The Parlour. | Photo by Krystal Ramirez

5th Annual Bar Hall of Fame

Our city has thousands of places to drink. Here’s to the best.

Las Vegas is a city of infinite variety. The 25 establishments in the Vegas Seven Bar Hall of Fame reflect that diversity: There are Irish pubs and top-floor clubs, elegant steakhouses and punk dives, boisterous gay bars and chilled-out jazz joints. And now—with your help—we will add five more. 

To be nominated, a place must have been pouring for at least five years. Maintaining a loyal clientele and solid reputation over time—whatever that reputation might be for—is what makes Bar Hall of Fame material. 

From June 23 through July 7, you can vote daily for your favorite nominee in each of our five categories: Dives, Old School, Strip & Environs, Downtown and Neighborhoods. Your vote, and maybe a few beers, will fuel our panel’s lively debate, and the 2016 inductees into the Bar Hall of Fame will be revealed in the July 14 issue of Vegas Seven.

Already know all the bars? Skip the descriptions and go straight to voting. 

Don’t see one of your favorite bars? It might be a past winner


Moon Doggies.Krystal Ramirez | Vegas Seven

Moon Doggies.

Moon Doggies Bar and Grill

3240 Arville St., 702-368-4180

Opened: 1999

Setting & Scene: Moon Doggies is a drinkin’ place, but it’s the food that put it on the map. The Naked City Pizza Shop inside, featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, is the place in Vegas for Buffalo-style pizza, wings and sandwiches. Watch a game over a “frickin’ huge” pizza or some “suicide fries”—the joint absolutely heaves during Buffalo Bills games.

Your Order: A cold 22-ounce Labatt’s is $5.50, and a pint of PBR is $3. There’s a decent selection of craft beers if you want to bump up the alcohol content.

Character: The funky assemblage of dive-bar devotees in front of the bar, tatted rock ’n’ rollers behind it and middle-class families who saw DD&D on TV produces some lively conversation and a crazy mix of tunes emanating from the jukebox.

The Sand Dollar. Krystal Ramirez | Vegas Seven

The Sand Dollar.

Sand Dollar Lounge

3355 Spring Mountain Rd., 702-485-5401,

Opened: 1976

Setting & Scene: Resurrected in 2009, the Sand Dollar is a dressed-up dive with music in its bones. B.B. King and Mick Jagger were said to frequent the former biker joint; portraits of them adorn the walls today. That spirit continues with live blues and rock ’n’ roll six nights a week. While many come for the entertainment, the late-night shift comes for a beer and whiskey program that rivals those on the Strip.

Your Order: If you’re encyclopedic about your brews, you can hunt down the $50-a-bottle Brouwerij Drie Fonteinen. If not, cop a $4 Colt 45 tallboy from the beer-vending machine.

Trivia Round: The venue got a short-lived Bar Rescue rebranding in 2014 as Bar 702, but once a dive, always a dive.


3805 W. Sahara Ave., 702-871-4952

Opened: 1964

Setting & Scene: Shifty’s is a dive bar and proud of it. Tucked back off Sahara (parking is in the front), it’s a good place to catch a game, an open-mic session or some rousing karaoke on Saturday nights. Gamblers should check the video poker pay tables and promotions, which have been in flux recently, but are usually better than the norm.

Your order: $3 drafts and $5 shots sum it up. Whichever route you go, pool is just 50 cents a game.

Character: While it’s not obvious that Shifty’s even has a kitchen (and the owner insists he wishes “no one knew”), you can get a really good steak dinner here 24/7 for $9.50.

Stage Door Casino.Jon Estrada

Stage Door Casino.

Stage Door Casino

4000 Audrie St., 702-733-0124

Opened: 1976

Setting & Scene: The Stage Door’s signage may not be as fancy as its Strip neighbors, but the message is more vital to tourists (and locals) than whoever is performing at Drai’s: $1 beers. That makes for a perfect pre-game and a lively crowd on the weekends, a cross between a bachelor party and a Teamsters meeting. You can even cash your paycheck there and grab a case from the adjoining convenience store on the way out.

Your Order: A $1 PBR, $2 Corona or $5 shot of Patrón. Hell, for those prices, grab two of each.

