Page 1

OF THE Celebrate the valley’s champions — in food, shopping, culture and more!








Subaru of Las Vegas 5385 West Sahara Avenue (702) 495-2100

editor’s note


Those in the know

Next month in Desert Companion

Get in the team spirit with our sports, leisure and outdoors issue

2 | Desert

Modern technology is great. It’s brought us smartphones, a fine and growing corpus of funny cat videos, and augmented-reality computer glasses from the future so we can, I don’t know, tweet with our eyes or something. Okay, to be fair, technology has also made for sweeping improvements in science, health, industry and — my pet interest as a journalist and editor — communication. I’m particularly fascinated by how the ever-spreading shoots and tendrils of the Internet have tugged the Pringles lid off our brains, revealing what often strikes me as an instinctive, obsessive need to express … well, anything and everything. Give us a platform — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Yelp — and we’ll fill it. Size doesn’t matter. Snip out a custom void — six seconds of Vine, a self-destructing Snapchat pic — and we’ll happily howl into it. Today’s Internet reveals, over and over, what primal communicators we’ve always been. Now, crowdsourcing hunks of our personal lives is fun and useful, but I probably wouldn’t, oh, say, tap the restless hive mind of my social media circles on how to perform emergency open-heart surgery (sorry, Facebook friends). It’s just not a good idea for some things. And while determining where to get the best slice of pizza isn’t necessarily a life or death question (though you have to admit, it’s pretty close, I mean, come on: pizza!), sometimes it’s best to rely on those in the know. But in a sleek, fast, flat world where the populist roar trumps the lone voice of the expert — where

Companion | February 2014

we drag life’s questions to Quora and graze Yelp for dinner recommendations — who do we trust? Everybody, which is to say nobody in particular. Maybe we’re living in the twilight of the expert. Before I make a dubiously glib transition into the standard curtainraising plug for our fourth annual Best of the City issue — driven by the brainpower and enthusiasm of our expert lovers of all things Las Vegas — I should point out that our collective embrace of the wisdom of the crowd is not without it seams and shadows. There’s weird local action afoot: Witness the methodical hollowing out of the Review-Journal at the hands of a new slash-happy CEO; the shuttering of alt-weekly CityLife (startup incubator for yours truly), a longtime font of uncompromised reporting and edifying snark; and the cloudy future of the Pulitzer-winning Las Vegas Sun as factions seek to yank the plug on its life support. That means fewer reporters, fewer editors, which means what? Reporters are our specialists, snipers, intrepid moles; editors are our tribal elders, sentinels, human hard drives loaded with institutional memory. When you consider what stories about Southern Nevada won’t be told as this great thinning plays out, yeah, you start to see the value of experts. (Silver lining moment: Amid this slow deflation of local print media, Desert Companion has been fortunate enough to make some modest expansions; we welcome new staff writer Heidi Kyser, who’ll help us continue to bring you untold South-

ern Nevada stories and in-depth features that probe beyond the vanilla churn of the news cycle.) Now for that dubious transition: Our fourth annual Best of the City (p. 49) taps just such expertise from our longtime contributors whose job it is to love Las Vegas — its culture, its cuisine, its shops and leisure spaces, from the gritty urbs to the shiny ’burbs. Of course, we value your opinion, too (you’re no madding crowd!), and we highlight your most passionate picks for your personal bests in our eyepopping readers’ survey outtakes (p. 61). Whether you’re looking for the most outrageously umamilicious burger or the best park for letting the kids go feral for a while, we’ve got expert answers. The wisdom of our crowd? Like! Andrew Kiraly Editor


DIFFERENCE As part of a long-standing partnership, Caesars Foundation and 4 color process

Clean the World will provide a hands-on opportunity for Caesars Entertainment employees to see first hand the difference a bar of soap makes when members of both organizations travel to the Philippines to provide recycled hotel soap and hygiene 速 education to those in need. For more information on how The will to do wonders速

you can help visit

速 The will to do wonders速



desert companion magazine //

notes & letters



Heritage Steak The triumphant return — and reinvention — of the American steakhouse THE STRIP SURGED THIS YEAR. Esteemed arrivals Andrea’s, Hakkasan, Nobu at Caesars Palace and Mandalay Bay’s funky duo of Kumi and Rx Boiler Room seemed to re-assert hotel dining dominance when many of our most interesting developments are happening off the Strip. You have several new reasons to get back now, but you must begin with Tom Colicchio’s Heritage Steak at the Mirage, for many reasons. First, the space: Woven through the domed rainforest atrium just inside the classic resort’s main entrance, Heritage hearkens back to a time when casino restaurants didn’t have to hide from the casino. It feels fresh and yet lived in, like a warm mahogany home was carved out of a giant tropical tree just for us. Second, the service: It’s rare for a

new restaurant to come without some working-it-out slip-ups, even on the Vegas Strip. This crew shows no flaws, obliging with the cool confidence that comes with experience and education. They know their menu, which brings us to the impeccable food: Heritage declares there is still something new to be done with the American steakhouse. Chef Anthony Zappola, who’s logged nearly 10 years at Colicchio’s Craft restaurants in New York and Los Angeles, makes his Las Vegas debut a stunning one. The focus is on open-flame cooking, but really Heritage is doing what others are only attempting: balancing tradition with creativity, branching out into interesting ingredients while staying dedicated to simplicity. The natural prime filet will be the most flavorful one you’ve ever tasted, but the vadouvan-rubbed lamb ribs might be something you’ve never tasted before. You’ve certainly never seen skewers of quail glazed in soy, chili and black garlic on another steakhouse menu. Ditto for slightly smoky, wood-roasted peaches plated

with extravagant Iberico ham. And the stuff you are familiar with — the braised short ribs, the charred octopus, the ribeye with balsamic onion relish — well, nobody does it better. — Brock Radke In the Mirage, 791-7111,

1 62 | DESERT

H E R I TA G E S T E A K : S A B I N O R R

What's at steak: far right, ash-roasted bone marrow; below, lamb ribs; opposite page, the natural prime filet



“Heritage declares there is still something to be done with the American steakhouse,” wrote Brock Radke in our December issue, awarding Tom Colicchio’s Heritage Steak in the Mirage our coveted Restaurant of the Year Award. Heritage is “balancing tradition with creativity, branching out into interesting ingredients while staying dedicated to simplicity.” Some of our foodie readers are still chewing on that decision — like Misty Scott. “How does a restaurant that opened Labor Day weekend receive such an accolade?” she writes. “They haven’t been open long enough to establish themselves at all! I mean ... it truly sounds to me like a Tom Colicchio plug, or an advertisement disguised as an award. The legitimacy of such an accolade now seems full of pretense and vapid.” (For the record, the Restaurant Awards aren’t promotional gimmicks, advertising lures or pay-to-play scam awards — seriously, the ceremonious and possibly dangerous heft of the plaque itself should suggest the award’s import! — but rather a real prize awarded after bouts of highly principled bickering among our critics’ panel.) Does Scott have a better nominee? Of course she does! Misty proposes Poppy Den in Tivoli Village (“spoton flavors,” “perfect portions” and, more dubiously, depending on your mom’s taste, “dishes looking like they came out of your own mother’s cabinet”) and downtown’s Eat (“the food is full of love”).

4 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

Jean Younker, a retired senior scientist with Bechtel-SAIC, had no gripes about Misti Yang’s January story about UNLV’s nuclear criticality safety program, “Respect the dragon.” In the piece, Younker sees an expression of appreciation for the unsung professionals working in the nuclear industry. “We spent our careers in the nuclear business and are pleased to hear UNLV has developed a program for nuclear criticality safety. We agree this specialty provides high value to nuclear energy companies, who are an important part of an intelligent U.S. energy future. We also want to compliment the author for presenting a well-balanced, objective discussion of the issues related to nuclear waste disposal and nuclear-generated electricity in this country.” You’re welcome. The program, one of only a handful in the U.S., teaches tomorrow’s nuclear engineers how to both avoid and address the things that can go wrong in a nuclear power plant, from core meltdowns to hiring Homer Simpson.


masses’ or, in the more pejorative usage today, the plebs or the great unwashed. Using ‘the hoi’ is like saying ‘the the masses.’” Jordan’s chiding must have triggered some deep, atavistic, English-teacher-pleasing instinct in us, because we wrote back, pleading our case: “Is there a respectable, descriptive-grammarian mantle for an ‘everyone’s doing it!’ defense? There’s some kind of academic doppelganger theory about this out there regarding how words taken directly from other languages aren’t those words, but useful and convincing simulacra that are owned and inhabited separately — sort of a relative of that other theory about ‘errors’ in language being the pin feathers of evolution ...” But Jordan didn’t buy it. He wrote back to us: “Nah, just ‘cos everyone else is doin’ it ain’t no excuse, boss. You borrow something from someone (like a phrase from the Greek) you use it carefully and give it back as you found it.” Call it the precious-and-highly-breakableHummel-figurine theory of language. In other language-police news, on Facebook, reader Janice Keiserman tsks-tsks us: Happy new dining “Unless you publish more than one version of your terrific monthly magazine Desert Companion, please stop referring to it as an ‘edition’ and start using the correct word, ‘ISSUE’! This is a pet peeve of mine as an ex-publishing executive.” Noted! We will do our best to euthanize your pet peeve.

Finally, in the Peeved Gatekeeper of the English Language Dept., reader Philip Jordan took issue with our use of “hoi polloi” in the December issue. See, hoi polloi is Greek for “the masses,” not just “masses,” because “hoi” means “the” — well, here, we’ll let Jordan take the mic: “I am far from a pedant on the morphing English language, but if you must include old Greek tags at least get them right: ‘the’ in front of hoi polloi is superfluous since ‘hoi’ is a definitive in itself. You are not alone in this solecism nowadays but, as a sometime copy desk chief myself, it grates every time I see it. The phrase, as you rightly perceived, means ‘the PARTIES


Ah, New Year’s Eve. That magical night when Vegas is transformed into a volcano filled with drunks. But not for you. Oh, you’re over such trite juvenilia, preferring instead to spend the evening among close friends and loved ones over a memorable meal. Hungry for a unique menu to ring in 2014? Look no further than our hand-culled list of some of the most exotic — and plain fun — New Year’s Eve dining options out there. — Andrew Kiraly YOU WANT TO ...

Splurge like foodie royalty on the Strip, far removed from the hoi polloi fighting it out on the streets for scraps of Slim Jim and Vitamin Water

COMME ÇA Random sampling from the menu: Live scallop cru with tangerine juice, fennel and harissa (Tunisian chili sauce); Maine lobster poached in vanilla with black truffle, sunchoke, petrified salsify (a root vegetable that tastes like artichoke heart); tournedos of beef ribeye roasted with oxtail bone marrow and chestnut agnolotti with sweet onion braised in red wine; roasted pigeon and white truffle, port wine, abalone mushroom tart Tip: This was our 2012 Restaurant of the Year. Re-congratulations! (In The Cosmopolitan, starting at $75-$199, 698-7910) HAKKASAN Random sampling from the menu: Pumpkin soup with shredded chicken and fresh bamboo shoot; wok-braised Australian lobster in buttermilk and almond; Mongolian grilled lamb chop; baked black cod with truffle and supreme soya sauce and egg white; black sesame chocolate cremeux, mint fondant, purple taro ice cream Tip: It’s big — a 20,000-squarefoot space that seats 250, to be exact — but also popular, so book early. Like, NOW! (Inside the MGM Grand, starting at $70$500, 891-3838)


Have an intimate dinner with your siggie, engaging in rituals such as “googly eyes” and “lingering glances” ANDRÉ’S Random sampling from the menu: American caviar with champagne panna cotta; chicken and truffle galantine with carrot chips; duck foie gras mi-cuit (half-cooked); roasted mushroom soup with red wine creme and gremolata; braised veal cheek with spiced pork jus, carrot risotto and fennel salad; filet of beef in truffled Armagnac sauce Tip: Wine is fine, but French brandy is dandy: André’s boasts a collection of 100 Cognacs and 50 Armagnacs. If you feel like spending $35,000, there’s a 1777 bottle available. (In the Monte Carlo, $185 per person,

ALIZÉ Random sampling from the menu: Rabbit confit with tomato marmalade and prosciutto; gazpacho terrine with avocado mousse; Russian Osetra caviar with salmon gravlax; vegetarian caviar with marinated cucumbers, carrot ribbons and crème fraîche; spice-crusted venison carpaccio with a cider reduction, Fuji apples, candied walnuts and red endive; veal tenderloin with leek purée, crispy sweetbreads, baby carrots, herb mustard and Madeira veal jus; roasted mushroom toban yaki Tip: There are few better places for a midnight smooch — amid a sweeping, 280-degree view of the Strip. (In the Palms, $175$295, 951-7000)

Dine in the new year. From above: Alizé interior; Alizé’s toban yaki; Rao’s fruitti di mare; Circus Circus Steakhouse; Hakkasan

CIRCUS CIRCUS STEAKHOUSE Random sampling from the menu: Black bean soup; French onion soup; bleu cheese wedge salad; Waldorf wedge salad; mesquite-broiled filet mignon; Australian lobster tail; garlic mashed potatoes Tip: No, The Steakhouse at Circus Circus isn’t where Juggalos take Juggalettes for prom; it’s a surprisingly swank beef-andwine spot that does dependable classics. (In Circus Circus, $79, 794-3767)

Party it up, bro, but, you know, like, also eat something decent, too

RAO’S Random sampling from the menu: Fried artichoke hearts with marinara and garlic sauce; baconwrapped shrimp with fig and pear chutney; velvety pumpkin soup with caramelized apples; frutti

di mare squid ink pasta; beef lasagna with ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella; seared Chilean sea bass with smoked potato puree; roasted chicken over Israeli couscous; gingerbread tiramisu Tip: Take advantage of its accessibility; the people eating at Rao’s New York on New Year’s Eve made their reservations in 1972. (In Caesars Palace, $175 per person, 877-346-4642)

CENTRAL MICHEL RICHARD Random sampling from the menu: Chestnut soup with foie gras; sous vide-poached egg; lobster risotto with brown butter; seared halibut with a citrus emulsion; veal chop with morel sauce; New York strip steak with roasted shallot Bordelaise sauce Tip: Think of it as good casino café food run through the mind of a culinary madman. (In Caesars Palace, $59 per person,


Got something to say? We welcome your feedback — encourage it, even (with minor exceptions). Write us at, find us on Facebook at and on Twitter @desertcompanion.

FONTS: P22 Cezanne-Regular Charlemagne STD Bold


contents desert companion magazine //



All Things to All People Mulroy’s legacy By Launce Rake


Personal finance Taxing advice By Chantal Corcoran



Strum und twang By Mike Prevatt





Race for the skewer By Afsha Bawany



Music, art and more


End note

So, you voted online for Best! Thing! Ever! in Las Vegas, and we decided to sift your answers for fresh insights into the town’s civic identity. But that was hard, so we just made some jokes instead. By Scott Dickensheets

FEATURES 49 Best of the city

From food and shopping to culture, recreation and high-class selfie shooting — Las Vegas, we present your best!

6 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

on the cover Photography by Christopher Smith; trophies provided by Vegas Trophies

T R O P H Y A N D E N V I R O N M E N T: C H R I S TO P H E R S M I T H ; A L L T H I N G S : A A R O N M C K I N N E Y, M U S I C : C H E C K 0 S A L G A D O ; D ining : S A B I N O R R

Gold Butte dispute By Andrew Kiraly


Photo by Decca/Andrew Eccles

Academy of St. Martin in the Fields with Joshua Bell, Director & Solo Violin

Renée Fleming, Soprano

Photo by Rahav Segev

Patti LuPone in “Far Away Places”

Doc Severinsen & His Big Band with Mary Wilson

Lily Tomlin

An Evening with Chris Botti

Alvin Ailey® American Dance theater’s Antonio Douthit-Boyd. Photo by Andrew Eccles.

Satin & Soul featuring David Sanborn & Jonathan Butler

Photo by Mark Seliger

Photo by Jenny Risher

John Legend - The All of Me Tour: Intimate, Acoustic and Stripped Down

Photo © Chris Christodoulou


Alvin Ailey® American Dance Theater

VISIT THESMITHCENTER.COM TO SEE THE FULL LINEUP 702.749.2000 | TTY: 800.326.6868 or dial 711 | For group inquiries call 702.749.2348 361 Symphony Park Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89106


Diana Krall “Glad Rag Doll Tour”

Chazz Palminteri in A Bronx Tale

p u blish e D B y n e vada p u blic radio

Mission Statement

Desert Companion is the premier city magazine that celebrates the pursuits, passions and aspirations of Southern Nevadans. With award-winning lifestyle journalism and design, Desert Companion does more than inform and entertain. We spark dialogue, engage people and define the spirit of the Las Vegas Valley.

Time to Prune, Do it Right!

Publisher Melanie Cannon Associate Publisher Christine Kiely Editor Andrew Kiraly Art Director Christopher Smith deputy editor Scott Dickensheets staff writer Heidi Kyser Graphic Designer Brent Holmes Account executives Sharon Clifton, Carol Skerlich, Markus Van’t Hul, Tracey Michels, Favian Perez Marketing manager Lisa Kelly Subscription manager Chris Bitonti Web administrator Danielle Branton traffic & sales associate Kimberly Chang ADVERTISING COPY EDITOR Carla Zvosec Contributing writers Afsha Bawany, Aurora Brackett, Cybele, Jim Begley, Jacob Coakley, Douglas Cooper, Chantal Corcoran, Lynnette Curtis, Hal De Becker, Alan Gegax, Damon Hodge, Mélanie Hope, Jarret Keene, Danielle Kelly, Debbie Lee, Al Mancini, David McKee, Max Plenke, Christie Moeller, Mike Prevatt, Jennifer Prosser, Brock Radke, Launce Rake, Lissa Townsend Rodgers, Sarah Vernetti, Misti Yang Contributing artists Bill Hughes, Aaron McKinney, Sabin Orr, Checko Salgado


ur tree professionals and certified arborists take great pride in thoughtfully and skillfully performing the highest quality tree care in Southern Nevada. We really know our trees; we want to know yours, too. • Pruning & Trimming • Fertilization & Soil Management • Insect & Disease Management

• Planting & Transplanting • Tree & Stump Removal • Young Tree Development

Mention this ad when scheduling your tree service for 15% off (Offer expires March 31, 2014) 0 0 0 0 0 0

0 0 0 1 1 1

7 8 9 0 1 2


Design | Installation | Renovation | Consultation | Maintenance | Tree Care Hardscapes | Small Jobs | Irrigation | Lighting

(702) 452-5272

3433 Losee Road, Suite 4 North Las Vegas, NV 89030 Licensed, Bonded, & Insured 8 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

Editorial: Andrew Kiraly, (702) 259-7856;

license 0057280

2 2 2 2 2 2 Fax: (702) 258-5646 Advertising: Christine Kiely, (702) 259-7813; Subscriptions: Chris Bitonti, (702) 259-7810; Website: Desert Companion is published 12 times a year by Nevada Public Radio, 1289 S. Torrey Pines Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89146. It is available by subscription at, or as part of Nevada Public Radio membership. It is also distributed free at select locations in the Las Vegas Valley. All photos, artwork and ad designs printed are the sole property of Desert Companion and may not be duplicated or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. The views of Desert Companion contributing writers are not necessarily the views of Desert Companion or Nevada Public Radio. Contact Chris Bitonti for back issues, which are available for purchase for $7.95.

ISSN 2157-8389 (print) ISSN 2157-8397 (online)


As a community, we’re working hard to make sure that Southern Nevada has a reliable water supply so that our businesses, families and neighborhoods can continue to thrive. Because life here just wouldn’t be the same without it. Your conservation efforts have helped us manage our community's water supply. Let’s stay water smart, Southern Nevada. Learn more at The Southern Nevada Water Authority is a not-for-profi t agency.


p u blish e D B y n e vada p u blic radio

Board of Directors Officers

Susan malick Brennan, chair Brennan Consulting Group, LLC cynthia alexander, ESQ. vice chair Snell & Wilmer TIM WONG, treasurer Arcata Associates

Prepare to Compete

Lee Business School’s part-time MBA is ranked in the top 28% by U.S. News and World Report.

Florence M.E. Rogers, Secretary Nevada Public Radio


shamoon ahmad, m.d., mba, facp kevin m. buckley First Real Estate Companies Louis Castle, Director emeritus Patrick N. Chapin, Esq., Director Emeritus KIRK V. CLAUSEN Wells Fargo

Earn your degree part-time in the evening while continuing to work.

Elizabeth FRETWELL, Chair emeritus City of Las Vegas Jan Jones Blackhurst Caesars Entertainment Corporation John R. Klai II Klai Juba Architects

Evening MBA Program The MBA program provides professionals with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the fast-paced world of business through innovative and dynamic programs and courses. Dual MBA Programs · MBA/MS in Hotel Administration with the Harrah College of Hotel Administration · MBA/JD with the Boyd Law School · MBA/DDS with the School of Dental Medicine · MBA/MS in Management Information Systems

gavin isaacs SHFL Entertainment Lamar Marchese, President Emeritus William mason Taylor International Corporation Chris Murray Director Emeritus Avissa Corporation Jerry Nadal Cirque du Soleil Peter O’Neill William J. “Bill” Noonan, Director Emeritus Boyd Gaming Corporation kathe nylen PBTK Consulting Anthony j. pearl, esq. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas MARK RICCiARDI, Esq., director emeritus Fisher & Phillips, LLP Mickey Roemer, Director Emeritus Roemer Gaming

Follow us online:

10 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

Now opeN

Fleming’s Prime steakhouse & Wine bar

shop. dine. unwind. south strip : las vegas blvd & sunset rd Las Vegas for shopping, dining and entertainment – all in an inviting openair destination. Spend an hour for lunch, take in a day of leisurely shopping, or enjoy a romantic evening on the town.

Come to town square

100+ brands and boutiques 20+ dining destinations 18-screen aMC theatre 9,000 sq. ft. Children’s Park

6605 South Las Vegas Boulevard | Las Vegas, NV 89119 | 702-269-5000 |



to all people



Liquid legacy Submitted: Water boss Pat Mulroy both enabled heedless growth and was our most effective government official. Discuss. by Launce Rake Illustration by aaron mckinney it was the kind of thing you don’t often see: An angry public official pounding a desk on television, throwing down an ultimatum and growling, “There is no option!” It was Patricia Mulroy, the boss of Nevada’s water fortunes, telling political journalist Jon Ralston in 2007 that the environmental, political and financial cost of a new pipeline were irrelevant. It was time to stop listening to critics and get it — a huge drill-pipe-and-pump effort to augment our water supply — done. That performance, self-assured and unyielding, was consistent with Mulroy’s three decades in public service, which come to an end with her retirement this month from the Las Vegas Water District and the Southern Nevada Water Authority. Let the legacy assessment begin. Since 1989, when she was handed the reins of water control by powerful allies in the Clark County government, Mulroy has undoubtedly put her stamp on our physical, social, economic and political infrastructure. Much of the rampant growth of the last two decades was made possible in part by her agencies. As “water czar,” she parlayed a mix of charm, intellect, understanding of power politics and a ruthless skill at bureaucratic infighting into a position as one of Nevada’s most powerful figures, sometimes touted as governor material. In 2009, Steve Wynn called her “the best public servant I’ve met in my 40 years on the Strip.”

