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Hot Hostesses Watch – BIN 702 + A Few Thoughts on Downtown Dining

LaLa and LoLo (we kid you not — those are their actual names*) are two big reasons to do all of your fine wine tasting at BIN 702 in Container Park.

The other is: all bottles of wine are 1/2 price on Sundays and Wednesdays.

Another is: BIN 702 is pretty much the only place to drink good wine in downtown Las Vegas. (We kid you not — try finding another venue with a good wine list within a several mile radius of Fremont Street.)

And finally, the hand-made panini and charcuterie plates served there are worth a stop all by themselves.

As are the charcuterie plates at the just-opened Scullery in the Ogden Building:

All of which begs the question: What is there to eat in downtown Las Vegas?

Sadly, not much. (We kid you not.)

After four years of hype from the Downtown Project and Tony “Mr. Personality” Hsieh, all downtown has to show for it is a bunch of new cocktail bars and a few food venues — none of which venture beyond the pizza/taco comfort zone of your average college kid. Every restaurateur we’ve spoken with (and there’ve been a lot) looks at the downtown demographic and says “pass,” with good reason. Sam and Sallie Suburban still prefer the safety and predictability of  Tivoli Village-like mediocrity to the wild and wooly environs of Container Park or Atomic Liquors. Parking is still a pain in the arse (ELV knows where all the shortcuts are, and he still considers parking a chore), and a good, three-course meal is still hard to find.

Natalie Young’s taking over of Wild from the “serial social entrepreneur” who talked “Mr. Personality” into backing her (original, stupid, doomed) project, would seem like a good move, but as long as they stick with the gluten-free theme, expect people to stay away in droves.

On a similar note, Stewart + Ogden opened to great fanfare last year, boasting an Elizabeth Blau pedigree, and trumpeting the arrival of Chef Todd Harrington from Central in Caesars Palace. From where we sit (and we’ve sat there three times) the place looks like a cheap, uncomfortable, nouveau/retro coffee shop…with a menu that’s as boring as the decor. So much for pedigrees.

As for Harrington, he didn’t last 3 months. So much for references.

So, if you’re hungry and you’re downtown, consider your options few and far between. La Comida does some nice Mexican dishes, the wood-fired pies at Pizza Rock are worth a trip, and The Commissary (by Richard Sandoval) has impressed us with some solid renditions of its barbacoa and other Mexicali mainstays.

Oh yeah, and Crystal Whitford’s deep-fried beauties at O Face Doughnuts:

….are a gorgeous heart attack waiting to happen.

Past that, and you’re in no man’s land, unless you’re willing to settle for the abominable burgers at Park on Fremont, or the world’s worst pizza at Radio City Pizza.

On the plus side, least there are more choices downtown than there were four years ago….so we guess we should thank Tony Hsieh for that.  But he and his hipster crowd have made it painfully clear that good food is less than ancillary to whatever booze-fueled, urban “experience” they’re seeking….so, for the time being, finding proper vittles beyond the level of frat-boy sustenance will remain a challenge.

BIN 702

707 East Fremont Street

Las Vegas, NV 89101

702.826.2702

SCULLERY

150 Las Vegas Blvd. North

Las Vegas, NV 89101

702. 910.2396

LA COMIDA

100 South 6th Street

Las Vegas, NV 89101

702.463.9900

PIZZA ROCK

201 North 3rd Street

Las Vegas, NV 89101

702.385.0838

THE COMMISSARY

206 North 3rd Street

Las Vegas, NV 89101

O FACE DOUGHNUTS

124 South 6th Street

Las Vegas, NV 89101

702.476.3223

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

* Actually, LoLo’s real name is Lauren, but her nickname, like the panini here, is just too delicious to resist.

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13 Responses to Hot Hostesses Watch – BIN 702 + A Few Thoughts on Downtown Dining

  • I agree with you, if you limit your definition of “downtown” to a three block radius around Zappos – which I refuse to do. There’s a lot going on in the rest of downtown, you know, where the people live and neighborhoods have existed for decades. Viva Las Arepas, Art of Flavors, and Goodwich sandwich shop are all great new additions at Oakey and Las Vegas Blvd. Velveteen Rabbit is fantastic for cocktails. For a quick and reasonably priced lunch, I really like Anthony’s on Lewis just north of the RJC. And even though the Cornish Pasty Co. is south of Sahara, it’s a really nice addition to Commercial Center and is easily accessible to those who live downtown. I love the cold coffee at O Face and like a few of the places at container park, including bin 702, but for the most part I think there’s much more going on outside of the east Fremont zone.

