It almost seems as if the canopy covering the Fremont Street Experience acts as a sort of publicity umbrella, protecting the less-hip stretch from the excessive excitement cloud that has rained all over Downtown Las Vegas in recent years. But stuff is still happening on Fremont West—ick, let’s not call it that—if you care to look.
For example: barbecue. Binion’s Gambling Hall is considered one of the ghostier casino ghost towns on Fremont, mostly because its hotel has been shuttered for almost five years. But its casino soldiers on, and recent renovations have brought changes in dining. The newest is the conversion of a former cigar lounge into Benny’s Smokin’ BBQ & Brews, where a full rack of succulent, sauce-slathered baby back ribs is $15.99 (or $13.99 if you have a Club Binion membership). Or opt for a half-chicken ($8.99) or a combo of bird and half-rack to go with baked beans, cornbread, corn on the cob and coleslaw. These are flavorful deals, available every day starting at 4 p.m.
Last year, the 24-hour Binion’s Café was built into something bigger from what was a diner counter, forming a proper coffee shop to replace a larger downstairs restaurant that had closed. The freshly ground burgers are still among Downtown’s best, and the rest of the menu runs the gamut from chef salads ($5.75) to country fried steak and eggs ($8.50). Those lamenting the perceived loss of cheap casino grub need look no further.
Binion’s also has a snack bar-sandwich stop, but the top spot is the Top of Binion’s Steakhouse, a vintage gourmet room on the 24th floor that was rumored to have closed. It’s still alive, fueled by some of the friendliest service on Fremont Street, plenty of aged Black Angus beef, cool views you’ve never seen before and signature chicken fried lobster. It’s the kind of place where you can still find oysters Rockefeller ($14.99) and escargot Bourguignon ($13.99), lobster bisque ($9.99) and surf and turf, old-school fun with no formality.
This is the way some people still remember Downtown Vegas, or choose to think of it. Hopefully there’s room for both versions, new and old, east and ... first.
Binion's Gambling Hall 128 Fremont St., 702-382-1600.