Hear more more

What Brenda challenges Priddy discusses does the new “carwater spy photography” chief face? Hear ona “KNPR’s discussion State on KNPR’s of Nevada” “Stateat Nevada” at | 13


Says historian Michael Green, “A recent issue of High Country News included a story called ‘The Vegas Paradox: In Sin City, excess and efficiency work hand in hand.’ That is essentially the world in which Pat Mulroy has worked,  pushing for conservation and wise use while also keeping the volcanoes and canals and fountains running. On the one hand, she has operated brilliantly, obtaining additional water beyond the 300,000 acrefeet Nevada receives under the Colorado River Compact and instituting conservation measures that have been incredibly successful. On the other hand, she has been attacked for the idea of a pipeline that could be environmentally disastrous and thus do damage in rural Nevada that other measures in Las Vegas have been designed to avoid.” Hers is clearly a complicated legacy. To many, Mulroy appeared to serve a very specific constituency: developers and the casino industry. A frequent refrain in her speeches was that Southern Nevada is the economic backbone of the state, and therefore the water needs of its industries must be satisfied. On the same Ralston program, she separated Southern Nevada into two communities: the public and the developers. The question for many was which took precedence in the SNWA offices. In the mid-2000s, when critics of unrestricted growth suggested it was time to slow down, catch up, build traffic lanes and schools to ease the impacts of the highest rate of population growth in the country, Mulroy scoffed. In 2003 she commissioned an 1,800page study, frequently cited by elected and industrial officials, which indicated that a complete shutdown of residential and commercial development would lead to economic calamity. Never mind that such a clampdown would be political, legally and economically impossible — it was the straw man that shut down conversations about slowing growth. Two years later, when that growth looked like it might eventually outstrip the water supplied by the Colorado River, Mulroy reversed an earlier position on the idea of a pipeline to pump billions of gallons from rural Nevada to Las Vegas. Instead of calling it “stupid,” as she previously had, she began insisting that it was the only solution. Her agencies for years insisted the operation would cost just $2 billion, then $3 billion, then $3.6 billion. Today the cost estimate, produced and totaled by SNWA contractors two years ago, is well above $15 billion, including more than $8 billion in financing charges. Mean-

14 | Desert

Companion | February 2014

while, the project has become a controversial and divisive issue. Mulroy’s influence enabled her to take actions you might not expect of a water agency bosses. SNWA spent $80 million to buy ranches in one of the rural valleys targeted for the pipeline, a move that effectively ended vocal opposition there. Today SNWA remains among the largest cattle ranchers in the state. She also built the largest and most expensiveto-use public park in the county, the $250 million (and annually subsidized to the tune of $5 million-$10 million) Springs Preserve, with barely a question as to why the water agency would or should be building a massive recreation and education center. In 2007, Clark County Commissioner and SNWA board member Chris Giunchigliani questioned the need for the water agency to acquire those ranches; she found her tenure on the SNWA board a short one, especially after the local paper-of-record labeled her a traitor to Southern Nevada for her position. Even when the economic downturn — in part precipitated by the mortgage industry collapse that ironically started in Las Vegas — destroyed the runaway engine of population growth in Southern Nevada, Mulroy stuck by her pipeline, even against a growing chorus of critics. The agency all but abandoned the argument that the water was needed for more growth, now saying the pipeline is needed to augment the dwindling, overused and underreplenished supply from the Colorado River. She also drew a host of critics for a 2012 water-rate hike that saw some businesses hit with increases of up to 300 percent. Whether or not the pipeline is ever built — and late last year it suffered yet another in a string of serious setbacks in Nevada courts — it’s sure to be the centerpiece of her legacy. But there’s more to it. Her conservation measures cut the effective water-use rate by more than a third, both in per-capita and overall terms. And she gets a share of the

credit for the growth-driven prosperity that she so efficiently enabled during the valley’s 6,000-new-residents-a-month phase. And she has passionate fans among the political and economic elite in Southern Nevada. Terry Murphy, president of a local consulting firm Strategic Solutions, has both supported and opposed some development proposals for nearly two decades in Las Vegas. “She ran a tight ship and spoke her mind, and that drew a good amount of criticism. But there was never a time she didn’t have the best interests of this community in mind, and never a time she gave up fighting for Southern Nevada,” Murphy says. “Pat’s been a role model, a strategic thinker, and a force of nature. And every morning when I turn on my tap, clean water comes out.” “Unquestionably,” Green says, “she has been one of the most important government officials — and possibly the most important unelected government official — in the history of Southern Nevada.” Along the way, Mulroy suffered some professional disappointments. Talk that she could be a viable candidate for Nevada governor, or a deputy or even secretary of the federal Department of the Interior — given her obvious skill at running relatively large bureaucracies — dwindled over time as the controversy over the pipeline grew louder and more acrimonious. Mulroy’s announcement late last year that she would resign brought forth a gush of complimentary coverage in local media. It also brought about a short-lived power struggle between her hand-picked successor, a SNWA deputy, and a challenger, ostensibly one of her bosses. Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown wanted the job, and criticized the number of people making six-digit salaries under Mulroy’s supervision. Like so many other fights, Mulroy won this one, too. In yet one more way, her legacy, good or ill, once again was secured.


Courtesy of NASA

Arcata is a Las Vegas-based aerospace defense company that was named the 2013 NASA Dryden Flight Research Center’s Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year. This is the fourth time the company has received this award. For more information, visit


Tag team: R. Byron Stringer and some of his young actors

c u lt u r e

‘That was me on the stage’ If you can gauge a man’s sincerity by how doggedly he returns to his core message, R. Byron Stringer is utterly focused on helping people, particularly troubled kids. Almost no question posed to him by Desert Companion failed to bend back to an expression of his desire to do so. Not a question about his 26 years as a Metro cop. Not a question about his retirement. Not a question about his early efforts as a playwright. These days, the combination of Stringer’s police work, retirement and theater bug — which means he has firsthand experience of social problems, abundant free time and the need for a creative outlet — defines how he tries to help troubled kids: “The Toe Tag Monologues.” These are theater pieces he’s written that delve into the sometimes harrowing realities we don’t want to admit our kids deal with: drug abuse, gangs, domestic violence, suicide, sex trafficking. (Stringer says many are based on situations he encountered while on duty.) “Nothing’s off-limits,” he says. A kid named Drive-By gets shot while selling drugs. A kid named Hard-Headed kills his own sister in a gang shooting. Many of the monologues end with the kid who’s telling the story being body-bagged and wheeled away on a gurney — thus the toe-tags. Stringer and a troupe of young performers deliver the playlets wherever they can — schools (mostly middle and high schools, but some elementaries, too), churches, detention centers, youth organizations, even conventions. “Depending on what neighborhood you come from,” he says, “you may think some of these stories are farfetched, but the truth is, these stories are happening every single day, and kids come up to us (afterward) and say, ‘That was me on the stage.’” In the first monologue he wrote, back in 2007 — the one about Drive-By — as the kid is gurneyed away, “his last line is that he knew he had a toe-tag on a long time ago, he just never knew how to take it off.” Stringer means for the toe-tags to function symbolically, to represent the behaviors and hard social forces that limit a child’s future or funnel him or her toward a dismal end.

16 | Desert

Companion | February 2014

“Some kids aren’t dying yet,” Stringer says, “but they’re walking around with toe-tags on.” It can be hard to picture many of today’s prematurely jaded, overexposed, peer-pressured teenagers responding to such earnest messaging with anything but an eye roll and a joke about drugs. Still, Stringer ardently believes that if kids see their real, hardcore problems dramatized — in a way that doesn’t stint on the consequences but always suggests there’s hope for change, as each monologue is threaded with teachable moments — they’ll be more likely to talk to someone, seek help, get right. We’re a nation that’s trained its children to keep their problems hidden, he says, where they can do real damage. “What would our country look like if people weren’t in bondage to all the secrets that are holding them down?” And he says he gets enough feedback from young people to know he’s reaching at least some of them. Before graduating from Rancho High School and eventually joining Metro, Stringer says he grew up in San Bernardino amid a matrix of potential toe-tag indicators: poverty, food stamps, Goodwill, Dumpster-diving — and, he adds, domestic violence. “My father hit my mother and hit us. I tell kids, I can choose to hate my father or I can choose to forgive him. And forgiveness is the beginning of you taking off your toe-tag.” Although he didn’t take theater in high school, he developed an interest in it anyway and began writing plays in the mid-’90s when he was still on the force, “doing skits at church and in the community. Being a police officer, you’re exposed to so much, and you’re always looking for solutions to try to help people. It just came naturally to me — theater, and a message. I see everything as a play.” According to Kim Flowers, Stringer’s manager, the 16-kid troupe took its biggest stage yet last March, performing an hour’s worth of monologues for several thousand children at a national Boys and Girls Club convention in Atlanta. “They didn’t know what to expect,” he says. As she tells it, the audience was riveted enough that most didn’t even text during the show. “Afterward,” she says, “a girl came up to us and said that because of the monologue on snitching, she called her best friend’s father to tell him that she’s been cutting herself.” She’d realized that it wasn’t snitching, it was being a good friend to someone you care for. “That’s what life is about,” Stringer says, “making a difference every day.” — Scott Dickensheets

Š2013 California Closet Company, Inc. All rights reserved. Franchises independently owned and operated. NV Lic.#52850



Exceptional designs for every room

e n t r y way

wa l l b e d

media center





California Closets builds more than just bedroom closets. We are experts at creating custom storage systems for your home office, entryway, garage, pantry and more. Our exceptional design, exclusive finishes, and stunning accessories will make your home more beautiful and functional. Visit our new showroom or call today to arrange your in-home design consultation.

New Grand Canyon Showroom Now Open! las vegas

pa n t r y

4115 S. Grand Canyon at Flamingo

las vegas

7350 Dean Martin at Warm Springs



18 | Desert

Companion | February 2014


Stan Armstrong Documentary filmmaker “I’m a provocateur,” filmmaker Stan Armstrong says, his soft voice bereft of selfsatisfaction. It’s not a boast; it’s a statement of fact. On a computer in his condo near UNLV, he cues a clip from his upcoming film on interracial dating. In the scene, a black woman compares white men and black men, and expounds on the virtues of manscaping below the belt. Relax: Armstrong isn’t that kind of filmmaker. His purpose is illumination, not titillation, particularly given that Nevada was one of the last states to overturn miscegenation laws. “I’m interested in what impact that’s had on the interracial dating scene in Las Vegas.” However, he is the kind of filmmaker who uses race to explore history and social interaction. The longtime local documentarian has produced a small but growing canon (“Black Confederates,” “Invisible Las Vegas” and “The Rancho High School Riots,” among others) that illuminates — and validates — the experiences of minorities. This spring, he plans to release “City Within a City,” chronicling the local history of the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians. “Many people in Las Vegas know nothing about the Paiutes except the store (near downtown) and the golf course (near Mount Charleston),” Armstrong says. “I want to tell their story.” His desire to tell those stories comes from a personal passion and a sense of mission. Armstrong’s experiences, combined with his growing love of history — particularly of all things Civil War — convinced him to study history and make a go at teaching about and producing film. “I like to explore topics in ways that haven’t been explored or that haven’t been examined,” says Armstrong, who has a communications degree from UNLV and has served as an instructor in African-American film and ethnic studies. Like scores of Southern blacks seeking better lives out West, Armstrong’s parents came to Las Vegas, in 1955. His father told him painful stories about life in the Jim

Crow South. “Dad used to say: It beats being in the cotton fields in Shreveport.” But Vegas was similarly unforgiving. His parents faced discrimination in the form of fruitless job searches and racist epithets. “It didn’t seem like the Jim Crow South was that much different from Jim Crow Las Vegas.” The ’60s and ’70s were intense times, but eye-opening for Armstrong. Assassinations. Racial strife. The fight for civil rights. The Vietnam War. “My mind was exploding,” he says. The 1960 desegregation of the Strip did little to soothe racial tensions in the actual neighborhoods of Las Vegas. “I grew up seeing police driving through black neighborhoods with shotguns hanging out of their cars. I was walking past Jerry’s Nugget when I was 12 and some white kids yelled, ‘Hey niggers.’ That leaves quite an impression on little kids.” Rancho High School was a powder keg. “Mexican kids from North Las Vegas, Mormon kids, black kids, Nellis kids, Native-American kids, West Las Vegas kids. North Las Vegas Police had a substation on campus. It felt like a prison. Desegregation led to a lot of tense situations and violence,” he says. His documentary, “The Rancho High School Riots,” recounts the episodes when that powder keg exploded, resulting in mass brawls, mace-spraying police marching on campus — and moving acts of unlikely heroism. Armstrong plans to produce documentaries on blacks in Nazi Germany, the history of and the role of race in the Las Vegas nightclub industry, and the history of the local boxing scene. “These stories about race and Las Vegas are important. Not only should they be told — from Jim Crow Las Vegas to the Rancho High Race Riots — they should be understood,” says Armstrong. “History, a professor once told me, is like taking a bath in muddy water: You don’t know how you’re going to come out — whether you’ll be clean or not. We shouldn’t be scared of our history.” — Damon Hodge

Hang with us… Fine Art Installation

Fine Art Consulting Collection Management Art Handling

620 South 7th St Las Vegas NV 89101 o: 702.366.9339 c: 702.219.0131 | 19


If love had a scent, it’d smell like this. Red Amaryllis Crystals are infused with a blend of red amaryllis, fresh Clementine and cassis. $34.50,

fa s h i o n

The gift of love (and nice things)

Love is in the air — but, hey, what’s in the bag? 10 romantic gifts under $100 by Christie Moeller

These shoes were made for ... eatin’? Yes. These tasty high heels are made of handmade premium dark chocolate. $39, B Sweet Candy Boutique inside The Market LV at Tivoli Village

It’s time to show her you love every moment you spend with her ... with a Swatch Sweet Valentine watch. $80, Swatch in the Fashion Show Mall

They say all you need is love but a little proof never hurt. “Love Your Heart Out” letterpress art print by Las Vegas artist, Jill DeLuce/ DeLuce Designs. $21.50, Paper and Home, 4555 S. Fort Apache Road #138

Lush Prince Charming shower gel is fit for royalty. And she’ll feel like a queen with a blend for her, with a marshmallow root and fairtrade vanilla base, along with moisturizing almond oil and refreshing fresh pomegranate juice. $9.95-$29.95, Lush in the Fashion Show Mall

Here’s a bouquet of flowers that will never wilt. Kate Spade mod floral thin hinged bangle, $78, Kate Spade in the Fashion Show Mall

Add some sparkle to the occasion ... literally! Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire shimmer powder, $89, Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show Mall

She may not wear her heart on her sleeve — but she can wear it on her T-shirt. I.N.C. International Concepts heart top, $59.50, Macy’s in the Fashion Show Mall

The way to his heart is through his stomach ... and the best way to his stomach? Cookies, of course. Chicago metallic conversation-heart cookie cutter. $20, Sur La Table in the Fashion Show Mall

20 | Desert

Companion | February 2014

Everything’s prettier in pink — especially underthings. Cosabella Never Say Never Hottie lowrider, $36.50, and soft bra, $55, Neiman Marcus in the Fashion Show Mall

Painting Women

Works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston February 14 – October 26, 2014

Tickets and information 702.693.7871 • Left image: Gretchen Woodman Rogers, Woman in a Fur Hat, Gift of Miss Anne Winslow, Photography ©2013 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Right image: Marie Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun, Portrait of a Young Woman, Robert Dawson Evans Collection, Photography ©2013 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


h i t t h e r oa d

Get off the couch — and see these small-screen sights

In this era of obsessive-compulsive Netflix viewing, travelers are looking to their favorite TV shows for inspiration. Want to relive a pivotal scene from your favorite drama? Start with these small-screeninspired travel ideas. Venture westward to Los Angeles to experience “Mad Men” firsthand. Book a stay at the Millennium Biltmore (506 S. Grand Ave., 213-624-1011) for a taste of the mid-mod finesse that permeates the series. The hotel has an illustrious history that goes beyond being a filming location for the AMC drama. It’s appeared in numerous movies, hosted Academy Awards banquets, and served as the accommodation-ofchoice for presidents and celebrities. For a memorable night on the town, head to

the Art Deco-inspired Cicada Restaurant (617 S. Olive St., 213-488-9488), the filming location of the Clio Awards during Season 4’s “Waldorf Stories” episode. With classic cocktails and live jazz, it won’t be difficult to feel like you’re Joan Harris reincarnate. In Honolulu, stay at the Royal Hawaiian (2259 Kalakaua Ave., 808-923-7311) where Don and Megan Draper spent their Season 6 vacation, and take a stroll down Waikiki Beach in the footsteps of the glamorous — although not always happy — couple. Filmed in New Mexico, “Breaking Bad” showcased the beauty (and brutality) of the Chihuahuan desert. In Albuquerque, visit John B. Robert Dam, which served as a distinctive backdrop for the significant scene when Jesse made his fateful decision not to flee to Alaska. Next, grab a bite to eat at Twisters (4257 Isleta Blvd. SW, 505-877-2727), better known as Los Pollos Hermanos from the Gustavo Fring episodes. Take a seat in Walter White’s usual booth, and be sure to notice the Los Pollos Hermanos logo on the wall. Beerdrinking “Breaking Bad” fans can visit Marble Brewery (111 Marble Ave. NW, 505-243-2739, in downtown Albuquerque to cap off their trip. The small town of Senoia, Georgia has earned itself notoriety as a filming location for “The Walking Dead.” Main Street, in

Death Valley? Ha ha ha! With a size and format that makes it about as unwieldy as an outsized wall calendar, Death Valley: Hottest Place on Earth isn’t exactly a handy guidebook. You won’t be tucking it in your jeans back pocket when you visit the valley famous for being, like, really really super hot. But maybe that’s the point. Death Valley: Hottest Place on Earth (Rio Nuevo, $12.95) is an eye-poppingly gorgeous coffee-table/guidebook for serious dirtheads who look upon the brutal washboard ripple of a hellish desert outland and feel their hearts flutter. It’s written by one guy, Roger Naylor, and his monomaniacal love for Death Valley — its plains, pits and peaks, its ghost towns and unlikely attraction for eccentrics, entrepreneurs and

22 | Desert

Companion | February 2014

desperadoes — has its own magnetic quality, and it’s not just in his intimate knowledge of the backcountry trails and dusty backstories. Death Valley isn’t exactly known as sitcom material, but the frequent humor in Hottest Place on Earth makes you realize how precious and self-consciously grave writing about the desert often is. Not in these pages. Sure, Naylor does a fine job in giving Death Valley its writerly due — “Desert rolls away in all directions, stark and epic, subtle and hypnotic.” But he never takes himself, or Death Valley, too seriously. Baffled by its magnitude, he sums up “the big bad boy of deserts” best when he writes, “Death Valley inspires me to admit something I never thought I’d say: I wish I had stayed awake more often in science class.” — Andrew Kiraly

Senoia’s historic downtown, played the role of Woodbury, the Governor’s attempt at a utopian society amid the zombie-induced chaos. Stop by the Woodbury Shoppe (42 Main St., 770727-9312, if you’re in the market for “The Walking Dead” merchandise. If you can’t make it all the way to Senoia though, never fear! You can purchase your “Mrs. Daryl Dixon” hinged wallet and other apocalypse-themed items online. In Atlanta, drive towards downtown on Freedom Parkway, the route Rick takes on horseback in the iconic scene from “The Walking Dead’s” first episode. Once you’ve arrived in the city, catch a performance at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center (2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, 770-916-2800,, which masqueraded as the sleek and modern CDC headquarters during Season 1. This architectural gem is the venue for a variety of upcoming shows, including performances by the Atlanta Ballet, comedian Amy Schumer, the Atlanta Opera and guitarist Jesse Cook. For those who aren’t ready to drive through Georgia or fly to Hawaii, TV landmarks can be found right here. Just bring your least favorite antique to Gold and Silver Pawn (713 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-385-7912). Maybe you’ll have a chance to hone your negotiation skills on an episode of “Pawn Stars.” — Sarah Vernetti

Get loopy At the end of an amazingly scenic drive down Valley of Fire’s lone paved side road lies a short hike that’s long on scenery: White Dome Loop. The two-mile circle begins up a sandy wash, then drops down into an incredibly colorful canyon used as a backdrop in the 1966 Burt Lancaster western, “The Professionals.” From there, it’s all right turns (NASCAR fans can hike it backward) through a narrow slot canyon and back up to the trailhead. Difficulty: Easy. — Alan Gegax

For Those Who Know Vegas You’ve seen it all. And done it all. But you’ve never had a steak like this.

Introducing the new Fleming’s, conveniently located at Town Square. Featuring the finest Dry-Aged Prime Steaks, decadent Steak Companions and award-winning list of 100 wines by the glass. In one visit you’ll know. The best in Vegas has just been topped. Opening January 2014.

Located at 6515 S. Las Vegas Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89119 To make a reservation, visit or call 702-407-0019


Y o u r c i t y, b l o c k b y b l o c k

Tropicana delight


Orbiting on an outer ring of the University District, the Trop-Eastern quadrant offers cheap clothes, cocktails and even haircuts — and a handful of delis and restaurants proving that authenticity comes in many flavors. — Andrew Kiraly

A Simple Life 5. Dedicated to the fare of Wisconsin, A Simple Life is part café, part specialty food shop, part HOLY MACKEREL THAT’S A BIG WALL OF JAMS AND JELLIES. Testament to their Midwestern chumminess: I barely had the “hello” out of my mouth when they handshook me into a chair and next thing I know I’m eating hearty vegetable soup with new friends. 5025 S. Eastern Ave. #21, 702-490-4916, Savers 6. Found some unlikely

Companion | February 2014

2 scores in this reliable outpost of the thrift store chain: a literature subsection in the book aisles and boxed vinyl sets of Beethoven. 2300 E. Tropicana Ave., 702433-1402 Dispensary Lounge 7. Once a daytime drunk’s sleep-away hole with a kitschy, ponderous water wheel, the Dispensary has blossomed into a hub for weekend nightlife, with live jazz and a late-night menu (mothership: half-pound burger and fries, $5.95). Most importantly: The beloved kitschy, ponderous water wheel still turns. 2451 E. Tropicana Ave., 702-458-6343,


Hallwood Dr 3 6

Tropicana Ave 1


Aveda Institute Las Vegas 8. The future hairdressers of America need your head — and starting at $15, these bright young cosmetology students will give you a shampoo and a thorough snip. If you’re tight on cash but have a high-maintenance ’do, know that these understudies thrive on follicular challenges. 4856 S. Eastern Ave., 702-4592900,


Jeffreys St

24 | Desert

Village Meat & Wine 4. This bustling bodega of gourmet noshables is what Trader Joe’s is trying to be — except Village Meat & Wine boasts an actual meat and deli counter. Exotic meats range from antelope to buffalo to camel. Ever wanted to chew on a kangaroo drumstick? You can hop to it here. (“Kangaroo is sweet,” says the owner.) 5025 S. Eastern Ave. #23, 702-736-7575,

Burnham Ave

Pinball Hall of Fame 3. O, glimmering shrine to clamorous machines of electromechanical zen, I will forever flip, shake, rattle and nudge your praises. 1610 E. Tropicana Ave., 702-597-2627


Spencer St

Fox’s Spy Outlet 2. So, the owner puts a cigarette lighter on the counter. I look at it — and it turns out I’m peering into a tiny bug-eye camera lens! Then he pops off the lighter’s top to reveal that it’s also a USB stick, so my shocking indiscretions as a nanny are easily downloadable! Also: lie detectors, surveillance cameras, infidelity tests and cell-phone pepper spray. In other words, the accouterments to modern romance. 2055 E. Tropicana Ave. #10, 702-262-9313


Eastern Ave

Cuba Café 1. Just as much a Cuban cultural hotspot as a restaurant — if you want to polish your merengue moves, come on a loud and lively Friday or Saturday night — Cuba Café serves up a strong menu of classics. Their ropa vieja, literally “old clothes,” is said by expats to be some of the best in town: a steaming heap of tender shredded beef served with black beans, rice and fried plantains. 2055 E. Tropicana Ave. #1, 702-7957070,



4 5

XYZHAUS 9. Formerly known as BLOKHAUS, this building now houses an Internet domain startup. Consider it when you’re driving down Trop. Architecturally, I always found the building playful — its insistent stoutness humorously at odds with its silver suit, like a fat kid in a spaceman costume. 2121 E. Tropicana Ave.

Come get caught in the storm as The Tempest makes its world debut in Symphony Park right here in Las Vegas. Enter an untamed world of phantoms, monsters, madmen and lovers as they mingle and intertwine with this wild adaptation of Shakespeare’s final play directed by Aaron Posner and Teller. It’s a magical new take on the timeless tale of love, loss, virtue, vengeance and forgiveness.

