City Guide: Las Vegas
If you're done with Thanksgiving and need something new to look forward to, why not plan your next trip to party hardy Las Vegas? We've got the Las Vegas getaway guide, including lots of places off of the strip that are way more enjoyable than the standard Vegas fare.
THE COSMOPOLITAN So many of the hotel options in Vegas are tacky, and not in a fun way. We like the Cosmopolitan because it is legitimately cool, as it made clear in its swanky ads last year with sexy, leggy Elle Joslyn dancing to Mos Def. The decor is art deco opulence, with glass chandeliers seemingly overflowing from the ceilings and walls. It's decadent and lush and exactly how we want to feel when we're partying in Vegas.
CANYON RANCH SPA Give yourself some you-time with one of the most amazing deep tissue massages money can by, then meet up with your crew in one of the co-ed "environments," like the Salt Grotto, a space featuring heated benches built into salt walls; or the Wave Room, which simulates the look and feel of breaking waves under a canopy.
THE FREEMONT STREET EXPERIENCE We straight up don't enjoy hanging on the strip; it feels sad and reeks of old cigarette smoke. But we love hanging out in DOWNTOWN, which is where anyone young and cool lives in Vegas. We especially love visiting OLD VEGAS, which encompasses the five blocks of Freemont Street, where it feels crazy, kooky, and yes, a little seedy, but in the best possible way. Flashing 70s style lights constantly remind you that you're in V-E-G-A-S, while dancers flit around in showgirl head dresses. Sure, you'll probably see some crazy decrepit old gambler dancing with a legless dog, but that's entirely the charm.
EAT & DRINK
CHINA POBLANO, Chef Jose Andres' upscale Mexican Chinese restaurant in the Cosmopolitan, was inspired by the historic interplay of Chinese and Mexican food cultures. His interest leads to unique and delicious dishes like the Viva China, tacos filled with beef tendon and Kumamoto oysters. Order his signature Salt Air Margarita to enjoy in this causal spot decorated with Chinese red lanterns and Mexican wrestling masks.
LOTUS OF SIAM This place is way off the strip, but don't be surprised if you run into someone you know at this James Beard award winning thai restaurant nestled in a strip mall. Anthony Bourdain famously visited it in his trip to Vegas for Parts Unknown, and it is just as good as he promised it would be. With a specialty in the less familiar Northern Thai cuisine, the spicy curries and fresh herbs on offer are truly special, and served in a warm and friendly setting.
CARSON KITCHEN's website is off-putting; on the main page the chef stares directly at you while holding his hands in a prayer. It's literally the pose Michael Bluth stands in on the In-Flight Magazine cover, to his own horror and everyone's else's derision. But we swear, the tacky website is not a good representation of the restaurant itself. Situated in our favorite Downtown, the food here is fresh, homey, and a bit eclectic, with offerings like the Jerk Turkey Burger, and Bacon Jam.
EL SOMBRERO is another restaurant that's a bit off the beaten path, but this hidden gem of a spot is worth it. Well designed in a mod feeling black and white space with southwestern touches, this small long-standing Vegas restaurant, redesigned and modernized by Irma Aguirre in the last two years, serves fresh and exciting upscale Mexican. The service is unparalleled, and combined with the excellent food, this is one of our favorite spots to grab a bite before heading out on the town.