At 10:30 on a Friday night, the main room of Crazy Horse III is about three-quarters full. My wife and I are seated at a table in the elevated VIP section, watching a pair of dancers cavort with each other onstage between flirtations with the crowd. My wife, who once helped me review strip clubs for a local paper, says they remind her of kittens at play. It’s a comment that might sound sexist coming from me, but I have to admit she’s hit the nail on the head. On a typical night we’d move to the stage to tip the ladies. But that probably would have made the real focus of our evening a little awkward. As we chatted about the dancers, our waitress arrived at our table with a large order of sushi, including nigiri and some custom rolls.
There was a time when dining at a strip club was limited to wings and pizza. Crazy Horse has those, although they’re not made on premises. The sushi, however, is all created in house by a chef who goes by the simple moniker of Sushi Dan. And it’s as good as—or even better than—what I get at my neighborhood sushi bar. And it’s available at the bar, the tables or the stage.
The menu is fairly simple, dominated by rolls and with only six types of nigiri. Dan says that’s partially a result of the dancers he feeds; they are young and tend to be picky eaters. But he makes everything to order, and as the late-night crowd rolls in, he frequently has friends who work in Strip kitchens lend him a hand.
Finding higher-end food in a Strip club isn’t all that rare these days. Treasures offers a steakhouse. When Sapphire opened its pool club, they brought in Kerry Simon to design the menu. And while it’s not officially part of the club, El Dorado Cantina offers Mexican cuisine in a formal atmosphere in the Sapphire building.
El Dorado, however, is a bit different than this town’s other strip-club dining options. Local entrepreneurs Brett Talla and Darin Feinstein rent the space from Feinstein’s father, who co-owns the club. But his target market isn’t the Sapphire customers.
“It’s kind of a sneaky anti-strip-club restaurant,” Feinstein says. That means, among other things, that you don’t have a view of any half-naked ladies while you eat. (And on the bright side, you don’t have to worry about the guy next to you getting a lap dance while you’re trying to concentrate on your food.) But the difference goes further than that. Because while a large percentage of the dancers in the club on any night have probably been artificially enhanced, El Dorado is an all-natural establishment.
“Everything in my house is organic,” Feinstein says of his personal lifestyle, which he has brought to the restaurant. So his menu specifically lists the organic suppliers for the restaurant’s produce, dairy products, seafood, beef, chicken and pork. It’s an effort to reach out to a health-conscious clientele, and he admits it was a risky endeavor in light of his location.
“I wasn’t sure how we would be welcomed into the healthy food scene in Las Vegas,” Feinstein says. But his fears have proven to be unfounded. After just a few months of operation, the restaurant has already found a strong local following. And, of course, it’s a great dining option for Sapphire customers who want to take a break from the lap dances for a quick bite.
More than a decade after I switched from reviewing strip clubs to restaurants, it’s nice to see the two worlds again converging.