APR I L 6 – 1 3 • TI CKETS STARTI N G AT $ 3 5 SATURDAY & SUNDAY – 2:30PM & 8:00PM • TUESDAY – FRIDAY – 8:00PM 702.749.2000 | TTY: 800.326.6868 or dial 711 | For group inquiries call 702.749.2348 361 Symphony Park Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89106 Adapted and Directed by Aaron Posner and Teller from Shakespeare’s play • Magic by Teller Songs by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan • Movement by Pilobolus (Matt Kent, choreographer)

Event Sponsored By


Is Las Learn Vegasmore getting about fatter? howHear film experts tax credits weigh work in on “KNPR’s “KNPR’sState Stateof ofNevada” Nevada”at atwww.desertcompanion/hearmore

personal department finance

Render unto Caesar


Those torturous tax questions that keep you up at night, answered once and for all By Chantal Corcoran | Photo by Brent Holmes

I’m retired. I’m wondering how my investment income is going to be affected by Obamacare and what I can do to alleviate any tax increases. Bad news first: Tax on investment income has gone up anywhere from 20 percent to 60 percent, depending on your level of total income and what kind of investment income you earn. For example, if you earn more than $250,000 if you’re married, and more than $200,000 if you’re single, every dollar of investment income above that threshold is subject to an additional 3.8 percent tax. Ouch. That’s significant for people earning capital gain income, qualified dividend income and interest and

26 | Desert

Companion | February 2014

rental income. So, there’s a significant tax burden on seniors with those types of incomes, in those tax brackets. Add to that the fact that the deductions for offsetting that income have been limited as well. Currently, itemized deductions can be phased out up to 80 percent, depending on the current level of earnings. So another hidden tax cost is incurred by limiting the investment expenses that are incurred to actually earn that investment income. The good news: Fortunately, there are many ways to alleviate this extra tax cost. The most obvious is to have income that’s not subject to the Obamacare tax — like income from taxexempt securities and tax-exempt municipal bonds. Have losses to offset any passive investment income, like deductions from certain master-limited partnership investments. Typically, oil and gas investments can generate these types of tax losses, for example. Invest in vehicles that are tax-deferred, such as annuities or maxing out on life insurance premiums

in a cash balance plan. Minimize how much you take in distributions from a pension plan to keep you under the $200,000 or $250,000 thresholds. Maybe change your retirement plan distribution amount per year by making it over a longer life expectancy. — Jason Thomas, tax partner, Fair, Anderson and Langerman I’m going to use QuickBooks to do my accounting. Any advice before I dive in? Make sure that you get all the different accounts that you’re going to be using properly input. It sounds obvious, but it’s crucial. For instance, you’re going to have your bank account, your accounts receivable, your accounts payable, the loans, your credit cards and then all of your income and expense items, as well. Once you have the basic format of your financial statements entered, then you start coding all the transactions. QuickBooks memorizes the coding for your transactions, so if it memorizes something that you’ve done wrong, it will post

pa p e r c r a f t : a s h a n t i m c g e e

It’s that time of year again — for procrastination, free-floating anxiety and pencilchewing late nights at the kitchen table as you tackle the family taxes. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some of the more common tax questions that may be nagging you, answered by local experts.

every single additional transaction wrong, as well — which will require a lot of work to go back and correct everything. Nobody likes to hear this next tip, because they think balancing their checkbooks is a long, tedious process already. However, another of the most important things is to use the software’s bank reconciliation feature, because it’s very easy to miss an entry or to double-post an entry, and the only way to know for sure if your reports are right is to use the built-in bank reconciliation. Also, QuickBooks has got a lot of great built-in features, features that a lot of people don’t even know are in there. A lot of those things can really save you a lot of time and make your life easier, so it’s worth taking a look at some of those extra things besides just your basic accounting. — Adam Hodson, president, Adam Hodson CPA My business is finally making money again. What’s a tax-smart way for me to invest my profits? When we talk about tax-smart opportunities for investments, there are three different approaches we can take. Tax avoidance is the legal way of not paying tax. (Tax evasion, as you know, is the illegal way. Bad, bad, bad!) Tax avoidance opportunities are very specific within the tax law, particular to the individual, and quite rare, but they do exist. For instance, for a homebuilder, the tax law allows for someone to live in a home for two years and, when they sell it, not to pay any tax on it, as long as the profit is less than half a million dollars. Tax reduction, meanwhile, is having the profit but paying the tax at a lesser rate. Can you covert what normally might be ordinary income, taxed at ordinary rates, into a capital event and pay it at capital gains tax rates? There’s about a 15 to 20 point difference on the amount of tax you pay for ordinary income versus capital gains income. Here’s an example: Let’s say we have a business that’s making good profits, and dad is the entrepreneur and his children are young adults or high-schoolers. In that case, we could establish an opportunity for dad to sell a portion of the business to his children, in trust — so dad still controls the cash flow. We structure the sale so that the gain is set up as an installment method, so we can pay this note out of the profits of the business, which generates long-term capital gain for dad, and the business gets a step up in basis, something like good will, which can be an ordinary deduction. That one’s a little technical and a little complicated, but it does work and it’s a great little tool.

Desert Companion’s

Land RoveR Las vegas

5255 W. sahara ave, Las vegas, nv 89146

Join us as we celebrate Desert Companion’s Best of the City award recipients. Enjoy specialty cocktails, light bites, great company and fantastic raffle prizes.


by February 17 at

presented by | 27

personal finance

Tax deferral is a situation where we can currently deduct an investment, but later, when we try to have access to that investment, it would be taxable. The best example of this is a pension plan, or a 401K, or an IRA. The benefit of those devices are two-fold. One is the time value of money: Saving a dollar today is better than saving a dollar tomorrow. The other is that, often in retirement, our tax bracket is lower than it is during our productive careers. — Leland Pace, senior partner, Stewart, Archibald and Barney, LLP I own my own business, so I can deduct all of my car expenses, right? That’s a common misconception. Actually, you really should track your miles. How many are for business and how many are not? The not-for-business miles (which include your commute in the morning and your commute at night) are not deductible because this is considered personal mileage. There are two ways to calculate business expenses for your auto. One is the standard business mileage

rate, which is 56.5 cents per mile for 2013. For the business miles, which would be all that time that you run around to different clients or banks or whatever, that would be deductible at the standard business mileage rate. If you don’t want to use the standard business mileage rate, you can use actual expenses. For that you’ll need to keep track of your gas, oil, car washes and all your various car expenses and you will want to depreciate the cost of the vehicle. Then you use a ratio. So, if 10 percent of your miles are personal and 90 percent are business, then you can deduct 90 percent of these auto expenses. Either way, you can deduct the portion of interest that would be related to the business portion of your car payments. So, if you determined that 90 percent of your car expenses are for business purposes, then you can deduct 90 percent of the interest portion of your car payment. You also get a depreciation deduction based on the business portion use of your car. — Marianne Reeves, partner, De Joya Griffith

If I want to make more charitable contributions, how can I know which charities are legitimate and worthy? I would start by going to and searching public charities. The IRS has a place where you can go to make sure that a charity has registered with the IRS, and that it is a legitimate 501(c)(3) organization. From there, you can go to GuideStar gives financial information, including the annual Form 990 that all nonprofits need to file. You want to make sure that, first, the charity exists, and that it’s spending its money on the program, not on a bunch of fundraising and administrative costs. On the Form 990, you can see where the organization spends its money. Also, if you’re going to give to a 501(c)(3), make sure you get a receipt from that organization stating how much you gave, that there were no goods or services provided, and that you get that receipt prior to filing your tax return. — Dianna Russo, managing principal, Houldsworth, Russo & Company

What is the Mojave Max Emergence Contest? Mojave Max is a real live tortoise that lives at Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area. Every fall when the hot Las Vegas weather cools off, Max goes into his burrow to begin brumation, (this is how Max hibernates), and he emerges in the spring. The person who guesses as closely as possible to the correct day, hour, and minute when Max will emerge from his burrow wins!

Who Can Enter the Contest? Anyone in the world can enter, but only one lucky winner from Clark County, Nevada in grades K-12 who are enrolled in public, private and registered home schools are eligible to win all kinds of great prizes. Go to and click on the “contest” button to see a complete list of the Mojave Max Emergence Contest Rules.

What are the Prizes? The grand prize winner and his or her class will receive T-shirts and a pizza party and field trip to Red Rock Canyon. The winner also receives a laptop computer, a digital camera, and a year-long pass to federally managed fee areas. The winner’s teacher will also receive a laptop computer!



Brought to you by: Clark County Desert Conservation Program, Clark County School District, Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association and U. S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management.

28 | Desert

Companion | February 2014


Listen Is to Lasan Vegas appreciation getting fatter? of jazz Hear legend experts Dave Brubeck weigh in on “KNPR’s “KNPR’sState Stateof ofNevada” Nevada”at atwww.desertcompanion/hearmore

department music

Don’t call them folksy


The All-Togethers are more like hillbilly jazz that blends everything from classic bluegrass to … Lady Gaga covers? By Mike Prevatt Photography Checko Salgado

At first glance, it’s like a cliché come true: small, folksy band playing a bar in small, folksy Boulder City. Add Ken Osborne’s wool pants, his wife Cindy Osborne’s stand-up bass and drummer Brian Phipps’ washboard resting against the wall, and suddenly Mumford & Sons don’t seem so precious. And then The All-Togethers begin to play, and your expectations drop like the walls of Hoover Dam. Traditional bluegrass fills the room. Your eyes fixate on frontman Ken’s nearly-century-old instruments: the mandolin, the ukulele, the metal-coned resonator guitar. Your brows furrow as what initially sounds like an old blues standard reveals itself to be a cover of a cover of Jay Z’s “99 Problems.” Mothers and daughters get up to dance. “A lot of people say it’s refreshing because it’s different,” says Cindy. Which proves The All-Togethers ( aren’t just wannabes of the fast-plateauing suspender set. Unlike The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, et al, this Las Vegas-via-Virginia acoustic act doesn’t peddle folk ’n’ harmonies as schtick. The foursome (they recently added guitarist Michael Louis Austin) comes from Appalachian country, and its bluegrass style is rooted in their childhoods — though it didn’t necessarily come early in the musicians’ artistic evolution. Cindy’s great-grandparents

30 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

A little bit country: Ken and Cindy Osborne

were banjo players, and her father and grandparents played the guitar, but high school band brought her to the saxophone and flute first. And Ken took to the guitar his bluegrass-loving father bought him only after he heard, of all things, his brother’s copy of Boston’s Don’t Look Back. There’s no wrong way In fact, it wasn’t until the couple relocated here in 2010 — spurred by memories

of a 2007 Sin City honeymoon trip — that Ken even flirted with roots music, joining a local Southwestern/Americana act. He’d part ways with that band two years later, having a clear vision for a duo band — one that would finally allow him to play music with his wife, who had already graduated to guitar and bass. “I just popped in an old Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin film — because my mom gave me an appreciation for that era — and I was

We’re proud to give back We’re proud to give back We’re proud to give back to the community we call home. to the community we call to the community we call home. home.

At Bank of America, we’re committed to giving back to the neighborhoods where we live and work. At Bankwhy of America, we’reour committed to giving back to the neighborhoods where we live and work. That’s we contribute time, energy and support to these area organizations: we contribute time, energy and support to these area organizations: That’s At Bankwhy of America, we’reour committed to giving back to the neighborhoods where we live and work. That’s why we contribute our time, energy and support to these area organizations: American Red Cross Lied Discovery Children’s Museum American RedBig Cross Lied Discovery Museum Sisters SocialChildren’s Services of Nevada Big Brothers Lutheran Big Brothers Big Sisters Lutheran Social Services of Nevada American Red Cross Lied Discovery Children’s Museum Boys & Girls Clubs Make-A-Wish Foundation Boys & Girls Clubs Make-A-Wish Foundation Big Brothers BigforSisters Lutheran Social Services of Nevada Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Nathan Adelson Hospice Foundation Candlelighters for Childhood Cancer Nathan Adelson Hospice Foundation Boys & Girls Clubs Make-A-Wish Foundation Catholic Charities Nevada Public Radio Catholic Charities Nevada Public Radio Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Nathan Adelson Hospice Foundation Communities Infor Schools Opportunity Village Communities In Schools Opportunity Village Catholic Charities Nevada Public Radio Community Services of Nevada Rebuilding Together Community Services of Nevada Rebuilding Together Communities In Schools Opportunity Village The Financial Guidance Center Special Olympics The Financial Guidance Center Special Olympics Community Services of Nevada Rebuilding FIT Spread the Together Word Nevada FIT Spread the Word Nevada The Financial Guidance Center Special Olympics Gay and Lesbian Community Center Teach for America Gay and Lesbian Community Center Teach for America FIT Spread the Word Nevada Nevada Goodwill Industries The First Tee of Southern Goodwill Industries The First Tee of Southern Gay and Lesbian Community Center Teach for America Habitat for Humanity Las Vegas The Hundtridge Teen ClinicNevada Habitat for Humanity Las Vegas The Clinic Goodwill Industries First of Teen Southern Nevada HELP of Southern Nevada The Hundtridge PublicTee Education Foundation HELP of Southern Nevada The Public Education Foundation Habitat for Humanity Las Vegas Hundtridge Teen Clinic Housing for Nevada The Smith Center for the Performing Arts Housing for Nevada The Smith Center for the Performing Arts HELP of Southern Nevada Public Education Foundation Junior Achievement Three Square Junior Achievement Three Square Housing forNatural NevadaHistory Museum The Smith for theNevada Performing Arts Las Vegas United WayCenter of Southern Las Vegas Natural History Museum United Way of Southern Nevada Junior Achievement Three Square Las Vegas Rescue Mission University of Nevada-Las Vegas Foundation Las Rescue Mission University Vegas Foundation NaturalofHistory Museum United WayofofNevada-Las Southern Nevada Vegas PBS LegalVegas Aid Center Southern Nevada Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada Vegas PBS Las Vegas Rescue Mission University of Nevada-Las Vegas Foundation Lied Discovery Children’s Museum Women’s Development Center Lied Discovery Children’s Museum Women’s Development Center Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada Vegas PBS Lutheran Social Services of Nevada YMCA of Southern Nevada Lutheran SocialChildren’s Services of Nevada YMCA of Southern Nevada Lied Discovery Museum Women’s Development Center Lutheran Social Services of Nevada YMCA of Southern Nevada For more information, stop by any of our convenient banking centers or visit us at For more information, stop by any of our convenient banking centers or visit us at For more information, stop by any of our convenient banking centers or visit us at

©2012 Bank of America Corporation | ARG216E3 ©2012 Bank of America Corporation | ARG216E3


We’re on a journey to redefine the experience of school. Now enrolling students 6 weeks old - Kindergarten

You ReALLY LoVe ouR MAGAZINe. Now you caN Love it virtuaLLy, too.

310 S 9th Street, Las Vegas 702.724.1436


25 luxury cabins including doubles with connecting doors A family-style restaurant and bakery with really great food Pet Friendly Cabins All cabins are NON SMOKING

32 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

Visit us at and check out our website. Between editions of our Maggie Award-winning magazine, you’ll get web-exclusive stories, breaking cultural news and fresh perspectives from our writers.

thinking, you know, no one ever does ’20s or ’30s music out here,” says Ken. “The ’90s had that swing revival, but you never heard about a Scott Joplin or Django Reinhardt revival. I thought, let’s do that, bring some bluegrass into it, mix it up, and see what comes of it. I texted Cindy and said, ‘We’re doing this.’” The resulting mix of old Appalachia, hot jazz and Dixieland inspired Cindy to dub their style as hillbilly jazz. “We invented this genre!” she says. “No one can tell us we’re playing it wrong!” In February 2012, at an open mic at the now-shuttered Republic Kitchen and Bar, the two introduced Henderson to their old-fashioned but refreshing sound, played on relic instruments, fully adorned in Depression-era garb — down to Ken’s armgarters, bought from a costume store at Universal Studios. At first, the two were so obsessed with authenticity, Ken told Cindy he wanted them to don the traditional duds onstage and off. Luckily, their fellow supermarket shoppers were spared the sort of exhibitionist hipsterdom that has made Brooklyn the laughingstock of the country. “We thought, this is a little pretentious, let’s call bull on ourselves,” he says. Act like you own the speakeasy That loosening up would serve them when the evolution of their hillbilly jazz became problematic, especially when joined a few months later by drummer Phipps, a childhood friend of Ken’s. They had to overcome structural limitations within the styles they wished to adapt, but any rigidity began to melt away after the now-trio began to take cues from progressive bluegrass act The Punch Brothers, resulting in something that sounded more natural. Even trickier was the live show. The naked, spare sound made the musicians anxious — even Ken, who had played in several bands before (“He couldn’t turn around and face his amp!” Cindy jokes.) Being unplugged in a loud town didn’t help matters, even though Ken, a sound engineer, knew where to place the mics. And they felt out of place in a scene where they felt (and looked) like outsiders. After a few shows, they employed a psychological trick. “It’s 1931, you walk in, you’ve played this gin mill a hundred times; this is our own personal speakeasy,” Ken would tell his bandmates. “And Cindy started walking into the (venues) like she owned the place after that. The nerves kind of went away.” Curiosity drew a small fan base. This, after all, wasn’t the usual Vegas nostalgia act. But that didn’t solve the promoters’ problem

of who to pair them with on show bills. Fortunately, The All-Togethers weren’t the only Americana band in town. The Clydesdale broke the mold years ago with their Wild West take on country music, and other rootsy, decidedly untrendy groups like Dusty Sunshine and Coastwest Unrest were on the rise, even before the fiddle frenzy hit the airwaves. But the newbies were game to play with anyone. When a local promoter needed to fill a slot on a metal bill at the last minute, Ken and Cindy (then without Phipps) jumped at the chance. As the Osbornes tell it, the Bunkhouse crowd was receptive, if full of quizzical expressions. One onlooker looked at Cindy’s stand-up and exclaimed, “That bass doesn’t have a cabinet!” A touch of the modern Ken was initially indifferent about the reception of his band, but quickly learned he had to read the crowd and make his music relatable. Which The All-Togethers did by highlighting the modern influences within their original bluegrass songs (see recently

released album Ridge Runner), and occasionally playing old-timey covers of chestnuts like A-Ha’s “Take On Me,” now transformed into a slow-swing song, and Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi,” which, in its stripped-down form, surprises and wins over both the families of Boulder City and the cool crowd of downtown, every time. Ken is unapologetic about what most of his peers would decree an unforgivable transgression: “I hate to say it — no, I don’t. If (Gaga) is the one writing her songs, her songs are very well-written. The way they are put together and formed are so good. Most people write ‘Paparazzi’ off as pop trash. It’s a brilliant tune.” It’s an extension of Ken’s pedigree honed both behind the guitar and in the studio — where he has worked with several Vegas bands — in finding the hook in any sort of music: Strip away the artifice to determine a song’s true worth. The bandleader also developed a knack for spotting unlikely bluegrass influences in modern music, especially in the bands of his teenage years: Green Day, Weezer, Social Distortion. “If you really break it down, if you slowed it down and played it on a banjo,

it’s bluegrass,” he says. “I think it all comes back to revisiting your roots at some time.” And speaking of revisiting roots, the band’s summer 2013 tour reached Cindy’s hometown of Roanoke, Virginia. That was followed a few months later with an appearance at October’s Life is Beautiful festival, where the group performed not on the Homegrown Stage, but on the southwest corner of the El Cortez hotelcasino, a scene that recalled watching the oldtimey trios and quartets on Disneyland’s Main Street as passersby stopped to watch (and even throw a few bucks to the buskers, who brought an old-school tin bucket for thematic legitimacy). And, in a more subversive nod to the libertine era that birthed their music, the quartet landed a January slot at 35 Steaks and Martinis at the Hard Rock Hotel during the Adult Entertainment Expo and AVN Awards weekend. Versatility has best served the new and certainly unlikely Vegas favorites, who have successfully acclimated their throwback package for a fickle and fussy bunch. “And,” says Ken, “a little Southern hospitality hasn’t hurt.” | 33


Listen to a discussion about saving Gold Butte on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at www.desertcompanion/hearmore



Rocks in a hard place A bill that would preserve Gold Butte has opened up a debate about conservation and community values By Andrew Kiraly Photography Christopher smith

Getting there: Take I-15 north to Highway 170 (Bunkerville exit). Turn right onto Highway 170 and drive south for about three miles to the Virgin River Bridge. Cross the bridge and take a right to get on Gold Butte Road.

34 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

Nancy Hall is unfazed by the rattling, the shaking, the jarring, the relentless kabump-kachunk-kabump that is turning her dusty Toyota Tacoma into some demonic carnival ride on this Saturday morning. If you were sitting next to her as she navigates this merciless Gold Butte back road, you’d marvel, too — because look at you: You’re instinctively gripping the seat, the arm rest, the oh-Jesus handle — anything — while also clenching your jaw lest your molars fly out of your mouth. You’re not used to roads like this. Nancy Hall is. She’s got some inner gyroscopic stabilization system that, for her, turns an epically rough ride into a quick jaunt to the corner store. Then again, Gold Butte is her backyard. “I grew up in Orlando before The Mouse — before Mickey,” says Hall, the executive director of Friends of Gold Butte. “And I experienced a huge sense of loss in the ’80s, when the orange groves died and Disney became more and more of a thing. The dirt roads we used to ride on, the orange groves where we used to get in trouble … they’re all shopping malls now.” Now, she considers the sandstone cliffs and outcroppings looming around us like otherworldly chess pieces; nearby Mes-

Gold Butte holds countless treasures — both natural and cultural — that are facing increasing impacts, from ancient agave roasting pits (very top) to petroglyphs (above) to remnants of pots and tools (right).

quite has been her home since 1994. “I take my grandkids out here in Gold Butte — they scramble in the red rocks, they look at the petroglyphs and talk about what they mean. It’s priceless, and I need them to be able to have that with their kids.” We stop next to a high rock ridge hugging the road, and step out of the truck. Today, we’ve come to consider not just the wonders of nature, but the work of humans. In this case, we’ve stopped to ponder their work in two forms: One, an ancient agave roasting pit, where Paiutes and other tribes would slow-cook cactus hearts, then push out the ash and waste. Over generations of use, the agave roasting pit has come to resemble a giant speckled donut rising from beneath the earth. It’s strangely pedestrian — this was, essentially, the Paiutes’ microwave oven — which, just as strangely, makes it an inspiring remnant of an ancient way of life. What’s


not inspiring is the other form of man’s work: the fact that an ad hoc road, likely formed by waves of off-roaders, runs over a portion of it. Nearby in the shade of the ridge is an alcove that houses an old midden, with castoff chips of Native American pottery and slivers of rock from stonecrafting tools. “It’s like a prehistoric trash pile,” explains George Phillips, another longtime preservation activist. “Potsherds, flakes from stone tools — but it’s been pretty well dug up. None of this has been protected.” The greedy collectors then sell these bits of history online or keep them for their personal hoard. This land is whose land? You see a lot of that in Gold Butte: convergences of desert beauty, ancient artifacts and modern humans’ more troublesome footprint. They appear throughout the 348,000-acre spread of BLM land about an hour northeast of Las Vegas. In one turn, you’ll see a craggy leviathan of geology jumbled with ancient petroglyphs that seem to dance on the rocks — snakes and swirls, sheep and shamans — next to teens’ scrawlings and shotgun blast marks pitting the stone. Nancy Hall has seen it get worse over the years, and that’s why she’s been the moving force behind a federal bill that would turn Gold Butte into a national conservation area. Sen. Harry Reid introduced the bill in the Senate in May, but it’s too soon to tell its future. The bill sounds simple and benign enough: It would formalize protections for the land and boost its profile for a better shot at federal funding. So what’s not to like? The catch is that Hall and Friends of Gold Butte are facing polite but entrenched opposition. Not by big industry or developers or the usual villains in this kind of story. Rather, they’re opposed by a more localized manifestation of all that Culture and History we’re talking about: the surrounding rural communities who have come to think of Gold Butte as their recreational backyard — one particularly attractive to area off-roaders. To them, the prospect of a national recreation area means putting the land more firmly in the grip of the feds. (The land is already owned by the federal government, has been deemed an Area of Critical Environmental Concern and already has about 28,000 acres designated as wilderness, but that’s pretty much window dressing: This sprawl of desert doesn’t even have a full-time ranger. It’s like a libertarian’s dream walkabout.) “A national conservation area bill is the wrong administrative tool to preserve Gold

Saturday, March 8 | 10am-3pm Cornerstone Park, 1600 Wigwam Pkwy.

Contests | Demonstrations | Entertainment | Pet Adoptions | Free Admission Parks, people and pets. It’s five hours of fun. |

Enter the Mindbender Mansion Traveling Exhibit, a quirky place full of puzzles, brainteasers, and interactive challenges that test the brain power of the most experienced puzzlers.


January 30 – April 27, 2014 Mindbender Mansion was produced and is toured by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Portland, Oregon. | 35

Mesquite is the perfect escape. You can dine at the new Town Square buffet inside the Eureka Casino Resort or dance at the Skydome Lounge inside the CasaBlanca Resort. Plus, Mesquite features fun festivals and unique events throughout the year. You can’t beat a getaway in Mesquite.

Tee off at the beautiful Conestoga Golf Course or swing for the hills at Wolf Creek Golf Club.

Get away from it all with a deeptissue massage at the world-class spa at CasaBlanca or a mud facial at the luxurious Spa Eureka.

Enjoy some high-flying fun at Skydive Mesquite. To plan your getaway go to

Excitingly Laid-back

36 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

environment A new bill would turn Gold Butte into a national conservation area, but keep the roads in place.

