Las Vegas For Non-Gamblers

For reasons both good and bad, Las Vegas is a quintessential American city. More importantly, Las Vegas is a hoot!

The city doesn’t sleep. The people watching is superb. The dining options are seemingly endless. The booze flows like a tsunami. And its quirktitude quotient is high, with attractions that include the National Atomic Testing Museum, the Pinball Hall of Fame, and the Dig This heavy equipment playground where you can operate Caterpillar bulldozers and excavators.

In short, it’s a hard place to be bored if you have a few days to spend there––even for non-gamblers. And that’s me. On a scale of one to 10, my interest in gambling is zero. Yet despite having no urge whatsoever to hand over my hard-earned drachmas to any of the multitude of one-armed bandits deployed in the roughly 15 casinos I’ve visited during the course of two visits to Las Vegas over the past year (one a pleasure trip that included Death Valley; the other for business), I’ve taken a liking to the place. In fact, I like it a lot.

A number of cities can rightly claim to be “uniquely American” (however broadly that can be defined) with attributes that capture key aspects of the American experience and psyche. There’s New York City, the financial powerhouse and bastion of capitalism; huge, imposing and magnetic; and a polyglot teeming with opportunity seekers. San Francisco is self-assured with West Coast sophistication; imbued with spectacular scenery; and powered by tech-driven entrepreneurialship that keeps the U.S. on the cutting edge. New Orleans is the proverbial gumbo of different cultures, birthplace of jazz, and party central with its irresistible joie de vivre.

Las Vegas? It’s brash and crass, loud and boastful, colorful and individualistic . . . a distinct manifestation of America’s manifest destiny created by men of vision, balls and force of will who built a gambling Mecca in a very unlikely spot.

Las-Vegas-(seen-from-the-western-hills)The unlikeliness of that spot is evident when the city is seen from afar and the casino towers along the Las Vegas Strip are swallowed by the enormity of the vast, mountain-ringed Mohave Desert flatland where it resides. From that vantage point, Las Vegas seems vulnerable in the desolate Southwestern landscape.

The potential environmental implications of an ever-growing, ever-thirsty Las Vegas located in the heart of the Southwestern high desert are profound, and the presence of its sprawling boundaries, water-guzzling golf courses and ever-grandiose casino resorts seems akin to flipping the bird to Mother Nature and proclaiming, “We’re here, we ain’t stopping and we don’t care!”

Admittedly, there’s something charismatic about its chutzpah.

Sin City hits you in the face as soon as you disembark at McCarran International Airport. There are slot machines in the terminals, and the baggage claim area is a high-ceilinged space festooned with advertisements of casinos and other attractions, coupled with a video screen with audio promoting current and upcoming entertainment options (Meatloaf in concert! Menopause The Musical!) as you wait for your luggage to appear on the carousel.

McCarran conceivably has the world’s liveliest baggage area. And even the off-site car rental center has slot machines.

This is a city built for tourists (40 million annually, or roughly 20 times greater than Nevada’s permanent population). The convenient-as-heck airport abuts Las Vegas Boulevard (a.k.a. the Strip) just south of where Casino Row begins, which makes it easy to get in and out of town.

NEON
Las Vegas history is short yet fascinating. What began as a railroad division point in 1905 fed by underground springs, Las Vegas (Spanish for “the meadows”) morphed into an anything-goes center for legalized gambling, lax marriage laws and quickie divorces. Mormon banks bankrolled Mob-owned casinos and hotels. Neon signs lit up the nighttime desert sky. The Rat Pack played The Sands (since demolished and replaced by The Venetian, one of Las Vegas’ swankiest casino resorts), and top-flight entertainers headlined the city’s casinos. Through the decades, iconic hotels and casinos have come and gone in a restless city that can’t sit still.

It’s been said Las Vegas feels the need to constantly reinvent itself to keep the tourists coming back. To understand what the city was, is now and could be in the future, plunk down $18 for a guided tour at The Neon Museum. Located on the northern end of Las Vegas Boulevard not far from downtown’s “Glitter Gulch” on Fremont Street, which was the city’s original casino district, the Neon Museum’s is kind of an old folks rest home for the neon signs from Vegas’ past. The signs are laid out in the museum’s outdoor “boneyard” where they bake in the hot Nevada sunshine or, if they’re lucky, eventually get rehabbed and displayed around town, particularly in downtown and on Fremont Street.