Character: The Stage Door’s sign also brags about having “18 years left on our lease.” Feel free to drink slowly.

Huntridge Tavern.Krystal Ramirez | Vegas Seven

Huntridge Tavern.

Huntridge Tavern

1116 E. Charleston Blvd., 702-384-7377

Opened: 1962

Setting & Scene: The last man standing. Other neighborhood bars of the Huntridge Tavern’s generation have been remodeled, repurposed or closed outright. But this 54-year-old dive keeps on going—and if you ignore the flat-screen TVs and internet jukebox, this place doesn’t look all that different than it did 10, 20 or even 30 years ago. The paneling and wallpaper are vintage, as are the patrons. The HT is a treasure, pure and simple.

Your Order: These are some of the cheapest drinks in town. Not fancy—we’ve never ordered anything with more than three ingredients, and even that’s pushing it—but this is one of the few places in town where you can say, “A round for the house!” and mean that shit.

Character: Grizzled drunks, Gen X homeowners and millennial punks. Good people, all. Finest you’ll ever know.

stakeout_by_krystal_ramirez_WEBKrystal Ramirez | Vegas Seven

Stake Out Bar & Grill

4800 S. Maryland Pkwy., 702-798-8383

Opened: 1982

Setting & Scene: In an era where all bars with food aspire to be “gastropubs,” there’s something genuine about Stake Out, a neighborhood bar that just happens to serve burgers, wings and Phillies. (Good ones, too.) Everything about Stake Out speaks of a simpler time: the pool tables, the old-school cigarette machine (right next to the modern internet jukebox) and the cool bartender who wears a Johnny Cash T-shirt and calls everyone “honey.” (We’ve fallen in love on far less.) So comfortable is this place that, unprompted, we began playing video poker. Can’t tell you the last time we did that.

Your Order: They offer daily happy hour specials on draft beers, house wines and margaritas, and the bottled beer selection is robust.

Character: Unless there’s a game on TV, the prevailing mood is pretty chill. Sometimes we need that, honey.

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Old School

Bonnie Springs Ranch

16935 Bonnie Springs Rd., 702-875-4191,

Opened: 1952

Setting & Scene: The entire town of Bonnie Springs was built to resemble the Wild West—from Opera House to gallows. You can work up an appetite after the daily public hanging, and the bar at Bonnie Springs Restaurant is the spot for a hearty meal and a stiff beverage. It’s the type of bar that has dollar bills and neckties hanging on the walls; there are also historical photos of owner Bonnie Levinson, who built practically everything, including all the furniture and the fire pit in the lounge.

Your order: The bar does have a seasonal cocktail menu, but we are playing cowboy here, so go for a whiskey.

Character: Bonnie Springs’ namesake passed away in January at 94 years of age, but her spirit is permanently imprinted upon this place. She was a dancer and ice skater before purchasing the ranch. She also loved animals, thus the petting zoo.

gold-mine-tavern.jpgMatt Jacob | Vegas Seven

Gold Mine Tavern

23 S. Water St., 702-478-8289,

Opened: 1965

Setting & Scene: Henderson’s Water Street has seen its ups and downs, but the Gold Mine Tavern has been here with a beer for more than 50 years. Outside, there’s vintage signage above a patio and a mural painting of the block back in the day. Inside, you’ll find a 50-foot-long bar, pool tables and a jukebox. There’s free pool on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, open mic on Sundays and live bands on Fridays and Saturdays.

Your Order: Nothing fancy, but there is a nice selection of beers on tap; the Gold Mine also makes a well-spiced and well-garnished Bloody Mary.

Character: Literary types should check out the monthly Books & Beer Club, in which folks spend a Saturday afternoon drinking and discussing.

Golden Steer.Krystal Ramirez

Golden Steer.

Golden Steer

308 W. Sahara Ave., 702-384-4470,

Opened: 1958

Setting & Scene: The Golden Steer epitomizes vintage Vegas. The restaurant has velvet wallpaper, leather booths and red-jacketed waiters whipping up Caesar salads and cherries jubilee tableside. The bar’s amber lights bounce off a tin ceiling, and the wood paneling is adorned with photos of famous patrons. If it seems like the Rat Pack hung out here, it’s because they did.

