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First TR - Feb 26 to March 2nd

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by shanecrow99, Mar 6, 2013.

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  1. shanecrow99

    shanecrow99 Tourist

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    My Trip Report

    Feb 26 - Day 1 - The Departure

    Me and my wife T headed out to Vegas late on a Tuesday night. This is our 3rd trip to Vegas and everything at the airport went smooth as silk. Breezed through TSA and even bagged the best seat on the plane (the seat in the exit row with no seat in front of it!). Can you say “legroom?” YES! Usually Southwest planes are always full. Luckily this wasn’t the case. Once the entire plane boarded we had 3 seats for the two of us. Stretching out on a flight is so freaking nice when you can. Only took us 3 hours or so to get from Houston to Vegas. Slept most of the flight as I had just pulled a double shift the same day.

    Slammed a 5-hour energy drink after landing as we made our way to collect our bags. Our bags were the first one out the chute. We kept saying that our trip so far has been so smooth that this HAS to be a sign of good things to come. Hopped on the rental-car bus to go get our car. Bus left as soon as we got on it (another sign?). No line at the Advantage rental desk (make that yet another sign). No I don’t want your insurance, no I don’t want to prepay for gas, for the love of God I don’t need a drop top convertible mustang, just give me the quoted price so I can get my Nissan Versa and get out of here. The guy realized the upsell wasn’t working with me so I get my keys and we pack up the car. Tip: Always bring a flashlight with you when renting a car. For some unknown reason the lights suck in the parking garage and you don’t want to miss a scratch or ding upon the initial inspection. Inspection done. Onward to Silverton!

    Yeah you heard me right. The Silverton. This place has been our home base for the last 2 trips or so. The hotel and casino is spotless clean. It’s just far enough off the strip to get away from the craziness but not so far you can’t get to where you need to be when needed. It’s a good fit for us. Every employee we have ever come across from the handyman to the casino dealers are all extremely nice and helpful.

    We check into our room and we got the room right next to the elevator. This is a good thing because the hotel hallways wrap all the way around in a 360 until it dead ends. God help you if you forget something in your room and have to walk all the way back to get it.

    We went to the casino watering hole called the “Flare Bar” to play a short session of bar-top slots. This will be a recurring theme during this trip. Our motive for this trip was to see how many bar-tops we could play and what kind of drinks can get comped. I asked the nice lady bartender if she had any IPA’s on draft and she said she did not but she could get me fairly close. I got to try a beer called Anchor Steam. Good stuff. I think T opted for vanilla vodka with Diet Coke. We both liked that one. Nothing memorable came out of the slots and we broke even for the most part apart from tipping for our comped drinks. Remember folks, take care of your bartenders and they will take care of you!

    We are starving at this point so we go to the Sundance Grill tucked in the back of the establishment and grab a late night bite to eat. Their “Wildcard Special” hit the spot. 2 eggs, sausage, a mound of hash browns, and toast (sourdough!) and jelly rounded out this meal for only $2.99! T had the chili and she said it was tasty. I remember having the chili on my eggs in the past at this place and it was good back then too. I know, chili on your eggs? It’s a Texas thing I suppose – why am I the only one that likes it that way?

    Fully satiated and with the 5 hour energy feeling more like a 2 hour energy we both crash and try to get a few hours sleep till our trip REALLY begins.
     
  2. user43147

    user43147 Tourist

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    I love chili on my eggs!

    sounds good so far...
     
  3. JDinTN

    JDinTN MIA

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    I guess what happens in vegas really does stay in vegas. Where's the rest of this?

    I like these reports about the off-strip places that aren't written about much on here. I looked at the Silvertons website and the place looks pretty nice. Sounds like some good deals to be had there.