Neon-Museum-(tour,-led-by-Dave)The tour guide during my visit, Dave, delivered an engaging dissertation on Vegas history as we moseyed along the boneyard’s winding, looping path bordered on both sides by all manner of neon signs from the likes of the Golden Nugget casino to the small, cute “Happy Shirt” of Steiners Cleaners. I capped my visit by purchasing a $20 book on the history of Las Vegas neon on sale at the museum (“Spectacular, A History of Las Vegas Neon”), which served as a handy reference guide to better appreciate the Vegas experience.

CASINOS (DOWNTOWN)
Vegas isn’t cheap, and the best way to score good deals on lodging is to visit anytime between Sunday and Thursday nights (expect to pay through the nose on Friday and Saturday). One of the best places to find lodging––and to find out about various happenings around town––is through the excellent website of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Another place to find good deals is Cheapo Vegas.com, a fun site with tons of info on hotels, food and activities served up with an insider’s feel.

During my first visit, I had only two overnights in Las Vegas (not counting a late-night arrival and stay at the Motel 6 on Tropicana Avenue by the airport . . . eh, it’s Motel 6, so it is what it is), and I wanted to spend a night both on the Strip and downtown (which is north of the Strip). For the latter, I chose El Cortez, which bills itself as the oldest continuously operated casino in Las Vegas. According to the El Cortez website, the casino opened in 1941 and was so successful that it was bought four years later by a group that included famed mobsters Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky. The interior has been scrubbed and refreshed in recent years, but it still harkens to an earlier era in Vegas history. The exterior has been unchanged since 1952, and in early 2013 the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

From what I’ve read (and I can’t verify it because I don’t gamble), El Cortez is liberal with the comps, has low limits and is one of Vegas’ best values.

Like most of the surviving casinos on Fremont Street, El Cortez is a low-slung building that over the years added a tall hotel tower attached behind it. I stayed not at El Cortez, but across the street (on Ogden Street) at El Cortez Cabana Suites, formerly known as the Ogden House Hotel, which was bought by El Cortez and turned into a chic boutique hotel decked out with sleek furniture and lime green walls with black and white accents.

The interior is sharp, but my room on the 6th floor was small. As in tiny. As in it’s a good thing I was solo because if I had a companion it would’ve been one person too many for such tight quarters. But the room was cheap ($59 on a Monday night, excluding tax) and more quiet than staying on Fremont Street. Given that I spent just one night there, I can’t kick.

El Cortez is in the Fremont East District that abuts the Fremont Street Experience tourist area (more on that in a minute). Fremont East District was created as an entertainment enclave in 2002 to revive a section of downtown that had gotten scruffy and, evidently, a bit dangerous. The clubs and music spots give the three-block-by two-block district a reason for tourists to visit, and the combo of retro-looking neon signage and refurbished neon relics from the Neon Museum give it a colorful flair.

The adjacent Fremont Street Experience (FSE) is a four-block-long, quarter-mile pedestrian-only section of mayhem that’s one part schlock, one part vintage casino experience and a whole lot of noise. Stretching from Fourth Street to Main Street, it includes the “Glitter Gulch” area where some of the city’s most fabled casinos and hotels rubbed shoulders––among them the Golden Nugget, the Horseshoe Club (later Binion’s Horseshoe, and now Binion’s Gambling Hall & Hotel), the Pioneer Club, the Boulder Club and The Mint.

Back in the day, these and other casinos illuminated the night with huge, bright neon signs. Today, The Mint and Boulder Club are gone (both were subsumed by Binion’s, which now covers an entire block on Fremont Street), the Pioneer Club is a souvenir shop, and Fremont Street is now covered by a huge arched canopy that’s 90 feet high, spans five football fields, and is fully loaded with 12.5 million synchronized LED lamps, including 180 strobes, as well as 550,000 watts of sound that produce vivid video and light shows. Officially, it’s known as the Viva Vision canopy.

For sure, the changing video displays are very colorful. And FSE is a people magnet (one website said downtown Las Vegas attracts 19 million tourists a year), which was the intent when the FSE project was approved by the state legislature in 1993 and finished in 1995. Fremont Street is where it all began in Vegas, and during the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s it played up its western frontier theme with its gambling halls and saloons. And as the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard developed from the ‘50s onward with a different mission built upon exotic-themed and increasingly stylish casinos and hotels, many people viewed Fremont Street as the place for serious gamblers.