  • Finally. It’s taken far too long for the truth to be written. I’d say the media might follow suit but they are too hungry for Tony’s advertising dollars to be honest. Le Thai isn’t terrible but it’s also not the northern outpost of Chada that the DT “elite” would have you believe.

  • About Time, your comment is spot-on. Except for one detail – Le Thai should not be mentioned in the same sentence with Chada.

    Therefore make it – “Le Thai isn’t terrible. But it’s also not the northern outpost of Chada that the DT “elite” would have you believe.”

    Sometimes nuance really does matter…

  • Would you consider MTO or The Flame at the El Cortez not worthy of a downtowne mention? Hugo’s Cellar isnt too bad for what it offers…granted its alittle dated. Your other mentions are good choices and reasonably priced.

  • Considering what downtown “used” to be like , I must say it’s a step in the right direction. Places like Eat , Oscar’s , O Face and Vic and Anthony’s are tasty options that I love ! If I was Tony I would turn Fremont East into the new Bourbon Street of the west …..are weather is soooo much better!

  • ELV responds: Great comments all, which are much appreciated. However, in light of the mention of a few other places, we feel compelled to respond.

    Jonell is correct about the treats available once you move south of Fremont, but as much as we’d love to love joints like MTO, B+B, Mingo, and EAT, none of them qualifies as a really good restaurant. (The noise level at EAT is insufferably loud, B + B is a better bar than bistro (ditto Mingo), and we’ve had as many bad as good experiences at MTO.

    Viva Arepas is great, but definitely a niche/ethnic spot.

    Oscar’s is strictly a tourist trap, and makes Vic and Anthony’s look like Carnevino. True, Mundo can bring the goods, but its forlorn location doesn’t attract the kind of regular crowd (and attention) that the food merits (and if ever a LOCATION could be said to have awful feng shui, it has it in spades).

    The other problem with Mundo is it is just more and more Mexican. There’s like 7 Mexican restaurants downtown, a few breakfast spots, and those alphabet cafes…..and that’s it. We’d trade them all in for one, decent, 3-course (non-Mexican) meal joint….or a single, exceptional burger. (sigh)

  • Spot on! Just this weekend, we hit Goodwich, The Art of Flavors, and MTO after the wait at EAT was well over 30 minutes. Wish they’d take a reservation and lower the volume. What’s with the music so loud, even at breakfast, that you must shout at your dining companions? We’ve endured bad loud music at Eat, MTO and Le Thai. At times, the front desk reception at Mundo can be chilly. We’ve had to wait well over 15 minutes for an early table when the restaurant was completely empty, and did not fill up during our entire meal. This type of reception is a bad way to start off a meal, at least a brief explanation is warranted – between service or something.

  • I haven’t been impressed with La Comida, like MTO I find them too hit & miss. For Mexican food it’s really Mundo, Los Antojos, and Los Molcajetes — and Tacos El Gordo.

    Then you still neglect Rincon Criollo (Cuban food).

    That said, your other choices and the above mentioned EAT are welcome additions.

    Now where can I get some decent Indian food — curries, tandoori, thalis, biryani, dosas, anything?

  • ELV responds: Sadly, we’ve always found Cuban food to promise more than it actually delivers. That said, Rincon Criollo is our go to spot for a Cubano sandwich.

    As for Indian, try Mint Indian Bistro on East Flamingo (near UNLV). Our favorite by far (don’t miss the Nepalese dishes either).

  • When I lived downtown, I’d walk to the D and eat at Joe Vicari’s. IMHO, it was the best place in the neighborhood to eat, and the wine list, while not bold, is certainly acceptable.

  • I’m wondering if Rincon Criollo has closed. For the past few weeks, whenever I drive by there is a “closed” sign in the window. I hope it’s just a long vacation. I’ve also seen a “closed” sign quite often recently at Oacha.

  • JC:
    Regarding La Comida. Tried it three times and they failed three times. If the owners put as much money into the training and standards of the staff on being able to execute as they did on the decor, I might have been impressed. Sorry, I have had better burritos at Rubios!

    On Stewart and Ogden- Rumors of Todd Harrington’s departure is greatly exaggerated. He is still there with Exec Chef Charles Wilson working to turn the culinary ship around. Give me a shout when you want to go get some of the best Chinese in town at Red Mansion!

  • All of these places would be tolerable, if they were just open later.

    Le Thai is barely open past 2am and let’s face it, I’d rather starve than eat at Park on Fremont.

    I just want a Ping Pang Pong to open in Binion’s or something…

    and all the hipsters can eat their chicken caesar wraps at Goldspike while I lovingly (drunkenly) shovel singapore rice noodles in my mouth.

    A girl can dream!

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