Monday, February 18, 10:00 p.m.
The roll-out of the Palazzo rolls on with each new week bringing the debut of a restaurant, lounge or shop and soon, a show and nightclub. One thing the Sala Lounge at Dos Caminos restaurant has going for it is its status as the only nightlife venue currently open at Palazzo, aside from the casino bars. The nightclub/concert venue/café Palazzo has in the oven won’t emerge for quite some time. Sushi Samba’s much-anticipated Sugarcane ultralounge isn’t slated to appear until the second week of April. And beyond that, Tao’s Stanton Social-esque Roman/Turkish bathhouse-themed restaurant and lounge is forever being bumped back; the latest I’ve heard is simply “summer”. So for now, Sala is enjoying its position as an only-child.
Spanish for “living room,” Sala lounge is NY-based restaurant Group B. R. Guest’s first go at giving it’s fourth Dos Caminos installation a lounge with its own identity. Not even open two weeks and a second Sala lounge is already planned to accompany the opening of Dos Caminos Scottsdale, Arizona.
Like the venue, Sala Monday industry night is only in its second week so it’s not overly busy tonight though I think that will change quickly and permanently after model/actress Molly Simms hosts the grand opening on March 15, a benefit for her charity in Mexico. Tonight being President’s Day, many tourists have flown home and those that remain are holding business and after-business meetings over a round of Dos Caminos’ signature prickly pear margaritas and the heavenly house-made guacamole.
I, too, am kicking back in one of Sala’s three cabanas, enjoying the DJs (Megaman and Cyberkid) and the natural energy of the room. Designer David Rockwell is said to have spent six years in Mexico, so it’s easy to see how his extensive stay has had an effect; there isn’t a cactus, sombrero, donkey or poncho in sight. No kitsch, no Disney-ish effects, nada. Except, perhaps, for the vintage Mexican scenes that hang in and above the dining room, and the subtle cattle brands in the wood paneling. But even those are respectful and beautiful.
Entering from the casino floor, guests are flanked by a brass grid that will soon hold glass pitchers which will fill from above and overflow into the next pitcher below like an endless champagne glass tower. It’s not operational yet, but that was no reason to delay the opening.
Inside, the Sala alcove is curtained-off from the casino floor at night, creating intimacy among the seven caramel-colored, snake-embossed, leather banquette VIP tables, and below wicker-basket chandeliers. Even more rustic hammered metal tables and impossibly heavy wood stools dot the lounge floor on the way to the low-profile cabanas and the entrance to the dining area where hundreds upon hundreds of snake-print silk lamps light the way through the dining room of high-backed cowboy leather booths to a candle-lit temple façade. Beyond the temple’s iron doors, a private dining room awaits with a dedicated bar and flickering infinity glass walls. And all the way there, 1,112 Dia de Los Muertos skulls smile mischievously from the right-hand wall.
Back in the lounge, the elegantly curved, 50-foot, aged-wood bar seats 25 people very comfortably as a nightclub-style staff (I count two mohawks among them!) serves up 130 different kinds of tequila and mescal as well as a bar menu. Available from 11 p.m.-2 a.m., it’s a demi-version of the Dos Caminos full menu but it still has the carnitas, so I’m satisfied. My Quatros Caminos cocktail blends 4 Copas Tequila Banco—the world’s only certified organic tequila—with organic clementine juice, agave nectar and a dried hibiscus flower. The flower looks a little worse for wear but mixologist Eben Klemm has taken some even bolder chances with his beverage menu, insuring a drinking session you are not soon to forget.
The big question now is where does Sala Lounge fit into the scene? The chefs are laser-focused on the food, the nightlife operations manager (yes, they have one) is focused on bottle service in the lounge. But it’s in the hands of the guests as to how they will utilize the gorgeous rooms. For now, I’ll stay focused on my drink.
Xania Woodman thinks globally and parties locally. And frequently. E-mail her at [email protected] and visit thecircuitlv.com to sign up for Xania’s free weekly newsletter.