Episodes Vegas Tips

Underrated Vegas

Some of us are very much in the loop of the goings on in the city. However, sometimes we may fall into certain patterns, becoming content and going through what we may consider typical Vegas trips. In this episode, our friends across the Vegas internet community lend their tips, helping us explore the underrated or underappreciated spots and experiences in Las Vegas. Here we go:

Underrated Sportsbook

Sportsbook Tom (The Vegas Parlay):

Treasure Island (TI)

TI should be considered the most underrated sports book in all of Vegas, and most definitely on the Vegas Strip. In the summer of 2014, TI removed its old screens, which were the original projection screens mounted on the sports book walls in 1993 when TI first opened. In their place, ultra HD screens were installed, which rival any sports book screens currently on the strip.

Also, With the exception of Super Bowl and March Madness, of course, you will most likely find a nice place to sit and enjoy watching a sporting event. The neighboring Mirage usually attracts the big crowds and there has never been a time, in my experience, where finding a seat at TI has been an issue.

Free drink tickets are easy to come by. TI is the only sports book where the actual sportsbook manager gives you drink tickets. The ticket writer directs you to them when you ask. If you are holding some betting tickets in your hand, you’ll score some drink tickets. It helps to be seen as well, because if the sports book manager sees you spending time at the sports book and going up to the betting counter (even if it’s betting a $5 sport parlay or a $1 horse racing pick they’re more apt to provide a few drink tickets any time you request them.

If you don’t want to play the drink ticket game and prefer not to wait for or have to tip the cocktail server, there is a CVS pharmacy only steps away……capish?

There are decent food options as well – a Chicago Hot Dog joint is steps away and the very underrated Francesco’s NY style pizza is also close by.

Underappreciated “Annoyance”

@Vegasography (Cool Twitter guy and friend of the show):

This may cut against the grain of popular narrative, but I will say the proliferation of CVS/Walgreens. Unsightly sure. Convenient absolutely. With the decline of comped beverage service and the rise of $20 cocktails, being able to pre-party in the room adds value. And thanks to the corner drug store no matter where you stay a bottle of booze, pack of beer, or liter of Boone’s farm is never more than a 5-minute walk.   

Underrated Bar

Tim (Five Hundy By Midnight and FreemontStreetBars.com):

An easily overlooked Fremont East bar that I always enjoy is Wayfarer. Nestled in the back of the ground level of Inspire Theater, Wayfarer is small and unassuming, with an eight-seat bar, some lounge seating and a total capacity of fewer than 50 people. Despite the small size, when visiting this bar in the evening, my group has had the entire place to ourselves a few times.

Originally owned by the same people who run Downtown Cocktail Room, Wayfarer has gone through a couple ownership changes since opening in late 2014. Today, the Downtown Project group that runs Gold Spike is calling the shots, and they’re making a few changes. Rather than focusing on bourbon and scotch, they’re making the move to whiskey and craft beers. They plan to install taps within the next few weeks and are in the process of revamping their specialty menu to reflect the new focus.

The factors that keep bringing me back to Wayfarer are friendly bartenders, the midcentury design elements and—most importantly—a volume level that allows for conversation. Music is typically kept at a relatively low level, making this one of the better area bars for carrying on a discussion, a rarity on Fremont Street.

All in all, Wayfarer feels a little cozy, a little classy, a little nostalgic, and always welcoming and friendly. For those reasons, it’s one of my favorite under-appreciated gems on Fremont Street.

Underappreciated Dining

Chris (Faces and Aces LV Podcast):

There are a lot of great restaurants in Vegas, many of them located inside the hotels and casinos where you may be staying. The appeal of these eateries might be the convenience of the location, or it might be the glamour of the celebrity name attached to it. Many of these places serve excellent food, but you’ll often pay a premium for the experience because real estate inside a name casino isn’t cheap. One frequently overlooked option is off-strip dining. From DTLV to Chinatown (which boasts some of the best Chinese food outside of San Francisco), there are a lot of delicious options that will feed a family and won’t break the bank. Prices tend to be much cheaper off strip because these restaurants service the local community, and locals like to eat out, but don’t want to pay tourist prices. A few of my off strip favorites are Eat, Pizza Rock, and Jinya Ramen Bar.

Underrated Solo Trip

Gray (Vegas Solo):

I’d say an underrated solo experience is going to Vegas at Christmas. Many single people dread the Christmas holidays for a wide variety of reasons, so if you’d rather do something fun and un-Christmasy at Christmas, go to Vegas and pretend it’s any other day. Everything’s open—casinos, restaurants, shops, and shows—and even public transportation still runs on Christmas. It’s really an ideal vacation destination for solos who want to avoid typical family Christmas celebrations and expectations.

