VegeNation in Downtown Las Vegas is an entire restaurant dedicated to plant-based food. (Photo: May Harris)
Forget the Fremont Street Experience. (Ok, don’t forget about it, but don’t make that the bulk of our visit to Downtown Las Vegas). The burgeoning hipster hub of Downtown Las Vegas is a must-see when you tire of plunking chips down in casinos and spending small fortunes for breakfast. From must-see exhibits you’ve got to see, like where the old neons signs “go to die” and spots that give you a peek into the mobster side of Vegas, to the area’s best eats and drinks, this is your essential guide to Downtown Las Vegas.
Best Cheap Eats
Sure, Downtown Vegas is home of the cheap shrimp cocktail. But, there are far better cheap eats than the icy crustaceans. For a filling — yet cheap — eat, head to Pop Up Pizza at The Plaza. Aside from it being one of the best pizza joints downtown, it’s also budget-friendly.
Best Vegan Eats
There’s an entire restaurant dedicated to plant-based food. VegeNation, one of the most talked about vegan spots in Vegas, offers tasty fare that’s been voted some of the best in town — and nation.
Best Breakfast Spot
Get there early. Or get there late. Just make sure you get to Eat. This popular restaurant has a consistent line out the door and for good reason: acclaimed Chef Natalie Young provides her take on breakfast (and lunch) classics, using locally-sourced products.
Best Fancy Dinner
Roses for every woman who walks through the door. Servers clad in tuxedos. Yeah, Hugo’s Cellar inside Four Queens is fancy, despite being housed in an older casino. It’s known for its intimate atmosphere, table-side salad service and dishes that make it one of the best in the city.
Best Handcrafted Cocktail
If you can figure out how to get inside the somewhat hidden Downtown Cocktail Room, then you’re well on your way to having one of the best seasonal handcrafted cocktails in the city. The rotating menu at this speakeasy offers some of the most creative drinks in town, like 2016’s Sloe and Steady with Navy Gin, berries, lime and fresh tarragon, plus a large absinthe menu.
Best Dive Bar
To hang with the locals (and hipsters), check out Atomic Liquors. One of the longest-standing bars in Las Vegas, this one is conveniently located in burgeoning Fremont East and offers a large craft beer menu and fabulous outdoor area to watch all the colorful characters parade past.
With the loss of local favorite The Beat, Makers & Finders stands to take its place. Housed in the Main Street Corridor (south of Fremont), this light and airy coffee shop pours some seriously good coffee and serves up some Latin inspired food.
Learn about how the mob shaped Las Vegas’ story at The Mob Museum. Packed with exhibits, the interactive museum shares stories and events that explain the mob and organized crime in the States.
Downtown itself is a living, breathing canvas. Each year, Life is Beautiful — a massive music and art festival — comes to the city along with street artists commissioned to create street art on building exteriors. Wander around the Fremont East area and uncover the works of art, or, head to the many galleries in the city’s Arts District.
Best Old Vegas
What happens to the neon signs when Las Vegas hotels make their explosive exit from the city? They retire to the Neon Boneyard. Spread over two acres, the museum features more than 200 signs which used to be displayed throughout town. Fork out the admission fees and take a guided tour to learn about the signs’ history, and grab some killer snaps of these vintage relics.