You’re reading that headline correctly: I’m revealing a few of Vegas Seven’s Best of the City winners for 2024, specifically on the topics I was entrusted to research and write. There’s no science fiction at play here; rather, I’m hoping to take some time off later this year to chill out and revise my novel, and I wanted to work ahead a little bit. (Along those lines, I’ve also written a paean to the Griddle Café at SLS—seriously, man, pancakes as big as your head—and an evenhanded critique of Penn Jillette’s short, bloody tenure on the Clark County Commission, titled “You Can’t Make an Omelet Without Shredding a Few Tourists.”)
Anyway, these people, places and things represent Las Vegas at its best. That is, they will, in 10 years’ time.
BEST SHORTCUT: Interstate 11. The just-opened I-11 not only connects us more directly to Phoenix—hey, surely someone wants to go there—but also to the quickly reviving Eastside, with its terrific Latino cuisine and retail. Plus, there’s no better way to escape the traffic following the end of a match by the Weekenders FC, Las Vegas’ MLS team that’s now in its fourth year playing in a retractable-roofed Downtown stadium. (Can you believe our Weekenders have already won two MLS Cups?!?)
BEST PLACE FOR A GAY WEDDING: The “Gayborhood.” Officially, the neighborhood bordered by Maryland Parkway, Fremont Street, Bruce Street and Charleston Boulevard is called Mayfair. But a couple of years after the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada moved its headquarters there, LGBT-friendly businesses began following suit: apartments, restaurants, bars, advocacy law groups and, yes, wedding chapels. The “Gayborhood” nickname attached itself to Mayfair and stuck almost immediately, though its denizens rarely use it. The chapels here are free of the cheesiness that’s emblematic of Strip chapels—though if you want to be married by a gay Elvis, the chapels of Mayfair will happily oblige.
BEST DISPENSARY: World’s Largest Dispensary. Technically, it’s not part of Bonanza Gifts, the so-called “World’s Largest Gift Shop.” They just rent space in the same plaza. But the World’s Largest Dispensary is pretty fucking big, no doubt about it. And there’s nothing more fun than shopping for dice clocks after you’ve had a few edibles.
BEST COMMUTER TRAIN RIDE: The Maryland Line. Frankly, we’re just happy to have more than one light-rail line to choose from for this category. And while the Bonneville-to-McCarran monorail line, the east-west Sahara Line and the just-completed Green Valley Line have their charms, nothing beats hopping the Maryland Line at UNLV and taking it down to Fremont. Our favorite stretch of this line is between Tropicana and McCarran, where you can get a passing glimpse of large art pieces by the likes of Miguel Rodriguez, Jesse Smigel and Justin Favela. But really, the whole ride does our heart good, watching as high-density housing and retail slowly take over what was once a stretch of half-abandoned strip malls.
BEST ENTERTAINMENT DEAL: The Subscription Series at the Huntridge. If you’ve seen a show there, you don’t have to be told how magnificently this 80-year-old theater has been restored. But you might not know that it offers a yearlong subscription that’s about half of what The Smith Center charges for season tickets, and it includes the whole works: the concerts, the plays, even a steep discount on concessions at the Post Office Cinema.
BEST NOVEL BY A VEGAS WRITER: Your Souvenir Guide, by Geoff Carter. Vegas Seven writer Carter has finally delivered his “Disneyland by way of Haruki Murakami” story after 20 years of promises and bullshit revisions, and it’s good. Brilliant, actually. His only regrets in the writing of it are that he “didn’t do a Kickstarter or some shit way back in 2014,” and that he “should have worked ahead to 2034, so I coulda taken more time off.”