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My review of first time staying downtown - 1st week April 2015

Discussion in 'Downtown Hotels & Casinos' started by johnnytwofingers, Apr 10, 2015.

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  1. johnnytwofingers

    johnnytwofingers Low-Roller

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    Just finished my first trip staying downtown so thought I'd share my experiences with the board since I got so much useful information from here before my trip. FWIW, I'm a mid 40's guy and was travelling with a buddy and two gf's, trip was 1st week of April, Wednesday to Sunday.

    Asked cabbie to take Paradise to downtown (thanks to suggestions on this board - takes longer, but cheaper) - right off the bat the cabbie was complaining "you better give me a good tip" - which I did as we had some nice conversations, but this is Vegas, what can you do?

    Accomodations: Golden Nugget, Carson Tower. Prices were very reasonable, good size rooms, of course there's some wear and tear but everything was clean. One complaint, the drain in the sink was slooooow, so it was always disgusting. The walk from Carson Tower to Fremont is mildly annoying (~5 minutes) but I'm very lazy and it never really bothered me that much. Pool area seemed way too small and crowded to me so I didn't go, my buddy did and he seemed to have an ok time, but there's absolutely no comparison to strip casino pools.

    Some places we went in no particular order:

    Pizza Rock - 5 minute walk from Fremont. New place, and MUCH bigger than I expected. Was totally dead when we went (Thu night?). To me the menu was too complicated for a pizza place, and I didn't like the looks of other people's pizza, but the one I ordered was fantastic (can't remember what it was). The waiter was really excellent though, knew the menu incredibly well, totally top notch professional service, but still casual. One of us even hated the beer we ordered and he brought a new one no charge.

    I thought it was right by Pizza Rock, can't find it on the map, but we had an afternoon beer and burger at some restaurant with an outdoor ground level patio. I got the sense it was new, felt quite disorganized, but the prices were good ($10.50 for a burger and fries?) and it was a gooooood burger and crispy fries.

    El Cortez - We never gambled there (kind of an older, quieter crowd, at least when we went), but ate twice at the restaurant: Prime Rib deal once (~$11.99? with green beans and mashed potatoes, excellent waiter!, excellent prime rib, excellent price), and breakfast once (ham and eggs - good ham, terrible hashbrowns). Will definitely go again for the prime rib, but not breakfast.

    Popup Pizza at Plaza hotel - good pizza, not fancy setting at all as it's just kinda in the lobby. By the slice it seemed a bit relatively pricey to me, but they had a large cheese pizza and pitcher of beer deal for something like $18 I think? We never took advantage of that, but a great deal.

    Overall, the Plaza didn't do much for me....the rooms are fairly nice and new, the pool is barren, the casino didn't have a good feel, but then I was only there during the day. For the price, location, and quality of rooms, I'd definitely consider staying there though. I think we also went to a "beer garden" at the Plaza - overpriced beer, garbage all over the outside area, and employees leaning on the counter doing nothing. Kids these days.

    Mermaid's Casino on Fremont - deep fried twinkie (not as good as I thought, would not repeat), but the $1.50 Nathan's hot dog with onions is an absolute no brainer, best value on Fremont. On top of it you get to see all sorts of interesting people while you eat at the standup tables. Will visit again and again.

    Du-par's restaurant in the Golden Gate. Awesome breakfast, great service, nice old style diner atmosphere. All food is delicious, especially the pancakes, and I never eat pancakes. Went there twice, ordered pancakes both times in addition to my other food. Certainly not cheap, but not expensive. We waited up to 30 minutes for a seat, it's very popular.

    Golden Gate Casino - not sure why, but I love it. Friendly and attractive scantily clad dealers, and good clientele, had tons of fun playing blackjack there with a variety of people. My favorite place to gamble downtown I think?

    Triple 7 Brewery at Main Street Station - very nice, new, modern brew pub. Had some lunch, I tried the 6 or so beer sampler, was fun but only liked about half of them. Good food, good prices, will definitely visit again. Didn't spend any time in the casino so can't comment.

    Chart House bar in Golden Nugget for happy hour - good beer and appetizer prices, it didn't do much for me but the girls seemed to like it, a bit more sophisticated than other places we went I guess. Someone beside us ordered the shrimp cocktail, came with dry ice smoke, very impressive visually.