But Fremont Street eventually became dowdy and in danger of fading into oblivion. Hence, FSE was created to revive downtown. FSE has its critics, but it packs them in and the place was still going strong at midnight on a Monday night when I was there.

That said, FSE is perhaps the most obnoxious stretch of Earth I’ve ever experienced––loud bands playing crappy cover versions of rock songs on stages set up on blocked-off side streets; loud and kitchsy street performers; and a VERY LOUD DJ booth at the west end of FSE that blared music from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album that was so ear-splitting loud that I had to stick my fingers in my ears to mitigate the discomfort as I walked through that section.

In a word, FSE is crass! But as the hordes sauntered along with open liquor in one hand while taking photos with their cell phones in the other, they seemed to be groovin’ to the sights and sounds. So maybe I’m just a party pooper.

I found refuge by walking around inside the Golden Nugget and Binion’s, where the clanging of the slot machines was a lot easier on the ears than the booming sounds beneath the Viva Vision canopy, and the busy action within the old-school interiors of these classic gambling halls was a welcome throwback compared to the over-the-top, high-voltage obnoxiousness of the modern Fremont Street outside their doors.

LAS VEGAS STRIP (PART 1)
The Strip resembles a longer, stretched-out version of Times Square. Depending on your view point, that can be either good or bad––or both. It’s colorful, lively and full of incredible energy, and it never sleeps because the casinos never close. It’s filled with huge billboards, humungous video screens and brightly lit buildings, and it’s always bustling with throngs of people who gawk at the over-the-top spectacle.

To appreciate how the Strip became what it is today, this nifty little site from the Las Vegas Sun paints a picture of what it has looked like through the decades.

The Strip is pedestrian-friendly, but the blocks are long. Really long. A map of Las Vegas Boulevard shows both sides of the road bunched up with casino resorts from Mandalay Bay up to Circus Circus, a stretch that looks to be about 10 blocks (it’s hard to ascertain what exactly is a “block”) and roughly 3.5 miles long. To get from one end to the other requires some serious hoofing and comfortable shoes. If you’re too pooped to perambulate, there’s a monorail that runs from the MGM Grand at Tropicana Avenue up to the newly opened SLS Las Vegas Hotel & Casino (built on the site of the old Sahara Hotel) at Sahara Boulevard, which stops at the rear entrances of casinos on the east side of the Strip. Plus, like with Times Square, there are no shortage of taxis.

During my first visit to Las Vegas, I spent my one night on the Strip at Excalibur only because it was the best deal I could find––$49 on a Sunday night, plus a $15 resort fee. Most (all?) casinos on the Strip charge a so-called resort fee beyond the basic room rate.

I can see places like Bellagio, Caesars Palace or the twin casino-complex at Wynn Las Vegas getting away with the whole resort thing because they offer a classy, all-encompassing experience with shopping, spas, pools, shows and top-notch restaurants. But Excalibur? Located at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue, the place seemed dumpy and frumpy (particularly after visiting higher-end casinos), and the whole King Arthur motif is cheesy. The Disney-esque castle exterior is distinctive among the towers on the Strip, but it’s a little goofy, too.

My room was quiet, but the main entrance floor with the slots and gaming tables wreaked of cigarette smoke (among all the casinos I visited, Excalibur and El Cortez were the only ones that smelled like an ashtray even though smoking is allowed everywhere Las Vegas’ casinos).

All in all, Excalibur felt like a second-rate experience. It suited my purpose for a night, but I definitely wouldn’t stay there again.

LAS VEGAS STRIP (PART 2)
Among all of the casinos I’ve visited in Vegas, Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas most embody my image of what a top-notch Vegas casino resort experience is all about. The Venetian and Palazzo are also classy and opulent (they’re both owned by Las Vegas Sands, and several aspects of their operations are interconnected). And after attending the business conference and staying at Caesars Palace for three days, I’d add that to the list, too.

At a half-century old, Caesars is kind of the old man on the Strip. But it has held up well and remains one of the signature addresses in Las Vegas. It impressed me as a first-class experience, though, admittedly, I didn’t do much there other than attend to conference-related matters. At night, I went elsewhere.

