Las Vegas

Things to Do in Las Vegas This Weekend

AREA15. Now with more food.

Photo courtesy of Oddwood/AREA 15
Photo courtesy of Oddwood/AREA 15
Photo courtesy of Oddwood/AREA 15

Did you enjoy playing in the snow this week? Or posting photos of Blizzard 2021 to your Instagram feed? Now that all 1.2 inches of snowfall are behind us, it’s time to move forward with even more winter fun in the middle of the desert. This weekend will be a little warmer in Las Vegas, but it’s busy with lots of stuff to do (and if you still want to go sledding, Mt. Charleston is just a short drive away.) So bring a mask, practice social distancing, and check out all the cool stuff happening around town over the next few days.

Get your fill of new eats at AREA15

Ongoing beginning Thursday, January 28
Off the Strip
Four-time James Beard Award-winning chef Todd English officially debuts The Beast at AREA15. The food hall, which previously was operating as an outdoor pop-up, is now a permanent 6,500-square-foot communal dining area where you can wolf down BBQ short rib sliders, tuna tartare wonton tacos, and other bites. The Beast is also supplying new munchies to Oddwood (one of the coolest bars in Vegas right now).
Cost: Prices vary
 

See a dinner and show (like the old days)

Thursday, January 28-Sunday, January 31
Off the Strip
While entertainment remains in short supply in Las Vegas during the pandemic, The Vegas Room continues to provide a classic dinner-and-show experience while maintaining social distancing guidelines. Singer Serena Henry, who’s shared the stage with the likes of Smokey Robinson and Gladys Knight, debuts with performances Thursday–Saturday at 8 pm on the heels of dinner at 6:30 pm. Skye Dee Miles performs Sunday with a five-course Southern-style brunch at 1 pm. 
Cost: Dinner tickets are $85, brunch is $65.
 

Drink beer and toast to seven years of Banger Brewing

Friday, January 29-Saturday, January 30
Downtown
One of our favorite breweries in Las Vegas is celebrating a big milestone. Banger Brewing on Fremont Street is throwing a two-day 7th Anniversary party with $4 house beers from open to close. You’ll also be among the first to try Lost in Yesterday, a new double hazy IPA, which can also be ordered online in cans to go. Make a reservation (limited to 90 minutes and four people) by calling 702-456-2739.  
Cost: Free admission

Grab a drink at the new Commonwealth Cocktail Club

Friday, January 29-Saturday, January 30
Downtown
Commonwealth is tweaking its format for 2021. The Laundry Room, which had taken over the entire venue for much of last year, is now returning to its original, intimate space as a secluded speakeasy. Yet much of that charm and bartending expertise is continuing in the main room with Commonwealth Cocktail Club on Friday and Saturday nights 7 pm–2 am. Expect new libations on the menu, including a rum-fueled punch bowl, and live music from DJs and piano players. Seated reservations are required with limited capacity to ensure social distancing. 
Cost: Cocktails begin at $14, punch bowls begin at $35   
 

Order Coney Island hot dogs for your Big Game viewing party

Saturday, January 30
Your house
It’s never too soon to start thinking about the Big Game (you know which one we’re talking about). Order a Tailgate Kit from American Coney Island by January 30 and it will ship by February 1, arriving in plenty of time to see the Chiefs square off against the Bucs in Tampa. The package includes 12 hot dogs and 12 buns with chili, mustard, and onions. Otherwise, the only other way to get these dogs in Vegas is at American Coney Island at The D casino on Fremont Street.  
Cost: $69
 

Feast from food trucks at the Pinball Hall of Fame

Saturday, January 30
Off the Strip
Before moving to a new location on the Strip later this year, the Pinball Hall of Fame (a museum of playable machines from decades past) continues to remain busy at its original location on Tropicana. Stop by between 2 pm and 8 pm when a couple food trucks will be serving food in the parking lot: Japanese street cuisine from Matsuri and BBQ from Meats and Treats. Dig through your pockets for a few quarters to play pinball in between bites. 
Cost: Free admission + cost of food.

Get in a romantic mood with Lights of Love

Saturday, January 30–Sunday, February 14
Henderson
The three-acre botanical Cactus Garden at the Ethel M Chocolate Factory transforms into Lights of Love with about a half-million lights in romantic, colorful designs. Admission is usually free, but this year, reservations are required with a $5 donation to Three Square food bank to ensure social distancing. While there, book a chocolate tasting (with optional wine pairings) to sample some of Ethel M’s best treats.
Cost: $5 donation is good for groups of up to six people, tastings begin at $65.  
 

Grab brunch to go from Yardbird

Sunday, January 31
The Venetian
Take home some of the best fried chicken in Vegas for your own personal tailgate-style Sunday brunch. Yardbird is putting together four different takeaway packages for six people, allowing you to wolf down calories and build up anticipation for the Big Game the following weekend. The Fried Chicken Family Pack sticks to chicken with mac n’ cheese, the Big Boy Brunch Bash focuses on breakfast favorites, and the Backyard BBQ Bonanza is a classic BBQ spread. Of course, all packages come with buttermilk biscuits. Place your order in advance and pickup from Yardbird between 9 am and noon. 
Cost: Packages begin at $102.  
  

Pair a vegan BBQ with beer at Hop Nuts

Sunday, January 31
Downtown Arts District
Could there be a better way to wrap up Veganuary? Southern Fried Vegan is hosting a “Vegan BBQ” with a variety of meal options (including gluten-free) at Hop Nuts Brewing. And yes, in case you were wondering, beer is vegan. Tickets are being sold in one-hour increments between 2pm and 5pm. If you want to see what plant-based versions of fried chicken, burgers, and jambalaya are like, now’s your chance. 
Cost: Individual dishes begin at $8, meals begin at $20Sign up here for our daily Vegas email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

FYI: We’ve also got you covered with comprehensive guides to NYC, LA, SFMiami, DC, Austin, Boston, Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, Phoenix, and San Diego — just in case you’re ever out of town.

