Like a lot of people, I like to post pictures of food on Facebook and Twitter. So it frustrates the hell out of me that most of the time, when I ask a server for a restaurant’s Twitter handle, they have absolutely no clue what it is. Over the past 18 months I’ve advised dozens of restaurants that they should just print their handle or appropriate hashtags on their menus—or at least train their staff to know them. And while I doubt my bitching was the inspiration, it seems some restaurants and bars are finally catching on to the role social media can play in promoting their establishments.
In Las Vegas, the one restaurant that has best embraced social media is Mingo Kitchen & Lounge in the Arts District. Every single item on the menu has a hashtag listed right next to it so diners who want to Tweet about their food can jump right in.
Owner Mingo Collaso is a huge fan of social media and has gone so far as to install phone chargers at the bar so no one has to worry about running out of juice as they interact. “I love everything about technology and social media,” he says. “I wanted Mingo Kitchen to be a little more like me, and be more fun and interactive. I just wanted more people to get involved.”
And he’s put together some funny and quirky tags. The open-faced fried-egg sandwich, for example, is tagged #FixYoFace, while the “Snoop Dogg”-style hot dog is tagged #DoggyStyle. And if you’re worried that tagging the vegetable fried rice as #FryRie might come off as racially insensitive, Collaso believes his Chinese heritage gives him and his customers a pass.
“I wanted some of the hashtags to be a little risqué,” Collaso says. “That way people are shocked a little bit.” So far, the reaction has been great. “People love it,” he tells me. “The first time they go there they die laughing.”
He’s even instructed his staff that they must Instagram during their shift. The goal is to bring Mingo into a social media world that’s increasingly obsessed with food. “People love food photos,” the restaurateur states flatly. “It really does bring people in!”
Hash It Out
While few restaurants and bars embrace social media to the level that Mingo Kitchen & Lounge does, many are finally getting onboard. Here are a few spots that encourage you to bring your online friends into your dining and drinking experience:
The Hard Rock’s casual eatery has a “Vices” cocktail menu that begins with a full-page story about how much the restaurant loves you as a customer. At the bottom, you’re encouraged to share your experience under the tag #DropoutLovesMe.
If you’re enjoying the Ultimate Steak for Two or the Ultimate Surf & Turf, your staff will ask you to post some photos using the tag #RaisingTheSteaks.
1923 Bourbon & Burlesque
The cocktail menu offered during the burlesque performances at Holly Madison’s new hot spot has hashtags for anyone who wants to rave about their beverage. They include #1923OldFashioned, #ThatStrangeRush, #KingFresa, #SexyNegroni, #HolyGrail and #MuleKick.
Wednesday is Ladies’ Night at N9NE Steakhouse and Ghostbar. And the operators want you to post your presumably amusing observations using the tag #LadiesBeLike, which they advertise on their menus and sometimes even on the Palms’ marquee.
If you enjoy a cocktail or shot in the frozen surroundings of the restaurant’s Vodka Vault, the staff will encourage you to share it with the world under the tag #VodkaVault.