Bellagio is a grand edifice on the heart of the Strip next-door to Caesars whose exterior says “luxury hotel.” Inside, the lobby ceiling is a work of art comprised of 2,000 hand-blown glass blossoms of various hues. The casino itself has a certain class and style, from the gaming tables to the bars to the lounge areas with piano players tinkling the ivories. Bellagio is pricy, so naturally it has a higher-level type clientele, and while dapper-attired men and women mixed with people in shorts and t-shirts, on the whole the visitors at Bellagio were better dressed than the slobs at, say, Excalibur or New York New York.

Plus, Bellagio has its nightly sound, light and dancing water shows at its famous fountains. The fountains usually attract a big crowd, and the show is worth the price of admission (i.e., free). Yes, it’s very touristy, but Vegas is a touristy town so have at it and enjoy the show. Some of the water facts about the fountains can be found here and here.

Across the boulevard and a tad to the north is Wynn Las Vegas, which is actually two separate, interconnected facilities––Wynn and Encore. Both buildings are housed in sleek, curved towers with walls of brown-tinted windows and clean, horizontal yellow lines. The towers radiate a shimmering bronze when bathed in the light of the setting sun.

I entered the vast complex at the esplanade of the Wynn tower, which is filled with about a score of luxury retailers, and followed that into the Wynn Casino, grabbed a $9 beer at the Race & Sports Book (did I mention that Vegas isn’t cheap?), and sauntered with no point or purpose until I found myself in the Encore Casino, whose red interior struck me as an odd and unappealing atmosphere.

That said, the interior of the entire Wynn complex is luxe . . . quite impressive, actually, with high-end restaurants, theaters and even a Ferrari/Maserati car dealership. And, if you’re not paying attention, the interior can be disorienting. When I finally stumbled out of the Wynn complex I thought I was exiting the Encore tower but had actually exited the Wynn tower on the opposite side of the complex, and was stunned to see the Encore building across the way. I couldn’t imagine how I got from Encore to back on the street outside of the Wynn because it felt like I had traveled in a linear direction, but somehow I went semi-circular without knowing it.

I re-entered the esplanade and retraced my steps determined to understand how I could’ve gotten so screwed up, and spotted a pretty raven-haired woman at the resort registration desk near the Lakeside restaurant where the esplanade leads into the Wynn Casino. I had noticed her the first time I passed that way, and I told her my story about how I got disoriented walking around the Wynn complex. She laughed, handed me a Wynn Las Vegas map and said that everything about the casino––from the carpet designs and lighting to the lack of windows and the overall layout––is meant to keep people from leaving the facility.

I departed and joked that I would follow my original path to the Encore, and that with map in hand maybe this time I wouldn’t get lost on the return trip. Her parting words were, “You know, I wasn’t kidding about the carpets.”

I returned to the Wynn on my second trip to Vegas, and got a little disoriented again (I figured I’d give it a shot without consulting the map I had from my first visit there). But after I righted my ship I settled into an outdoor waterfront seat at the Parasol Down bar that’s an escalator ride down from the Wynn Casino. The bar fronts the Lake of Dreams and it’s pleasant view of greenery and water flowing down a beige wall on the opposite side.

There’s entertainment on the lake starting at 8 p.m., and on this pleasant late-April evening the first part consisted of a large frog popping up from behind the wall, propping himself up on the wall as the water flow was put on hold, and lip synching to Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World.”

Wynn-(singing-frog-sings-Satchmo)At that point I had consumed an $18 tumbler of 16-year-old Oban single-malt scotch, plus an $8 glass of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I was pleasantly buzzed and very much enjoying the moment, and perhaps that all combined to make me giddy because I laughed my ass off during the frog’s performance. The frog and his serenade were hokey and silly, but in a sweetly endearing way, and I still giggle thinking about it even as I write these words.

After a couple of drinks and the singing frog, I made my way to the Wynn buffet, which I visited during my prior visit in the autumn. As you might expect, the Wynn buffet won’t be mistaken for Old Country Buffett.

There’s seafood, including sushi. Italian, Mexican and other Latino. Asian. American comfort food. Soups. Chilis. Salads and veggies. Melt-in-your-mouth breads and rolls. And an incredible assortment of desserts. I wouldn’t say it’s all Zagat-rated, but it was all quite good, and some of it was outstanding.