Your Order: The veteran bartenders can pour whatever you’d like, but stick with the classics. Make it a martini, a Manhattan or perhaps just two fingers of Jack on ice, as the Chairman himself would have had. Do you really want to order a Coors Light in Sinatra’s house?

Character: It’s not just Frank, Sammy and Dean: Elvis, Marilyn and Ali were also known to patronize the Steer.

Hitchin’ Post Saloon and Steakhouse

3650 Las Vegas Blvd. North, 702-644-1220,

Opened: 1953

Setting & Scene: Located way out past the Silver Nugget on Las Vegas Boulevard, this place is something of an old ranch, with an adjoining Hitchin’ Post RV Park and even a Hitchin’ Post Motel. Inside there’s a bar and a small enclosed dining room (with Star Trek-like sliding doors), where complete steak dinners are served for less than $20. An outdoor patio in the back has dining tables and a horseshoe pit.

Your Order: Drink prices are dirt-cheap: A house merlot is $5.75, a Heineken is $4.25, a Pabst is $2.25 and a cold mug of “Hitchin’ Brew” is just $1.25.

Character: The customers might be residents of the RV park, local regulars or staff from nearby Nellis Air Force Base. But whoever they are, they all get along like family in this friendly joint.

Mountain Springs Saloon. Krystal Ramirez | Vegas Seven

Mountain Springs Saloon.

Mountain Springs Saloon

9350 Williams Ranch Rd., Mountain Springs, 702-875-4266

Opened: 1957

Setting & Scene: Drive east on winding Blue Diamond Road through Red Rock National Conservation Area and you’ll understand why bikers favor the Mountain Springs Saloon. This stretch of road makes for a beautiful Sunday ride to Pahrump, and the bar is an ideal pit stop for a pig roast and a cold one. Dusty bras and old Christmas stockings dangle from the ceiling and dollar bills cover every square inch of the walls, including the taxidermy. The backroom is for pool and live music, while outside you’ll find grills, roasting stations, horseshoe pits and picnic tables.

Your order: Cheap beer, strong shots or a two-ingredient cocktail served in a plastic cup. Picky drinkers need not apply.

Character: Bikers may not be as tough as they seem. Mountain Springs Saloon has a large and confusing collection of flavored vodkas.

Pioneer Saloon.Krystal Ramirez | Vegas Seven

Pioneer Saloon.

Pioneer Saloon

310 W. Spring St., Goodsprings, 702-874-9362,

Opened: 1913

Setting & Scene: Located in Goodsprings, halfway between Las Vegas and the California border, the Pioneer began serving the area’s prospectors and miners back when Woodrow Wilson was president. The bar’s been refurbished, but it’s also been preserved to look pretty much the way it did a hundred years ago. Get a drink, have a bite or play some pool in the back. The Pioneer has become popular with bikers in recent years, but they’re a friendly bunch who coexist with a steady stream of tourists.

Your Order: Olympia beer in a can is $3.50, draft Dead Guy Ale is $6 or just order a whiskey. The burgers are good enough,and even better when you doctor ’em up at the 14-item condiment bar.

Character: The Pioneer is where Clark Gable famously drank while waiting for news of wife Carole Lombard’s fate after her plane crashed at nearby Mount Potosi. The saloon hosts occasional “ghost lockdowns” for those who want to make contact with her spirit—or any others.

Sonny’s Saloon

3449 S. Industrial Rd., 702-731-5553

Opened: 1973 (original location)

Setting & Scene: Save for an out-of-place Beyoncé poster and a digital jukebox, Sonny’s Saloon hasn’t changed much since it opened. It doesn’t even have a credit card reader, but it’s got everything else you could ask for: cheap drinks, video poker, a mini-liquor store with bottled booze to go and a hallway leading to the equally old-school Diamond Chinese Restaurant.

Your Order: Keep it simple with a Crown and Coke for $5.

Character: In its heyday, Sonny’s hosted fundraisers for politicians and was a home for Strip construction workers. These days, it’s popular among, ahem, the diverse workforce of Industrial Road, according to one of the bartenders.