Butte,” says Lindsey Dalley, president of Partners in Conservation, an outdoor recreation group. “Gold Butte has a huge history component, and a lot of cultural aspects come into play that a national conservation area bill or wilderness treatment don’t address.” The conflict raises a question about fragile, wild and beautiful public land. Should it be like a museum, groomed and preserved for everyone? Or should it be more like the local general store, suited to the customs and practices of the communities around it? Is there a middle ground? It’d be easy to write off the bill’s opponents as stubbornly unenlightened, but growing up with the land fosters a view that’s at once less romantic but no less rich or complex. Their resistance to government involvement isn’t some Tea Party knee-jerk, but rather a caution rooted in generations. “The reason places like Logandale and Moapa are interesting is because our history comes from St. Thomas,” says Dalley, referring to the small town that was submerged in the waters of the newly created Lake Mead in 1938. “And when St. Thomas existed, Gold Butte was their sustenance; it was for cattle and commerce. There’s an emotional aspect to it that people don’t realize. All of our history comes out of St. Thomas, which comes out of Gold Butte.”

Sudden impact The bill makes compromises, Hall points out. For instance, it leaves in about 500 miles — the vast majority — of roads for off-roading, a rarity for a national conservation area. “Whatever you do here now, you’ll be able to do when it’s a national conservation area,” says Hall, “except there’d be interpretation, education and a ranger presence to bring it to a higher level of status, and it would receive some more funding so we can have a better management plan.” But many in the surrounding towns and hamlets, such as Mesquite, Bunkerville, Moapa, Overton and Logandale, remain suspicious. “A lot of people in the rural communities don’t feel the bill is necessary,” explains

BransonFest Out West February 3–5, 2014

Mesquite Off-Road Weekend February 21–23, 2014 In Mesquite, you get the best of both worlds. You can take it easy or do it up big. From a music festival to an off-road weekend, Mesquite offers up an array of special events that lets you enjoy life at your own pace. It’s the perfect escape, no matter how you define it. To plan your getaway, go to

Excitingly Laid-back


Dramatic rock outcroppings define the landscape of Gold Butte, an area covering 348,000 acres.

Elise McAllister, administrator for Partners in Conservation. She agrees that the area can use a full-time ranger, but balks at the rest of the bill. “The people in favor of the bill have good intentions and they work hard, but many of us don’t feel another layer of bureaucracy is going to help the area.” McAllister favors more local eyes and ears on the place — in fact, she herself often heads up volunteer cleanup and reclamation efforts — but adds, “You can’t guard every rock 24 hours a day.” You’d think a bill protecting a place dubbed

38 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

“Nevada’s Piece of the Grand Canyon” would sail through Congress. But, actually, this is the second version of the bill to be introduced, after a 2008 bill introduced by thenRep. Shelley Berkley went nowhere. “That bill was just to get the conversation started,” says Hall. “We knew it wasn’t going anywhere, and it may have made things a bit contentious, but things have calmed down since then.” For Hall to be pushing another piece of legislation is risky. On the one hand, many people in the areas around Gold

Butte admire her tenacity, how dogged and methodical Hall is. She’s even made a few converts. But on the other hand, there’s also a sense of eye-rolling “here we go again,” convincing many to just tune the conservation campaign out. “People start to get heartburn when they hear Gold Butte needs protecting,” says McAllister of Partners in Conservation. There’s a sense of, ‘We went through this already, so let it be.’” But this again is different. Some point out that the time for a bill is ripe, given that Gold Butte seems as popular as ever. “Hardly a weekend goes by that I don’t see something out there,” says Tom Cluff, a Mesquite resident and avid Gold Butte hiker who supports the bill. He tells stories of seeing ATVers tearing out road closure signs and fences to plow over the raw landscape. “But the politics in Mesquite have become dominated by the mindset of opposition, and I don’t see it changing. People who have chosen to think the federal government is in some conspiracy to do something, I don’t think they’re going to change their minds.” What kind of impacts will it take to change those minds? “Mesquite has doubled in size over 10 years, St. George is at a 120,000, and Las Vegas is bursting at the seams,” says Hall. “People who enjoy remote recreation are going further into the desert.” And that’s starting to affect both nature and culture. For instance, if you want to visit the original Gold Butte townsite, don’t bother trying to find the old wooden cattle corral that dates back to the 1930s. Somebody took a chainsaw to it. What they didn’t use for kindling in a nearby campfire, they took home as antique accents.

Now open!


next step in Rehabilitation Centennial Hills Hospital Outpatient Therapy Center

Step by step, Centennial Hills Hospital intensive rehabilitation program can help patients achieve a higher level of independence following an illness or injury. The NEW Outpatient Therapy Center Centennial Hills Hospital Outpatient Therapy Center provides a full complement of services to the community. • Physical therapy

• Spine rehabilitation

• Occupational therapy

• Pulmonary rehabilitation • Geriatric rehabilitation • Balance therapy • Workman’s compensation care

• Speech therapy • Neurological rehabilitation • Orthopedic rehabilitation • Sports medicine

Exercise equipment to supplement individualized exercise programs: Technogym® bikes • Treadmills • Weights Kinesis® One functional trainer Computerized balance testing The new Centennial Hills Hospital Outpatient Therapy Center offers: • Board-certified orthopedic therapist Licensed respiratory care practitioner • Manual-certified physical therapist • Flexible scheduling • Personalized care • A continuum of care that can last from one week to several weeks depending on the patient and the expected outcome • A dedicated multidisciplinary team

When assistance is needed to rebuild strength and independence, Centennial Hills Hospital can help. To make an appointment at the Centennial Hills Hospital Outpatient Therapy Center, please call 702-835-9898.


go D



Nort hD

Medical Office Building 6850 North Durango Dr. Suite 201 Las Vegas, NV 89149 Physicians are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center. The hospital shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians.



News Reviews the dish at f i r s t b i t e l at e s t b u z z


The dish

Four awesome words: Meat on a stick!


the latest buzz

Mezcal: the smoke you can drink


at first bite

Echo (Echo ... Echo ...) & Rig — better go soon A cut above: Echo & Rig butcher Aaron Oster

PHOTOGRAPH BY christopher smith | 41


the dish

Wrapped, skewered, dipped and spiced


Sampling the culinary traditions of Israel, Iran, India and beyond reveals countless variations in the valley (usually with a kick of heat) By Afsha Bawany | Photography Sabin Orr I’m convinced there’s an art to skewering and grilling meat. Consider the care and thought that goes into a koobideh kabob, for instance. It’s a traditional Persian kabob made of ground chicken, beef, or lamb, marinated and then molded onto narrow metal skewers 20 inches long. Indentations in the kabob keep the meat evenly distributed to capture the heat, and secured so it doesn’t break while it’s turned and grilled on an open flame. Grooves within the kabob and slight char give the koobideh its signature look — like a rippling ribbon of meat. Best of all, you get to eat this art. At Flame Kabob (4440 S. Maryland Parkway, #109, 702-

42 | Desert

Companion | February 2014

476-5544,, the kabobs hail from the culinary traditions of Southern Iran. Here, the turmeric-tinted chicken koobideh kabob — my usual — sits on a bed of saffroninfused Basmati rice. But don’t dig in just yet. Here’s what you do: Sprinkle sumac — a citruslike spice with a tart kick —  on the kabobs, pierce the accompanying charred tomato to unleash its juices, and fork it all up with a dollop of mast-o-khiar, a refreshing and fragrant cucumber and mint yogurt dip. Hints of cumin, cinnamon, rosemary and other mild seasonings run throughout the kabobs, including the tenderloin chicken, lamb, or beef kabobs — cubed pieces of meat marinated for days.

Even kabobs aren’t immune from our mania for convenient cuisine. Kabob rolls are considered quick, filling, and popular takeout in Pakistan. Of all the cuisine the Las Vegas Strip has to offer — wagyu beef, tapas, sushi, steak and lobster combos — there’s also a place to get a Pakistani kabob-roll fix, and that’s at Kabob ’N More (3049 Las Vegas Blvd. S. #5 and #6, 702-432-4611), a hole-in-the-wall with heart. Order the seek chicken kabob wrap ($7.99), minced meat wrapped in thick, soft tandoori bread and speckled with green chilies with notes of garlic, ginger, chili powder, chili flakes and smoky cumin. More adventurous eaters should be ready for spices that bring on some heat, like in Kabob ’N More’s Lahori fried fish, a recipe the chef brought with him from his native Lahore, Pakistan. Marinated with hot sauce, garlic, ginger, lemon, chili powder and other blends (let the chef keep some secrets!), the fish is served with raita, a cilantro-yogurt sauce, to help quell the burn. Kabob ’N More brings together dishes from the Mediterranean, India and Pakistan, so you’ll find hummus, samosas, stews with bone-in chicken and vegetable rice dishes on the menu. But getting back to Indo-Pak cuisine — as Kabob ’N More prides itself on — for dessert, you can’t pass up kheer ($2.99), a thick, milky-white rice pudding sprinkled with green pistachio pieces. Any chance to eat a dosa, a popular street food of the Indian subcontinent, and I’m in. At Mint Indian Bistro (730 E. Flamingo Road #9 and #10, 702-894-9334,, they’re served plain, stuffed with a medley of spiced potatoes and onions (the masala dosa) or smeared with hot chili chutney (the mysore dosa). Whichever you choose (my favorite is the masala dosa), be sure to dip it in the accompanying creamy coconut chutney and

Left: Amena’s falafel sandwich is generously slathered with hummus and tahini. Opposite page, left: Flame Kabob’s chicken kabob sizzles with hints of cumin, cinnamon and rosemary. Right: Mint’s dosa is a sophisticated take on the popular

Table 34 Featuring Chef Wes Kendricks’ contemporary American cuisine including safe harbor certified fresh fish, wild game, duck, lamb, angus beef, and comfort food classics. Conveniently located off the 215 and Warm Springs. Dinner Tuesday - Saturday 5pm until closing (around 10pm)

sambhar, a lentil curry of vegetables, tamarind, fenugreek and mustard seeds. Mint’s menu is a fusion of Indian, Chinese, Pakistani and other Southeast Asian cuisines, which makes eating here a guessing game of where one region ends and another begins. Biryani rice combinations and curries highlighting eggplants, cauliflowers, mangoes and okra may all meld together on your plate — and that’s fine. You’re left with something less like a plate and more like a colorful canvas — ready to be soaked up with buttery garlic naan bread. Expect to leave with your fingertips painted with hues from spices you didn’t know you liked until now. On cold days, a warm, hearty and healthy soup is in order, and Amena Mediterranean Bakery and Café (2101 S. Decatur Blvd. #10, 702-382-1010, is the place to go. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice is the finishing touch atop the goldcolored lentil soup, a recipe the cafe owner brought with him from his native Nazareth. The soup bowl alone ($4.99) seems neverending, but save some room for Middle Eastern favorites such as the lightly fried falafel sandwich slathered with hummus and tahini sauce. You’ll find mostly grilled items here — this is a place friendly to vegetarian, vegan and halal eaters. Shawarma is king in the Middle East and from border to border, the interpretation of the sandwich differs. Here, seasoned and grilled chicken strips are stuffed in a pita pocket with pickles, onions, cabbage, tomatoes and sumac

($8.99). Baklava needs no explanation, but Amena’s version deserves a bit of star treatment. In between layers of phyllo dough lies a mixture of cinnamon-spiced walnuts and almonds, drizzled with a vegan, sweet syrup instead of honey. The baklava isn’t basted in butter, but rather vegetable ghee. Still got a sweet tooth? Try kunaffe ($7.99), a Danish of shredded phyllo dough stuffed with cheese or walnuts, or katayef, a pancake filled with custard and topped with walnuts, sugary syrup and pistachios. I’ve never met a chickpea I didn’t like. At Jerusalem Grille (4825 W. Flamingo Road #6 and #7,, they had me at “falafel.” A generous portion of falafels is served with tahini sauce, pita bread and two sides — such as couscous topped with steamed vegetables, salad or fries. The chickpea is center stage in a variety of hummus dips — with tahini, shawarma chicken, mushrooms, or falafel. An appetizer to consider is the Moroccan potato cigar, a fried pastry sheet rolled up in potato, garlic and mild spices. In one corner of Afandi Restaurant and Market (5181 W. Charleston Blvd. #120, 702870-9191,, a butcher takes orders of meats to chop, while in another, Lebanese-style kabobs are made to order. Put down the feta cheese and olive oil in your cart and pause for shish tawook kabob, a notable Lebanese dish of char-grilled chicken bathing in spices, lemon, garlic and mild herbs and yogurt and folded into fluffy pita

600 E. Warm Springs Road Las Vegas, NV (702) 263-0034

Get VIP access

Subscribe today to Desert Companion. Not only will you get a year’s worth of our award-winning city magazine delivered to your door. But you’ll also be supporting quality journalism, fine writing and great design.

Get a 1-year (12 issues) subscription for just $18

SUBScRIBE Today! | 43

dining bread with fresh parsley, onions, tomatoes, turnip pickles and tahini ($5.99). Get a combo plate to try three different styles of lamb, chicken, or beef kabobs over rice, with sides of raw onion, parsley and pita bread ($10.99). Dumplings are common across most cultures: Fried, steamed, boiled — however they’re made, they’re labor-intensive, so you know you’ve got something special when you break one open. The Lebanese version is called kibbeh, a torpedo-shaped dumpling stuffed with ground beef, onions, mild seasonings (usually allspice), and bulgur wheat, which give kibbeh a cornmeal-like crust. Amandi’s take on kibbeh (three pieces for $3.99) definitely has the love. Chapati rotis are light, airy, unleavened wheat flatbreads and a staple of the South Asian diet. They’re handmade by Phulan Chander, owner of Rani’s World Foods (4505 W. Sahara Ave., 702-522-7744, whose cooking reminds many South Asian transplants of home. But before scooping up dals (lentil curries) with

Chander’s chapati, whet your appetite with snacks. I recommend the samosas, a fried potato dumpling stuffed with potato and peas (and some kick from garam masala and cumin, too), sauced with accompanying chutneys. Still in snack mode? I recommend papri chaat ($3.99), a tangy, salty and sweet snack of small, thin crispy papadums doused with chickpeas, potatoes, mint, cilantro, yogurt and tamarind chutneys. (Hint: Eat each papadum with all the fixings in one bite for full flavor.) For the main course, order the Rani thali ($7.99), a plate highlighting the big three flavors of Indian cooking: ginger, garlic and onion. You’ll get the lentil of the day, two curried vegetables, Basmati rice, veggies, and

Fillin’ good: Amena’s kunaffe, a phyllo dough Danish stuffed with cheese or walnuts

roti to scoop it all up. For dessert, yes, you’re still eating with your hands. Try the glistening, bright-orange jalebi. Shaped like a spiraling pretzel, jalebi is made of wheat flour, it’s fried, sweet and sticky and best served warm. It’s a hit in many South Asian celebrations — and with a new culinary adventure under your belt, you’ll have good reason to celebrate, too.

A totally different


Located at the edge of Lake Las Vegas just 30 minutes from The Strip, this Mediterranean-inspired resort features spacious condominium suites with kitchens, endless water sports and nearby dining options. A perfect retreat for families, weddings and business gatherings.

866.774.2924 44 | Desert

FINAL 871022 Desert Companion 1/2 Pg, H, 7.625" x 4.875" 4C, Non-Bleed (Feb’14)

Companion | February 2014


Confused about hearings aids? Overwhelmed by all the hearing aid ads?

T h e L at e s t B u z z

A sip of smoke

has been making Mezcal for generations. “The maguey plants are harvested and smoked outside in a firepit,” Rosman says. “There’s different layers of the firepit, and the fiBy Lissa Townsend Rodgers nal layer has the mesquite Photograph Brent Holmes wood — mesquite has a specific flavor. It’s smoked outside for two to three days.” After that, the plant is ground in a mill and its liquid distilled, then aged in barrels — the blanco gets a quick rest, while the reposado and añejo age longer. Mezcal can add an earthy twist to traditional cocktails — combined with ginger beer, it’s makes the Oaxaca Mule, and carries a little more bite than the Moscow version; it also creates a slightly more robust take on the Bloody Mary. Comme Ça (in the Cosmopolitan, serves a mezWord up: Vanguard cal-fueled spin on the Old Lounge’s Final Say Fashioned – it’s got a slightly smokier undertone than the original, with a hint of brown sugar also The blossoming of cocktail culcountering the citrus of lemon and orange. ture has given rise to many liquor trends. But mezcal also lends itself to original But sometimes the new sensation is an old concoctions, such Comme Ça’s Smoking tradition, like mezcal. Once considered tePistol, where it blends with the caramel quila’s small-town, high-proof granddaddy, flavor of Averno and a mist of Islay Scotch. it’s become increasingly popular for its Mezcal’s smokiness gives a solid yet exotic rich history and complex taste. Mezcal is base to fruitier cocktails. At the Vanguard primarily made in small towns in Mexico, Lounge (516 Fremont St., 702-868-7800), using a process that has been largely unthe Final Say mixes mezcal with the sweet changed for generations, if not centuries. Luxardo and fragrant Chartreuse, which “Mezcal is a combination of cultures,” add a cosmopolitan finish to the more says Jessica Rosman, co-owner of Meselemental taste of mezcal. The liquor’s tizo Mezcal. “The Zapotec Indians had a woodiness pairs with the herbal flavor of fermented drink made from agave. When rye to give a kick to the Spaceship at Velthe Spanish came to the new world, they veteen Rabbit (1218 S. Main St., 702-685brought the distillation process. The com9645) — with a topping of hops foam to bination created what is today’s mezcal.” finish. But, like any other fine liquor, mezThat process gives mezcal its distinccal can be sipped solo – a good añejo has a tive, smoky flavor. Rosman has seen the rich flavor, with a hint of the sweetness of process up-close — her company is based a bourbon and the woodiness of a Scotch. in Las Vegas, but their distillery is in the Mezcal is one twist in liquor trends that Mexican town of Santiago Mazatlan, needs no garnish. where they collaborate with a family that

Help is here! Learn what you need to know before you fall for a marketing scheme that doesn't fit your hearing care needs. Desert Valley Audiology and Dr. Tim Hunsaker have created consumer education videos and useful information to help you understand the first step to better hearing. Visit today to get started.

Tim Hunsaker, Au.D. Doctor of Audiology

Las Vegas 501 S. Rancho Drive, Suite A6 Las Vegas, Nevada 89106

Henderson 1701 N. Green Valley Parkway Building 8, Suite B Henderson, Nevada 89074

702-605-9133 phone 702-678-6159 fax | 45


Green machine: fried spinach salad

Bloody good: Spencer steak

at f i r s t b i t e

Echo & Rig By Debbie lee | Photography Christopher smith At Echo & Rig, the stylish new steakhouse and butcher shop at Tivoli Village, steel-cut oatmeal is available near the host stand for $17 a tin. It’s hard to believe that anyone who would come here with a taste for prime rib would leave with an offensively priced breakfast staple. Maybe the owners think a hungry patron will bide time with an impulse buy (and you may be waiting: Reservations are not accepted). But is there any rhyme or reason to the merchandise on display? A quick scan of the sparsely stocked shelves reveals small jars of mustard, a couple of sacks of wood chips, and a few pieces of cast iron cookware. I can’t help but wonder if this is what Thoreau’s pantry in Walden looked like … when he was starving. It’s a shame that the retail portion of this ambitious new eatery feels like an afterthought. Like it or not, first impressions count, and the museum-like atmosphere suggests an all-flair, no-flavor meal to come. (These experiences often end with a hungry consort and a disheartening trip to Taco Bell.) But after three visits during its first month, I confess that chef/owner Sam Marvin successfully upended my expectations. I’d go so far as to anoint Echo & Rig my favorite new restaurant off the Strip. Start with the fact that few steakhouses put this much care and creativity into their treatment of vegetables. The fried spinach salad — a mishmash of sweet/salty, fresh/fried, and tender/crunchy — is simply the best composition of plants I’ve ever tasted. Spinach leaves, plunged in hot oil until they take on a sheer, stained-glass quality, are tossed with sharp red onion and a flavorful chile-lime vinaigrette. Sure, a deep-fried salad is everything that’s wrong with America, but it’s not all bad for you — bits of raw cauliflower and broccoli help maintain the illusion of being virtuous. Of the 30 options in the “Vegetables & Small Plates” section, gooey macaroni and cheese, tender grilled octopus and luscious, I-don’t-care-if-it-jumped-the-shark pork belly are beyond proper. But there are also a few misses. Yucca fritters have an off-putting sour flavor, and an order of bone marrow topped with carne asada may prompt the cliché, “Where’s the beef?” (At least it didn’t send us on a post-meal mission for Crunch Wrap Supremes.)

46 | Desert

Companion | February 2014

But now is really not the time to do the small plates thing, is it? A steakhouse dinner is not complete without primal chunks of flesh and glasses of gutsy red wine. Gorge on the restaurant’s 48-ounce tomahawk chop or experiment with a more moderately priced option from the unorthodox “Butcher’s Cuts” section. Depending on the type of steak you choose, the beef is labeled USDA prime, grassfed or Wagyu. That’s as much detail as the restaurant provides — and perhaps that’s why I enjoy eating here. Despite being indoctrinated to inquire about Bessie’s origins, there are days when I want a solid meal without a side of politics. Echo & Rig meets that need. The restaurant’s signature Spencer steak, requested medium, arrived in perfect form. On a separate visit, the flavorful bavette (known less flatteringly as flap meat) demonstrated none of the chewy resistance that comes with its kissing cousin, flank. My only complaint is that the steaks are served with potato chips as opposed to frites. From the pasta options, an innovative plate of trenné is unlike anything found in a typical red-sauce restaurant. Three-sided penne is sautéed in oil until toasted, and then bathed in a sauce of braised short-rib meat. Salty shards of toasted kale add a boost of flavor and crunch. Saving room for dessert is optional. On one visit, our turtle sundae was dressed with an aggressively salty caramel sauce. A safer bet is the simple berry shortcake. Echo & Rig offers wine by the glass and half glass — the latter a budget-friendly option if you want to pair small plates with beverages. The beer list is less impressive: Only someone desperate for hipster cred would pay $5.90 for that can of swill otherwise known as Pabst Blue Ribbon. Apologies for the alarmist tone, but I urge you to visit Echo & Rig while it’s still around. Summerlin has an embarrassing track record of supporting good restaurants, and Tivoli Village has not been immune to unceremonious closings (RIP Hops & Harvest). If Echo & Rig keeps turning out superb dishes and rethinks its illconceived butcher-shop, this solid newcomer may survive the Tivoli Curse for a long-term engagement.

Echo & Rig Inside Tivoli Village, 11a-11p daily, 440 S. Rampart Blvd., 702-485-3525,

Small-batch bourbon, wine and food. Three more reasons to skip the Strip.