Underrated Video Poker Spot

Joe (Comped Vegas):

Taking out the obvious ones that have been mentioned before (MSS, Gold Coast etc) I spent a lot of time at M resort last week and although it’s off the beaten path it’s become much more accessible. M offers a free shuttle from Tropicana to the M from 12p-11p (schedule on their website) if you don’t have a rental car.  You can easily find the best VP on http://VPfree2.com  but this never tells the whole story.

M offers easy comps, generous cash back on points and great promotions. For example my wife and I stayed Saturday and Sunday. Sunday morning I played on my wife’s card, earned 2000 points for a free seafood buffet (my mailed offer included a free buffet with the 2 free nights).  Later that day we each played on our cards to earn M cooler bags.  M offers about 18 gift days per month, some junk some not.  I’ve seen hoodies, booze, there is even a mini air compressor on April 2nd!  You earn up to 3 of these gifts and usually take 800 points that are not actually redeemed so you can use them for food or cash back later on.

They have 8/5 bonus poker but they also have some great bonus games like super times pay and quick quads with decent pay schedules (7/5 bp) down to the nickel level!  Quick quads is a blast and since its triple play, playing nickels for 90 cents a spin is a fun low roller option when basic video poker starts to get boring.

They also offer 99% payback deuces at the 32 degree bar that has a ton of great beers on tap.

Maybe not a choice for someone wanting center strip action, but take the shuttle check it out for a couple hours and come back to the strip, you might get a nice teaser offer for a little play.  Also when you get a mailer you will be able to swipe your card for 2x points on vp every day of the week! This gives you $6 cash back with only 1000 coin in, or about 75 minutes of quarter video poker.

Underappreciated Downtown

Scott (Vital Vegas):

I think downtown overall is under-appreciated. Most people who visit Vegas don’t go downtown, and when they do, they’re downtown for four hours on average. Surprising, given some of my favorite places and values are downtown.

I guess I’d start with Downtown Grand. It takes lots of hits because of some of its questionable management decisions (eSports, really?), but it’s a great resort–the rooms, the pool, the surrounding restaurants (Triple George and Pizza Rock) and the mellow atmosphere. With some marketing and management tweaks from some hard hitting internet marketer like Yeah! Local, this place could even make money at some point! Bonus: When the casino comps a drink, the liquor you order is the one actually poured, increasingly rare in Las Vegas.

I think the dining scene in downtown Vegas is just beginning to get some love. Some underrated regular haunts of mine are Therapy, Stoned N Baked at Downtown Container Park, Pizza Lotto at El Cortez, Triple George, the BBQ place at Binion’s and, of course, Pizza Rock.

On The Strip, I’d say some of the most underrated things are Carrot Top, the food at Twin Peaks and the fountains at Aria.

Underrated Hotel

Oh, wait…this is my part. I say Vdara. I actually just posted about this- check it out here. It’s a beautiful property with spacious rooms and is likely much cheaper than you’d think. It’s not your typical Vegas resort, but it offers a nice respite from the crazy Vegas nights.

Underappreciated Casino

This is where you come in. It’s probably the hardest question of the bunch. What do you think? What casino in Vegas do you think should get more love? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks again to all the guests across the Vegas scene. I really respect their opinion. I actually found a few new places I’m going to check out. Hopefully you did too!

  • Kevin Rackley

    I’ll vote for El Cortez. It’s not underappreciated by us low rollers, but by the larger gambling community. Some of the best blackjack and video poker anywhere.

    • I just said those words, almost verbatim, the other day. I sometimes forget that most of the Vegas tourists aren’t aware, not only of the rules governing the games, but the large disparity between the games of the Strip and downtown.

  • IndyJeffrey

    My homework? Best Blackjack? I don’t know where, but it’d be a place with lots of $5 tables, 3:2 blackjack, and super cool dealers, not the kind that won’t talk or yuck it up. That place is probably downtown. I’ve had fun blackjack times at MSS and GG.

    • Very cool, albeit not always knowledgeable, dealers at GG. I always have fun there.

  • Mr. Bill

    Best Blackjack – based on feel, I always love the Golden Gate – $5 CSM for 3:2, but slow times can find the $15 High Limit room game. Based on rules, I’d go play the single deck at El Cortez, or if I’m on the strip, surprisingly TI has $10 multi deck with surrender.

    • It seems like GG and El Co are going to take the top spots. Lots of love for those two, with good reason.