    4 Queens - went to Chicago Brewing Company twice, nice quiet little pub, and you can smoke cigarettes while you drink. Excellent service, prices, and beer. I really wanted to go to Magnolia's restaurant but it was always too lined up. 4 Queens casino: gambled there for a few hours one night, I think I'll go again but was just a bit tired that night.

    Gold Spike
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_Spike_Hotel_and_Casino
    No longer a casino, now kind of a bar / restaurant for the younger, hip crowd. Ate once in the restaurant, Chicken Fried Steak - it was ok, but probably wouldn't return. I think if you're a younger person that's looking for an extremely chill place to meet people very unlike those you'll find on Fremont or the strip, it's worth checking out. I'd probably go there if I lived in Vegas, but not when I'm on a 4 day binge.

    Someone else wrote: "Had a ton of fun of fun playing Sigma Derby in the upstairs area at the D. Very fun and cheap entertainment. I think it's really cool that they have so many coin machines and celebrate the "Old Vegas" feel."
    Not sure if that's where I was, it was like 5AM and I was in rough shape, but played this horse racing game where you put quarters in and watch little mechanical horses run around a track. Total nonsense, total blast. Would repeat.

    Someone else also wrote: "BAD: All of the freaks on Fremont Street. Seems worse than ever."
    Well, I suppose. For example, old &/or fat men wearing micro one-piece bathing suits in broad daylight begging for you to give them some $ to take a picture. It's more pathetic than anything. To me there are a lot more annoyances of different kinds on the strip. When I read these types of comments before going I wondered if it was somewhat unsafe or unsavory - not at all, it's just a bit ridiculous.

    Took the Deuce bus (for the first time) from Fremont to the Peppermill for the mandatory visit to the Fireside Lounge. To me, it's a traditional must-visit every trip. The bus ride (early afternoon) was
    interesting, lots of tourists and locals acting up, local guys cat calling girls (most Canadian girls I know might have a multi-year nervous breakdown under those circumstances, the sisters on the bus however just take it in stride and give as good as they take), etc. I'll definitely be doing that trip again on my next visit for some good fun. After that we walked ~30 minutes to some Mexican restaurant by the Flamingo, perfect weather for a nice walk, about 75F, bought two Bud Light Lime king-cans on the way for like $5!

    My friends sat down for some Mexican dinner, but the prospect of paying $7 for a beer vs gambling next door at my favorite place was too much, so I skedaddled over to the Flamingo. I don't know what it is, but I just love gambling at the Flamingo, I've never had a bad time there. This day it was my beloved 3 card poker and I had a blast. Lots of people & dealers came and went, but me and this dude from India were there for about 4 hours straight living the good life. I was running out of money but right near the end hit a 50 to 1 on a 4 of a kind with the dealer that saved my bacon, so went home about even.

    Overall, I'm very happy I took the plunge and stayed downtown. To me, the better prices, the smaller scale, the ability to hit so many different casinos and restaurants with a short 5 minute walk more than makes up for any shortcomings. Yes there are some downsides - Fremont dies down really early. I'm not sure when exactly, but I remember going out onto the street at really not that late and it was dead. But it's not a big deal, you can always pop into any casino and find some people living it up at any hour - it's just very different from the strip is all, where LOTS is happening at any hour. Also, downtown has much more older people and is more family oriented - if you're going to Vegas to ogle hotties, downtown is not your place. The hotels are usually not as extravagant, and if you're a pool person, you're kinda out of luck. But this is reflected in the prices as well.

    Well that's all I can think of for now really, hope this helps some.
     
  2. wanker751

    wanker751 Dutch Rudder Enthusiast

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    Good review and write up... I got the same disgusted attitude when I requested Paradise to DT.
     
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  3. Candy Apple

    Candy Apple VIP Whale

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    Great summary. Thanks for writing.
     
  4. Dtyst1

    Dtyst1 Tourist

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    Great review.
    Yes, that was Sigma Derby you were playing. The undefeated champion of simple drunken entertainment.
     
  5. sigsev

    sigsev Low-Roller

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    I would have told the cabbie "You would have gotten a good tip if you hadn't said that". They're such bitches sometimes. I've had good cabbies in Vegas though, even though I pretty much only use them to get from the airport and back.

    Glad you enjoyed your stay downtown!
     