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Strip & Environs

The Chandelier Kobby Dagan

The Chandelier

The Chandelier

In Cosmopolitan, 3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-698-7000,

Opened: 2010

Setting & Scene: Few casino bars, past or present, even begin to approach the wow factor of the Chandelier. A three-story lounge hung with cascading curtains of Swarovski crystal, it’s a work of art—a shimmering, elegant marvel. Just stepping foot in here is enough to make your head swim. This place embodies the supreme confidence that built Las Vegas in the first place.

Your Order: The Chandelier has a very, very good cocktail program, and their bartenders invest every drink with patience and care. Try the Verbena—a magnificent blend of ginger and the namesake herb, garnished with a mouth-tingling Szechuan button.

Character: Depends on which level you choose. The bottom level attracts tourists; the top, large parties of friends. The middle level is where the serious cocktail lovers hang out.

Mandarin Bar.

Mandarin Bar.

Mandarin Bar

In Mandarin Oriental, 3752 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-590-8888,

Opened: 2009

Setting & Scene: Many places on the Strip claim spectacular views, but few match Mandarin Bar’s sophisticated ambience 23 floors up. With dark wood floors, a jewel-toned color scheme and floor-to-ceiling windows, you half expect 007 himself to sidle up to the bar and pull that “shaken, not stirred” bit.

Your Order: Mandarin’s M.O. is creating one-of-a-kind sensory experiences, from the hotel’s custom scent to the bar’s Golden Leaf Martini—Hendrick’s gin, Aperol, muddled mandarin oranges and pineapple and lime juices—created for the Las Vegas property. Check out the zodiac cocktail menu and have a drink customized to your astrological sign.

Character: If you’re on a first date, the view does all the work. But as a place to take in the luxurious trappings of Vegas without the tourist trap, Mandarin Bar is hard to top.

Napoleon’s Lounge

3655 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-946-7000,

Opened: 1999

Setting & Scene: Scarlet, crimson, vermillion, cerise with plenty of brass and brocade, Napoleon’s décor is like the diminutive general and Liberace got together to create a place for cocktails, conversation and tickling the hell out of those ivories. The industrial lighting rig over the stage does screw with the French Empire vibe, though.

Your Order: The cocktails run a bit sweet, but the wine list has some nice selections by the glass.

Character: The main room is where the pianos pound and the audience sings along, but the cigar lounge is where you can grab a smoke from the wall-size humidor and get away from it all.

Piero’s Monkey Bar. Jon Estrada

Piero’s Monkey Bar.

Piero’s Monkey Bar

355 Convention Center Dr., 702-369-2305,

Opened: 1987 (1982 original location)

Setting & Scene: Wooing a date or a business deal? Come to Piero’s to join the most interesting assemblage of classic Vegas characters collected in one throwback off-Strip haunt. Replete with brick walls, leather seating and monkeys, multiple rooms house various “tributes” (including one themed to UNLV’s Runnin’ Rebels), but your target is the elegant and intimate dark wood bar.

Your Order: Piero’s 16-page wine list offers 31 wines and bubbles by the glass, plus bottles from a $35 La Marca to a $6,800 Rothschild. Otherwise, it’s likely a martini, olives up.

Character: It’s everywhere. Piero’s is among the few joints where Old Vegas exists in concentrate, where celebs escape and local power takes center stage.




3730 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-590-9520,

Opened: 2009

Setting & Scene: Pass through just a portion of Sage’s considerable wine collection to enter the inviting, dark environs of the luxurious lounge. The warmly backlit bar (and its spirits collection) is the centerpiece. Take a seat at the bar or snag a table.

Your Order: Although absinthe and the many ways of consuming it were originally the draw, other spirits have since stepped up to the place of honor. In addition to the famed absinthe-cart experience, Sage now offers the full range of Old Rip Van Winkle bourbons and rye. On the menu, simple, mononymously named original cocktails such as Smoke and Honey sit alongside classics such as the Sazerac and Old Fashioned. Bartender’s Choice is also a wise investment in this temple to refined libation.

Character: If dining is as much the object of the evening as drinking, Sage’s bar menu offers ever-so-slightly smaller versions of dishes from the full menu at ever-so-slightly smaller prices.

