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Dining

Why locals and tourists love Palace Station’s Oyster Bar

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Behold the magnificent pan roast at Palace Station’s Oyster Bar, one of the single best things you can eat in Las Vegas.
Photo: Leila Navidi

If you’re gonna go, go early or late. The Oyster Bar is open 24 hours for a reason; these 18 seats are always in high demand, and snagging one or two is only an easy proposition in the early morning hours. Whether you’re eating a pan roast for breakfast or at the end of a Vegas all-nighter, well, that part’s up to you.

Oh, pan roast. There’s nothing quite like you.

Cherrystone clams.

So you probably never thought you’d wait in line to eat at a restaurant in Palace Station, of all places—the original “neighborhood casino,” though it was known more as a grind joint back when it opened as Bingo Palace in 1976. Of course, it gave rise to Station Casinos, a dominant force off the Strip. You’re much more likely to eat at a coffee shop or Mexican restaurant or steakhouse at the Station near you, and less likely to drive up (or down) Sahara to get to the Oyster Bar. But plenty of locals do, and tourists, too. Gamblers who have moved on to play at newer casinos still make it a point to hit the Oyster Bar on every trip, lucky or otherwise. It’s a necessity.

The restaurant opened in October of 1995 and hasn’t changed a lot. The steakhouse that it shares a kitchen with is being renovated right now and will reappear next year as the Charcoal Room, just like the one at Santa Fe Station. The man in control of all these silver kettles, shrimp cocktails and icy two-dollar draft beers (those happen between 1 and 9 a.m.) is chef John “JJ” Slacks, who’s been cooking for the company for 18 years. He shucks, he stews, he does it all, and he has regulars from just about everywhere. Most of them want a pan roast.

French bouillabaisse, packed with mussels, clams, lobster and other seafood.

The Palace Pan Roast packs it in: shrimp, crab, Andouille sausage and chicken. That’s a lot of flavor in an already flavorful creamy stew with too many spices to name, fresh tomatoes and brandy. Its richness is truly original, which is why I prefer the combo pan roast of sweet shrimp, crab and lobster. Have it your way.

This dish is the reason so many Strip restaurant workers dream about hitting the Oyster Bar at shift’s end, but there are other treasures here: giant Gulf oysters or funky cherrystone clams on the half shell; Manhattan or New England clam chowder ($7.99 for the big bowl); classic French bouillabaisse ($23.99) loaded with onions and celery, mussels and clams, lobster and cod; and a terrific linguine and clams ($16.99) in red or white sauce (go white).

The pan roasts start at $19.99 for shrimp or crab and run up to $22.99 for the house version, served in a titanic bowl with steamed rice. It’s hard to find this stuff around town, and sadly, the oyster bar might be a dying breed of restaurant. Palace Station’s isn’t going anywhere. All those people in line would riot.

The Oyster Bar Palace Station, 367-2411. 24/7.

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Brock Radke is Las Vegas Weekly's food editor and author of the Strip-focused column The Incidental Tourist. He has written ...

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