  6. Joe

    Joe VIP Whale

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    Nice review!
    Two suggestions on where you might have eaten that burger with the outdoor patio. The Commissary or maybe Triple George?? I ruled out Hennessy's since you said close to Pizza Rock, but hey, everything is close in downtown Vegas.
     
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  7. joshrocker

    joshrocker VIP Whale

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    This was a great summary of downtown. I don't know if it's the slightly older clientele or just the general lack of nightlife (clubs ect) but downtown does seem to quiet down early. We had one late night on the strip last trip and even at 3AM there were still plenty of people walking around. When our bus got to downtown Fremont was practically deserted. The casino's had people playing still of course but the crowds on Fremont had long moved on.


    Triple George was my first thought.
     
  8. sigsev

    sigsev Low-Roller

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    I'd go with Triple George as well.
     
  9. northerngirl

    northerngirl Low-Roller

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    Always enjoy reviews of my home away from home......downtown Vegas. I enjoyed your comments regarding Pizza Rock...it was on our "to do" list last trip and we didn't make it. We always have at least one meal at Chicago Brewery for pizza and apps. I don't know if it is a mid west thing or not, but we like either sausage or peporonni pizza. I have looked at the Pizza Rock menu online....and lots of toppings listed are foreign to me.

    Glad you enjoyed downtown!
     
  10. dedhd

    dedhd Tourist

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    welcome to the world of downtown...perhaps you'll become a convert like most here. Always seem to discover something else to do, or try on each trip. Disovered Nacho Daddy last trip- awesome food and great prices especially during happy hour. FS east is what we've been exploring more and more. Can't wait to get back April 24, for a week with 3 days at Monte Carlo and the rest at the Plaza.
     
  11. Hawaiianmark

    Hawaiianmark Low-Roller

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    BEST scribe ever on Sigma Derby......
     
  12. Jane42

    Jane42 Low-Roller

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    Great trip report. I am partial to DT - my first visit to Vegas was spent DT!

    I do stay a couple days on the strip now, due to comped rooms - but after two days, I am ready to go "home" to DT.

    I was interested in your remark re the pool at the Golden Nugget. Whenever I have seen the pool the lounges are lined right up next to each other and the place is packed. Obviously, very popular with many, but not my cup of tea.
     
  13. northerngirl

    northerngirl Low-Roller

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    I couldn't agree more. I have taken advantage of the pool several times and decided it is not for me. Way too crowded, lots of children, getting there early to get a chair, etc. And, yes to the lounge chairs...they butt against each other which means you literally have to crawl to the chair. (And this is probably not that attractive for someone like me of senior citizen age.)

    I know lots of folks think my group is crazy as we love the pool at the CAL. There is no need to save chairs, no problem bringing in a cooler with beverages, and rarely any people. On the occasion we see any more than five people at our "private" pool...that is crowded.
     
  14. johnnytwofingers

    johnnytwofingers Low-Roller

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    Is this the pool at the Cal?

    http://static.boydgaming.net/california/media/gallery/CA_Stay-Pool-374389-full.jpg

    Looks better than the overcrowded GN to me.
     
  15. merlin

    merlin VIP Whale

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  16. Jane42

    Jane42 Low-Roller

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    I didn't even know the CAL had a pool! I just want to get wet, get some sun, relax and then hit the casinos - this looks like it would do the job and it looks like you may have a good view from there!
     
  17. spicole

    spicole Low-Roller

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    Thanks for the great post! One thing that popped out for me is that you consistently had great, friendly service. That's huge in my book. There are a lot of places and competition for my dollar in terms of entertainment and especially dining... anybody can have decent food, but service can be the difference.
     
  18. johnnytwofingers

    johnnytwofingers Low-Roller

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    It might have to do with me being from Canada, service in the US is always better in my experience.
     
  19. Vegas Insight

    Vegas Insight Low-Roller

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    Enjoyed your trip report.

    I'm in the minority, I'm never interested in going to the 777 pub, as I'm never looking to eat when I'm at MSS, but I love sitting at Joe's favorite bar, the Boor's Head, and drinking $1.75 micro brew pints.
     
  20. Blonde_4_ever

    Blonde_4_ever "The Welfare Queen of Windsor"

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    Another downtown fan here.
    Enjoyed your review.
     
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