service elegantly dressed and beautiful. The centerpiece of the casino is the Chandelier Bar where live music plays nightly. You can expect amazing pianists, small scale swing bands, or even a cover rocker playing every evening. Drinks might be a little bit expensive but the ambiance and casino action make it worth every penny.

The Pool at the Cosmo

During the spring and summer months in Vegas, the Cosmo also features an amazing pool scene. A large space, several bars, and a astroturf grassy area outfitted with pool tables. During the spring and summer evenings, the Cosmo books some of the best musical acts. I've seen bands like Vampire Weekend, Depeche Mode, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Weezer at the pool. Sometimes they will even have a DJ who turns the pool area into a late night club, but that is not an every day sort of thing.

Wicked Spoon Buffet

Another great feature of the property is the Wicked Spoon Buffet. I consider myself a buffet conneseur having eaten at almost every major buffet both on and off strip. The food here is fantastic. It's not like your usually sloppy affair. Almost all of the offerings are served up in their own individual containers, so you know no one gross has sneezed on your dish before you've spooned it onto your plate. The service staff here is very fast, and the selection of meals, like most good Vegas buffets, ranges from American, to Chinese, to Italian, with an amazing carving station and pastry and gelato bar.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Driving to Las Vegas


The drive to Vegas reminds me of the last day of school when you were a kid.

Let me explain.

As a kid, the last day of school was actually fun. You got to give back your textbooks, clean out your locker, goof off with your friends, sometimes goof off with your teachers, and really just hang out for a few hours before it was time for summer FRICKIN vacation! If you were given the option of not going on the last day you would obviously take it but you didn’t dread the last day of school.

The ride to Vegas is actually a fun four-hour car ride.  You pick up friends, pillage your bank account of wayyy more money than is responsible, stock up on alcohol, crank up the SiriusXM and really just hang out with friends for a few hours before it is time for Las FUCKING Vegas!

So come along I-15 and enjoy some highlights from the road with 360 Vegas Oasis:



1) Victorville / Barstow

The only reason I know these towns exist is because they are on the way to Las Vegas. They are the type of places that leave you asking “who would ever live here?” You then look up that Victorville’s most famous resident is T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Or is it Barstow??? Even the internet lumps them together!


2) Yermo, CA 

One exit, two great establishments offering trips to the past: 












Yermo, CA: Calico Ghost Town to the West, Peggy Sue’s 50s Diner to the East.

Calico Ghost Town is an authentic Old West Ghost Town that was built in 1881 and kept up as a tourist attraction. I am always struck how small places were built in the past (this goes for Peggy Sue’s as well, by the way) and Calico’s town bar is about the size of my living room (I have a small living room). By the way, Calico is still digging up gold, charging $8 a head to enter and overcharging for food at the town’s three restaurants. 

Peggy Sue’s 50s Diner is an authentic 50s diner with menu items such as a ‘Buddy Holly Bacon Cheeseburger’ and a ‘John Denver Omelet’. The food is reasonably priced and damn good.

3) Baker, CA

Everyone knows (or at least can see) the giant thermometer.




But this strip of road has a variety of tasty restaurants – the Mad Greek a particular favorite – as well as Alien Beef Jerky.

Get the Colon Cleaner Hot Jerky. It will be useful for that Saturday morning hangover.

4) That hill before the Nevada State Line



You know what I am talking about. After Baker you climb and climb and climb and climb and climb this mountain in the Mojave Desert then you come down the other side and see this view.

And what is that city in the distance….

5) Primm, NV



Primm, NV, Formerly known as “State Line, NV”.

Wooo-hooo!!! Vegas baby, right? Wait, what? There is gambling, there is a roller coaster, there is a concert venue but this isn’t Vegas. Although you will be very tempted to stop in Primm, NV, just don’t. Vegas is only 40 miles away.

6) Seeing Vegas in the distance



If it is nighttime you see the Luxor’s light shooting to the sky. If it is daytime you see the Vegas strip just waiting for you to check-in, relax and get ready to gamble, drink, party and eat.

Obviously, you would skip driving to Vegas if you could. But for a four-hour drive it is pretty great.

Just don’t think about the ride back on Sunday.