    Get out of your vacation high and finish this report please. :poke:
     
  4. shanecrow99

    shanecrow99 Tourist

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    Wednesday February 27th

    Day 2.0 – Getting Freaky at the Tiki

    We woke up fairly early today. Skipped breakfast after eating so late last night. We decided that today would be the day we spend some time downtown. Seeing as how we will already be downtown we might as well stay the night downtown as well. We booked a Cabana Suite at the El Cortez. This is the first time we have ever double booked and I must say it really paid off for us to do it this way.

    So we can’t check into the ElCo until 2’ish so we head out to the M Resort. We aren’t there to gamble per se. We are there to eat some delish food at “Studio B” buffet. I realize it is not anywhere near the strip and that’s the reason why their buffet has to be good – and I bet the M knows this. Nobody is going to drive out of their way to an off-strip buffet that sucks.

    Now for those of you who have never been to Studio B let me paint the picture for ya. This buffet is freaking huge and the absolute best time to go is at lunch during the week. The cost is about $17 per person and it is worth every single penny. The food on the buffet is set out in small portions. This keeps the food fresher longer. Many dishes are made directly behind the buffet line. There is Italian, Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Greek Mediterranean as well as your typical American fare to choose from. The standouts for this trip were the Korean spare ribs, the eggplant parmesan, and the chicken pancit were all scrumptious.

    So what really sets this buffet apart from the competitors? How about all you can drink beer and wine included? Did that get your attention? Basically you can pay $17 for all you can drink beer and wine and they will throw the buffet in for free. What’s not to love? Oh but there’s more. The other shining star of gluttony for this place is the dessert section. It sits off all by itself tempting you with every visit to the main buffet. And it is saying “You better leave room for me”. Believe me when I tell you that between the main buffet offerings and the unlimited beer it is all too easy to overdo it before making the pilgrimage to the dessert Mecca. But visit you must because you can’t say no to over 20 different flavors of creamy gelato. Cheesecakes, Crème Brule, light and airy meringue cookies, tiramisu shooters, and badass coconut macaroons await. If I had a ziplock I would have stole the macaroons. They are that decadent. But let’s say you eat your way through all of that and you are looking for the finisher. So what’s the one thing that will tie this meal up nice and neat? It just so happens that the fine folks at the dessert section can whip up a nice frappe, cappuccino, or espresso. So be sure to catch your caffeine buzz on your way out as you slip further into a food coma.

    Good God! We got to walk this stuff off. T and I traipse around M Resort checking out the sights and sounds (or lack thereof) and head out. It’s still too early to check into the ElCo. T reminded me that she saw a place on yelp that would be perfect for us to hang at. Now normally I am the planner when it comes to what we are going to do during our little Vegas trips so it was nice for T to recommend a spot that only she knew about. So I ask her, “Um where we headed?” She replies, “Frankies Tiki Room.” What can I say, she had me at “tiki”.


    This place was a trip. The moment you walk in you can’t see a damn think. It’s dark. Really dark. Upon entering I could make out the bar and some mini tables here and there. As my eyes adjusted I notice that every single square inch of this joint is tiki Hawaiian themed. The music had a sort of a laid-back beachy vibe that matched the décor perfectly. Two TV’s hung behind the bar played an endless loop of weird black and white B-movies. One moment we are seeing an intro to an old school low budget horror flick then it cuts to topless gogo dancers with pasties on. Boobies and cocktails. My kind of place! T did really good picking this place out. We got situated in one of the more secluded spots and eyed the menu on what drinks we were going to try out. We waited for a waitress to come by. And we waited, and waited, and realized there is no waitress dummy. Go get your own drinks at the bar. No problemo. Some seats opened up at the bar and they had some bartop VP to mess around with. Perfect!

    I can’t remember what exactly I had to drink but I can say that it was potent and tasty. My limit was one because I was driving and didn’t want to overdo it. The drinks are rated by potency on their menu which is handy. So if order a Zombie then you know in advance that that’s exactly what you’re gonna feel like after drinking it.