ValenTine’S Day Four Course Menu 60


Reservations Recommended | 5pm–10pm

I-15 & Blue dIamond • 702.263.7777 •

2014 of the

Trophy supplied by vegas Trophies

These are the champions — of valley food, culture, arts, shopping and more! | 49

Best neighbor hood brunch Best coffee Grouchy John ’s Maybe you get a little extra buzz knowing you’re supporting a homegrown biz instead of appeasing the all-powerful Starbucks fix. Fine. Good. While the crew at Grouchy John’s appreciates it, their espressofueled focus is on serving you damn good coffee brewed from Colorado River Coffee Roasters beans, sometimes in playful forms like the Almond Roca mocha latte or the chai-espresso-banana Evil Monkey. The drinks are always perfect, and the Grouchy guys are always happy, and what more could you ask for on your way to the office? Brock Radke (8520 S. Maryland Parkway, 702-778-7553,

Best donuts Pink Box You can never have enough donuts. It’s the only explanation. How else can a small, upstart shop in a sleepy Summerlin-area neighborhood stay busy enough to operate around the clock on weekends? It helps that Pink Box’s offerings range from classics like dense old-fashioned cake doughnuts to crazy-fresh flavor combos like bacon-date-blue

Honey Salt Brunch can be the most important meal of the week, and most locals are less than enthused to spend Sunday shuffling to the Strip. More of our great neighborhood restaurants offer solid weekend grub, but none with more warmth and precision than Honey Salt. The breakfast slider is a skyscraper of brioche, fluffy egg, creamed spinach and short rib. The frittata is a goat cheese-filled work of art. Whether you’re recuperating with fresh, sweet vegetable juice or medicating with bottle mimosas, this is your place. BR (1031 S. Rampart Blvd., 702-445-6100,

best downtown steak house flame steakhouse Classic Vegas meets refined cuisine and drinks in a swank space that’s not overpriced. Even if you’re just pullin’ in for appetizers and drinks before a show, the El Cortez's Flame dazzles with its succulent selections. My favorite, the 20-ounce porterhouse, is simply seasoned, but simply delicious. Jennifer Prosser (600 E. Fremont St., 702-3855200,

Frosting reception: Pink Box donuts

Go fish: Culinary Dropout's fish and chips

Best fish and chips

Best place to eat something you never thought you’d eat Binion’s Ranch Steakhouse. Their chickenfried lobster is like a Gorton’s fish stick on steroids. — Debbie Lee Comme Ça at Cosmopolitan, because the nonweirdos at my table can feast on French cheeses and roasted chicken while I devour wacky terrines and rillettes and scary offal specials. — Brock Radke Raku, where you can eat guts. — Al Mancini

Beer-battered fish & chips at Culinary Dropout Ignore the trying-way-too-hard, faux-hipster vibe and the hefty price tag at this Scottsdale, Ariz.-spawned gastropub — it’s all worth it when the basket full of deep-fried goodness lands at your table. Crunchy on the outside, flaky on the inside and paired with generous portions of natural-cut French fries and damn tasty coleslaw, this American spin on the British classic tastes good enough to justify the $19 charge, which goes down a bit easier when paired with a $2.95 Paperbag Special. Pj Perez (Inside the Hard Rock Hotel, 4455 Paradise Road, 702-522-8100,

Best strip steak on the Str ip Jean Georges Steakhouse The fatty, flavorful ribeye and the velvety filet are still the cuts of choice in our big, crazy casino steakhouses. Time for something different. The best place to dig into the overlooked, under-appreciated New York strip is the overlooked, under-appreciated Jean Georges Steakhouse, easily one of the best chophouses in the city. These 10 ounces of dry-aged Rangers Valley Australian beef bring all the earthy, real-deal flavor you could possibly want. It’s a man’s steak, especially with some of the scorching, buttery habanero house hot sauce splashed around your plate. BR (Aria, 877-230-2742,

Best fish sticks 9 on the Plate This fusiony, modern new Korean restaurant calls the dish “crackered fish” as not to alarm food snobs, but anyone who

50 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

f i s h & c h i p s a n d m e at b a l l s : S a b i n O r r ; D o n u t s : B r e nt H o l m e s ; D i m s u m : C h r i s to p h e r Sm i t h


cheese and wacky, sugary toppings like Fruity Pebbles cereal. Donuts are inherently fun, but grabbing a dozen in the wee hours of the weekend can be an enlightening experience. More, please. BR (7531 W. Lake Mead Blvd., 702-478Leisure, family & Fun 7465,

has a nostalgic soft spot for the bearded, yellow-clad sea captain and his crunchy, greasy seafood specialty will be excited to munch these morsels. Moist, tender, flaky cod fingers are coated in crispy, savory, greaseless crumbs and served with a zingy ginger tartar sauce for smile-inducing dippage. Sorry, Cap’n Gorton, 9 on the Plate wins big. BR (8560 W. Desert Inn Road #D3, 702817-3417, Maximum meat: Andiamo's meatball

Best gyro The Great Greek The Great Greek is a hidden gem, one of the valley’s best hole-inthe-wall Mediterranean restaurants with a menu full of hits. But it’s that classic Greek dish, the gyro, that is most irresistible here, a robustly spiced blend of beef and lamb stuffed with lettuce, tomato, red onion and funky feta into soft pita and drowned in tangy tzatziki sauce. The simplicity and balance of flavors and textures in every bite is proof that you can fall in love with a sandwich. BR (1275 W. Warm Springs Road #160, 702-5472377,

Best dim sum Hakk asan To eat at Hakkasan is to have dim sum completely redefined. Forget about greasy, mushy dumplings served from steam carts pushed angrily throughout crowded dining rooms. Here, dim sum is art. The shumai is made with scallops. The black pepper duck dumpling is worth fighting over. Vegetarian options include morel mushroom dumplings and a truffled bean curd roll, or go the crispy route with the lightly fried roasted duck pumpkin puff. You don’t even know. BR (MGM Grand, 702-891-7888,

Best Filipino cuisine Ma x’s Restaur ant Curiosity about Asian cuisine has you loving Thai curry, Korean barbecue and Vietnamese beef noodle soup, yet you show no interest in Filipino grub. What’s wrong, you don’t like crazy-crunchy unbreaded fried chicken? Crispy pork and veggie-filled lumpia egg rolls? Huge bowls of garlic fried rice and chunks of vinegary, rich chicken adobo? Creamy, colorful halo halo ice cream with custard and coconut? If any of these hearty, satisfying dishes are unfamiliar, it’s all the more reason to get to the new and popular Max’s for a delicious lesson. BR (1290 E. Flamingo Road, 702-433-4554,

B e s t n e w ta pa s Toros Spanish Kitchen & Bar We all love to eat tasty little Spanish snacks and yet there are few local restaurants that specialize in exactly that kind of meal. Weird, huh? Summerlin’s new Toros is the answer to that enigma, dropping all kinds of luscious bites in your face in a charmingly laidback bar setting. Don’t miss the maximum béchamel richness in crispy ham croquettes, or the roasted piquillo peppers stuffed with sweet, delicate crab meat. BR (11760 W. Charleston Blvd., 702-901-4100,

B e s t n e w t o r ta s Las Cazuelas This new Poblano eatery offers quite the dilemma: Should you devour the chanclas, mini-sand-

Get sum: Hakkasan's dim sum

Meatballs! B e s t m e at b a l l , m i n i d i v i s i o n Sinatra at Wynn Las Vegas

As a restaurant, Sinatra takes the traditional Italian dishes that Frank had loved since he was a kid in Hoboken and updates the style and service with Palm Springs class and Vegas panache worthy of the Chairman’s legendarily top-shelf standards. As such, Theo Schoenegger’s kitchen creates polished renditions of angnolotti, osso buco, saltimbocca and polpettine. The polpettine is a quartet of perfectly round little meatballs, with a light texture that belies their rich flavor, dripped with a marinara sauce that is similarly robust yet has unexpected tinges of sweetness and richness. The dish is completed by several tidy little stacks of polenta fries — outside they’re a crispy golden and perfect 90-degree angles, inside creamy and soft as clouds. Eat them slowly, savoring every bite. The lights are dim, the banquette is velvetcushioned, the martini is dry and, in the background, that Voice is crooning about this world he’s got on a string. Life is good. Lissa Townsend Rodgers (3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-770-3900,

B e s t m e at b a l l , m a x i d i v i s i o n Andiamo at the d

Andiamo is a bit of old-school elegance tucked amid the video games and go-cups of downtown. The menu runs the gamut of Italian and steakhouse dining classics from the tableside Caesar salad to the Queen Mary-sized dessert cart. And it’s not like they mislead you about the meatball. No, there it is: “Andiamo Grande Meatball,” made of veal, pork and beef, blended together and formed into a sphere the dimensions of a bocce ball. A giant hunk of mouthwatering goodness, awash in a lagoon of red sauce and topped with a scattering of ricotta cheese, like snow atop the Alps. It seems like a lot to open a meal, but pace yourself. Or, if you don’t, just have someone roll you out the balcony of the Vue Bar at the end of your meal — being blasted with the psychedelic sights and deafening roar of the Fremont Street Experience should jump-start your digestion. LTR (301 N. Fremont St., 702-388-2220, | 51

Salad day: Settebello's involtini di prosciutto

wiches of juicy shredded chicken and avocado sublimely drenched in a chile sauce made with chorizo? Or is the torta de pierna the right move, adobo-style roasted pork and smooth refried beans with more avocado? There’s also shredded beef and spicy sauce on fried bread, aka pelonas, or the grilled cheese with pico de gallo known as molletes. Tough choices. Maybe bring three friends. BR (9711 S. Eastern Ave., 702-837-0204)

B e s t s a l a d at a pizza joint

A n Ode to

Involtini di Prosciutto at Settebello’s Not the salad sort? The involtini di prosciutto (see, it doesn’t even sound like salad!) at Settebello’s is satisfying in a completely unsalad-like way. Crisp leaves of baby arugula and goat cheese are wrapped tightly in raw prosciutto, topped with shaved Parmesan, then drizzled with a balsamic reduction, so that each forkful is a combination of salty, sweet, tangy and peppery flavors. But the real un-salad-like magic comes in the satiating density of the arugula leaves, their peppery crunch juxtaposes the salty flavors and creamy textures of the remaining ingredients. And if the involtini doesn’t fill you up, there’s still pizza! Chantal Corcoran (9350

W. Sahara Ave. #170, 702-9014870; 140 Green Valley Parkway, 702-222-3556,

Best foodie o n e-t w o p u n c h Viva Las Arepas and Art of Flavors It’s not even fair. Some of our best cheap eats, dollar-for-dollar the tastiest and most satisfying grub you can get in Las Vegas, comes from a Venezuelan shop right next door to some of the most creative, addictive gelato ever eaten from a tiny spoon. Do yourself a favor and take your favorite foodie on a date to Viva Las Arepas for corn masa sandwiches, roasted chicken and fried yucca, followed immediately by dessert at Art of Flavors, starring sweet corn, hazelnut or crème brûlée-flavored frozen goodness. BR (Viva Las Arepas, 1616 Las Vegas Blvd. S. #120, 702366-9696,; Art of Flavors, 1616 Las Vegas Blvd. S. #130, 702-676-1027)

Best w ings T- Bird Lounge Wings are wings. Spin ’em in sauce (no breading!), fry and serve. For truly special wings, go to T-Bird and add one more word to your order: charred. The cook will flame-grill your hot wings,

Oh, Sweets Raku, you had me at your edible menu, printed on rice paper and served with raspberry sauce the color of love. Or maybe you had me the moment I stepped through the unmarked door to your cozy dining room, nestled among my favorite Japanese restaurants in a Chinatown strip mall. Inside, you were all heavenly white, from your open kitchen to your raised counters and stools. Even your servers were clad in head-to-toe white, like old-timey nurses come to inject me with a soothing shot of banana cream. You definitely had me by the time your charming chef, Mio Ogasawara — recently named pastry chef of the year by this magazine — began constructing my elaborate dessert before my hungry eyes. That first night I sampled the Apollo, its circular layers of chocolate and raspberry mousse floating atop a fluffy sponge cake, garnished with a sculpted chocolate spiral. I have a confession. You’re not even my type. I am not, by nature, a dessert girl. I have turned up my nose at sweet courses in some of the best restaurants in town. But you intrigued me with your innovative sweets-only concept and your three-course dessert tasting for $19 — $7 more for a wine pairing. Since that luscious first night, I often suggest skipping dinner altogether, preferring to fill up on whatever fresh offering appears on your ever-evolving menu. My latest obsession is your Baton, a hollow chocolate-cookie tube stuffed with chocolate and pistachio mousse, passion fruit and sponge cake, and topped with a handmade candy bow. But I will always return faithfully to your Mount Fuji chestnut cream cake and your Ringo apple pie, served with a cream-filled candy apple so beautiful I could cry. There are days I can’t wait until dinnertime. Those days you will find me standing outside at your 3 p.m. opening, staring at the giant silver spoon that hangs beside your door, wishing I had a mouth big enough to eat from it. — Lynnette Curtis

52 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

In v o lt i n i d i p r o s c i u tto , m a c s h a ck a n d z e p p o l e : C h r i s to p h e r s m i t h

Sweets Raku

turning otherwise great wings into the kind of wings your outof-town guests will put on their must-eat list. Alan Gegax (Three locations,

Best Asian r e s tau r a n t n o o k Lemongr ass and Blossom at Aria Relative to the rest of the Strip, all the restaurants at Aria are overlooked. But two of this sleek casino’s finest dining offerings are hidden away in the ultra-lux corner near the Sky Suites. Lemongrass is the only true Thai restaurant on the Strip and one of the best in the city, seamlessly blending authentic dishes with contemporary twists. And just on the side of that cool gaming salon is Blossom, quietly and regally serving a menu of more than 100 exotic Beijing and Hong Kong-style dishes. These casinos are big; exploration is necessary. BR (Aria, 877-230-2742,

Best hard-shell ta c o s Faustos Just finding a hard-shell is a bit of an odyssey in Las Vegas. Locating good ones is tougher still. But there’s some secret in the batter over at Fausto’s, whose tacos can withstand a firm grip and yield a satisfying crunch. You’ll never be happy with those limp, wimpy things known as soft-shell tortillas again. David McKee (Multiple locations)

B e s t r e s tau r a n t n ev er na m ed best r e s tau r a n t Aburiya R aku How does a locally owned, multiple-time James Beard Foundation nominee get consistently overlooked on the annual “Best of” rounds? Maybe because Raku is so consistently superb, we just look past it — it blinds with its excellence. That, and you need some pull to land a reservation for one of its coveted 45 seats most of the time. Chef Maysuo Endo’s ingredients are exotic, his preparation is meticulous and the eye for detail unworldly; housemade tofu, specially sourced shoyu and exotic fish — ever had flying fish before? — directly from Tokyo are some of the reasons Raku is so unique. Let us not forget it. Jim Begley (5030 W. Spring Mountain Road #2, 702-367-3511,

B e s t k i d - f r i e n d ly r e s tau r a n t Mac Shack When your kid is craving macaroni and cheese, don’t settle for that stuff in the blue box. This eatery serves the ultimate comfort food in myriad forms. A traditional cheddar mac will quell the pickiest eaters, while creative alternatives made with smoked gouda or Asiago might appeal to your little one’s budding inner fromage snob. A mix-and-match menu of pastas and sauces lets you craft

Nobody does it batter: Lavo's fried Oreos

Best deep-fr ied Or eos Oreo Zeppole at Lavo Nothing is more American than the Oreo, right? Wrong. To take this sandwich cookie to its most patriotic place, one must dip it in a donuty batter, deep-fry it state-fair style, then serve it alongside a vanilla malted milkshake for dunking. Several Las Vegas restaurants boast this ultraAmerican dessert on their menus, but Lavo, the Venetian’s Italian restaurant/nightclub, soft-serves it up best with their Italian take on the classic cookie — or their American take on the zeppola (an Italian pastry). It doesn’t matter how many giant meatballs you’ve devoured, it’s simply un-American not to leave room for Lavo’s Oreo zeppole. CC (3255 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-791-1800,

dishes that appeal to grown-up tastes; but why not feed your inner child with something from the grilled cheese menu instead? Dine in on Sundays and the brood pecks for free. Debbie Lee (8680 W. Warm Springs Road, 702463-2433,

Best dining ba rga in

Tyke tastes: Kid-friendly eats at Mac Shack

Peppermill Fireside Lounge Be sure to check out the Peppermill’s Fireside Lounge, a groovy spot to drink, talk and watch flickering embers. But the main event is the coffee shop. Solicitous Peppermill waitresses serve plates groaning with food, tantamount to getting two meals for the price of one. There’s no such thing as a small salad here, and you could feed an entire family on the mammoth banana split. Breakfast is available around the clock, a fact you’ll be glad of when you see the remarkable and hearty variety of omelets on deck, all of which come with both toast and a muffin bigger than your fist. DM (2985 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702735-4177, | 53

There's the beef: Honey Salt's Backyard Favorite

tasty gut bomb — and (b) given its size, this monstrosity takes some time to cook up. Carve 45 minutes out of your busy schedule and go enjoy the Taste of Chicago. JB (3945 S. Durango Drive, 702-5629000,

Best Chicago t h i n- c r u s t P i z z a

Back yard Favorite at Honey SalT

Honey Salt’s Backyard Favorite burger is a sort of platonic ideal. Not fancy, not tricky, just the best. The patty is a blend of chuck, brisket and short rib — juicy on the inside, lightly charred on the outside, cooked the way you like it. The bun is a thing of pillowy beauty, a golden dome with a just-crispy crust. The cheese is beehive cheddar, orange like the edge of a sunset and glossy at that point where solid just starts to become liquid around the edges. The ketchup … nay, that is no mere ketchup, but a fine tomato jam. Served in your own personal squeeze bottle, the better to add the fancy sauce flourish or hearts and initials. And consider the pickles — carefully fluted in the manner of your tepid from-the-jar diner topper, but with a freshness and color unknown to that soggy desecration of a cucumber. And, oh, the glory of those skinny, salty, snappy, scrumptious fries. Homer Simpson would go limp and begin moaning and drooling over this burger, but I’m pretty sure James Beard would have the same reaction. LTR (1031 S. Rampart St., 702-445-6100

54 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

B e s t o v e r -t h e-t o p meal ex perience Teppan at Nobu The word “Benihana” will be forever erased from your food memory banks after an exclusive, expensive, and expansive teppanyaki meal at the newest, biggest Nobu. Four different menus offer artistic fare from foie gras with crunchy garlic to sweet lobster with red onion shiso salsa, all thrillingly grilled right before your eyes. Choose your own adventure by taking the à la carte path and sneak in some signature sushi, but don’t skip the spicy XO fried rice laced with Jamon Iberico. Japanese cuisine doesn’t have to be minimalist; this is your spot to splurge. BR (Caesars Palace, 702785-6628,

Best Chicago deep-dish pizz a Deep - Dish Pizza at Amore Taste of Chicago With the tagline Taste of Chicago, Amore certainly lives up to its name. As a native Chicagoan, I’ve had the restaurant in my regular rotation since moving here more than a decade ago. There’s nothing outrageous about it — just well-done Chicago fare such as the legendary deep-dish pizza. When ordering one, you must remember (a) with layers of gooey cheese and tomato sauce, it’s a gut bomb — albeit a supremely

Best r egiona l cu isin e Lola's If you have an affinity for spicy Southern food, make tracks to Lola’s, a convivial, fleur-de-lis–studded bistro on the northern fringe of the Arts District. But book a reservation first. Already popular with the pre-show crowd headed to The Smith Center, Lola’s popularity skyrocketed once the restaurant was showcased on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” During crawfish season, Lola’s airlifts “mudbugs” in every Friday morning — and these crawdads go fast. Start with the crab cakes and finish with either the sweet potato pecan pie or the Bananas Foster bread pudding. Better still, leave room for both. DM (241 W. Charleston Ave., 702-227-5652,

Best curry Curry Zen Welcome to Japanese soul food. So simple, so inexpensive, and so under-appreciated because of its proximity to Chinatown foodie havens Raku, Monta and Kabuto, Zen offers the ideal meal to escape these winter months: white or brown rice, a heavenly brown pool

B a ck ya r d fav o r i t e , b lt a n d H a l i b u t s t e a k : S a b i n o r r ; C u r r y z e n : B r e nt H o l m e s

Best burger

Sam Giancana at Pizza Rock Recently opened across from the Downtown Grand, as the new kid on the block Pizza Rock has already made quite an impression on the local pizza scene. While their pies run the gamut from sea to shining sea, my favorite is another reminder of home — the Chicago cracker-thin San Giancana. While a little-known fact outside the Midwest, thin crust cut into squares is the pizza Chicagoans actually order. This rendition provides a charred, crispy base for the hearty combination of fennel and Calabrese sausages. Dig in and you’ll swear you just heard the El rattling by. JB (201 N. 3rd St., 702385-0838,

of vegetable and 10-spice based curry sauce, and whatever else you want. Fried shrimp or tofu? Chunks of tender beef or kurobuta sausage? Spinach, Spam, cheese or corn? Customize today, crave tomorrow. BR (5020 Spring Mountain Road, 702-985-1192,

M o st p owe rfu l p owe r lu nc h

Best cur e for missing Mom Mac + Cheese x Five at RX Boiler Room I happen to be a transplant from Georgia who grew up on hot buttered biscuits, golden fried okra and fresh peach cobbler from my Mom’s kitchen. I miss her (and the food) often. When I do, there is one certain remedy — Rick Moonen’s “Mac + Cheese x Five” at RX Boiler Room. It begins with a simple pinwheel pasta. (The first time I saw it, I could hear my inner child squeal, “Pinwheels!”) Then there are the cheeses: The blue, Parmesan, brie, cheddar and blanc balance tart sophistication with creamy simplicity. The sum of pinwheels plus five delectable cheeses is a fitting, melty homage to the greatest cook most of us have ever known — Mom. Misti Yang (3930 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-632-9900,

Best goblet of tiramisu Buddy V’s The Cake Boss’s Italian food at his giant new Vegas restaurant is better than you might expect from the star of a reality show about a Jersey bakery, but there’s no surprises with the sweet stuff: Of course dessert is delicious at Buddy V’s. The signature cream-filled, lobster tail-shaped pastry is the big seller, but consider splitting this royally huge glass of custardy, cakey,

Hot hot heat: Curry Zen


Eat It’s no surprise that chef Natalie Young’s soulful breakfast-andlunchery has become the de facto eatand-meet for Downtown’s developers; Eat is, after all, a Downtown Project project. But the rest of the shrimpand-grits loving world has discovered this comfy place. We believe one of the reasons Downtown’s momentum stays surging is because industry titans are just making excuses to munch on the world’s greatest BLT. It’s so good, you’ll want to move your company Downtown, too. BR (707 Carson Ave., 702-534-1515,

Vintner Grill Las Vegas might be morphing into the kind of place where the big biz is done in the center of the city, but many of our major players still hover over the valley’s perimeter and Summerlin’s stylish, regal Vintner Grill is still the spot where they meet and eat. Wine and housemade cheese give way to martinis and mesquite-grilled steak sandwiches if the wheeling and dealing gets super serious. For the housewives and socialites sipping and snacking, there are curried chicken salads and seared halibut steaks with couscous and lemon gremolata. BR (10100 W. Charleston Blvd. #150, 702-214-5590,

caffeinated and cocoa-topped tiramisu with your big loud family, Italian or otherwise. BR (Venetian, 702-607-2355,

I stake my name on it. JB (4155 S. Buffalo Drive #103/104, 702778-5566,

Best fried rice

Downtown 3rd Want to cook like a top chef? Step one is to start with good ingredients. Every Friday at the former bus terminal on Stewart and Ogden, the public is bestowed access to the same pristine produce prepared in some of the city’s best fine-dining restaurants. Perhaps you have no idea what to do with Buddha’s hands or baby artichokes? That’s okay — chances are you’ll rub elbows with a local chef who can offer advice. Just be sure to visit early for the best selection. DL (300 E. Stewart Ave., 702-541-941-0386,

B e s t fa r m e r s   m a r k e t Jim ’s Fried Rice at KoMex Fusion Express Full disclosure: I’m the Jim of Jim’s Fried Rice fame and I’m addicted to the stuff. Lest you think it’s because it’s my eponymous dish, I can assure you I was a junkie when I took my first hit when it was just bulgogi fried rice. Rich with bulgogi — Korean marinated beef — and topped with umami-infused nori strips, the dish belts out a myriad of flavors and textures. Smokiness melds with sweetness as crisp meat gives way to tender rice. If you try it just once, you’ll be hooked, too. | 55

Best foodie h appy hour Yonak a Yonaka, one of our best and most fun new Japanese restaurants, offers a brilliant array of sushi, sashimi and small plates every day from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and again from 11 p.m. until 2 a.m. for under 10 bucks: memorable stuff like beef tongue sliders, beet fries, kushiyaki-style wings and bluefin tuna with scallions. Just take it easy on the $3 sake or you’ll be tempted to eat everything on the menu. BR (4983 W. Flamingo Road, 702-685-8358,

Best onion r ings

O h , my ac h i ng h ead

B e s t h a n g ov e r c u r e The Hangover Burger at MTO Café

As I get older, I often find myself thinking after a long night of drinking, “I have nights like these to remind myself why I no longer have nights like these.” Unfortunately, I have a rather short memory. Fortunately, MTO Café has a cure for what ails me: their Hangover Burger. Downtown’s best burger doubles as an effective alcohol antidote. The protein-packed combination of an over-medium egg atop bacon and cheese, a nicely charred patty and a healthy helping of better-than-McDonald’s special sauce results in a wonderfully greasy foil to last night’s libations. One of these and you’ll be ready to do it again. JB (500 S. Main St., 702-380-8229,

B e s t B l o o dy M a ry honey salt

When Kim Canteenwalla left Society at Wynncore, he took the best Bloody Mary menu around with him. Not to worry: Canteenwalla’s bartenders are mixing up a doozy of a house recipe at Honey Salt. The not-so-secret ingredients are lime, lemon and olive juices, plus Sriracha. The ensuing peppery concoction packs the kick of a Missouri mule. Canteenwalla’s cocktails alone make the trip to Honey Salt worthwhile. DM (1031 S. Rampart Blvd., 702-445-6100)

56 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

Aces & Ales No matter which craft brew you choose from Aces’ seemingly infinite list of taps or bottles, you’re gonna need at least one order of these crunchy-fried rings, imperfectly hand-battered for rustic enjoyment in a house-made Arrogant Bastard Ale mixture. Don’t be embarrassed to make a meal out of them. BR (3740 S. Nellis Blvd., 702-436-7600; 2801 N. Tenaya Way, 702-638-2337;