Slots-a-Fun. Krystal Ramirez | Vegas Seven



2890 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 877-849-4868

Opened: 1972

Setting & Scene: Stuck between Circus Circus and a McDonald’s, across from the desiccated hulks of the Riviera and Fontainbleau, Slots-A-Fun feels like the dive bar in one of those movies where the apocalypse hits Vegas, albeit one where the survivors are Bermuda-shorted tourists. Table games have vanished in favor of pool tables, video games, Golden Tee, beer pong and even a few bowling lanes, but the slots and video poker churn on.

Your Order: Go with the beer specials—$3 Coronas and Modelos, $15 pitchers. Seven bucks for a vodka tonic may be cheap for the Strip, but here it feels like a fortune.

Character: Slots-A-Fun embraces the old-school not just with a pinball machine, but also with a set of genuine, quarter-spitting one-armed bandits.

Vesper Bar. Anthony Mair

Vesper Bar.

Vesper Bar

3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-698-7000,

Opened: 2010

Setting & Scene: Vesper is the ideal spot to grab a pre-dinner or post-concert cocktail. With an ornate antique liquor cabinet as the bar’s centerpiece, mirrored tiles and moody lighting, Vesper strikes a balance between classic and contemporary.

Your Order: The bartenders are known for their expert craft and modern twists on the classics. Go for a Moscow Mule or a Pisco Sour, but don’t be too shy to ask for a recommendation—just make sure it’s when traffic is slow. They also change their cocktail menu at least once a year.

Character: Located near the registration desks, elevators and an escalator, the bar is prime for people watching.

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Artifice. Krystal Ramirez | Vegas Seven



1025 First St., 702-489-6339,

Opened: 2011

Setting & Scene: Artifice is a handsome industrial space—brick walls, exposed pipes—hung with cool local art and usually hosting events you won’t find elsewhere in Vegas, from stage plays to jazz bands to wonderfully sleazy art class, Dr. Sketchy’s. And the long-running goth night, Scarlet, gets shady twice monthly.

Your Order: Artifice has a menu of solid specialty cocktails, but we prefer to go basic—gin and tonic, Jack and Coke, anything the sexy young bartenders can make while doing two other things at once. This joint can really get jumping on busy nights.

Character: The crowd at Artifice is almost all Downtowners, including artists, local business owners, burlesque dancers and more. It’s a goddamn cornucopia of humanity.

Don't Tell Mama. Krystal Ramirez | Vegas Seven

Don’t Tell Mama.

Don’t Tell Mama

517 Fremont St., 702-207-0788,

Opened: 2008

Setting & Scene: Fremont East’s Don’t Tell Mama is one of the few remaining piano bars in Vegas. Every night is open mic night, and anyone is allowed to sing as long as they know the lyrics. The talent of the vocalists—both employees and patrons—can be intimidating, but the narrow, intimate space (and the drinks) encourages the whole bar to sing together so the less gifted can participate.

Your Order: A piano lounge calls for a beverage in a stemmed glass. Order a martini and roll around on the baby grand while pretending to be Rita Hayworth, but bring your own black satin gloves.

Character: You can test your blood alcohol level with a machine the bar has. It’s there for safety reasons, but it also makes for a fun who’s-the-drunkest competition. The machine is cash only: Cramming your credit card in the cash slot is another way to learn you’ve had too many.

frankies_tiki_room_mugs_by_jon_estrada_WEBJon Estrada

Frankie’s Tiki Room

1712 W. Charleston Blvd., 702-385-3110,

Opened: 2008

Setting & Scene: A description really isn’t necessary since every Vegas barfly has been in Frankie’s for an early-morning nightcap at some point. Good thing those glowing blowfish can’t talk because they’ve seen some shit. The smoky bar is decorated with handmade wooden tikis and custom artwork including the “Vice Tester” carnival game at the back of the bar. Dick Dale riffs play in the background as vintage island pinup footage or weird puppet pornos entertain/bewilder drinkers.

Your Order: Ordering a tiki drink is a no-brainer, but stick to the rum cocktails. The menu has a large selection of classics such as mai tais or zombies, and originals such as the Bearded Clam mojito or the Wild Watusi with its 160 proof float.

