The re-opening of The Plaza is a big step toward the long awaited Downtown Renaissance. It’s ironic this has taken place on the watch of the second Mayor Goodman. Her husband, Oscar, had been a driving force for Downtown since his first term began, but the recession, and ill-fated projects such as the moribund Neonopolis, derailed his dream.
Now, thanks to a sparkling facelift including smartly designed rooms, carpeting and sconces bought from the abandoned Fontainbleau, and a general new coat of paint, The Plaza is infusing Downtown with energy it sorely needs. Will the crowds come? Time will tell.
My articles are mainly focused on food service operations. Former Mayor Goodman will be a 21st Century Joe Louis at Oscar’s, the domed steakhouse planned to anchor the hotel’s F and B program. Look for a late fall opening. The Food Court is still under construction, but will feature a McDonald’s, Zaba’s Mexican Restaurant and cupcake venue.
For now, three new venues are the main foodie draw; Island Sushi & Hawaiian Grill, a slick coffee bar called Cafelatte, and Hash House a Go Go, an insanely popular chain that originated in San Diego, but has found a home in Vegas with locations on both the Westside, and at the M Casino.
The management has chosen wisely. The Plaza now offers a multiple of dining choices at a price point well below those on the Strip. This is going to draw visitors Downtown, when word gets around. Places like The Beat or Bar + Bistro are already serving as the de facto Food Court for Downtown locals. Now, tourists are getting their own.
Let’s start with Hash House. The theme here is “twisted farm food”, and the portions are huge, bordering on the ridiculous. I have to throw in that this is not my cup of tea. The famed Baltimore Sun journalist, H. L. Mencken, once quipped “no one ever went broke overestimating the bad taste of the American people.”
That said, I like the atmo here, lots of corrugated metal and old black and white photos of farm scenes, and many of the dishes are just fine. I’ve literally heard gasps when the sage fried chicken and waffles in a huge stack is brought to the table. And the chicken is good, although it would be nice to have the option of pure maple syrup.
They do an acceptable meatloaf, again humungous, stuffed with spinach, peppers and cheese, and I rather like their corned beef hash for breakfast as well, although it’s appropriate for three, not one.
Across the lobby floor is Cafelatte, hip enough to sell TCHO boutique chocolates from San Francisco, killer cookies, and to use Illy, one of the best commercial coffee brands, for espresso and coffee drinks. I’d say $4.25 is a fair price for a latte in a hotel, and this is a good one. It is also a casual sandwich and salad bar. The roasted ham and cheese panino, (the menu insists on using the plural, panini-sigh!), is delish.
Last but not least is Island Sushi & Hawaiian Grill, which hopes to draw the Hawaiians from the California at the other end of the street. This place features a poke bar, from which I tasted smoked marlin and ahi poke, both good.
The menu here is extensive, the prices reasonable, and the food tasty. The next time I’m Downtown, and find myself Jonesin’ for Korean short ribs, Loco Moco (a hamburger patty with gravy on rice topped with two fried eggs) or a spicy tuna roll, I know where to go.
The Plaza, 1 S. Main St. 702 386-2110.
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