King of Shrimp

For years, and what I really mean by “years” is decades, the king of shrimp cocktail in Las Vegas has been the Golden Gate. There have been challengers, even some that have even taken dead aim and surpassed the Gate’s product, but they’ve been few and far between, and none has ever sustained the effort. Because of its quality and staying power, the Golden Gate’s shrimp cocktail is No. 1 for sure … except for right now.

No, the $1.99 Vegas value icon hasn’t been discontinued, but the Deli where it’s served is closed because of construction at the casino. The shrimp continues to be available in Du-par’s restaurant, but it’s a dollar more there and much less convenient to get. Hence, at least until its return this summer, the great Gate shrimp cocktail does not exist.

What now? Las Vegas is a big and competitive place, so there are certainly alternatives. But one in particular blows the others away. It’s the little Skyline and Casino down on Boulder Highway in Henderson.

No kidding, this one approaches the Gate and even surpasses it in some areas. For example, at $1.50, the Skyline’s cocktail costs less. It’s also served 24/7, whereas Golden Gate stopped serving in the wee hours a couple of years ago. Golden Gate serves its shrimp in a cocktail glass (as opposed to a plastic cup). So does Skyline. Golden Gate is all shrimp with no filler at the bottom. Ditto Skyline. Golden Gate has an excellent tangy cocktail sauce. Ditto again.

It gets better. Skyline serves its shrimp at the main (I mean only) bar, where you can also get a margarita on the rocks in a real glass rimmed with salt for a dollar. That’s shrimp and a margarita for $2.50! On top of that, this bar deals some of the best video poker schedules in town, with its quarter games tied to progressive royal flush meters. It’s kind of like getting three of the Valley’s best deals in food, booze and gambling all from one barstool!

So why isn’t the Skyline top shrimp even when the Golden Gate is considered? Two reasons. One is location—for the Las Vegas urbanite, the Skyline’s just a little off the beaten track. And two is the size of the shrimp. The Skyline’s are much bigger than the tiny bay shrimp you get in many places, but they’re a notch smaller than the Golden Gate’s.

Bottom line: I’d stack either one up against anything outside Vegas, and lots of friends visiting from all over the country have validated that confidence. You can’t go wrong either way. But for now, the little Skyline is the king of the cheap shrimp cocktail in Las Vegas, which by extension just might mean it’s king of the whole shrimp-cocktail-servin’ universe.