If the Strip is the entertainment epicenter for visitors to Vegas, then Downtown Las Vegas is the entertainment epicenter for locals. In recent years, development Downtown has made the neighborhood a hub for great dining, especially for diners looking for a slightly more chill vibe than what’s available on the Strip. To get to know the neighborhood, we asked three in-the-know Las Vegans where they hang out.
Sheridan Su, restaurateur
Sheridan Su has been running restaurants in and around downtown Vegas since he first started Every Bao in 2011. He now runs Fat Choy, a modern diner inside the Eureka Casino that serves Asian and American comfort foods, and Every Grain, a Taiwanese spot and Eater favorite that is currently closed but promises to return to soon.
Why he loves downtown
“[My family and I] started living downtown in 2007. I was just really attracted to the area. I was always just intrigued by it. I mean, this is where Vegas started. I really liked the energy and the creative people in the area. Plus, when I first moved there, it felt like I was able to contribute to it. When I first moved to Vegas and I told some of my chef friends that I was looking to get a place downtown, they would always look at me with that face, like, ‘Why would you do that?’ But at that time, I saw how in other cities the way they were rebuilding their downtowns. I felt like that same energy would be in Las Vegas as well. And I was right.”
His neighborhood favorites
“I love coffee, and I love PublicUS on Fremont Street. Their beverage program is already amazing, but the amount of great food that they’re able to put out, from cooked foods to their baked items. It’s really amazing. They do a really good job. I get a drink called the Death Cream, which is like an iced latte but super strong. So I’ll get that and a chocolate chip cookie or a blueberry scone.”
Viva Las Arepas
“It’s a Venezuelan restaurant on Las Vegas Boulevard. And they’re probably one of the only maybe two one or two restaurants that serve arepa here in Vegas. I always get their set called reina pepiada. It’s basically shredded chicken with avocado, peas, and mint stuffed inside their arepa. It’s one of the best lunches you can get and it’s like 5 bucks.”
“This is kind of the first restaurant that kind of kick-started making downtown the cool place to be. I usually stick with their curries: I get the three-color curry where they mix their yellow curry with green curry and red curry and it’s super fun.”
Soul Belly Barbecue
“I think this is closer to Texas-style — it’s hard to find really good brisket here in Vegas but they do it right. It’s right on Main Street and even a mile away you can smell their smokers, which are right in front of the restaurant. They have indoor and outdoor seating, and they do live music.”
Brookins has spent her career in hospitality and nightclubs, including her current position as the director of sales for the Tao Group. But the pandemic gave her and her husband the opportunity to engage with their other big interest: mid-century modern antiques. They now run a stall in the Antique Alley Mall, where they sell under the name Desert Vintage Chic.
Why she loves downtown:
“I am a New York transplant to Las Vegas — I moved here in 2005. I love the diversity and kinetic energy of downtown and the DTLV arts district. I love to be able to walk between places, be surrounded by art — all the murals and galleries — and just stop in somewhere for a bite or a drink. I chose to have my business there because of the people who visit: a mix of tourists and locals all inspired by finding something unique and happy to try something different.”
Every neighborhood favorites
“Rebar is like the cheers to anyone who hangs out Downtown. It’s really unique in that there are antiques in the space that you can purchase; it’s a very eclectic location. There’s an outdoor area: they have great beer and very friendly staff. They have hot dogs and sausages from Roadkill Grill, which is really fun. And they usually have sort of a beer of the day. And he serves it to you in a paper bag. So you don’t know what it is. But it’s at a special reduced price. And they’re always great beer.”
“Davies is the other Cheers type of place. They have this amazing carrot juice cocktail. So if you want to pretend to be healthy, this has mezcal and fresh-squeezed carrot juice, and it’s delicious.”
“They’re amazing. Just the wine selections that they have, you can’t really find anywhere else in the city. And if you become a member of their wine club, which really just means that you become a member of their email list, they offer opportunities to purchase a specialty wine at a slightly discounted price point. And it might be a wine that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. So that’s really unique and fun. And then on Sundays, they do 50 percent off champagne. So you can go in and order a bottle and enjoy it there.”
Jessica Scott is the corporate executive pastry chef for 50 Eggs Hospitality, which operates seven restaurants in Vegas and many more globally. Her work has taken her all over the country and the world, but since moving to Vegas, she’s lived Downtown.
Why she loves downtown:
“I’ve lived in a handful of cities across the US and this is my first time living in a downtown atmosphere and I love it! Las Vegas is so full of life, food, activities, and music — and it has been amazing getting to explore all that it has to offer, being introduced to so many great individuals that run the city from behind the scenes.”
Every neighborhood favorites
“Esther’s has created quite a following in Las Vegas by locals, and is my all-time favorite spot for cocktails and insanely legit food. My favorite dish is the one that sounds the simplest: sourdough bread and spreads. They make the bread in-house, with a great crisp crust, and a soft and flavorful inside. To top it off they pair your bread with several seasonal spreads that can include things like anchovy butter, blue cheese and honey, or strawberry balsamic vinegar.”
“Corduroy is super close to Fremont Street, and to the untrained eye could be seen as just another bar. They make all their ginger beer in-house — all of their ginger beer-based drinks reach new heights that you won’t find anywhere else. Order the Smash Midnight.”
“PublicUs always has a long line on the weekends but you can almost always still get a seat. I love this spot because the employees are cool and sincerely care about your experience, and the food in its simplicity is always perfect. They have the perfect breakfast burritos.”