By Jennifer Olvera
The Strip – with its around-the-clock action and trace of flashing lights – has the glitz and glamour thing down pat. When planning Las Vegas vacations, however, it’s wise to look beyond the main drag and explore what’s tried and true. Remnants of old Las Vegas, are tucked into time-honored spots or have been resurrected as an homage to days gone by.
Certainly chef-driven, casino-centered restaurants are in plenty, but few things beat a cheap shrimp cocktail from the Shrimp Bar & Deli at Golden Gate Hotel and Casino. Serving up the self-professed “best tail in town,” the joint packs the crustaceans in so tight that they overflow their tulip-style glass, cloaked in zippy sauce. The tab? A shocking $1.99, plus tax.
Of course, gambling is at the core of all Las Vegas vacations. But few do it in throwback fashion like Binion’s Horseshoe Hotel and Casino. From its cowgirl-hosted blackjack pit, glittering slots and saloon-like vibe, it’s a straight-up equation that works and a wise stop during any gambling vacation.
From there, you’d be wise to take in the Fremont Street Experience, or even get a room nearby. Offering one of the most serious nods to vintage Vegas, it features a high-tech, if garish, LED light canopy and sound display. Show times are every hour on the hour, beginning at 8:30 p.m.; you’ll see travelers wandering in wonderment, stopping in classic casinos floors, boisterous bars and old time-y restaurants fringing the festivities.
Keeping with the theme, the Neon Museum –- on Las Vegas Boulevard North –- honors iconic Las Vegas in a way few do. Situated within reasonable distance from El Cortez Hotel & Casino, its Boneyard boasts more than 150 donated and rescued signs from storied casinos, while the gallery affords a self-guided, outdoor experience past stunningly refurbished placards. It’s also busy installing rehabbed signs along Las Vegas Boulevard between Sahara Avenue and Washington Avenue.
Naturally, you’d be remiss not grabbing a slab from Golden Steer Steakhouse, a circa 1958 fixture with a faded feel, famed beef and tableside-prepped cherries jubilee. It’s worth a stop for the lore alone: Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin were regular customers.
Jennifer Olvera is a Chicago-based author, editor and food enthusiast, who travels often – usually in search of her next great meal.