Best bar on a budget Rum Runner Rum Runner can stretch your dollars like Don Hutson stretching the ball over the goal line. Every day, Rum Runner offers a 25-ounce Pabst Blue Ribbon draft for $3.25, or a pint for $2.25. It has a menu to match, with a cheaper-than-fast-food halfpound burger and a custom wing menu. For cheap entertainment, the Tropicana location features seven tournament pool tables, Golden Tee, foosball and shuffleboard. AG (1801 E. Tropicana Ave., 702-7366366,

a film noir atmosphere enhance the experience of your clandestine rendezvous — or add to the crushing guilt that comes with betraying your poor spouse. But hey, like I said, I’m not judging … DL (600 E. Fremont St., 702-3855200,

Best dirt y martini little macau Nobody mixes them quite like Little Macau: strong and sturdy. Have a couple of these and you’ll know you’ve done some serious drinking. The secret is a generous portion of olive juice to go with the vodka, plus three, big, meaty olives. Other bars try, but none has equaled the bite of Little Macau’s marvelous concoction. DM (3939 Spring Mountain Rd., 702-222-3196)

B e s t b a r t o c at c h a fa s t b u z z The Griffin I’m pretty sure The Griffin’s bartenders are painfully aware that it can take 10 or 15 minutes to get a drink after fighting through the throng of twenty-somethings crowding the ever-popular bar on any given weekend, so they pour drinks stiff enough to reward you for your patience and get you buzzing until you’re ready to brave the tumultuous sea of tattoos and cigarette smoke again. Sure, it’s not like you’re getting fancy-schmancy, expertly made cocktails, but at about $6 for a well drink, this is one time where quantity trumps quality. And good judgment. PJP (511 Fremont St., 702-382-0577)

Best bar for a n a f fa i r The Parlour Bar I’m not here to pass judgment on your indiscretions, but the finesse with which you carry them out. So, should you ever find yourself in the position of arranging an illicit tryst, don’t be an amateur. Skip the Strip and head downtown. This dim and cozy lounge is a surprising slice of old-school glamour wedged within the grungy environs of the El Cortez. Classic cocktails and

Monster drinks: The Griffin

B l o o dy m a r y : S a b i n O r r ; t h e g r i ff i n , A s s i s ta nc e l e a g u e a n d L i tt l e s h o p o f m a g i c : B r e nt H o l m e s

Give me the cure: Honey Salt's Bloody Mary


to a back room to survey weapons and ammo. If the commingling of machetes and cutesy (and bloody) Hello Kitty tees sounds peculiar, you’re right. But you never know when the survival bug will bite. Come with your curiosity and you might just leave with a fully loaded bug-out bag. DL (3420 Spring Mountain Road, 702-784-7882,

Best home stor e Best place to get away f r o m i t a l l 23rd Floor Lobby at Mandarin Oriental Hotel A feeling of serenity settles over you once you’ve ensconced yourself in the 23rd floor lobby (that’s right) of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. From far above the Strip, you can enjoy its vistas yet feel comfortably removed from its hurly-burly, and the staff is the essence of solicitude. The afternoon tea service (starting at $36) will hit the spot. Chase a couple of finger sandwiches, some truffles and a few sweets with a voluminous pot of tea. We guarantee it will take you to your happy place. DM (3752 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-590-8888)


The Container Store Sometimes we stop at Container Store just to look — although that idea never lasts long once we come across bins of must-have items such as magnetic organizers, pen lights and bag clips. What’s best, though, is that we can organize our kitchen without breaking the budget, find hangers we can’t break and keep the clutter at bay with attractive organizers that really do work. Pack rats, take heart. JP (Town Square, 6521 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-712-4801,


B e s t n o v e lt y s h o p Zombie Apocalypse This niche retail store is where paranoid preppers and "Walking Dead" fans collide. Casual enthusiasts can peruse a selection of T-shirts, books and posters, while those who mean business can head

Clothes-minded: The Assistance League

you’ll drool over. Best yet, when you check out you’re automatically entered in a drawing for a monthly gift certificate — but you’ll be back whether or not you win it. JP (6446 W. Charleston Blvd., 702-870-1991,

G e e k out

Leisure, family & Fun

B e s t co m i c b o o k s to r e Best Qua l i t y thr ift stor e Assistance League The finds uncovered here literally look like they’ve come off the racks at the most coveted stores in town. A recent visit saw half off all men’s and ladies coats, many of which still had original tags on them, and shoes and purses literally don’t have a scuff or marking to be found. Don’t forget to look in the case up front for jewelry, gloves and specialty items

Maximum Comics

Maximum Comics is Starbucks of the local comic book scene; it seems their stores are everywhere. Actually, there are only three locations — but that sense of ubiquity is a testament to the love these guys spread around. With a staff who loves comics as much as their customers, frequent parties and book signings, and a wildly diverse selection, Maximum Comics owner Jay Bosworth has assembled a store that offers something for everyone. JB (Multiple locations,

B e s t ta b l e to p g a m e s s h o p and gaming hangout Little Shop of Magic

Knight shift: Little Shop of Magic

Sick of your kids staring into brain-deadening tablets all day? Here’s the top spot to get them and your whole family involved in something unplugged and communal. Whether you’re eager to lead a squad of Space Marines against warp-spawned aliens in the 41st Millennium (Warhammer 40K) or to simply learn how to strategically cast wizard-spells (Magic: The Gathering), this brick-and-mortar store houses all kinds of tactile, fantasy-based, indoor fun—collectible trading cards, role-playing adventures (Dungeons & Dragons), board games (Settlers of Catan) and tabletop miniatures. Little Shop of Magic seeks to grow the gaming community by recruiting players, so check their online calendar and drop in for a casual game, demo or tournament. Jarret Keene (4160 S. Durango Drive # 120, 702-307-6127, | 57

Best Qu ir k y accessor ies stor e

Be st p l ac e to sh o p


K ate Spade This former Mademoiselle accessories editor launched her own brand after her quest to find the perfect handbag fell short — now, she has 180 stores worldwide. Quirky and cool, her bags let women everywhere show off what they love best: their favorite book, a bag of jelly beans, a cruise on the high seas — in every color under the rainbow. JP (Multiple locations,

B e s t h i g h- e n d designer

Off the Strip — Stephanie Street in Henderson It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a focus when you start your shopping marathon on Stephanie Street between Warm Springs and Sunset Roads in Henderson — you’ll quickly discover one. Perhaps it’s Las Vegas’ only Nordstrom Rack, the nicest Toys R Us in town or the Salvation Army thrift store, where you can find deals such as a pair of shoes for 50 cents or a couple of bucks for an eclectic piece of wall art. All this before you even get to the Galleria at Sunset. And, should you get hungry along the way, you can find everything from Mexican to sushi to frozen yogurt and then some. JP

Best candy shop for k ids Sweet Spot

Toothsome treats: Sweet Spot

58 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

Some of you health-conscious hard-liners may say sugar’s bad for little ones. In mass quantities, yes. But here’s a decidedly non-corporate store with a midcentury aesthetic and a commitment to slinging hard-to-find candy bars, retro taffies, yummy gummies and premium chocolates, all displayed in old-fashioned glass jars. The sodas and root beers come in bottles, too, everything evoking a modern update on the mom-and-pop neighborhood candy shop. It’s a nice, bright, colorful place to stop in with the family, all sleek and modern, with neon-pink flourishes and stainless-steel furniture. JK (616. Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-815-1277,

Best plant nursery Cactus Joe ’s Blue Diamond Nursery Take locavorism beyond the plate and into the garden. This hidden gem, located near Red Rock Canyon, is home to the area’s largest selection of native plants. Some items may give you sticker shock, but consider it a tradeoff for admission to our city’s very own mini-Eden. Guests can spend hours strolling through fields of mile-high cacti, Joshua trees and candy-colored glass. For those without a green thumb, a selection of low-maintenance succulents and outdoor decorations are also available. DL (12740 Blue Diamond Road, 702-8751968,

Best v et er ina r i a ns Mountain Vista Animal Hospital If you’re calling Mountain Vista Animal Hospital for an appointment, they’re liable to ask, “What are your babies’ names?” The doctors and staff understand the intense bond that forms between animals

Fa s h i o n s h o w c o u r t e s y o f GGP ; G a l l e r i a at s u n s e t c o u r t e s y o f pa r k c i t y ; C a n dy s to r e : B r e nt H o l m e s

On the Strip — Fashion Show Mall The perfect combination of affordable and high-end shopping, this powerhouse shopping center boasts the most stores in Nevada, a retractable runway used to showcase designers’ latest collections and a grouping of the most eclectic anchor stores we’ve ever seen — from Neiman Marcus to Forever 21. A number of boutiques, such as Banana Republic and Express, have introduced their new flagships here, and the mall is continually updating and expanding its offerings. Wear comfortable shoes — there’s lots to explore. JP (3200 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-369-8382, thefashionshow. com)

Tory Burch Her designs are undeniably iconic, but what we’re inspired by most about Tory Burch is her need to give back — the Tory Burch Foundation empowers women entrepreneurs to go after their dreams, through small business loans and a mentorship program that matches them up with leaders in their fields. It gives a whole new meaning to the term “feel-good fashion.” JP (Multiple locations,

and their human companions, and that knowledge shapes the quiet, kindly atmosphere found in the red A-frame on Flamingo Road. There’s even a memorial to the late Wilbur, a huge and gregarious cat who once called the hospital home. DM (4675 E. Flamingo Road, 702-458-8808)

B e s t DVD b a r g a i n s Zia Record Exchange Prices for brand-new DVDs and Blu-Ray discs still are at a premium at Zia Record Exchange. But if you’re willing to do some extra looking, there’s many a bargain to be had. Economics have swung in the collector’s favor: Zia has so many second-hand DVDs in stock that, if it’s used, chances are it’s dirt cheap. Even Blu-Ray titles are going for $7.99 or less. There goes your excuse for holding off purchasing "Ronin" or — if you’re really into esoterica — Tony Curtis waxing medieval in "The Black Shield of Falworth." DM (4225 S. Eastern Ave., 702-735-4942; 4503 W. Sahara Ave., 702-233-4942)

Best vinyl record store Moondog Records The best place right now to purchase old records is Vegas’ newest vinyl store. Moondog will have your inner audiophile howling with delight over rare goodies from every era and genre. From a Germanonly press of ’70s British hard-rock group Trapeze’s "Running" to a scarce copy of ’90s Swedish deathdoom band Therion’s "Of Darkness…," owner Clint McKean’s record collection inspires awe. It’s not just vinyl, either. Check out the Pink Floyd-tour comic book, the limitededition Misfits tour poster signed by the whole band, plus a selection of vintage guitars and amps, oldschool turntables and ready-to-go boom boxes. JK (4440 S. Maryland Parkway #112, 702-802-3333)

B e s t i n c r e a s i n g ly a s p i r at i o n a l shopping Main Street, Downtown Main Street’s ever-increasing array of antique and furniture shops range from pocket change to six months’ rent, from the memories of childhood comforts and oddi-

ties to the most sophisticated of grownup dreams. Start out at Armstrong’s Emporium (1230 S. Main St., 702-366-1995,, where you can dig out relics of long-ago, cookbooks of recipes from the Carter administration — c’mon, deviled ham or molded salads could be the next comfort food throwback — and didn’t you used to have that Cameo 45? Regardless, you’ve got enough in your wallet for all of it and a few margaritas afterward. Take a stroll toward the Stratosphere, look in the windows and — Oh.

My. God. A KISS pinball machine! Didn’t you promise yourself you’d buy one of those when you got a “real” job? Meander on to the expansive storefront of neighborhood stalwarts Retro Vegas (1131 S. Main St., 702-384-2700,, a loft-like space of mid-century marvelous. Sit in the big armchair at the “brutalist” Flintstones goth dining room set, twirl the stirrer in a gilt-trimmed Mad Men martini set — yes, yes, this is how you imagined yourself at this point in your life, part intimidating entrepreneur, part lighthearted bon vivant. LTR

A n Ode to the Sports Book Sunday morning. A day of worship and prayer. We rush to our sacred space, full of optimism and faith. It’s a new beginning. We have learned from last week’s transgressions and developed a new strategy and plan. We seek more than salvation. We want growth; we want gain. The promised bounty awaits … as long as we choose wisely. We just have to get there on time. It is not the disapproving looks of parishioners we are trying to avoid if we are late — we have to get our bets in on time. The church forgives; the sportsbook doesn’t. Inside, a bouquet of cigarettes, cologne and simmering hot dogs envelops us. We scan the others gathered here today. Based on the held glances and nods, we know it is more than the financial allure of parlaying an entertainment source into an income supplement or a lifechanging windfall that brought us here. It is the opportunity to make connections and build rapport with friends, colleagues and even strangers, to be in a congregation where everyone is accepted and all opinions are heard. The monitors stare back at us. They are windows to our future and will show us our fate. We stand aghast before the twinkling board. The letters and numbers blur together, flashing like stars. Our adrenalin surges. Sweat pushes through, adding to the scent swirling around us. We dig out our play sheet, deciphering our notes to match the patterns gleaming from above. At the counter, the indifferent stare of the ticket writer shakes our resolve. We lower our eyes to our wrinkled play sheet and speak the language of this hallowed place. His fingers dance over the keys, culminating in a dollar total. We remove the sweat-damp wad of bills buried in our pocket and straighten the requested total, pushing it forward like an offering. In return we receive a solitary slip of white paper. Satisfaction shoots through us. We nod in appreciation. This is the one. With a single wager we are no longer just a spectator. We have a role in the drama about to unfold. The game starts. We savor each play. Every twist and turn is an affirmation of our choice or a conspiracy to steal our boon. Of course we want the money, but more than anything we want to be right, to watch the scenario we professed come to fruition, to puff our chest out and say, “I told you so.” Only seconds remain. We move closer to the screen, as if we could help if needed. A sudden reversal transpires. Our probability plummets. The monitor confirms the unfortunate outcome. Our head slumps forward in defeat. We steady ourselves and rise with humility and grace. The cheers of those who only moments ago were losers remind us that one person’s bad beat is another’s luck box cover. We raise our eyes to the heavens and search the board. What’s the next game? — Douglas Cooper | 59

Best headliner Taylor Hicks The fifth-season “American Idol” winner’s success story actually began in Las Vegas. Stranded in New Orleans the night before Hurricane Katrina and unable to return home to Birmingham, Ala., Hicks was offered a free airplane voucher, and chose Las Vegas, where “Idol” auditions happened to be taking place. After a turn in "Grease" on Broadway, he made his triumphant return last year with a show full of heart, soul and good ol’ Southern charm. JP (Paris Las Vegas, 3655 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-777-2782,

B e s t i n d i e- r o c k b a n d Rust y Maples They consistently earn accolades from the Vegas music press (Best Live Band, etc.) for good reason — Rusty Maples perform with wild-eyed and literate abandon. Put aside for a moment any comparisons to folk-pop peers like Mumford &


Best rock band The People ’s Whiskey During the last two decades a number of great bands have struggled to rise out of the dust and detritus of our urban landscape. Classic punk and indie bands, especially, have been given a recent hand-up with the establishment two years ago of SquidHat Records, a label devoted to giving a platform for new bands of that ilk. One of the best has been The People’s Whiskey. Much of the best of classic punk and indeed rock and roll generally has folded in the lyrical and melodic traditions of country. The People’s Whiskey does exactly that. Like, say, The Replacements or The Meat Puppets or The Rolling Stones before them, the band does some songs we wouldn’t be surprised to find on a country jukebox, but isn’t afraid to rock out when the spirit moves them. Launce Rake

Because Americana: Rusty Maples

60 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

Best mashup rocker

Best artist to begin collecting now If I were a Medici contemplating my delicious 2014 art budget, I would fund one of Yasmina Chavez’s edgy, weird and wonderful performative projects combining photography, sculpture, opera and Bhutto. — Danielle Kelly Alisha Kerlin’s work is on the uptick in 2014. Grab one of her elegant and deceptively simple pieces at MCQ Gallery this spring — before they get out of your price range. — Brent Holmes There are so many. Gun to my head, I would say Matthew Couper. His work is consistent, beautiful, intellectual, and supremely executed, exploring themes of culture and context in ways that appeal superficially to the novice and more thoughtfully to those seeking a deeper meaning. — Dana Satterwhite

Jeremy Cornwell of the Jeremy Cornwell Project If you haven’t had the pleasure of basking in the acoustic stylings of Jeremy Cornwell, you haven’t hung Leisure, family & Fun out with me enough. First-timers may be mystified by the apparent black magic behind his sleightof-hand, but rest assured he’s not evil — it’s just this high-tech looping thingamajig he’s sold his soul for. His sets are a treat. Especially so when he breaks into his patented mash-ups, in which “Sweet Home Alabama” transitions to “Ice Ice Baby” and “Bust a Move” before eventually segueing to the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme. Or the Cure melds with Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne and Ginuwine. You have to see and hear it to believe it. JB (

Best singersongw r iter Mercy Music With his incinerating punk band Deadhand, frontman-guitarist Brendan Scholz missed a majorlabel deal by a mohawk hair. So he dialed it down a bit with his latest project, Mercy Music. Using the wry songcraft of the Replacements and Graham Parker as a template, Scholz recently self-released a couple of indelible EPs, blending sophisticated pop structures with heart-rending lyrics. Try his Elvis Costello-meetsChuck Berry rave-up “Repeat” or Stax-influenced ballad “The Sun Follows You” for a sample of this kid’s brilliance. JK (

Best torch singer Kristen Hertzenberg She’s a classically trained opera singer from Houston who toured Europe before being cast in Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular. The show closed in 2012, and after surviving a cancer scare that threatened to rob her vocal cords, Hertzenberg, 36, decided to stay in Vegas, have a baby and start a band that’s already headlined Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center. Onstage, her voice is the centerpiece, a versatile and dynamic instrument that goes from gritty blues to angelic peal at the drop of a Julie London record sleeve. No one

R u s t y M a p l e s : L o r d M i c h a e l B a u t i s ta


Sons. The Maples generate their own potent sound, equal parts Americana, indie and garage rock. Just listen to their anthem “Pockets” — soaring, bittersweet, shot through with the ache that comes with putting everything you love on the line. No wonder this Next Big Thing packs clubs here and beyond, everyone singing along and loudly. JK (

HAVE SPOKEN E L P O E P E ! TH Well, they voted in our online Best of the City poll. Here are selected results, in artisanal, locally sourced, nonconflict charticles


Other (including Lon Bronson Big Band, Yellow Brick Road and Same Sex Mary)

Rusty Maples The Killers


Imagine Dragons











The Beat

.07 %

12% % SMASH 8 FIVE


Other (including Bronze Cafe, Blueberry Hill and the Promenade)


Hoover Dam

Antiques at the Market



Mob Museum






“Tree dedicated to Robert Goulet at UNLV”

13% 9%

Retro Vegas


One Man's Trash


Clark County Museum



(including Atomic Museum, the welcome sign and the Mormon Fort)


Charleston Antique Mall



GUYS .03%







Neon Museum



Sunrise Cafe

“There aren't any worth listening to. No, really.”



Grouchy John's

Kid Meets Cougar















(including Sin City Pickers,

55% Funk House, Goatfeathers)



Square Salon Euphoria

Josephine Skaught Globe Salon


Best Hairdresser

(including Hillary Salon, Elliott & Co., Sola Salon)

How the desert gem fared in multiple categories

14% 14% 24% 22




26% 4











BEST THAI These figures bear the same relationship to reality that math does.


Be st g al l e ry

nails Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Me Like a Man,” Indigo Girls’ “Ghost” and Martin Sexton’s “Over My Head” back-to-back like Hertzenberg. She even raps like a gangsta-emcee! JK (

Best jazz ba nd

Trifecta — Downtown Over the last decade, has anyone been more consistent than Trifecta Gallery’s Marty Walsh? She has a solid stable of local artists — including Mary Warner, Casey Weldon, Su Limbert, Jw Caldwell and Erin Stellmon — and she brings in quality out-of-towners, too (see Tom Pfannerstill and his carved-wood “trash”). It’s a good sign for art lovers that the Contemporary Arts Center, Brett Wesley Gallery, Blackbird Studio and Tastyspace all seriously contended for the title. Scott Dickensheets (In the Arts Factory, 107 E. Charleston Blvd. #135, 702-366-7001,

Left of Center — North Las Vegas The current exhibit typifies what we appreciate about this North Las Vegas space. Jevijoe Vitug’s Terra Infirma uses the forms of abstract painting to explore the impacts of oil spills, nuclear waste and similar environmental indignities. Likewise, the previous exhibit examined Hispanic culture, while others — including the gallery’s permanent collection — take viewers into AfricanAmerican life. So it’s a gallery that’s friendly to art with a social conscience. And Left of Center serves as a community cultural center, with classes, workshops and mentoring. SD (2207 W. Gowan Road, 702-647-7378,

Best artist David Sanchez Burr Tough field — so many worthy artists — but in the end it had to be Sanchez Burr. His much-talked-about recent exhibits (New Citadel at the Cosmopolitan, Beyond Sunrise Mountain at the Clark County Government Center) have been innovative, daring and deeply thoughtful about such Vegas-relevant issues as transience, decay, randomness and the environment. Along the way, he has employed sculpture, sound and the creative labor of viewers. And his late, lamented Multiplexer gallery (it closed last year), which was devoted to cuttingedge video art, further attested to his readiness to lead the breaking of new ground. SD (

62 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

Best blu es ba n d Scott Rhiner and the Moanin ’ Blacksnakes The Moanin’ Blacksnakes started playing in Las Vegas 10 years before the absurd Christina Ricci nymphomania flick "Black Snake Moan" came out in 2006. And while seniority might dictate king status, they bring substantially more to the table. We’re talking seriously talented musicians playing rough ‘n’ tumble music for whiskey and beer-backs in grimy bars, not background sounds for new-car-smell lounges on the Strip. They’re the best because they’re the champions of the off-kilter, the Mad Maxes of an overpolished musical wasteland, and the soundtrack of an aural rebellion. MP (

Best soon (w e h o p e !) -t o - r e o p e n live music venue The Bunkhouse Saloon The Bunkhouse Saloon was close, comfortable, a place where we could grab a bite, a beer and some top-notch local and visiting rock and roll. It’s where we first saw Pan de Sal, Same Sex Mary, The Psyatics and so many other great bands. It was acquired by the

T r i f e cta , L e ft o f c e nt e r , d av i d s a nc h e z b u r r , s c u l p t u r e : B r e nt H o l m e s


Santa Fe & The Fat Cit y Horns Jazz bands have been catching colds in the shadow cast by Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns for 30 years. That’s because the 17-piece crew is always evolving, rotating out members — many of whom end up playing in headliner bands and shows around the Strip — while maintaining a scalpel-sharp, overdriven lounge sound that’s both extremely Vegas and off-the-wall enough to challenge the stereotype. But the real perfection in this outfit comes in its versatility. Meaning, if we had categories for best Latin or funk band, the Fat City crew would take those titles, too. Max Plenke (

WE DON ’T NEED NO STINKIN ’ GALLERY! Best public sculpture “Monument to the Simulacrum,” by Stephen Hendee

Created for the 2005 Las Vegas Centennial, and containing a time capsule to be opened in 2105, this abstracted metal mountain — an allusion to the timelessness of local geography, but as seductively fabricated as the casinos we used to implode — was chosen a few years ago by a national art magazine as one of the country’s significant pieces of public art. In its refusal to indulge lazy Vegas symbols (not a martini glass or Elvis reference anywhere!), “Simulacrum” proposes an enduring authenticity that will still be relevant to the Las Vegans of 2105, even if they’ve forgotten what the Rat Pack was. SD (Lewis Avenue and Fourth Street)

Best mural “Cycle of Civilization,” by Zio Ziegler

This Life Is Beautiful remnant has got huge scale. It’s got dense, mad style. It’s got an ambitiously presumptuous title. It all adds up to the best dose of big-wall optic nerve in the valley. SD (On Seventh Street between Ogden and Stewart avenues)

Downtown Project, which closed it on July 1. It’s now been closed more than 190 days, but according to the city of Las Vegas, there have been some recent efforts to get local government approval for its redesign. We can’t wait — as long as it reopens with the same enthusiasm for rock variety that it used to have. LR (124 S. 11th St.)

