Exploring the Unique Hangouts of Las Vegas.

Creating a single mixtape is difficult, as they say. Therefore, it was challenging to resist expanding on the Las Vegas "mixtape" theme from my previous work.

Jun 11, 2024
8 min read
The squid ink pasta at Vegas’ Aromi. Check out more about the spot below in Track 6.
The squid ink pasta at Vegas’ Aromi. Check out more about the spot below in Track 6.


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Exploring the Unique Hangouts of Las Vegas.

Making mixtapes isn't easy, especially when you can't resist sticking to a theme. After my last column on the Las Vegas scene, I found myself drawn to the city's vibrant mix of new and old, and the delicious food that adds to its unique atmosphere. Here are three more places to go for that eclectic Vegas experience and some good eats.

Track #1: Piero's, Capo's Restaurant & Speakeasy, Italian American Club, and Casa de Amore

A foodie's paradise awaits at these four restaurants that invoke the old-school Italian vibe of bygone days. Dark lighting, storied pasts, live music, and authentic Italian dishes make them all must-visits. I recently went to check them out and couldn't be more impressed by the service and food.

  • Piero's: Grab a valet spot at this spacious building on Convention Center Dr, and you'll be treated like a celebrity. Though it may be an oldie, this eatery off The Strip is still a favorite for Italian cuisine and seafood. I indulged in Chilean Sea Bass with a puttanesca sauce and baby spinach, accompanied by a simple yet perfect Spaghetti Pomodoro. Top entertainment was by singer Christy Molasky and the jazzy lounge trio Shoutouts, who serenaded the crowd with a wonderful rendition of John Prine's "The Angel From Montgomery."
  • Capo's Restaurant & Speakeasy: With its dark, intimate setting and ties to the mafia world, Capo's is a classy hideout on the west side. I was surprised to find the place packed early on a Friday night. The singing Rat Pack musical combo created an awesome atmosphere, while "Chicago Tommy" provided a warm welcome. My Chicken Parmigiana alone was enough to make me visit again, but the Spaghetti was the icing on the cake. Don't expect any lightly cheesed dishes here!
  • Italian American Club: Offering a bit of everything, this vast stand-alone building on the east side has dining rooms for banquets, dinner shows, and lounge entertainment. Their Chicken Involtini was a heavenly treat. Entertainment catered to everyone, from Rat Pack standards to a John Anthony as Rod Stewart performance.
  • Casa Di Amore: This Roman-themed eatery on the east side has a huge parking lot and captivating statues outside. A visit to the downtown Mob Museum was followed by a delightful meal at this long-running restaurant, with its slogan "Vegas the way it used to be." My wife and I shared a Caesar salad, garlic bread, Baked Clams Oreganata, Stuffed Bell Peppers, Chicken Piccata, and cannoli. Love at first bite—we'll be back for more of their Rat Pack-inspired entertainment.

Track #2: "The Rat Pack," Tuscany Suites & Casino

For a blast from the past, head to "The Rat Pack Is Back!" at the Copa Room, an intimate venue at the Tuscany Suites & Casino away from The Strip. Kudos to Chris Jason, Drew Anthony, and Kyle Diamond for paying tribute to Frank, Dean, and Sammy, backed by a first-rate seven-piece band. Endless drinks, music, and witty banter have made this 23-year-old show a must-see.

Track #3: 1923 Prohibition Bar, Shoppes at Mandalay Place

Curious about Vegas' booming speakeasy scene? Visit 1923 Prohibition Bar, a hidden gem inside The Shoppes at Mandalay Place. As a speakeasy-themed private, bourbon-driven establishment, it offers a variety of tasty concoctions and a unique experience. Don't miss this off-the-radar spot—or the endless entertainment it has to offer.

To locate the Prohibition Bar, seek out a bookcase in Mandalay Place's Shoppes with a "Prohibition Has Ended" sign and push it open. The environment inside is sultry and intimate, bathed in seductive lighting from chandeliers. Guests enjoy specialty cocktails bearing creative names such as "Speakeasy Strange Rush" and "Gangster's Holy Grail."

Recently, the venue came alive with festivities on a bustling Saturday night. A burlesque dancer called "Cherry London" intermittently mingled with the crowd, leaving little to the imagination as she went topless with pasties and feathers. A talented DJ, standing in for the scheduled live entertainment, played an array of songs from Beyonce's "Cuff It" to popular hip-hop favorites like "California Love" and "Stranglehold" by Ted Nugent. The dance floor was fully occupied, making it a fantastic place to be amidst the Saturday night energy.

Track #4: Hellbound Horror Collectibles, Commercial Center's New Orleans Square

If you enjoy celebrating Halloween all the time, make your way to Hellbound Horror Collectibles. Founded by Jim and Barbra in June 2020, this shop showcases an array of memorabilia suitable for horror movie fans and those attracted to the eerie characters of Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees, and Michael Myers.

There you'll find an abundance of collectibles such as books, knives, T-shirts, socks, action figures, statues, dolls, wallets, magnets, and items featuring horror movie titles like Halloween Kills and Attack of The Living Dead. Additionally, replica license plates from cars seen in horror movies are on sale (depending on your level of recognition, you're in luck).

Barbra informed me that the store supports local artists by selling art, banners, and enamel pins. They occasionally feature signing events from popular horror film personalities like actress Eileen Dietz, who instantly caught my attention as the fear-inducing demon "Pazuzu" in The Exorcist. I left the store with a quirky spirit board bag from the UK because 2023 seems ripe for some mystery exploration.