Character: The interior of the bar was designed by the famous designer Bamboo Ben, who is the grandson of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room designer, Eli Hedley.

the_griffin_by_jon_estrada_01_WEBJon Estrada

The Griffin

511 Fremont St., 702-382-0577

Opened: 2007

Setting & Scene: Drink in the dark the way God intended at the Griffin, an OG of Fremont East that’s been a locals favorite since opening. Tourists may flood through the doors on weekends, but weekdays hold on to the vibe that existed before container parks were a thing. The three fire pits and the vaulted ceilings are Griffin staples; the bar is stocked with liquor and is as excellent as the music in the jukebox.

Your order: The bartenders here are known to have a heavy hand, especially if they like you, so go for shots or simple cocktails. Rather than PBR or Bud Light, Hamm’s is the cheap beer of choice.

Character: On sporadic Fridays, the bar has free shows in the backroom. The bands typically hail from Los Angeles, home of the original Griffin, and are always worth coming out for.

Oscar’s Beef, Booze & Broads

1 S. Main St., 702-386-7227,

Opened: 2011

Setting & Scene: Oscar’s is a modernized take on vintage Las Vegas, sitting pretty in the Plaza’s iconic dome. Sure, there are televisions plastered throughout, but the main dining room goes old-school, putting the focus on the intersection of Main and Fremont streets with walls of windows. There are three dazzling chandeliers and plenty of quilted black leather booths, not unlike those lavish establishments mobsters in Casino and Goodfellas used to frequent.

Your Order: Do it like Goodman himself and get a Bombay Sapphire on the rocks. A bottle of the gin is one of his “desert island” necessities.

Character: He’s serious about the “broads.” At any given moment, an attractive woman reminiscent of a showgirl may come up to your table and talk anything from Vegas history to their time accompanying the former mayor and mob lawyer.

The Parlour. Krystal Ramirez | Vegas Seven

The Parlour.

The Parlour

600 Fremont St., 702-385-5200,

Opened: 1941

Setting & Scene: This is the gold standard of casino lounge bars—a dark, cozy setting with mirrors behind the bar and deep leather chairs. Here, the weight of history isn’t a burden; it’s more like a warm blanket atop a waterbed filled with bourbon and populated by showgirls. You should have been here on the night Puddles Pity Party rocked the room. It was all torch songs and long, lingering clown hugs. The Parlour is great at offering only-in-Downtown Vegas moments like that one.

Your Order: Don’t be shy about ordering classics like a Vesper or an Old Fashioned—the bartenders know their stuff. Or simply have a cold, fresh beer imported from Banger Brewing just down the block.

Character: The crowd at El Cortez is elderly gamblers and millennial hipsters, with little middle ground. It’s an interesting mix.

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Born and Raised. Anthony Mair

Born and Raised.

Born and Raised

7260 S. Cimarron Rd., 702-685-0258,

Opened: 2010

Setting & Scene: For a sports bar geared toward your average dude-bro, Born and Raised is pretty damn upscale. TVs from miniature to mega make watching the game with a crowd feel like a stadium-size event. Alternatively, the bar’s lounge and outdoor areas offer the perfect setting for an intimate conversation over a good drink.

Your Order: Should include the food menu. There’s everything from sausage gumbo and PBR pancakes to 15 kinds of sliders. Wet your whistle with more than 20 beers on tap and a handful of quirkily named cocktails. We can’t believe we actually want a Mang-over.

Character: Historical scenes from old Vegas dot the walls. UNLV Rebels memorabilia greets you at the door. It conveys what Born and Raised yearns to say: Welcome home.

Vamp'd. Krystal Ramirez | Vegas Seven


Count’s Vamp’d

6750 W. Sahara Ave., 702-220-8849,

Opened: 2009

Setting & Scene: If you rock, this is where you roll. “Count” Danny Koker’s freestanding westside pub and grub is our city’s well-executed answer to Hollywood’s Rainbow Bar & Grill. Where else in Vegas can you eat, drink, dress and raise a fist to the rock lifestyle seven days a week?

Your Order: There’s a nice selection of draft beer to go with your (very good) grub. Otherwise, I wanna whiskey and Coke all night (and party every day)!

Character: It’s a wonderful world where EDM never happened. Leather pants, motorcycles and big, sexy hair, plus live bands—including Sin City Sinners, Koker’s own Count’s 77 and a range of tribute acts—appear on perhaps the best non-casino stage and sound system in town.