    [​IMG]

    The VP slots were some weird cheapo generic. Not even close to a Game King or alike. Who programmed these things? Nintendo? The touchscreen was sluggish, the graphics sucked, but hey they were there and the paytable wasn’t that bad. Would you believe the only quad I hit during our trip was here? Yep. I wondered how I was going to get paid. I hit the payout button and a little chime goes off at the cash register end of the bar. The bartender counts the money out of the till and gives it to me. Probably the only “handpay” I will ever see in my life. Frankies tiki room has a charm all its own. It is worth checking out if you happen to be in the area.

    [​IMG]

    I can't see a damn thing in this pic. Like I was just released from solitary.

    We head downtown to the El Cortez to check into our cabana suite.

    More to come…
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2013
  5. shanecrow99

    shanecrow99 Tourist

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    You are in luck because a lot of the places we go to are the lesser known out of the way places. Sure, everybody digs the Strip at some point but we like to check out the places people don't talk about. Some are good, some are bad, but its the experience that makes our Vegas trips "ours".

    We wouldn't do it any other way.

    The Silverton has a few amazing deals that should not be missed. I will cover those in depth in a few days.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2013
  6. TheDirty

    TheDirty Tourist

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    You lost me at The Silverton.. Lol


    Glad you had fun though!
     
  7. sabrina

    sabrina Low-Roller

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    cool! love drink pictures :beer:
    keep going!
     
  8. shanecrow99

    shanecrow99 Tourist

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    Day 2.5 – El Cortez Sweet!

    Yay! Time to check into the Cabanas. I am glad I did a little research before coming here. Checking in must be done inside the ElCo even though the Cabanas are across the street. We booked the “Dusk to Dawn” promo and that’s what sold us on staying here. We got $15 worth of free slot play, $14 for food at the Café Cortez, two free drinks at the Parlour Bar, and one night in a Cabana Suite all for $39. We also had coupons for free slot play from the ACG so that got added to our player’s cards. Check in was painless and pleasant. We have been to the ElCo to gamble in the past so we already knew what to expect as far as the casino was concerned. We were excited to check out our Cabana Suite so we grab our luggage from the rental and roll our bags across the street.

    Sometimes downtown can attract some sketchy people so security is kind of important. The Cabanas addressed that. There is a guard posted at the front door to keep the riff raff out. Not that they would get very far anyways because you have to swipe your room key to unlock the main doors. Ever had a food flyer shoved under your hotel and wondered where the hell did that come from? Yeah, that doesn’t happen here. Upon entering the foyer you are greeted by the Cabanas front desk person. She will give you the rundown of the amenities and welcome you to the property. The foyer itself is funky (in a good way). They went with a black and white zebra'ish motif. There is fresh fruit setting out for you to grab and I spotted a huge vase filled with red hots candy for the taking.
    Mental note: free candy and fruit . Check!

    We take the elevator up to our room. We are greeted by the limiest green room you have ever seen. I am pretty sure it darned near glowed in the dark. Black and white print against the wall behind the vinyl poofy headboard. At first I didn’t really care for the contrasting colors but it sort of grew on me. Rumor is that the rooms were modeled after Florida cabanas back in the day.

    [​IMG]

    A word of caution. Look closely and you will see that the bed is on a wooden foundation. This foundation is black. The carpet is black as well. The two blend so well together that the edge of the foundation becomes a toe magnet. Poor T fell victim to the toe eating corner. Watch out for this. Your toes will thank you.

    [​IMG]

    What else do we have here? Coffee pot with packets of vintage Mello-cup coffee packets, a snack bar with the added bonus of a condom and lube combo pack (unused of course). The sliding door hides the fridge. The stool to the left is on wheels so you can roll your little portable chair around the room. The TV had local cable channels. We liked listening to the music channels while getting ready.

    [​IMG]

    Of course no room is complete without a marshmallow pimp chair.

