If you want to create the next generation of swanky steakhouse in Las Vegas, there’s really only one guy to call. Barry Dakake came to town in 1998 to open Aureole at Mandalay Bay and Charlie Palmer Steak at the Four Seasons before the Maloof family installed him in the kitchen at N9NE at the Palms, the undisputed champion of scene-y steakhouses.
When Station Casinos remade the Palms and transformed N9NE into Scotch 80 Prime, Dakake stayed on to supervise the evolution. And now, as Derek Stevens debuts the dreamy new Circa casino resort on the corner of Main and Fremont streets, Dakake is back on duty with Barry’s Downtown Prime.
“I was in the Caribbean when I found out about this project. It feels like it’s happening so fast,” the Rhode Island-born chef says. “It’s definitely going to be the coolest spot to go. But I’ve always had great teams surrounding me, great cooks and sous chefs. At N9NE we were a family, and we’re going to be re-creating parts of that in this new place.”
Created by Dakake with his Make It Happen Hospitality partners Yassine Lyoubi, Marco Cicione and Donnie Rihn, Barry’s Downtown Prime promises to be one of the most glamorous Las Vegas restaurants in recent memory, situated in Circa’s secluded bottom floor and accessible through an elevator entrance directly beneath the restored Vegas Vickie neon sign. The Make It Happen team was heavily involved in the restaurant’s design, which takes inspiration from classic Vegas hot spots while adding modern flexibility for private group dinners and events in a multitude of dining rooms.
“No other restaurant has what we have. We’re really making it a destination,” Dakake says. “We took all the old-school names in Vegas hospitality and put them on these rooms, from the Pioneer Club to the Sultan’s Table to the Fremont Room or the Sabre Room. And I’m doing the same food I’ve been doing from when I was young, keeping those standards high.”
Expect tableside preparations at Barry’s, and not just setting fire to a pan of bananas foster. The staff will be cooking certain dishes from start to finish right in front of your eyes while also bringing the best of classic steakhouse cuisine, from tomahawk ribeyes and Steak Diane to chilled shellfish platters and Baked Alaska.
Here are the other restaurants opening at Circa on October 28:
• 8 EAST Dan Coughlin, creator of Downtown’s beloved Le Thai, is behind this new concept inspired by metropolitan Asian food markets. It was recently announced that 8 East would open October 28 instead of in December, and the change adds some serious range to Circa’s food lineup, with Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean and Thai dishes on the menu.
• SAGINAW’S DELICATESSEN
Paul Saginaw, one of the founders of the legendary Zingerman’s Deli in Michigan, was coaxed to Las Vegas to open this premier deli destination. It’ll be all about the Reuben at Saginaw’s, which will serve sandwich favorites alongside matzo ball soup, latkes, chopped liver and breakfast specialties.
• PROJECT BBQ The local food truck of the same name from chef Rex Bernales has been dishing up pulled pork, brisket and chicken in front of the Circa construction site for months. The permanent eatery will also be situated under the Fremont Street Experience, creating a backyard-style barbecue experience.
• VICTORY BURGER & WINGS CO. Derek Stevens brought American Coney Island’s famous hot dogs to the D, and now he’s tasked that restaurant’s founding family with this sports bar concept—starring half-pound burgers and crispy chicken wings—to feed the masses at Circa’s massive sportsbook. Expect a serious draft beer lineup to wash it all down.