The Beat Downtown’s unofficial daytime meetup spot since 2010 occupies the ground floor of the former Fremont Medical Building, these days known as creative hub Emergency Arts. Under one roof, you can order a coffee and a beer (and a yogurt and a pizza), thumb through vinyl and utilize free Wi-Fi while you catch a band. The people watching’s first-rate, too. 520 Fremont St., 702-385-2328.
Don’t Tell Mama Typically, Vegas piano bars are for dueling. But Don’t Tell Mama, an offshoot of the NYC original, bucked the local trend at its Downtown location by featuring a lone player at the ivories, golden-throated staffers and nightly open-mic opportunities for amateur belters whose genre preferences know no bounds. It’s also the gay-friendliest bar on the block. 517 Fremont St. #110, 702-207-0788.
Downtown Cocktail Room If Beauty Bar gave Downtown locals their first new hangout in years, the chic bar affectionately known as DCR offered them a grown-up alternative. Immediately after its 2007 opening, neighbors and acquaintances reconnected over inventive, painstakingly crafted drinks. Its mixology program remains one of the best in the city, and it’s the only spot in town devoted exclusively to traditional, soulful house music. 111 Las Vegas Blvd S., 702-880-3696.
The Griffin Whether you’re headed to Beauty Bar for a show or Le Thai for dinner, it’s always a good idea to pre-game at this 8-year-old East Fremont standby, best-known for its strangely Medieval fireplace pits and its beer bargains. A better-than-average jukebox in the main room and occasional live music in the back room complete the scene, well, sound. 511 Fremont St., 702-382-0577.
Insert Coin(s) Its video-game bar concept is straight out of Brooklyn, the sort of place you’d hardly expect in behind-the-times Las Vegas. But the 4-year old arcade drinkery is one of the better-known barcades in the country, and is more than a place for Galaga nostalgists. Those game for (inexpensive) table service get to play any contemporary game on their private TVs, while more footloose patrons have a sizeable dancefloor—and a reliable lineup of local tune selectors—with which to revel. 512 Fremont St., 702-477-2525.
Le Thai A reliable source of spicy eats—Thai, in case you couldn’t tell— this smallish East Fremont joint has stayed hip since opening in late 2011. Even as the area has become populated by other quality food options like Carson Kitchen and the recently retooled Radio City Pizzeria, the list to get into Le Thai has remained lengthy—and worth getting your name on. 523 Fremont St., 702-778-0888.