This all-you-can eat extravaganza was $39 on a Tuesday night (it’s more on weekends). Sounds pricey, but when you consider how much entrees alone go for in the high-end restaurants in Las Vegas (generally from the mid-$30s to the low-$50s), this struck me as a fabulous bargain.

While I ate I noticed that as fast as buffet items disappeared on the serving line, they were replaced with wave after wave of reinforcements. Where does all of this food come from? This goes on for 365 days a year, and it’s the same in the other casinos as well. (The Bellagio buffet, at $34 on a Monday night, is also pretty good.) As I watched this gastronomical scene unfold, I couldn’t help but think about the jarring juxtaposition between this experience and images of poverty-stricken people who don’t get enough to eat. I didn’t feel guilty because I ate everything on my plate(s) while not really making a total pig of myself (I was really hungry), but still, it made me think . . .

“FABULOUS” ICON
The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign is one of the country’s iconic symbols. Located on a Las Vegas Boulevard median strip a little south of Mandalay Bay, the sign is a runt compared to other icons such as the Statue of Liberty, the St. Louis Arch or Seattle’s space needle. But like the Hollywood sign in L.A., the “Welcome” sign tells you where you are and is a huge star in its own right.

As the Strip becomes ever taller, opulent and grandiose, the 25-foot tall Welcome sign remains as it was since it was built in 1959––the word “Welcome” spelled out in red within seven circles representing silver dollars (Nevada is the Silver State) across the top of a stretched diamond-shaped sign with a translucent white panel with “Fabulous” in blue cursive letters, “Las Vegas” in red sans-serif capital letters and “Nevada” in blue sans-serif capital letters. The outline of the diamond is bordered with tiny yellow bulbs, and is supported by two square metal poles placed left of center of the diamond. It’s topped by an eight-pointed red star.

It’s considered to be part of the “Googie” architecture style characterized by futuristic, space age motifs, and its simplicity and sleek mid-century modern styling have remained enduring as the rest of the city changes around it.

The sign is a tourist magnet and surefire photo opp––there’s usually a line of people morning, noon and night to have their pictures taken with the sign as a backdrop.

When seen from Las Vegas Boulevard while driving north, the sign’s presence seems minimized by its median strip location and the huge casinos looming further up the Strip in the distance. But when you pull into the smallish parking area that’s accessible from the southbound lane of the boulevard, and get close to the sign to take a photo and see the people who are always there and sense the excitement the sign generates, you get the feeling of being in the presence of a superstar celebrity.

I love that sign! For me, it’s the colors, the simplicity of its design, and its magnetism. The back of the sign (as seen when driving south on the boulevard) proclaims “Drive Carefully” in capital red letters and “Come Back Soon” in a combination of cursive and all-capitalized blue lettering.

QUIRKY VEGAS
Like Dr. Strangelove, Las Vegas learned to stop worrying and to love the bomb. As detailed at the National Atomic Testing Museum, the U.S. government in 1950 chose a huge swath of empty desert 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas for the Nevada Test Site, which became the country’s testing ground for atomic explosions. But Las Vegans, or at least a sizable number of them, came to embrace the scores of above-ground bomb blasts during the 1950s as an excuse to party. The city promoted them as a tourist attraction, people gathered on rooftops for parties to witness the blasts, and the atomic cocktail, atomic hairdo and Miss Atom Bomb beauty contest were all the rage.

Concerns about radioactive fallout became an issue later on, which forced the testing underground before a test-ban treaty was eventually signed. The museum delves into the science behind the bomb, the history of atomic testing, atomic pop culture, and other nuclear-related topics. The $14 admission price is money well spent.

The Pinball Hall of Fame moved to its current location in late 2009, across from the defunct Liberace Museum. Rather than displaying plaques and mementos honoring the greatest pinballers of all time, the 10,000-square-foot PHoF is an interactive museum with roughly 150 vintage pinball machines from the late 1940s through the 21st century, all of them available for play, along with assorted skill games and arcade games. Admission is free if you just want to walk around, but bring your quarters if you want to play.

The Gun Garage is a shooting range where you can try out an array of weapons including AK47s, Uzis and Tommy guns. There are 11 different packages. I put down $150 for the “Gun Garage” package that comprises two magazines for a 9 mm Glock, as well as one magazine each for an Uzi, M4 and AK-47. My instructor spelled out the safety rules and clearly explained the proper technique for each firearm.

