Treasure Island

TI seeks to please all with its recent redevelopments

The Strip-side property opened in 1993.
Photo: Steve Marcus

Trimming the fat is for accountants and supermodels. That’s the slogan on an advertisement for Phil’s Italian Steakhouse, one of several recently reconfigured restaurants at TI. It’s a confident reminder that, hey, you didn’t come to Las Vegas to order a salad. It’s also an invitation to eat at a hybrid restaurant combining the two most popular types of cuisine on the Strip—steakhouse fare and Italian food. It doesn’t get more demographically accommodating than this.

TI has been moving in this direction since Phil Ruffin purchased the property from what was then MGM-Mirage in early 2009. The pirate-themed resort created by Steve Wynn in 1993 was acquired by MGM in 2000, and while its theme has been slightly modified over the years, the charted course under Ruffin’s reign is clear: friendly fun for everyone.

Isla, long one of the Strip’s top Mexican eateries, will close on July 29 to make room for the Seafood Shack. An unappetizing move? Not really. Isla is one of the last remnants from the MGM era. TI was once the home of trendy nightclubs and restaurants like Social House, Tangerine and Christian Audigier. But sizzling hot spots fizzle out. And at TI, their replacements are flip-flop friendly, party-ready stops like Señor Frog’s and Gilley’s Saloon that come with an added shot of sustainability. Many Strip casinos have added easy-access, multi-purpose venues with a casual, good-time vibe; TI is a casino full of ’em. Plus, the property has maintained its most recognizable assets, the free Sirens of TI Strip-front show and Mystère, the original Vegas Cirque du Soleil residency—while adding a roster of crowd-pleasers to the directory. Call it a reverse plank-walk.

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Brock is an award-winning writer and reporter who has been documenting life in Las Vegas for 20 years. He currently ...

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