SIEGEL’S 1941 is Much Better Than It Has to Be

Monday night dining is not a fertile field for the hungry, intrepid gastronaut to explore…much less plow… if he’s downtown. Glutton is closed, as is La Comida,  and there’s only so many platters of finely-tuned fish ‘n chips one dude can put away at the always-reliable Smashed Pig. And ever since Therapy fired their second good chef in less than six months, we’ve decided to give up on it entirely…or at least until management gets its act together.

And don’t even think about a meal at that beyond-stupid sex-toy fondue joint (or The Perch), both of which may not be long for this business cycle. (What’s keeping either of them afloat is anyone’s guess.)

So, with options limited, we wandered in to the El Cortez last night (“wandering” being sort of a euphemism for dodging wheelchairs and various other nearly-dead geriatrics in various stages of one-foot-in-the-grave infirmities) and settled into a four-top at Siegel’s 1941 for some all-purpose dining.

And by “all-purpose dining” we mean a menu that’s so all-over-the-map it would make Magellan dizzy.

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“Please Don’t Pee On My Car,” Blowjob Alleys, and Other Tales of the City

WHAT’S WRONG (AND RIGHT) WITH DOWNTOWN LAS VEGAS

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ELV — the man, the myth, the influencer  of public opinion — loves to gasbag about what’s right and wrong about Downtown Las Vegas. As someone who lives and works here (his office is in City Hall, his house a mile to the west), he has had a stake in downtown’s success since 1995 (when said residence was purchased). But rather than continue to bloviate about what we think, we thought it time to get into the belly of the beast, as it were, and hear first hand from folks who live the reality of trying to succeed in this trying environment every day. For purposes of eliciting complete candor, we also thought it best to refer to our subjects by the  skill-set they bring to their jobs — jobs that are fraught with more stress and peril than many of us can imagine. So, for your elucidation, edification and delectation, here they are: the Operator, the Craftsmen, and the Talent: smart, talented interesting folks who are risking it all in hopes of carving out an urban identity for our humble burg:

The Operator

Operating a business on East Fremont Street is no easy matter. There have already been failures (Radio City Pizzeria, Insert Coins, Wild, Itsy Bitsy has apparently already changed hands) and competition keeps getting fiercer. So we sat down with someone who was there at the beginning, and knows where a lot of the bodies are buried, as it were. The picture they painted wasn’t a pretty one.

ELV: You’re not optimistic about the future of East Fremont Street?

TO: Let’s just say I’m cautiously pessimistic.

ELV: What’s the problem? In 25 words or less?

TO: They need to create a niche market and sustain it, and the owners and operators and the City haven’t done that.

ELV: Well, it’s more of a destination now than it was five years ago..

TO: It was hot for a couple of years. Lots of publicity, lots of locals. But the locals all came, looked around and left. Then the parking went to $10. The crowds you see here on weekends are tourists. During the week it’s dead and locals have no reason to come here. I mean, what the fuck are people going to Container Park for? They’re not buying anything. They say to themselves: Why should I drive from Tropicana and Tenaya to downtown? And there are no answers except to drink.

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ITSY BITSY Rounds Out Downtown Dining, Pardner

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(ELV note: Ever since he returned from Dallas, ELV has had an uncontrollable urge to talk like a Texan. As you will soon find out.)

Itsy Bitsy Ramen and Whiskey has done what something we thought impossible: bring a steady stream of downtown diners to the north side of The Ogden building. Between the somewhat obscure location, and the bad juju of the former occupant, this space was permanently jinxed in our minds, and destined to become a vacant storefront for years to come.

But you’ve got to hand it to the folks behind the redesign (see above) and to chef Ricardo Romo, because between them, they’ve reinvigorated a challenging spot, and rounded out your dining options whenever a downtown pub crawl captures your fancy.

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