Rob Kachelriess has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than five years. In addition, his work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Leafly, Supercall, Modern Luxury, and Luxury Estates International’s seasonal publication. Follow him on Twitter @rkachelriess.

Las Vegas

A Fresh Take on Italian Dining Opens in Southwest Las Vegas

A first look at Basilico Ristorante Italiano.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

You can’t be all things to all people. Yet a new Italian restaurant strikes an intriguing balance between authenticity and inventive touches while helping to shape the identity of a new community in the booming Southwest Valley of Las Vegas.

Basilico Ristorante Italiano is now open at Evora, a master-planned apartment development still under construction that won’t be finished for at least five years. The 160-seat restaurant follows the vision of chef Francesco Di Caudo, a Sicily native who draws on his heritage and experience throughout Italy to build a compelling menu based on traditional techniques and modern ingenuity.

“I come from a country where farm-to-table is nothing new,” says Di Caudio, while emphasizing the importance of ingredient sourcing and simple, straightforward flavor combinations.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

Just look at the appetizers. Americans are used to eggplant parmesan that’s breaded and fried without restraint. Di Caudo sticks to a traditional Sicilian recipe with the vegetable sliced thin, sizzled in a pan, and layered with tomato and basil. No mozzarella. On the other hand, the Smoked Cigar is destined to be a signature showstopper. Duck, foie gras, and porcini mushrooms are packed inside a thin, cracker-like shell, presented in a box, and dipped into a glass ashtray. The “ash” in the centre is a black sesame and truffle mix. Don’t be shy about double dipping.

The risotto is bound to be another conversation piece. The recipe uses Carnaroli rice, a starchy grain from North Italy that produces a creamy texture, balancing the saltiness of a parmesan broth with a sweet splash of chestnut honey. The real surprise is the inclusion of Lavazza espresso, manipulated to crackle in your mouth like Pop Rocks candy.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

All pastas are made in-house, from a parsnip cavatelli to a lamb and thyme tortellini in a broth filtered from braised prosciutto. Some dishes have a subtle Asian influence, including a hamachi crudo with pomelo (similar to yuzu), Hokkaido scallops with oxtail, and a planned octopus braised in dashi. The flavours come to life inside a sharp, contemporary dining room with deep red chairs and stone, wood, and marble touches. The wine collection is dominated by Italian labels, with a few California and Oregon picks thrown in to round out the list. Bottles are on display near the front entrance and inside illuminated square shelves. “It looks like a fancy restaurant, but when you sit down, I want you to have fun,” adds Di Caudio.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

The bar is the heart of the restaurant, ready to serve up to 16 people inside and dozens more via accordion-style windows that open wide to a covered patio. The outdoor space, temperature-controlled with overhead fans and heaters, effectively extends Evora’s open-air plaza with dramatic water and fire features. It’s a natural spot for tastings and special events with a covered stage for live music. Evora is rolling out in four phases, with the first 342 apartments ready by fall. There could be as many as 1,400 when it’s all said and done. Rent begins at around $1,800 for studios and one-bedroom units and goes up to $4,000 for two-story top-floor residences with a loft and Strip views. The community will include swimming pools, pickleball courts, a putting green, a dog park, firepits, EV charging stations, and pavilions equipped with audio and video features.

“Basilico matches the demographic for our apartments,” says Danny Sorge of Digital Desert Development, the company behind the community. “The term ‘youthful sophistication’ has been thrown around about the restaurant and Evora as a whole. It brings something new to the area.”

Rendering courtesy of Evora
Rendering courtesy of Evora
Rendering courtesy of Evora

The development follows a deliberate strategy to have the commercial tenants in place before the first residents move in, occupying a stand-alone building that strikes a commanding presence on the corner of Patrick Lane and Buffalo Drive. Lemon Tree Cafe & Market is already open as a European-style grocery store with plenty of room to sit down with a sandwich and glass of wine. Keep your eyes peeled for Taps & Barrels (a self-service beer hall), Tachi Ramen, and EVOQ hair salon in the months ahead, with more businesses to come. The timing couldn’t be better. The Southwest Valley is on fire right now, with the Durango hotel and casino and UnCommons mixed-use development taking shape as new attractions in 2023. The Bend, a long-promised shopping and dining district, has been in a holding pattern for years but holds promise in an area where everything is getting bigger and better.

Meanwhile, the team behind Evora is staking a claim with Di Caudio running the kitchen at Basilico. The chef’s recent collaboration with Chef Oscar Amador helped Anima by EDO score a recent James Beard Award nomination and reputation as one of the best new restaurants in Las Vegas. Di Caudio first came to Las Vegas to work at Zeffirino at the Grand Canal Shoppes-a gig he expected to last about six months before returning home. Instead, he stuck around and continued to build his reputation at culinary destinations like Sinatra at the Wynn and Ferraro’s off the Strip.

Ultimately, Basilico will be a restaurant to keep an eye on as it develops under Di Caudio’s guidance. The menu will shift and evolve based on the chef’s preferences and the availability of seasonal ingredients. Di Caudio is also planning a smaller menu and social hour for the bar area and a reasonably priced tasting menu with around 10 dishes served family style.

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Rob Kachelriess¬†has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than nine years. In addition, his work has appeared in¬†Travel + Leisure, Leafly, Supercall, Modern Luxury, and¬†Luxury Estates International’s seasonal publication. Follow him on Twitter¬†@rkachelriess.

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