    I wish we would have gotten a pic of the bathroom. It was equipped with Kohler fixtures including the walk in shower which had a rain showerhead which is fantastic for a tall dude like me. The sink was a clear bowl with the faucet coming straight out from the wall. Turn the water on too sharply and the water will ricochet off the bowl and onto your crotch area. Don’t ask how I know this.

    Day 2.7 coming up (The Flame and The Griffin), sounds like a Harry Potter movie title.
     
  9. McGoo

    McGoo Low-Roller

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    Great report! Looking forward to more.

    Great deal you got on the cabana room! and its nice to see people checking out the off strip spots.

    I am thinking of trying to switch from the Elco Tower room to a cabana room in April.
     
  10. shanecrow99

    shanecrow99 Tourist

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    Watch for deals on ElCo's website!

    I hope they bring that promo back. It looks like they pulled it during March Madness. If you can swing the Cabana I would highly recommend it. I think the promo we got was only good from a Mon to Thurs. so it worked out great for us.
     
  11. shanecrow99

    shanecrow99 Tourist

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    Day 2.7 - The Flame and The Griffin

    We swung by The Flame and asked for a reservation about an hour later. We had a two drink comp to burn so we chilled at “The Parlour”. Just before this Vegas trip my wife developed an affinity for the dirty martini. She rated all of the bars by how well they made this particular drink. While The Parlour was not the best we had T said that it was in the top 3. I think I had some foo foo chocolate martini. Tasty. The Parlour has a happy hour from 5 – 7 where their martinis are half price. So if you find yourself at ElCo during this time it is worth checking out. ElCo did a good job at decorating the place and making it “fit” with the surrounding casino floor. Nice bar staffed with bartenders who know what they are doing. I would imagine the drinks would be comped if you were playing the bartops but we didn’t play any of them to know for sure.

    Me and T wandered around a bit and found ourselves drawn to the pop-up Craps game. We bought in for a few bucks just to pass the time. No sooner did I buy in and a guy walks up to me and sets his drink down next to me and says, “Don’t let ‘em take my drink, ok?” The guy was three sheets to the wind and fighting a losing batter with his bladder. I told him I would guard his drink and off he went. Once he came back he asked me how to play the craps game. I told I had no idea how to play it (which is true). I got the basics sort of down but I didn’t want to try and explain it to a drunk guy so I feigned ignorance. It works on my wife too!

    After breaking even on the pop-a-crap game it was time to get on over to The Flame. We had heard of this place but this was our first time ever going. The AVG coupon makes this place a no-brainer. The service was spot on even though they were kind of busy. Appetizer bread came out quickly and was pretty good. I had the Steak Diane while T had some sort of shrimp alfredo. I wish I would have taken a pic of my steak. I don’t know what cut of meat it was but it was fantastic. T’s shrimp alfredo came in a huge pasta bowl that was filled to the brim. Way more pasta than she could eat. We also got an appetizer of grilled asparagus. Very very good. That was cooked perfectly. Not overcooked with just the right snap with a nice char. I don’t normally rave about asparagus in any form but this stuff was mighty tasty. I think the total for the meal came out be around $20 (pre tip) after using the ACG coupon. I can’t stress enough how good of a deal the ACG makes this place. You don’t even have to jump through hoops going to a players club to redeem it for a voucher and all that mess. We also had a coupon for an entire bottle of wine that was given to us when we checked in. Unfortunately the ACG coupon was an “offer” and could not be combined with the wine coupon. That was cool as I really didn’t see us finishing an entire bottle of wine with our huge meal.

    So the plan for tonight was to check out Fremont and end up at GoldDiggers at the Gold Nugget for some dancing and drinking. We got to the Nugget but T just wasn’t feeling it at the time so we skipped the dancing and hit a few obscure places on our way back to the ElCo. We were handed a coupon for a 2-for-1 drink at the place above the Bass Ale Brewery. The street pitchman said they had karaoke so we checked it out. The coupon wasn’t worth much. I think I paid about $7 for a solo cup of PBR (yuck!) and some water for T. Even the karaoke was sort of disjointed. A cowboy sung some R&B, a metal looking dude sung some country, and at the other end of the upstairs bar there was a rap battle going on. I must have been getting tired or maybe the vibe just wasn’t there. Either way we left and checked out The Griffin.

    The light is so dim it is hard to get a good pic of the place without pissing off the hipsters.

    [​IMG]

    This place was freaking cool. We were there sort of early so there was plenty of seating. If Harry Potter opened a bar then this would be it. Looked kind of like a tavern straight out of middle earth. Stone work lined the walls and there were a few fireplaces to sit around. The music was low enough where you could actually have a conversation and the lighting was almost made entirely by the flames from the fireplace. If you can get there early and you have a significant other you would like to cozy up to then this is the place. We saw some band carrying their instruments to the back but we never heard them play. I think we got there a little too early. We chilled for a little while and headed out when the place started filling up. Back to ElCo.

    Now up to this point you are probably thinking that I don’t play any table games. Actually you would be sort of right. BJ is my game of choice and I suck at it. For some reason I am very picky when choosing the first BJ table I sit at during a Vegas trip. Depending on my mood I will pick an empty table or I may look for a table with 3rd base open. Maybe it’s OCD kicking in. I don’t know. After that first BJ session then I am good for the rest of the trip. I am weird like that. I don’t have basic strategy committed to memory so I carry a pack of 6 different basic strategy cards with me in my back pocket. Takes the guesswork out of the harder decisions. You need the rules on a 6-deck shoe with the dealer hitting soft 17? Yeah I got that covered. My rule of thumb is if I lose 4 consecutive hands then my session is over, if I double my buy in then I get up and leave. I have chased too many losses only to leave with nothing. Anywho we get back to the ElCo and I find an empty BJ table. I slap my basic strategy card down on the felt (shit just got real!) :evillaugh and the dealer smiles because she knows I ain’t screwing around. I swear the cards were totally backwards on this session. If I flat bet $5 I would win, the moment I pressed my bet I would lose. Really choppy. I think I broke even on the session and only left because I realized that I just wasn’t having that much fun. Hard to explain it but the dealers at the ElCo seem to lack personality. Like they are just going through the motions on auto pilot. Maybe I was just tired. We get back to the Cabanas and crash out.

    Coming up, Day 3.0 - The Day of a 1000 casinos (at least it felt that way). Its a biggie so stay tuned.
     
  12. shanecrow99

    shanecrow99 Tourist

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    A long overdue Day 3.0 – The Day of 1000 Casinos

    I would have gotten this TR up sooner but life has a tendency to get in the way so with that said, on with the report. Instead of giving a play-by-play I am just going to review all the places we hit. The only thing we had planned today was to go eat at “Opus Too” located on the campus of the Las Vegas Art Institute (thanks sco5123). Every other place we went to was pretty much spontaneous.

    Green Valley Ranch – this place was right across the highway from the Art Institute so naturally we had to go check it out. The casino was massive and had a lodgy feel (similar to Silverton) but on a much bigger scale. I think they gave us like $10 or so in slot play after getting a members card. I played some video BJ and T played some JoB. The smoke-free slot section was really nice. We rolled through the free play quickly and scoped the place out. It was early in the day on a weekday so the place was almost empty. We went to the large round bar near the middle of the casino and had a few drinks. Drinks were good and the bartender was friendly. We were pretty much just killing time till we had to be at Opus Too.

    Funny moment: While we were walking around with T leading the way, we see an older gentleman approaching us. This guy looked like he was straight out of the Godfather movie. Italian for sure and in his 60’s. He approaches T and says “Miss, miss, is this guy bothering you? (pointing to me)”. Puzzled, T didn’t know what to say. The old man says, “Cause if he is I got some guys that will take care of him for ya. We can take him for a ride if you know what I mean.” He was obviously joking around and we played right into it. I assured him that I love my wife and that it wasn’t necessary to have me whacked. The guy was so endearing I wish I would have had some time to talk to him a little. He probably had some stories.