The Dillinger Food and Drinkery

1224 Arizona St., Boulder City, 702-293-4001,

Opened: 2011

Setting & Scene: Every so often we feel a powerful need to flee Las Vegas for an hour or two. Oftentimes we end up at Boulder City’s Dillinger, a former bank with door handles made from gun parts and a portrait of Depression-era gangster John Dillinger hanging over the bar. It’s a prime beer-and-burger joint—Vegas Seven food writer Max Jacobson called the burgers “half-pound beauties”—with live music, a cool staff and a vibe that’s welcoming to all, even Las Vegans who could unintentionally destroy Boulder City’s quality of life.

Your Order: A craft beer. They’ve got all the cool kids in attendance, from Lagunitas to Deschutes to Lost Coast, and a rotating cast of other greats.

Character: The crowd here is so chill you might consider moving to Boulder City. If you do, let us know how that works out, and put in a word for us.

Ferraro's Wine Cellar.

Ferraro’s Wine Cellar.


4480 Paradise Rd., 702-364-5300,

Opened: 1985 (original location)

Setting & Scene: The Ferraro family’s labor of love, this welcoming spot features a Southern Italian menu, house-made pasta noodles and an expansive bar and lounge area that easily accommodates the local faithful as well as conventioneers and a late-night service-industry crowd.

Your Order: Select libations from a curated wine list of 20 glasses, plus 68 pages by the bottle. Twenty-three beers include two locals (Joseph James) and the unrefined, unfermented Italian Tenute Collesi, while the cocktail menu offers updated classics such as the Italian Greyhound.

Character: More polished than Nora’s, more laid-back than Piero’s, Ferraro’s is among Las Vegas’ best date-night options.

Gilligan’s HideAway

2601 Atlantic St., 702-214-8610,

Opened: 1983

Setting & Scene: Hideaway indeed. Gilligan’s may be far from the Sin City buzz, but it’s got plenty of retro Vegas charm. The bar is nautical-themed, with a faux-dock entrance and stained-glass windows of orange fish and green seaweed beneath blue waves. The crowd is a bit older and more low-key than you’d find on the Strip or Downtown, but they still know how to have a good time—and welcome a stranger.

Your Order: Rum and Coke, Jack and ginger, Seven and Seven, the classics. Gilligan’s also has some of the best bar food in town—hand-dipped chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks more accurately described as “logs,” as well as excellent dinner specials.

Character: Gilligan’s Hideaway was originally the Starboard Tack, which was a popular singles hangout during the ’70s. Some of the couples who met (and married) back then still visit Gilligan’s.

Johnny Mac’s

842 S. Boulder Hwy., 702-564-2121,

Opened: 1983

Setting & Scene: Walk through the door and feel like you’ve been teleported to a sports bar in upstate New York­­—wood-paneled walls hung with sports memorabilia, power forwards and first basemen and quarterbacks cavorting across dozens of TV screens. A sprinkling of shamrocks reminds you that the Mac stands for McGinty.

Your Order: Sierra Nevada from the tap, Sam Adams from the bottle. And there’s more than booze: Johnny Mac’s is known for its pizza and wings. Try the watermelon barbecue sauce.

Character: Johnny Mac’s draws all kinds, from video poker jockeys keeping an eye on their sports bets to four generations of a family sitting down to pasta and pizza. An on-top-of-it staff keeps everyone happy.


6020 W. Flamingo Rd., 702-873-8990,

Opened: 1991

Setting & Scene: Restaurant bars are integral to Las Vegas drinking culture, and few are as legendary as Nora’s, where cocktail culture was reintroduced to a city long thought lost to cheap drinks. The result? Nora’s has curated a cadre of longtime locals who appreciate the beverages, the nosh and the service.

Your Order: This bar brought cocktail culture to Vegas long before most bearded mixologists were born, so skip the extensive wine list and go for the hard stuff. The menu showcases seven classics (Manhattan, Negroni) and nine specialties (including Tony Abou-Ganim’s Cable Car), plus the knowledgeable barkeeps are eager to venture off-menu for a sophisticated drinker.

Character: This typical Vegas strip mall storefront has expanded from 12 to 115 seats, but Nora’s will soon move to a new freestanding building just a block away. After 25 years, it’s time.

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