Track #5: "Absinthe," Caesars Palace

A prime spot to experience indulgent entertainment is the circus-like tent outside Caesars Palace, where "Absinthe" brings its artistic anarchy. The innovative show is known as the hottest ticket in Vegas and showcases the imaginative skills of Spiegelworld, a group who's well-versed in creating visually alluring and witty comedy sketches that aim to crack down on freedom-restricting conservatives.

The spectacle features jugglers, body contortionists, sword swallowers, a gymnastic balancing duo, and awe-inspiring aerialists, including the sensual beach burlesque performance "Hot Chicks on Sticks." The quick show is meticulously crafted, blending jaw-dropping acts with adult humor that challenges societal norms. Consider leaving your parents at home when visiting "Absinthe."

Track #6: Aromi, Summerlin North

Are you seeking high-end cuisine unassociated with the Strip? Experience Italian cuisine at its finest by visiting the trendy Aromi - the creation of acclaimed Chef German Castellanos - located in Summerlin North. With his previous accomplishments at Valentino, a restaurant boasting a 12-year run at The Venetian, Castellanos continues to deliver a memorable dining experience.

During a visit to Aromi, my attention was drawn to Castellanos' signature starter, the mesmerizing Scallop Carpaccio with blood orange agrumato caviar and micro arugula. The equally delightful Squid Ink Spaghetti with lobster, scallops, and arrabbiata sauce is not to be missed, along with the captivating Linguine Bottarga, a remarkable combination of roasted garlic, shrimp, asparagus, and cured mullet roe. Castellanos' culinary creations brim with subtle flavors that deserve close attention.

Although the menu includes classic choices like lasagna, chicken parmigiana, and spaghetti carbonara, it's recommended to explore the chef's innovative offerings. Aromi is conveniently found on Rampart Blvd, near Lake Mead Blvd, within the same plaza as the highly recommended Ohlala French Bistro.

Track #7: The Cowsills, Golden Nugget Showroom

Did you catch the troublesome Showtime documentary, "Family Band: The Cowsills Story?" The documentary exposed the emotional turmoil these '60s pop group endured at the hands of their abusive father-manager. At the Golden Nugget, however, it's heartening to see The Cowsills (comprising Bob, Paul, and Susan, with a talented band) triumphantly move beyond their painful past, even joking about it with nonstop funny banter, making their 90-minute set an unforgettable experience.

The concert began with their fan-favorite "The Rain, The Park and Other Things," showcasing their delightful, soaring three-part brotherly harmonies.

The band members joked about having just four major hits throughout their career and played lesser-known songs, as well as quite believable covers. The standout among these was "Helplessly Hoping" by CSN. In Vegas, there's an abundance of rock legends to witness; I'm pleased that I caught The Cowsills. The Nugget's historical showroom is also the venue for Saturdays, with upcoming acts such as The Guess Who (March 17) and Tommy James & The Shondells (March 24).

Tracks #8-9: Take It Easy Coffee Roasters (Chinatown) and Pasabocas Colombian Bakery (Commercial Center)

Numerous tempting dessert destinations can be found all over Vegas, many of which are located in Chinatown. Take It Easy Coffee Roasters is one of these, set on Wynn Rd., from the team behind the well-known coffee and Latin food chain Makers & Finders. This cozy establishment offers specialized coffee and espresso in addition to classic Columbian bakery items like fried dough fritters with cheese or pastry like the delectable banana bread loaf (vegan and gluten-free, topped with seared pecans). As with Makers & Finders, the range of delectable handmade empanadas (baked or fried) abounds, some of them being sweet (guava, blueberry, or apple) and presumably from heaven.

In contrast, Pasabocas Colombian Bakery, nestled in Commercial Center, is an authentic mother-and-daughter enterprise with largely non-English-speaking staff. It's another one of my suggestions for pastries, empanadas, and coffee. The welcoming interior, brightened with homey living room furniture, boasts an irresistible electric sign proclaiming "Viva Bunuelos!" Taste their coconut bread, churros, or puff pastry stuffed with cheese and guava or cheese and dulce de leche.

Should you opt for their king-size Chilean dulce de leche cake, with creamy caramel filling, you may find yourself less irritated with the world.

Track #10: Main St. Provisions, Arts District

The kitchen in the highly favored Main St. Provisions in the Arts District is bursting with creativity. This spacious restaurant, owned by Kim Owens and decorated with local art, was brimming with patrons on a recent Wednesday night.

Chef Patrick Anthony Munster is renowned for his modern American comfort food; his inventive and intelligent approach was instantly noticeable in the golden beet and arugula salad, enhanced with bresaola beef and goat cheese. The seared scallops, paired with creamed brussels sprouts, leeks, and truffle reduction, as well as the oven-roasted 1/2 chicken, featuring braised greens and smoked thigh and creamy polenta, added even more delight to the meal.

Do not miss out on the desserts. The butter cake, complemented by pomegranate reduction, paired with Cointreau whipped cream, and the "Myrtle the Turtle" (a milk chocolate brownie with candied pecans, salted caramel sauce, and vanilla bean ice cream) brought us inner tranquility. If you're experiencing a difficult day, Main St. Provisions has the power to turn things around.

A sampling of the delicious baked goods available from Pasabocas Colombian Bakery.
Find a secret speakeasy next to the “prohibition has ended here” at the shoppes at Mandalay Place.
The real-life Partridge family, The Cowsills, seen as children above. See their latest show at the Golden Nugget
Find a little thrill with Jason and Freddy, above, at Hellbound Horror Collectibles.
Linguine and Clams at Piero’s.

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