    Opus Too @ the Las Vegas Art Institute – I am so glad we made reservations to this place. For those who do not know, there is a fully functioning restaurant at the Art Institute that is run entirely by culinary students under the watchful eye of a professional chef. So all of the students you see in Opus are being graded on their performance. From the kitchen cooks to the servers, all the way to the host that seats you. You get a 3 course meal for $11 and the satisfaction that you were a part of a culinary students educational experience. How cool is that?

    We arrive and after our reservation was confirmed and we were quickly seated. Opus Too does a good job at duplicating the look and feel of an upscale restaurant. Waiters and waitresses dressed nicely, tablecloths on the table with all the silverware set up, and nice piano music in the background complete the experience. I swear if you arrived here blindfolded and couldn’t look out the window you would not be able to tell this is was school. We were seated by the front door. I wish we would have been able to sit near the back near the kitchen because the kitchen is glassed in and you can see all the hustle and bustle going on. Looking around the room I notice that we are the youngest people here (late 30’s). There were a lot of older senior citizens in attendance. Can’t say I blame them as this is a good deal and if they are locals then it’s even better!

    Our server was all smiles and wasted no time in going over the menus with us. The menus are posted online so we already sort of knew what we wanted even before getting there. We made the mistake of making our reservation later in the day and the result was that they ran out of some selections. Bummer. No biggie though. I wanted to put our server through his paces so I asked him, “Do you have any specials today that’s not on the menu?” I thought I stumped him, but I was wrong. Without missing a beat he explains that the off menu special is a dessert called an “ice cream cookie slider”. Oh yeah I will take that for sure. So here is the food we chose.

    [​IMG]

    I am a big bread eater and the fresh backed croissants were delish.

    [​IMG]

    This is some vegetarian gumbo. Oh goodness this was some good stuff. I had it pegged as a light appetizer but it was very filling. The fact I couldn’t stop eating it was not helpful.

    [​IMG]

    The lovely T had a BBQ chicken salad. She said the salad was good but the pita strips were tough. So she just ate around the strips.

    [​IMG]

    Shrimp Diablo. My waiter warned me that it was spicy. He was right in saying so. That thing lit me up. A lot of cayenne in that dish. The side dish above it was dirty rice and cole slaw. The cole slaw was unique in that they put cilantro and lime in it. I never would have thought of doing that to slaw but it worked.

    [​IMG]

    T loved her peach and grapefruit sorbet. Very light and fruity. Nice touch with the mint garnish. The orange thing in the middle was a decoration made out of sugar. Presentation A+ on this dish.

    [​IMG]

    Remember the “ice cream cookie slider”? Here it is! Fresh baked chocolate chip cookie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the center. The chocolate “comma” was tasty too.

    By the time we were done with our meal we were stuffed. We got to talking to our host asking him some questions about the program. I asked where they come up with the dishes that they serve. He said that students come up with recipes during their schooling. All of the recipes are then voted upon by the other students and staff. The recipes that win are then placed on the menu to be served in the restaurant.

    Upon leaving we thanked our servers and the overseeing chef. I am sure that this will be one of our Vegas traditions during our future trips. If you haven’t been to Opus Too I would highly recommend it.

    Coming up, Sam's Town, Longhorn, Ellis Island, Westin and more...
     
  13. LV2GAMBLE

    LV2GAMBLE Low-Roller

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    Enjoying your report. Love you how chose the different places to visit. Always nice to hear others experiences.
     
    Always seems so far away............
  14. yoyoseven

    yoyoseven Low-Roller

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    Great report so far - keep it coming!
     
  15. Blonde_4_ever

    Blonde_4_ever "The Welfare Queen of Windsor"

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    That Opus Too place sounds amazing...and what a great price!
     
  16. addicted

    addicted Low-Roller

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    hilarious


    Great report
     
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