I hadn’t fired any weapon other than a basic handgun, and that was many moons ago. I started off with the Glock, which has a sense of power that is impressive in a disconcerting way. Each gun got progressively more powerful leading up to the finale of the AK-47, which has a force and fury that’s to be expected from such a frighteningly destructive weapon.

To say it’s a fascinating sensation is somewhat trite, but firing those weapons was an eye-opening experience that literally put the power of devastation in my hands. Even though it probably took no more than 15 minutes from start to finish to fire my allotted rounds, I felt it was worth the money just to get a first-hand sense of what those weapons are like when they’re loaded and the triggers are pulled.

A less violent, more humanistic experience can be found at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Huh? The attraction here is that it’s a Frank Gehry-designed building that incorporates the surrealistic, laws-of-physics-defying waviness that is a Gehry hallmark. The crazy exterior is basically a facade that shelters a big space that looks to be a reception hall, while the real, functional office space is located behind it. But if you’ve never seen one of Gehry’s wacky structures in person, here’s your chance. It’s located at 888 West Bonneville Avenue, just a short drive from downtown and the Fremont Street Experience area.

One place I didn’t get to visit is the Dig This heavy equipment playground where you can operate Caterpillar bulldozers and excavators. Digging sessions start at 90 minutes and $249. After you pass a breathalyzer test and get an in-cab orientation, you’re cleared to live out the fantasies you had when you were a tike playing in the sandbox with your bulldozer toys.

OUTDOOR RECREATION VEGAS
Get away from the artificial world of the casino interiors and explore the American Southwest landscape that beckons a short drive from the heart of Las Vegas. The most accessible opportunity is Red Rock Canyon, located just 17 miles west of the Strip on Charleston Blvd./Rt. 159. Officially known as the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, it’s a place to hike, climb on stunning red rocks, ride horses or, as I did because I was pressed for time, take it all in by automobile on the 13-mile, one-way scenic loop.

There are a number of pull-off sections along the route, and the first two areas––Calico I and II––are perhaps the most spectacular. They overlook the copper-colored cliffs of the Calico Basin, which is prime area for hiking and rock climbing. I wish I had more time to hike through the basin and get a feet-on-the-ground taste of Red Rock Canyon, because just driving through it on the loop, while it was spectacular, seemed like a detached way to experience the area.

The trip to and from Red Rock Canyon along Charleston Boulevard is a seemingly endless gantlet of traffic lights and strip centers––most of the them with earth-tone hues and terra cotta roofs. The drive is a chance to partake of the quotidian side of Vegas in the city’s western sprawl into the Mohave.

The Spring Mountains National Recreational Area is about 45 minutes from downtown, and the crown jewel of this 316,000-acre area is Mount Charleston, a 11,916-foot peak that provides an excellent all-day hike (or shorter, depending on how much time you have). I started off at the Trail Canyon trailhead and followed a path shaded by ponderosa pines and quaking aspens along its steady descent, and after two miles picked up the North Loop Trail for the remaining six miles to the peak. From the top I could see the 14,000-foot peaks in the Sierra Nevada range of California, which includes Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the Lower 48. I’m a fast hiker and I ran down a good part of the descent, and made the round-trip trek in a little more than six hours.

Mary's-Hash-House-(Las-Vegas)If you’re planning to do some serious hiking on Mt. Charleston, leave early both to beat the heat and to load up on carbs at Mary’s Hash House (2605 South Decatur Boulevard), located somewhat on the way on Las Vegas’ west side in the Sahara Decatur Plaza, near the intersection of South Decatur and West Sahara Avenue.

Turkey-hash-(Mary's-Hash-House,-Las-Vegas)As the name implies, hash is the specialty of the house (along with its homemade jellies). During my two visits there I’ve had the turkey hash ($10.75) and a special of the day, roast duck hash. During the latter visit, an order of duck hash, bottomless cup of coffee and large fresh-squeezed O.J. was $16.25. This unpretentious neighborhood eatery in and of itself probably isn’t worth driving to from the Strip, but it’s a good place to stop if you’re heading up to the Spring Mountains or out to Red Rock Canyon.

 

 

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