Billboard Music Cities: Las Vegas

Las Vegas Sign
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Be it the blackjack table or the dinner table, deals are being made and hands are being played all across Las Vegas. No more is it an old man's game in that other Entertainment Capital of the World, and long gone are the days when the most diversity in town is at the hotel buffet. "You can go old school, you can go indie, you can see those that have passed via an impersonator--really the options are endless on any given night," Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas chief marketing officer Lisa Marchese says about the music offerings in town. "And while the quality varies dramatically, there is no shortage of options." Book a trip for the upcoming Billboard Music Awards on May 19 or check in on Memorial Day weekend, when Sin City turns into the EDM capital of the world, says Jesse Waits, managing partner of XS and Tryst nightclubs at Wynn Las Vegas. "It's the kickoff to the entire summer and there are amazing parties and headlining DJs all over town." Billboard spoke to some of the most important insiders in town to figure out the best of the city--and where the real business goes down.

1. AWG Ambassador

4676 Wynn Road

For transportation around town, Insomniac founder/CEO Pasquale Rotella recommends this limo service. "It's better than waiting in cab lines and [it's] affordable," he says.

Pearl Concert Theater

2. Pearl Concert Theater

The Palms, 4321 W. Flamingo Road

When the Palms Hotel built this theater, every seat was tested to ensure no sightline was obstructed. Hard-wired to the Studio at the Palms to record live shows, it's a favorite venue of Panic at the Disco's Brendon Urie. "It sounds great and it shows all kinds of acts," he says.

The Cosmopolitan Hotel

3. The Cosmopolitan Hotel

3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Located in the center of the Strip, it's a city favorite. As proof, Marchese extols its status as Foursquare's most checked-in hotel in the world. Innovative Leisure Records founder Jamie Strong notes that the hotel "is responsible for making Vegas exciting again." Check out its Set Your Life to Music Thursday-night indie series.


4. Jaleo

The Cosmopolitan, 3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse loves Jose Andres' tapas restaurant for a great power lunch. "Order several items for the table to share to get a good sampling of the menu," he says.

The Buffet Bellagio

5. The Buffet Bellagio

The Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South

"One of the best breakfast buffets," Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. says. "It's as ornate as you can get."

Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge

6. Yellowtail Japanese Restaurant & Lounge

The Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South

The terrace and view of the Bellagio fountains make for an impressive dinner, Dim Mak Records founder/DJ Steve Aoki says. "They've got a bomb tuna jalapeño dish."

7. Drai's Afterhours

3595 Las Vegas Blvd. South

"After all these years, Drai's is still the best after-party in town--a place where it's OK to get freaky-deaky," says Jonathan Shecter, aka "Shecky Green," director of programming at Wynn Las Vegas nightclubs.

The Donny & Marie Showroom

8. The Flamingo Showroom

Flamingo Las Vegas, 3555 S. Las Vegas Blvd.

"There aren't many traditional showrooms left in Vegas, so it reminds me of the Rat Pack and Elvis days, when I worked Vegas as a little kid," says Donny Osmond, of the Donnie & Marie Theater at the Flamingo.


9. Spago

The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, 3500 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Wolfgang Puck started Vegas' fine-dining movement 20 years ago with Spago, AEG Live Las Vegas VP John Nelson says, and "it's still the place to run into any Las Vegas heavy-hitter."


10. 1 OAK

The Mirage, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd. South

"1 OAK owns the Vegas after-party scene," says Darren Pfeffer, VP of music and entertainment marketing at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. "Usher shut it down after the iHeartRadio Music Festival last year."

Trump International Hotel Las Vegas

11. Trump International Hotel Las Vegas

2000 Fashion Show Drive

With 64 floors of golden glass, "it's the secret destination of the elite when coming to Vegas," Food & Beverage magazine publisher Michael Politz says. "Grammy Award-winning producer Damon Elliott can be seen having drinks with P!nk at the lobby bar."

The Country Club

12. The Country Club

Wynn, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South

For a power lunch, Pfeffer says, "If In-N-Out Burger is too crowded, the Country Club at the Wynn is a must."

The Peppermill

13. The Peppermill

2985 Las Vegas Blvd. South

So long as you're ready to wait, this neon-filled Vegas staple serves the best breakfast at any time. Shecter says, "It like a scene in 'Boogie Nights' had a baby with the Rat Pack. Huge portions, attitudinal waitresses, off-the-charts kitsch value."

Lotus of Siam

14. Lotus of Siam

953 E. Sahara Ave. A5

Locals and visiting foodies know the modest beauty of this Northern Thai restaurant, nestled in a mall east of the Strip. "It surprises with its understated location and aesthetic, but then surprises again with amazing food," Marchese says.

15. Luv-It Frozen Custard

505 E. Oakey Blvd.

It would be easy to drive by this tiny stand north of the Strip, but Gary Richards (aka DJ Destructo), founder/CEO of HARD Events, says this ice-creamery isn't to be missed.

16. Dino's Lounge

1516 Las Vegas Blvd. South

The Strip's favorite dive bar. Andrew Courtney, special events manager at Hard Rock Cafe Las Vegas, recommends it for an after-party: "a legendary karaoke room that's always a show in itself."

17. Artifice

1025 S. First St.

"Old Downtown is having a bit of renaissance," Vannucci says, with Artifice in the center of the 18-block, decade-old Arts District now coming into its own. "It's souped up with the sort of flavor you might find in hipper towns like L.A. or even New York."

18. Chicago Joe's

820 S. Fourth St.

"The best unknown Italian restaurant in Vegas," KLUC PD Cat Thomas says. "It's a house downtown with only a dozen tables, and the food is amazing. It's like having a meeting in Old Vegas."


19. Commonwealth

525 E. Fremont St.

North of the Strip, this pub offers a hip relief from the typical commotion, making it the perfect place for drinks after a show, Waits says.

Du-Par's Restaurant and Bakery

20. Du-Par's Restaurant and Bakery

Golden Gate Casino, 1 Fremont St.

Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds says that inside Vegas' oldest hotel-casino, with more than 70 years of service, "are the best pancakes in the world."

The Neon Museum

21. The Neon Museum

770 Las Vegas Blvd. North

One of the city's hottest tickets is a tour of this two-acre neon bone yard, showing off rescued relics from Vegas' most iconic properties. "If they'd only fit, these signs would decorate every loft apartment in downtown L.A.," Nelson says.

Pinball Hall of Fame

22. Pinball Hall of Fame

1610 E. Tropicana Ave.

Teamwork Management founder Kevin Kusatsu, who represents some of the city's biggest DJs (Diplo, A-Trak), says this is the best place for a break: "It's weird and different and there's no nightclub in there."

Hash House a Go-Go

23. Hash House a Go-Go

6800 W. Sahara Ave.

Vegas loves this new-school breakfast spot that serves healthy enough portions to cure what ails you from the night before. "One item on the menu is a 24-ounce beer and a plate of bacon," Urie says.

Vintner Grill

24. Vintners Grill

10100 W. Charleston Blvd., Suite 150

"The greatest power lunch spot in town," Politz says. "On any given day you can catch Nicolas Cage, Al. B Sure! or Carrot Top lunching with their teams, strategizing their careers."

Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa

25. Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa

11011 W. Charleston Blvd.

 If you're staying off the Strip, Thomas recommends getting a room at the base of Red Rock Canyon. "They spent $1 million per suite," he says. "And the pool is amazing."


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