B e s t t h e at e r c o m pa n y Cockroach Theatre People in the theater community might be sick of hearing it, or jealous of hearing it, envious of what it’s accomplished, or angry it hasn’t accomplished more — but the fact remains that Cockroach Theatre sets the bar for what locally produced theater can be here. It’s determined to build a theater that takes artistic risks while growing into a legitimate institution with enough structure (and audience) to support local artists. The troupe is driving the conversation about what theater’s potential is in Vegas, and the more people they can get talking about it, the better. Jacob Coakley (

Best old-school show room The Rivier a Take the hike up to the third floor of the Riviera and you’ll see what a Las Vegas showroom was meant to be, a place to catch Tinseltown talent up close and personal, comfortably seated and with drink service at your command. It’s usually easy to snag a booth, but the action is at the tables down front. Jan Rouven’s Illusions dominates the venue right now, but if you’re ever going to see Charo or Connie Stevens shake one more time in Vegas, this is probably where it will happen. DM (Riviera Hotel & Casino, 2901 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-468-6748)

Interest peaked: "Monument to the Simulacrum"

stop working, and this unflagging energy finds its way onto the stage for his shows, which — despite their stylistic differences — all crackle with immediacy and urgency, showing off a sensibility that is populist but also clings to the transcendentalist promise of art. JC

B e s t “a b o u t t i m e ” n e w s for p l ay w r igh t s Quadr anine Productions’ play readings Despite oodles of actors, directors and theater companies in town, finding an active playwright is a relative rarity — and exactly why Quadranine’s bi-weekly play readings are such a necessity. In addition to providing a no-pressure venue for playwrights to hear their latest words spoken aloud, giving them invaluable feedback and direction, the readings also offer writing exercises, sparking new scripts and letting writers of all levels grow their skills — and their output. JC (facebook/quadranineproductions)

Best dir ector Troy Heard He’s got the range to tackle legit drama ("Death of a Salesman," "Stones in His Pockets"), seriously ass-kicking musicals ("Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson"), campy comedy ("The Mystery of Irma Vep," "Blood Orgy of the Chainsaw Chorus Line") and is now crossing over into casino shows ("Pawn Shop Live!"). He never seems to

Best ba ller ina Yoomi Lee After an ankle injury that sidelined her for many months, Lee returned to the stage last December as Sugar Plum Fairy in Las Vegas Ballet Company’s production of "The Nutcracker." Her warm, glowing performance was impeccable and made her our choice for best dancer of the year. A | 63

former soloist with South Korea’s Universal Ballet and for 10 years a principal dancer with Nevada Ballet Theater, she now co-directs with her husband, Kyudong Kwak, LVBC and Kwak Ballet Academy. Hal De Becker (

Best mov ie shot i n N e va d a "Charley Varrick" Nowadays, if it’s set in Las Vegas, it’s usually filmed in New Mexico. Ironically, the New Mexico-set Charley Varrick was filmed in the Silver State. Don Siegel’s lean, efficient, bank-heist thriller made use of the Courthouse Museum in Genoa, the Carson Valley Museum in Gardnerville, a Dayton trailer park and the Mustang Ranch Brothel, with Joe Conforte making a cameo appearance as himself. Walter Matthau’s robberon-the-lam finally outwitted his Mafia nemeses in a memorable duel of wits shot at the Mustang Auto Wrecking Yard. DM

Best First F r i d ay i t i n e r a r y "This is what I'd do," says David Hardy of Park at the Government Center parking lot on Grand Central Parkway. If you get there around 4:30 p.m., you can catch a glimpse of the exhibition at The Rotunda Gallery. The large space is conducive to large-scale installations and sculptural works. David Sanchez Burr’s “Beyond Sunrise Mountain” caught everyone’s attention last year. At 5, take the free shuttle to Colorado and Main. Walk two blocks south on Main, turn right on Utah and left on Commerce. Blackbird Studios is halfway down the block. This co-op studio remains the proletariat of the Arts District. Then head north to the Contemporary Arts Center’s new space at 1217 S. Main St. Continue to Charleston and hit up the Arts Factory. Trifecta Gallery is a must; owner Marty Walsh maintains a programming schedule that’s consistently top-notch, with exhibitions by Casey Weldon, Sam Davis and Philip Denker in the last year. The Joseph Watson Collection is next. Watson features his own compelling work, along with guest artists like L.A.-based street

64 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

A n Ode to the movie Heat "Viva Las Vegas" and "Ocean’s Eleven" get all the eyeballs because they deliver all of the fantasy, but they don’t say this: “Well, I’ve been knocked down, blown up, lied to, shit on, shot at. I’m not a virgin, except in my heart. Nothing much surprises me anymore except what people do to each other.” Burt Reynolds delivers that line in the 1987 film "Heat," set in Vegas and steeped in the complexities of the city. When I hear it, I hear Vegas, and who better to play our metropolis than Reynolds? You may suggest alternatives — Sinatra, Clooney, Elvis. Sorry. They’re too pretty and glabrous. Vegas would definitely have a raven mustache to cloak its stiff upper lip. The film was and is forsaken, to say the least. It was an embarrassment for writer William Goldman, who wrote "Marathon Man," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "All The President’s Men." It went through several directors, including Robert Altman and another who allegedly quit after being punched by Reynolds. Plus, "Heat" was a box-office failure. But this city embraces busts, controversy and knuckles. They bolster "Heat"’s claim to the title of “Best Vegas Movie, Period.” The movie is getting a “renovation” with a 2014 remake featuring Jason Statham. But I love the original for more than just my girlhood Bandit crush. The cinematography captures our monuments: a fully functional Vegas Vic, the Stardust, La Concha, Dunes, Frontier and Mint with neon signs ablaze, and downtown before the Experience and the shoes. Against this backdrop you see a host of Vegas clichés — hookers, mobsters, gambling addicts, Joey Villa punchlines — without apologies or glamour, save the lone silver-and-black pimp jacket. And then there is the hero, Burt as Nick Escalante, a Vietnam vet turned bodyguard, decimating bad guys with high-flying cowboy boots and an American Express card. Nick lives in Naked City, and his only dream is to escape to Venice, Italy. I know he’s only fiction, but whenever I watch "Heat," I wish I could let him know that Vegas has its own gondolas now. — Misti Yang

artist Shark Toof. Stop by Sin City Gallery on your way out. Owner Laura Henkel’s "12 Inches of Sin" is an annual juried exhibition highlighting erotic contemporary art. Crossing Charleston at Casino Center, pause to ponder the 45-foot-tall paintbrush that’s programmed with LED patterns. It was the last work of noted modern artist Dennis Oppenheim, who died just before delivering the pieces in 2011. Its twin sits a few blocks east. Next up is Brett Wesley Gallery. The midcentury modern-inspired building was the first in the Arts District specifically purpose-built as a gallery. Sperry and curator Victoria Hart focus on bold, conversation-sparking work, including recent shows by Giovanni Morales and Michael Wardle. Back to Colorado and Main for the shuttle bus to the Government Center. Hop in the car and cut east on Bonneville, making a left on Sixth Street just past Las Vegas

Boulevard. Park near Carson and hoof it one block to the Emergency Arts building, which stays open until midnight on First Fridays. Tastyspace should be on your radar. The gallery and “home of visual awesomeness” sits in the northwest corner of the building. Proprietor Dana Satterwhite is an ex “mad man”; his small, bright gallery has become the flagship of EA. Jelaine Faunce and Erica Hauser were two favorites shown here during the past year or so. Cruise by the bedroom-sized 5th Wall Gallery. The 10-footby-10-foot room is curated by four UNLV alums. Their focus on installation-based works has pushed the edge of the contemporary art scene downtown. Wind down with a drink at The Beat (it sells beer and wine after 7). Seat yourself near the glass wall facing Fremont, and watch people file by with bottles of Miller Lite while you reflect.

Leisure, family & Fun

G o l f c o u r s e c o u r t e s y o f d e s e r t w i l l o w ; p i n b a l l h a l l o f fa m e : B r e nt H o l m e s

Best big-screen m o v i e t h e at e r XD, South Point Cinemascope, Cinerama, Dimension 150 … those great widescreen formats of yore are gone with the wind. But if you want to recreate the experience of seeing a cinema spectacle on a mind-blowingly large screen, try the XD one at South Point. It’s as big as the side of a building. Seeing "Lawrence of Arabia" splashed across this canvas takes you back to the monumentalism of the good old days. And, since South Point regularly screens classic films in the large format, you just might find yourself watching "Gone with the Wind" in old-style splendor. DM (9777 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-796-7111)

Best place to get away f r o m i t a l l Element, in Summerlin It has all the comforts of home — and quite a few more. The clean lines, sparkling furnishings and fluid design provide a welcome escape from the Sin City hurly-burly. There are the expected amenities (free breakfast) and surprising ones (inroom DVD players; barbecue area outside). Also, pets are welcome. Each unit features a full kitchen along with all the utensils you could require. Not only is the lobby conducive to sitting and reading,

Element stocks a library. You might want to get out for a while — it’s just a few exits from Red Rock — but you won’t want to leave. Some don’t: Element is home to many long-term guests. Here is restorative leisure married to natural beauty, just far enough from the madding crowd. DM (10555 Discovery Drive, 702-589-2000, Flip out: Pinball Hall of Fame

Best disc golf course Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort Local fans of this cult sport know that Mount Charleston isn’t just for hiking and skiing. For a challenging summertime workout, grab a Frisbee, hop on a chair lift and tee off at an elevation of 9,300 feet. You might think you’ve escaped the Vegas heat, but the next few hours will make sweat pour down your face, joining the tears of joy you’ll shed as you trudge towards the last hole. DL (6725 Lee Canyon Road, 702-385-2754,

Best golf course for duffers Desert Willow Blowing $125 to plop Titleists into a pond is no way to spend a day off. Desert Willow has views to match any championship course, and midweek rates for locals top out at $35, including the cart. The course is light on trees and sand, heavy on playable, cut grass, and only three of its 18 holes have a water hazard. Best of all, the course is a par 60, so you won‘t wear yourself ragged chasing your slice. Added bonus: for 19th-hole rehydration, the house draft Desert Willow Brew is priced right, too. AG (2020 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, 702-2634653,

Best place for some cheap fun

Best place to shoot a selfie if you absolutely must shoot a selfie The Plaza valet. The ceiling is layered with lights and gives that glitz Vegas is known for. Plus, it’s from a scene in "Casino." Shoot slightly up so the lights fill the frame. — Sabin Orr Top of the Stratosphere, close to sunset. Make sure you turn on your flash. — Bill Hughes I recommend the pedestrian bridge linking the Tropicana and the Excalibur. If you face south, you’ll get a great shot of the Strip in the background. — Jerry Metellus

A little fore play: Desert Willow

Pinball Hall of Fame Before PS3 or Playstation, there was pinball. And thanks to obsessive collector Tim Arnold, the nostalgic arcade game remains alive and well in Las Vegas. Grab your quarters and bring your A-game, because the 10,000-square-foot emporium houses more than 200 machines, with high scores that are just begging to be broken. Old-school fun at old-school prices. DL (1610 E. Tropicana Ave.,

Best old-school casino game Sigma Derby Want to beat the house? Well, you can’t — not often, anyway. But you can cause it some aggravation by playing this horse-race game. You see, casino bosses want to see you pulling slot handles as fast and often as possible. In Sigma Derby, plastic ponies canter around a racing oval under a clear plastic rotunda. The game specializes in unpredictable lead changes (it doesn’t pay to bet on long shots) and is a good way to stretch your gambling dollar to the max. Also, once a couple of people start playing Sigma Derby, it’s wont to draw a small crowd. Its survival is a testament to player ardor in an era when casino floor layout is a matter of sophisticated algorithms and confusing geography. Tally ho! DM (MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-891-1111; and The D, 301 Fremont St., 702-388-2400)

Best new slot machine Willy Wonk a Those who never really cared for the Oompa Loompas in the classic | 65

Screams come true: The Big Apple coaster

Gene Wilder movie will discover a new affection for the little men upon playing this interactive slot, in which they dance across the screen and randomly throw down bonuses that keep you playing for hours — it happened to us while playing at South Point. And, if you get the Chocolate River bonus, you’re literally in for a bumpy (but fun) ride. JP

B e s t p l a c e t o wat c h a softball game Majestic Park This is a favorite softball venue thanks to pristine grass in the outfield and a view that makes even the most deliberate doubleheaders seem enjoyable. Twelve fields are accompanied by bleachers, and from many points within the park, visitors can see the Strip in the distance. And no matter where you are — on the field or the sidelines — the mountains and palm trees are impossible to miss. Sarah Vernetti (3997 N. Hualapai Way,

Best thrill ride

A n Ode to

The Big Apple Coaster at New York- New York Never have we felt as much of an adrenaline rush as when we’re dropping, dipping and laughing our heads off on this, the longest roller coaster in town, and the only

A friend and I went to the Pinball Hall of Fame on a whim. We were killing time, having a depressing conversation about writing — how impossible it seemed to succeed at this thing we do. Then we walked into this crazy warehouse full of games. There was Tron, Ms. PacMan, Evel Knievel! We reignited the Cold War for 15 minutes over table hockey. The U.S. won; Russia was bitter. As I wandered through the rows of machines, I noticed notes taped to the scoreboards and tucked under glass surfaces — each on an index card, each in the same handwriting. The note-taker lists the machines’ release dates, designers and artists, lists which parts are original and which are not. He comments on the artwork: “Love the blonde with the Wonder Bread bag mini dress!” The notes are meticulous and personal, each a kind of homage to the machine and the labor that went into making it. Reading them, I saw the place in a different light, not as an arcade but a project. This note-taker has a relationship with these machines. The artists, designers, the now-defunct companies, the bumpers, the gates, the wedge heads, the glass backing — every detail matters. Of course, I fell in love. I’m a writer. I live for details. But the heart of the operation, and the real subject of this ode, is a messy space at the back — the workshop where the wizard makes his repairs. The area is fenced off by tables, every surface covered in a jumble of parts and tools: bolts stored in medicine bottles, batteries and Q-tips and spools of wire. Notebooks, catalogs and the Machinist’s Handbook sprawl over the husk of a game in the center. Drawers line the back wall, labeled things like “shooter tips” and “drop targets.” Why did I love it so much? There is a kind of magic in this evidence of work in progress, of labor and attention. He told me he has another warehouse, 800 machines. “Someday I’ll fix them all,” he said. I thought about writing. I’d been waking up early every morning to work, and I was lost but enjoying the process. Maybe all we can ever know about the work we commit ourselves to is that it matters that we do it, matters because we do it. Whether it succeeds or fails in the larger world is so much less important than the effort, the daily work of making things whole. — Aurora Brackett

66 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

R o l l e r C o a s t e r C o u r t e s y o f M G M R e s o r t s i nt e r n at i o n a l

the Pinball Wizard

one with a heart-line twist that bobs and weaves past the replicated skyline of New York City. You might as well buy the all-day pass, because you’ll be back for more. JP (3790 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702740-6969,

Best place to r ide go-k a rts Mini Gr an Prix Go-karts for all! Two-seaters allow small children to feel the wind in their hair while their parents do the driving. Youngsters who want to race on their own can try the kiddie cars on the low-speed track. While the kids do their karting, grab a burlap sack and take the “don’t look down” trek to the top of the tall, multi-lane slide and relive your childhood. But try not to get too distracted. After all, there’s nothing like watching your daughter stare down a fellow driver as she speeds by him. SV (1404 N. Rainbow Blvd., 702-259-7000,

Best k ar aok e Dino’s From the sublime to the awful, they take their place before the microphone at Dino’s, an all-business, cement-floored hole-in-the-wall with Saturday-night-karaoke that’s a Vegas institution. You’ll want to get there early, not only to find a table (big crowds are routine), but also to pore over the massive songbooks. It’s not vocalism, it’s a spectator sport, even when you don’t know what the heck that last song was intended to be. Don’t be squeamish about taking the mic: We guarantee there’s someone in the crowd worse than you. DM (1516 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-382-3894)

D u ck c r e e k T r a i l : C h r i s to p h e r Sm i t h

B e s t pa r t y p o o l Treasure Island On the flip side, it’s one big dance party out here on the weekends, but never over-crowded. Partiers dance on the pool deck and in the water, grab drinks and dine on cuisine provided by the property’s Kahunaville restaurant. And the 50-seat whirlpool is affectionately dubbed the “Party Tub.” It all takes place against an immaculate backdrop of palms. Your most chic pool attire is a must. JP (3300 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-894-7111,

Happy trails: Duck Creek at the Wetlands Park

FEET FIRST Best hotel pool f o r r e l a x at i o n

Best running trail

Trump International Las Vegas Do you remember when a dip in the pool wasn’t impeded by throngs of partiers swaying to the beat of a DJ? Lined by a row of perfectly manicured palms, Trump’s pool is the ultimate spot for relaxation, whether you want to bask in the sun with a good book or glide through the water and refresh yourself. JP (2000 Fashion Show Drive, 702-982-0000,

It’s finally open! Improvements include plentiful parking, shaded picnic tables, lights and a proper bathroom. The trails are open to joggers, dogs and bicycles, and are wide enough to give everyone their space. Tracks twist and turn through tall reeds to keep your run interesting, and with connections to the main section of the Wetlands Park, as well as the ever-expanding Vegas Valley Rim Trail, you can really rack up the miles. The area doubles as a bird and wildlife preserve, so keep your eyes peeled for coyotes, rabbits, beaver and migrating birds. AG (Broadbent Boulevard between Tropicana and Russell, 702-455-7522,

Duck Creek at the Wetlands Park

B e s t wa l k i n g t r a i l Best couples s pa fa c i l i t y Costa del Sur at South Point This spa really knows how to treat locals. In addition to a menu of relaxing and romantic treatments for couples, what really sets it apart is its wet area and relaxation room specifically for couples. You can maximize your time together and kick back with a tray of fruit, or loosen up your muscles in the Jacuzzi together before your treatment begins. Getting used to such amenities spoils one for all other couples experiences. JP (9777 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702797-8030,

Best splurge-worthy spa Spa Aquae at JW Marriott It’s got all the things that add up to a great spa experience: a dimly lit relaxation room, luxurious water amenities, a yoga studio and picturesque view, plus rooms

Cottonwood Canyon Park

Thanks to its location below street level, Summerlin’s Cottonwood Canyon Park feels like a different world than its suburban surroundings. A winding 3-mile trail, green spaces, desert plants, shaded picnic areas and road-bypassing tunnels help make this linear park a relaxing place to spend a Saturday afternoon. Cottonwood Canyon is popular with dog-owners, so consider bringing Fido. SV (915 Canyon Bluff Circle,

Best nighttime hike River Mountain Loop Trail near lake mead

Tip: Go during a full moon. This stretch of the faces Lake Mead, and when the moon reflects on the water it’s werewolf-howlingly beautiful. If you are also feeling reflective (or tired), take advantage of the benches along the way to simply sit and take it in. There are also several tunnels through the hillsides, just dark and mysterious enough that you can imagine a Stephen King story unfolding within. Thrilling! SD | 67

for individuals and couples. What makes it most worth the trip, however, is the innovative holistic treatments that include the Cabernet Crush, Healing Hydration Wrap and Shirodhara Ritual. It’s a large spa with the feel of a boutique. JP (221 N. Rampart Blvd., 702-869-7807,

Be st p l ac e fo r fami ly fu n

B e s t s pa g y m

Best place to look at a 1 9 0 9 c o t ta g e Clark Count y Museum The 1909 railroad cottage, once part of a 64-house community, now on the museum campus, is refurbished and ready to welcome visitors. The turquoise exterior, concrete-block front porch and flower-adorned light fixtures in the living room will make even the staunchest postmodernist smile. After you enter, turn to your right to see a photo that shows this particular cottage in its original location. During the early 20th century, it was just one building in a seemingly endless row of similar counterparts. Now it is part of an endangered species. SV (1830 S. Boulder Highway, 702-455-7955,

Best place to glimpse our deep past Lost Cit y Museum This adobe-style structure in outof-the-way Overton doesn’t get the press that rightfully accrues to the Nevada State Museum and Historical Society or the Clark County Museum. But its displays, excavated from Anasazi sites submerged under Lake Mead, are a vivid reminder of just how far back the history of Southern Nevada’s residents goes. SD (701 Moapa Valley Blvd., Overton,

68 | Desert

Companion | FEBRUARY 2014

Container Park


Downtown Container Park Here’s why: The kids can frolic in the play area (33-foot slide, tree house, wet area) while you visit an art gallery, have a beer (!) or empty your wallet at a leather goods store. That is, you can, if you choose, do grown-up stuff while they do kid stuff. (Try that at most childoriented family places.) (Especially the beer.) Then you can all eat some pork and beans from Pork & Beans and reenact that scene from Blazing Saddles — as a family. SD (707 E. Fremont St.

South Tower Park This Summerlin park has all of the ingredients for an ideal play date: two sets of playground equipment, a massive green space, a splash pad during warmer months and a gorgeous view of the mountains. Plus, visitors will find plenty of perfect picnic spots in the shade. Families frequent this park on sunny weekend afternoons, so there’s almost always a friend or two around to keep you company. SV (1022 Park Vista Drive,

Past lives: Lost City Museum

Lo st c i t y m u s e u m : B r i a n J o n e s / L as V e g as N e ws B u r e au ; D o wnto wn C o nta i n e r Pa r k a n d S o u t h to w e r pa r k : B r e nt H o l m e s

Spa Bellagio at Bellagio Sweat out your cares while you undertake a session of boot camp, practice Barre Pilates or work on your core — you can even do your spinning poolside. Not your ordinary hotel gym. Bellagio seasonally expands its fitness schedule to coincide with the modalities of its treatments, so keep up with the classes offered on its website. The facility also employs personal trainers to help you achieve all of your goals. JP (3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-693-7472,


The sTory of fr

n o s a e s r U o f e h a n k i e Va l l i & T


Use code 60LOCAL* • 800-745-3000 • Photos (Broadway cast): Joan Marcus

Original Cast Recording On

*60LOCAL applies to sections P2-P5 only. Offer valid for all performances through March 28, 2014. Must show Nevada ID upon pick-up at the box office. Offer is subject to availability and is not valid with any other offer or on previously purchased tickets. All sales final. No refunds or exchanges.

70 | Desert

Companion | December 2013

Forever Young special advertising section

Liberating Lifestyle Choices Enrich the Golden Years

Las Vegas perhaps epitomizes duality in nature. On its surface, the city may seem to offer nothing more than a manic flurry of 24/7 decadency for the young and restless; however, look a bit deeper and it soon becomes apparent that it also serves up a much gentler dose of jollification, as well as compassion, for the aging yet young at heart. Featured in this section is an active adult retirement community like no other in the state, an in-home caregiving provider that allows seniors to maintain their independence and a gift-giving idea that’s hard to beat.

Providing a Helping Hand

Visiting Angels Offers In-Home Caregiving to Seniors

Visiting Angels Living Assistance Services is a nationally respected nonmedical senior home-care provider. Its goal is to help seniors who wish to continue to live in their homes as opposed to moving into a nursing home, assisted living facility or group home. Visiting Angels promotes seniors’ independence by assisting them with any activities of daily living, including eating, bathing, dressing, toileting and transferring, as well as light house cleaning and transportation. The agency has more than 400 offices nationwide. The Las Vegas and Henderson offices, which opened in 2000 and are familyowned and operated by Michael and Jackie DiAsio, is one of the largest Visiting Angels franchises in the country. It assists about 600 seniors daily and has 225-plus caregiver employees located throughout Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Boulder City and Pahrump. Visiting Angels’ employees perform more than 200,000 caregiving hours annually. In accordance with state of Nevada rules, caregivers are properly licensed, bonded and insured, as well as background checked and trained. Visiting Angels’ employees, on average, have been with the home-care provider for about four years. Visiting Angels is extremely flexible in providing its services. Clients essentially determine the schedule of when Visiting Angels caregivers, who can provide care up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, come and go. Varying levels of client care are available, from standby assistance to helping those who are bedbound. Caregivers also specialize in

memory loss care, such as assisting clients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and ambulatory assistance. Long Term Care insurance and private pay is accepted at the agency; in addition, Visiting Angels is a Medicaid provider and Veteran’s Administration provider. To learn more about Visiting Angels and

its services, log on to www.visitingangels. com/vegas/home. To contact the Summerlin office, located at 9436 W. Lake Mead Blvd., Suite 11-8, call 702-562-3322. In the Henderson area, call 702-407-1100 or visit the main office at 1701 N. Green Valley Parkway, Suite 9-A.

special advertising section

Make a Present of the Future

Give the Gift of Education to Your Grandchildren

Have you ever thought, “What in the world can I give my grandchildren that they already don’t have?” With today’s electronic gadgets, such as smartphones, tablets and interactive motion-controlled video gaming systems, it seems like kids have it all at their fingertips. One idea to consider, however, is a gift that will last a lifetime—a college education. The Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program is an option Nevada residents can use to lock in future college tuition rates at today’s prices for use when your grandchild is ready to go to college. Unlike traditional 529 college savings programs, the Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program is what is referred to as a defined benefit, meaning there are no investment decisions that need to be made by the account owner. Rather, you simply choose the plan and payment schedule you want to purchase that fits your budget—from a two-year community college plan up to and including a full four-year university plan. You even can transfer the contract from one grandchild to another if the beneficiary chooses not to go to college or receives a full scholarship, and you can cancel your contract at any time and receive a full refund minus the $100 administrative fee. The board of trustees of the College Savings Plans of Nevada, chaired by State Treasurer Kate Marshall, provides the management and oversight expertise for the Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program, which currently has a 112 percent funded ratio. Enrollment for newborns through ninth-graders in the Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program is now open at; or call 702-486-2025 for more information and to get started. Don’t delay, because open enrollment closes on Feb. 28.

Give the gift that lasts a lifetime:

A College Education!

Tomorrow’s Tuition. Today’s Prices.

Use at Eligible Colleges Nationwide


Enrollment Ends February 28th! For more information visit Or call (702) 486-2025

Administered by Nevada State Treasurer Kate Marshall

special advertising section

There’s No Place Like Home Active Adults Enjoy Unique,

Fulfilling Lifestyle at Las Ventanas at Summerlin Las Ventanas at Summerlin is Nevada’s only not-for-profit continuing care community; it offers access to residential living, assisted living and skilled nursing all under one roof and at a predictable cost. The Las Ventanas community gives residents and their families’ peace of mind knowing that, should a health need arise, it has the staff and facility to treat them immediately on-site, so they don’t have to leave the comfort of their home and community. And through the unique Life Care program, residents’ financial security is maintained by having predictable monthly expenses for the rest of their lives. Countless other included benefits are available inside the doors of Las Ventanas, including the LaPaloma restaurant that features specialized entrées and a la cart selections, community events and activities, a fitness center with a certified instructor, weekly housekeeping and free maintenance, free transportation and an on-site beauty and barber salon. In addition to the many great amenities that come with your home at Las Ventanas, the master-planned community of Summerlin is just outside your doorstep. You will enjoy the convenience of being close to major grocery and drug stores, banks, restaurants and shopping centers, such as Tivoli Village, Boca Park and the new Shops at Summerlin. In addition, you are just minutes from the fun and entertainment of Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa and Angel Park Golf Course. Las Ventanas at Summerlin is located at 10401 W. Charleston Blvd., near S. Town Center Drive, in Las Vegas. For more information about this one-of-a-kind active adult community, call 702-207-4215 or visit the

Specializing in home care for seniors, the disabled, dementia/Alzheimer’s, rehabilitation, respite and hospice care. Summerlin Area

Henderson Area

9436 West Lake Mead, Suite 11-8 Las Vegas, NV 89134 702-562-3322

1701 N. Green Valley Pkwy, Suite 9-A Henderson, NV 89074 702-407-1100

•Up to 24 hour care (2 hour minimum) •Flexible scheduling with experienced caregivers •Properly licensed, bonded & insured •Celebrating 14 years of service to our community. •Over 225 caring employees.

Get VIP access Subscribe today to Desert Companion. Not only will you get a year’s worth of our award-winning city magazine delivered to your door. But you’ll also be supporting quality journalism, fine writing and great design.


Get a 1-year (12 issues) subscription for just $18

BMW Motorrad USA

Motorcycles since 1923



CALL FOR APPOINTMENT 702-736-6381 Making Beautiful Dentistry •107 Years of Combined Experience •Placing dental implants since 1988 •On site laboratory


2315 East Tropicana Ave,Las Vegas, NV 89119




Enjoy all the Southwest has to offer. Call 702.454.6269 to schedule your reservation. See store for details.

6675 South Tenaya Way •


Art Music T h e at e r



Da n c e FA M I LY

a r t s + e n t e r ta i n m e n t

In the pop-culture memescape, he’s best known for predicting the eventual fusion of man and machine — at last, the belly-button USB port we’ve always wanted! — but there’s more to Ray Kurzweil than Skynet-friendly futurism. Dude’s in the National Inventors Hall of Fame. He speaks at UNLV’s Ham Hall at 7:30p, Feb. 10. It’s free, but tix are required. Info:

Momentarily Flecktone-less, banjo maestro Béla Fleck teams up with indie string quartet Brooklyn Rider for his return to Reynolds Hall. Their collabo marries his banjo twang to their rich strings for a sound that would’ve turned Deliverance into a healing Lifetime movie. They perform at 7:30p, Feb. 8, at The Smith Center; tickets are $29-$89. Info:

For the Pixies-curious, here are random excerpts from recent coverage of this modestly iconic band: “rattled,” “the,” “entire” and “building.” A few more: “surf/punk/noise/etc.,” “overpowering bass line,” “frothed and ranted.” Also, they did “Monkey Gone to Heaven.” The Pixies perform at 8p, Feb. 23, in The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel; tickets are $37-$40. Info:

Answer: 171. Question: How many short films can a Dam Short Film Festival screen in five days? This is the festival’s 10th year, so in addition to a global selection of brief films, look for retrospectives of favorites from the last nine years, plus panels, meet-and-greets and a Feb. 16 Awards Gala. All in the historic Boulder Theater in Boulder City. Full schedule:

Melanie Benjamin’s most recent historical fiction, The Aviator’s Wife, takes readers deep into the cockpit of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s marriage. Using their story, Benjamin discusses the process of writing historical fiction. Now that you’re hooked, after the colon we’ll tell you how to see it: 7p, Feb. 27 at the Clark County Library, 1405 E. Flamingo Road, free. Info: 702-507-3459.

Want your event in our guide? Submit your event with a brief description to | 75


Through Feb. 22, artist reception Feb. 6, 5:30p. T  his is an annual invitational exhibition honoring Chinese New Year. The exhibit includes work by artists of various cultural backgrounds. Free, by appointment. Mayor’s Gallery at Fifth Street School, 401 S. Fourth St., SCHOLASTIC ART AND WRITING AWARDS

Through Mar. 2. E  xplore the best artwork from local students (grades 7-12) in a variety of formats, from photography to painting and jewelry to digital design. See the Gold Key winners from the region before they are submitted for the national awards competition! Free with general admission. Big Springs Gallery at Springs Preserve, RACE HORSE TO RODEO

Through Mar. 21, 6-8p. L  ong drawn to the beauty and grace of horses, artist Larry Darnell Stokes sculpts the animal, along with other characters of race and rodeo, in cast bronze. Free. The Pueblo Room at Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery TERRAINFIRMA

Through Mar. 29, Tue & Fri 12-5p; Sat 10a-3p. L  ocal artist Jevijoe Vitug’s works often deal with survival and the effects of globalization on the environment and economy. Terrainfirma, wordplay on terrain firma and terra infirma, takes a deeper look at the earth’s precariousness. Free. Left of Center Art Gallery, LEONARDO DA VINCI: MACHINES IN MOTION

Through May 4. T  hese full-scale machines were built after detailed study of da Vinci’s designs by a group of scientists and skilled craftsmen in Florence, Italy. Visitors may touch and set them in motion, creating a captivating hands-on experience with an exploration of the principles da Vinci utilized to create each machine. Free with general admission. Springs Preserve MYTHS AND MUSES

Put energy on your shopping list. Sometimes the most convenient place to pay your energy bill isn’t your home. So with NV Energy’s Shop & Pay option, you can pay your bill in places like the grocery store. Unfortunately, we don’t have an option for fixing squeaky grocery-cart wheels. Visit for Shop & Pay locations.

76 | Desert

Companion | February 2014

Feb. 6-Mar. 15, Wed-Sat, 1-7p; artist reception Feb. 6, 7p. W  inner of 2013’s Best in Show for “12 Inches of Sin” international juried art exhibition, artist Jeff Wack will showcase his unique blend of photography and digital painting. His figurative works are an idealized vision of feminine beauty and timelessness. Free. Sin City Gallery,

DANCE SCOTTISH COUNTRY DANCING Feb. 7 & 21, 6:30p. C  elebrate the beautiful ballroom dance styles of Scotland. From the first chord to the final bow or curtsey, participants will be inspired by the driving reels, jigs, strathspeys and lilting airs. Dancers should wear comfortable clothes and soft shoes. $5. Ages 13+. Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush St.,

a r t s + e n t e r ta i n m e n t

VALENTINE’S DANCE WITH BOYD COULTER AND THE GOOD TIMES BAND Feb. 14, 7p. D  ance the evening away with big band music by Boyd Coulter and The Good Times Band. Step back to a sweeter time with romantic standards from the ’50s and ’60s; cha-chas, tangos and more. $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Adults only. Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush St.,

arranged compositions inspired by his early family life, Holmes showcases varying moods, styles and tempos, captivating the audience the whole way through. Titled with the desire of stopping the train of time in its tracks to remain young forever, “Stop This Train” is about all of the stops, high and low, between the stations of life. $35-$45. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center

TAO: PHOENIX RISING Feb. 16, 7:30p. In this new production for North America, athletic bodies and contemporary costumes meet explosive Taiko drumming and innovative choreography in a show that has critics waxing lyrical about TAO’s extraordinary precision, energy, and stamina. $26-$79. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center

BÉLA FLECK AND BROOKLYN RIDER Feb. 8, 7:30p. A  n evening celebrating the collaboration of legendary banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck and the endlessly versatile string quartet Brooklyn Rider. Moving seamlessly between their diverse worlds, these five musicians unveil a rich range of possibilities for this untapped combination. $29-$89. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center


Visit DMV at



Feb. 21-22, 7:30p; Feb 22-23, 2p. E  xperience 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, brought to life through classical Chinese dance and music in an exhilarating performance you will never forget. Tremendous athleticism, thunderous battle drums and masterful vocalists are all set to animated backdrops that transport you to another world. $53-$83. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center ETHNIC EXPRESS INTERNATIONAL FOLK DANCING Every Wed, 6:30-8:45p Have an evening of fun learning international dance styles, including Arabic, Armenian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Greek, Israeli, Macedonian, Russian, Serbian and Turkish folk dances. No need to bring a partner. $4. Ages 8+. Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush St.,

MUSIC BRASS ROOTS QUINTET Feb. 1, 2p. T  he Brass Roots Quintet will perform a concert with a wide-ranging repertoire that embraces all styles of music from classical to contemporary. Free. Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 S. Brush St., KRISTEN HERTZENBERG

Feb. 1, 7p. T  his classically trained singer is best known for starring in her dream role as Christine Daaé in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s reconceived production of Phantom of the Opera in Las Vegas. Her new solo show is a glimpse into the influences outside of theatre and opera that have shaped her musical experience. $25. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center ZEPPELIN USA Feb. 7, 8p. A  n American tribute to Led Zeppelin, this over-the-top production features a full performance of the “Led Zeppelin IV” album, plus a bonus set of various hits. There will also be special guest performers and state of the art sound, lighting, laser and special effects displays. $24-$65. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center CLINT HOLMES: STOP THIS TRAIN Feb. 7-8, 8:30p; Feb. 9, 2p. W  ith carefully

FOR THE LOVE OF MUSIC: A CHILDREN’S CONCERT Feb. 9, 3p.The Nevada Chamber Symphony is offering an interactive concert to introduce young people to the orchestra; how it’s organized and the instruments themselves. Brief biographies of famous composers with examples of both their music and popular American music highlight the program. Free. Main Theater at Clark County Library, UNLV JAZZ ENSEMBLES

Feb. 12, 7p. P  art of the series that highlights the best student musicians from UNLV’s Jazz Studies Program. Free. Main Theater at Clark County Library, THE HONORIFICS

Feb. 13 & 20, 7p. T  he Honorifics are doing something bold and beautiful that helps us all to remember why great music lives and grows forever. See the band that started “The New Oldies,” with special guest Andy Martello - Comedian, Plate-Spinner and Fire-Eater, plus other surprises. $25. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center AN INTIMATE EVENING WITH CLINT BLACK ACOUSTIC Feb. 13, 7:30p. B  lack like you’ve never seen him before. From “Killin’ Time” to “Taillights,” Black is part of the soundtrack of Country music. $29-$79. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center LOVE ON THE BIG SCREEN: CASABLANCA

Feb. 15, 2 & 7p. D  oes it get any more romantic than Bergman and Bogey? The Las Vegas Philharmonic performs the score on stage, while the classic movie runs on the big screen above. $25-$94. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center, THE WORLD FAMOUS INK SPOTS

Feb. 15, 3p. T  hese four Ink Spots - Lou Ragland, Edward “Coco” Stancil, Fleury Bursey and Yusef Sudah - sing the songs generations have heard and loved, as well as new ones of their own. Free. West Las Vegas Library Theatre, 951 W. Lake Mead Blvd.,


Caffe Lounge & Espresso Bar.

Sambalatte is the most exclusive Caffe Lounge & Espresso Bar offering unique twists on classic coffeehouse selections. A symphony of flavors that every coffee connoisseur will experience. Sambalatte is provocative and exciting. Sip. Savor. Socialize. 6555 South Jones Blvd. Suite 100 Las Vegas, NV 89118 702-434-2337 | 77



a r t s + e n t e r ta i n m e n t

AN EVENING WITH JOHN PIZARELLI Feb. 15-16, 7p; Feb. 16, 3p. F  eaturing music from the Great American Songbook and beyond, this varied performance includes songs from Pizarelli’s 20 solo records of the music of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and most current, selections from Double Exposure. $39-$50. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center THE TEN TENORS

Feb. 17, 7:30p. T  his dynamic live experience is a wonderful collection of Broadway’s most-loved classics, sung by 10 of Australia’s hottest tenors. Fans will be delighted by this powerful mix of theatrical showstoppers and heart-melting ballads. $26-$99. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center

Cosmetic Procedure Guide Featuring need to know answers and a profile of cosmetic surgeons.

MICHAEL CAVANAUGH: GREATEST HITS OF THE AMERICAN ROCK AND ROLL SONGBOOK Feb. 21-22, 7p; Feb. 22, 3p. J oin this charismatic performer, musician and actor, made famous for his piano/lead vocals in the Broadway musical “Movin’ Out.” $39-$56. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center


Feb. 28-Mar. 1, 7p. F  rom her start as Barbra Streisand’s understudy in Broadway’s “Funny Girl,” to appearing on “The Dean Martin Show” a record 26 times, to her beloved turn as Maria Portokalis in the hit film “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” Kazan has proven herself to be a torch song diva. In this show, Kazan also pays homage to her idols Judy Garland, Ethel Merman and Sophie Tucker. $39-$49. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center THE ST. PETERSBURG PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA Mar. 1, 7:30p. F  ounded in 1882, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra is Russia’s oldest symphonic ensemble and a beacon of the country’s passion for art and music. It was with this orchestra that Tchaikovsky chose to premiere his Symphony No. 6 (“Pathetique”), and it is with this orchestra that Russia shares its cultural spirit with the world. $39-$150. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center


Feb. 23, 2 & 6p. E  njoy an unforgettable evening as Wright shares the real-life love stories behind the music and his signature arrangements of romantic songs from the stage and screen such as “My Funny Valentine,” “Places That Belong to You” and “For Good.” $30-$75. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center PAT METHENY UNITY GROUP

Feb. 24, 7:30p. T  his concert will include a spec-

Pet Perfect Everything from boarding to grooming to pet boutiques.

able spirit. $29-$125. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center

trum of selections from throughout the guitarist’s groundbreaking career, along with music from his upcoming release. $29-$79. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center AMOS LEE: MOUNTAINS OF SORROW, RIVERS OF SONG TOUR Feb. 25, 7:30p. F  or his fifth album, Lee took a different path for the recording; he worked in a new city with a new producer, while, for the first time, he brought his touring band into the studio with him. Come hear the results in person. $29-$48. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center

TONY SACCA Mar. 2, 2p. S  howman Tony Sacca presents a captivating musical journey featuring a 10-piece ensemble with strings, rhythm section and horns, along with two female singers. His song explorations are sprinkled with his hometown sounds of Philly, tributes to Barry Manilow, The Four Seasons, doo-wop, his original Vegas songs and a touch of Broadway. $33-$39. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center

THEATER PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE Feb. 1, 8p; Feb. 7-8, 8p. A  surrealistic play by Steve Martin. Imagine Picasso and Einstein meeting at a bar in 1904 to compete with one another as to whose work will actually matter most in the 20th century. Surrounded by a group of eclectic characters who each have differing opinions, they are soon interrupted by a time-traveling stranger who adds his own twist to the discussion. Presented by SRO productions. $20. The Onyx Theatre, FLASHDANCE: THE MUSICAL

The Green SceneInformation on how to live green.



Call Now!


or email christine@desertcompan

78 | Desert

Companion | February 2014

GEORGE THOROGOOD AND THE DESTROYERS: 40 YEARS STRONG Feb. 27, 7:30p. C  ome rock with the band and their classic hits, including: “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” “Move It On Over,” “Who Do You Love,” “Bad To The Bone” and “I Drink Alone.” $35-$75. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center GEORGIA ON MY MIND: CELEBRATING RAY CHARLES Feb. 28, 7:30p. R  ay Charles transcended racism, faced cultural upheavals head on and helped bring jazz, blues and soul to the rest of the world. In honor of Black History Month, an all-star cast of performers will celebrate Ray’s life, music and undeni-

Feb. 2, 7:30p; Feb. 1-2, 2p. B  ased on the movie that became a pop culture phenomenon, this stage adaptation tells the inspiring and unforgettable story of Alex Owens, a Pittsburgh steel mill welder by day and stripper by night, who has dreams of one day becoming a professional dancer. $26-$129. Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center THE TAMING OF THE SHREW

Feb. 7, 7:30p; Feb. 8, 2p. P  erformed by the Utah Shakespeare Festival Touring Ensemble. One of the Bard’s most popular comedies, this Shakespeare-in-the-Schools production features a non-stop battle of the sexes and feverish battle of wills, presented in Commedia dell’Arte style. $12-14. Nicholas J. Horn Theatre,


Feb 14-15, 7p; Feb. 15-16, 2p. H  ere’s your chance to see the Rainbow Company’s annual tour show, performed on a main stage before the touring season begins! Each year an original play about Nevada’s past is created, using fascinating historic characters and music that makes everyone smile. $5. Fifth Street School Auditorium, 401 S. Fourth St., LAS VEGAS IMPROVISATIONAL PLAYERS

Feb. 22, 7p. L  ove funny? Be a part of the fun yourself! Every song and scene is created on the spot using suggestions from YOU - The Audience. Discover some incredible local talent and enjoy completely family-friendly comedy. Come early for Name That Tune. $10 at the door, kids free. American Heritage Academy, 6126 S. Sandhill Road,

LECTURES, SPEAKERS AND PANELS AN EVENING WITH MELANIE BENJAMIN: CHARLES AND ANNE MORROW LINDBERGH AND WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION Feb. 27, 7p. T  he bestselling author will discuss and sign her novel, The Aviator’s Wife, in which she pulls back the curtains to reveal the story behind one of America’s most extraordinary couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Free. Jewel Box Theater at Clark County Library, STEP UP

Feb. 28, 7p. E  njoy a night of spoken word performances hosted by some of the brightest local artists. Step up to the mic and share your love of poetry in honor of Black History Month. $10. Garfield’s Restaurant, 2620 Regatta Drive, 702-229-6125

Thank you, Paul. Paul Revere Williams brought strength, grace and beauty to each of his more than 3,000 projects, including the historic La Concha Motel lobby, which now serves as the Neon Museum’s visitors center.

In celebration of Black History month, the Neon Museum presents a free lecture commemorating his unparalleled life and enormous contribution to American architecture.

Thursday, February 6 • 7 PM Marjorie Barrick Museum, UNLV Campus Special thanks to our sponsors Centurylink, The El Cortez Hotel & Casino and AIA.

FAMILY & FESTIVALS BLACK HISTORY MONTH FESTIVAL Feb 15, 10a-5p. C  ommemorating the contributions of African-Americans to Southern Nevada’s history and culture, this family-friendly event includes a children’s film festival, historic black Las Vegas photography exhibit, live entertainment, and food and craft vendors. $5 adults, children 12 and younger free. Springs Preserve


Mar. 1, 4-8p. Celebrate Cajun and Creole cuisine, music and culture at this festival with live Zydeco music, Southern food, a beer garden for the adults and kids’ crafts, fortune tellers and palm readers. $8 adults, $5 children 5-12, free for children under 5. Springs Preserve

FUNDRAISERS SPLENDOR IN THE GLASS Feb. 8, 3-7p. Southern Nevada Public Television’s 25th annual fundraiser will feature a silent auction, live auction, live music, wine and beer tasting, hors d’oeuvres and a live food demonstration by Chef Charlie Palmer. $85. LVH Casino Ballroom, | 79

end note

Survey says!


first, thanks to the 600 of you who participated in our online poll for this Best of the City Issue. Second, thanks to the 463 of you who voted in the category Best! Thing! Ever! in Las Vegas. Third, thanks to the 11 people who voted for Desert Companion. Mighty sweet of you, considering everything else you could have nominated ( just ask the person who wrote in “Luciano Pavarotti”). Thanks also to the 10 people who picked KNPR — although to the person who specified “the guys at KNPR … they are super dreamy,” the guys at Desert Companion have to ask, what are we, Best Chopped Liver? In any case, we appreciate your support; you gave us more votes than “public pickleball courts in Henderson,” which is our baseline for organizational self-esteem. Best! Thing! Ever! Three small words and some annoying punctuation — but so many vital questions raised. In a dynamic universe perceived through our imperfect systems of relative values, how can one say anything is “Best,” and does “Talking Dogs Mobile Grooming” truly qualify? Is Oscar Goodman, technically speaking, a “Thing”? (Four of you thought so!) And “Ever” — how long is that, anyway? Then again, perhaps some questions are best left for philosophers to Google (for starters: What the hell is pickleball?). Rather, our task here is to collate your responses into a robust database of Best! Things! Ever! that will finally explain you, Las Vegas, to yourself, also Las Vegas. Who are you? What are you like? What’s your number? What are you wearing? Yes, we’re sure this is how data science works, why do you ask? Food is clearly one of the best Best! Things! Many of you apparently eat it, and later enthuse about it in online surveys. “Amazing food options,” one voter noted, speaking for many. Dozens of restaurants were nominated: Baby Stacks, MTO Café, Bar + Bistro, Sweets Raku — it’s like there’s a place you can eat every meal, and how many cities of 2 million can say that? Amazing the way a survey like this can open your eyes to a place. Not surprisingly, the Strip accrued many votes, with a significant subgroup pushing for the Bellagio fountains and one person writing, “multiple dance venues.” We’re happy that at least one person is dancing in our nightclubs. More than 30 of you love something about downtown, whether it’s the three people who voted “First Friday” or the person who said, “the startup tech community” — though probably not the guy who appreciates

80 | Desert

Companion | February JANUARY 2013 2014

“free and abundant parking.” On some issues, of course, Las Vegans are as deeply divided as many Americans in these troubled times. While 29 of you think our weather is great, especially in combination with Nevada’s other natural glories — as one of you put it: “weather, topography, no taxes” — closer scrutiny reveals at least eight degrees of separation: “60-degree winter days,” one voter argued; “68-degree days in January,” another argued back. Can’t we all just get along? Human nature being what it is, a few respondents took Best! Thing! Ever! to a dark place. “Feelings of mutual depression from living in such a depraved city,” one explained. “At least we are all together.” Not if you keep up that attitude, bub. Another resorted to morose caplock: “LEAVING.” Several allowed themselves a wisp of hope about Best! Things! to come (“haven’t found it yet”) or latched onto whatever silver lining they could find (“not being Reno”). So, as we take a fresh look at our city through this matrix of food, decent weather and not-Reno-ness, what, finally, have we learned? Perhaps just this: There are public pickleball courts in Henderson. And somehow, that seems like enough. In closing, thank you again for participating in our survey.

© i S to c k p h oto . c o m / L o r d r u n a r


Since 1978 Nathan Adelson Hospice has cared for more than 56,000 patients and their families.

The community’s trusted partner for end-of-life care • Mission Driven; Not-For-Profit • Board-Certified Physicians in Hospice Care • Two Inpatient Facilities • Full Range of Complementary Therapies • Comprehensive Pediatric Hospice Program

(702) 733-0320

Our vision is simple:

No one should end the journey of life alone, afraid, or in pain.

Special thanks to Wells Fargo for generously sponsoring this ad

Our graduates will be ready to achieve their individual potential, savor life and meet the challenges of the world. Experience AMAZING at, or call (702) 949-3600 for a personal tour.

Desert companion - February 2014  
Desert companion - February 2014  

Your guide to living in southern Nevada.