Downtown Dinner Show

Frankie Moreno

Some things that used to be common in casinos are all but nonexistent today. For example, when’s the last time you heard someone being paged over a P.A.? Everyone has cellphones now, so pages aren’t necessary. Or what about tipping the “captain” for a better seat in the showroom? These days ushers direct you to your assigned seats. Another Vegas tradition that’s all but extinct is the dinner show.

Catching a dinner show used to be an entertainment go-to, and there were lots of choices. Today there’s Tournament of Kings at Excalibur and Marriage Can Be Murder at The D. That’s it. Every so often a casino combines a show with a dinner option, but they never click—with one recent exception. The Golden Nugget has managed to crack the code by bundling the Frankie Moreno show and the property’s buffet (called The Buffet). It’s not a traditional arrangement, but the two go together seamlessly to create a show-and-dinner experience that really works. I’ll break it into three components: the buffet, the show and the deal.

The show starts at 8 p.m. but you have to eat first, so getting there around 6:30 is the play. Moreno is on Thursdays and Saturdays, both specialty nights in The Buffet, themed Italian and BBQ, respectively. If you have a preference, choose that day. This isn’t a Bellagio-level buffet, but it’s only one level down, featuring an excellent salad selection and decent charcuterie board, plus medium peel-and-eat shrimp. One trait of the Nugget buffet has always been impressive desserts, and that’s still the case with crème brulee, delicate cream puffs and the famous Golden Nugget bread pudding that’s been Vegas’ best since Steve Wynn owned the joint.

Frankie Moreno isn’t exactly the most electrifying name for a show, but don’t let that fool you. It’s a throwback to the croon-and-banter style, where a big part of the act is talking to, joking with and generally revving up the audience—and, as an A-level showman, Moreno is brilliant at it. He and his 10-piece band perform on the same stage that’s said to be the last in Vegas to host Sinatra. The whole thing comes together to create that dinner-show feeling I’ve been talking about.
Now for the deal. Given the city’s average ticket price of $90-plus, Moreno’s $36 is a steal. The package is $47, so you’re getting The Buffet for just $11. Purchased separately, the combo would cost $62, so this deal saves almost $16 per person. Drinks in the showroom are a bargain, too, with beers starting at $5.

The only negative is the show’s short two-days-per-week schedule, but even though it’s not being advertised, the same deal is now available for the new Clint Holmes show, playing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. That’s four nights to choose from. Just pick one!

Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor and