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California Pizza Kitchen At The Park Surprises

California Pizza Kitchen at The Park surprised me in a good way last night. New outlets of chain restaurants aren’t always the most exciting restaurants to explore but I was curious about the new, exclusive menu being offered only at this location. CPK was the final restaurant at The Park (see more from the opening of The Park at Covers) that I wanted to try so I figured that I’d give it a whirl.

California Pizza Kitchen has multiple locations in Las Vegas (The Mirage, Downtown Summerlin, etc.) so there needed to be something to set this one apart. The new menu does that by offering burgers, steaks, unique appetizers like buffalo cauliflower and pizzas you can’t find at other locations.

CPKBurgerBest

We sampled different dishes and I was happy to see that there’s another moderately priced dining option at The Park. The CPK Classic Cheeseburger was only $14 and was made with Wagyu beef and has melted American cheese, Nueske’s Applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onions, tomato, pickles, lettuce and housemade burger sauce on a toasted brioche bun. The accompanying fingerling potatoes were crisp and tasty.

The CPK Classic Cheeseburger was easily the best thing we had from the 6 or 7 dishes we tried. I wouldn’t call this the best burger in Las Vegas but it’s very good and probably what I would order in the future.

CPK.BuffCauliflower

Everyone we spoke with at the restaurant highly recommended that we try the buffalo cauliflower. Yes, I ate cauliflower. My mom would be proud. Kinda. The veggies were masked very well.

The cauliflower was deep-fried and had an excellent buffalo sauce. I think vegetarians I know would probably love this dish. The sauce was spicy and tangy and I’d eat this all day…if it was chicken.

CPKMeatballs

The turkey meatball appetizer was more up my ally. They’re made with turkey sausage and had a nice kick to them. Note to management if there was a happy hour deal with apps and booze discounts, I would probably destroy these every time I visited The Park.

CPKRibeye

So, a steak at California Pizza Kitchen? Let’s give it a whirl.

This is exactly what you’d expect from a $40 steak on the Vegas Strip. The meat was good but it wasn’t great. If you go in with the understanding that this isn’t a high-end steakhouse steak you’ll probably enjoy it.

An additional note on the steak, the grill temperatures were probably a bit too high as the first rib eye was charred but very undercooked from the medium we ordered. The second steak was closer. I’d give them a minute to figure this out before trying again.

Overall

Like I said, I was pleasantly surprised with the dishes that are only available at The Park location of California Pizza Kitchen. The non-pizza options are tasty and better than pizza I’ve had at any of the locations.

Between  Shake Shack, Bruxie, Beerhaus and California Pizza Kitchen, The Park has a good selection of moderately priced restaurants. You can see more pics from dinner in the slideshow below.

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The Still Brings You Beer In Time For March Madness At The Mirage

Late last year the Revolution Lounge at The Mirage closed. The Still Crafts, Drafts & Eats will take over the space and open in time for the first weekend of March Madness. Here’s a first look at The Still’s beer menu.

Beer Menu at The Still at The Mirage

The Still will open at 8 am for the first round of the NCAA Tournament and as needed for other rounds of the tournament. The bar and restaurant features 27 TVs in an 8,000 square foot space. For reference, that’s about the same size as the sports book at the Cosmopolitan.

The center bar features over 50 craft beers. The centerpiece of The Still is Bud Bud’s, a refurbished Airstream trailer that was found abandoned in the back hills of Tennessee by the Still crew. You can find more information about The Still on their website, thestillvegas.com.

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New Name For Monte Carlo, Excalibur Expansion, Crystals For Sale, REIT and More From MGM Resorts Earnings Call

Jim Murren, CEO MGM Resorts

Jim Murren

Earlier today I listened to the MGM Resorts quarterly earnings call. The company has so much going on that they’re easily the most fascinating of the Vegas casino companies to follow.

You can read press releases and listen to the MGM quarterly earnings call here for specifics. Below are my notes with lots of information.

  • Jim Murren said MGM would like to participate in DFS in the future. They’re waiting for clarity in the area. This was last question asked if you’d like specifics.
  • Excalibur is underperforming and Jim Murren discussed idea of mid-scale retail expansion on the Vegas Strip to draw people into property.
  • Murren restated that Monte Carlo will have a new name next year. Outlook is very optimistic for the property.
  • Small note given to the fact that customer booking windows are growing
  • Crystals still on the market by MGM Resorts. There’s plenty of interest. They’re sorting through investors. Murren says it’s worth over $1 billion.
  • Mandalay Bay now has the 5th largest convention center in the US after recent expansion. Details on the expansion here.
  • 2016 should be best year ever for conventions at MGM Resorts. Even with Mandalay Bay expansion they still don’t expect to have enough capacity.
  • Press release on MGM REIT
  • MGM Resorts keeping 2 most profitable properties in Las Vegas out of the REIT (Bellagio & MGM Grand).
  • MGM REIT will be called MGM Growth Properties and be a separate stock offering planned for Q1 2016.
  • MGM Arena not part of REIT because it’s a partnership with AEG. REIT doesn’t include any partnerships like City Center.
  • Non-luxury MGM Resorts properties growing faster than luxury. For example REVPAR for non-luxury up 14%, lux up 6%
  • Aria hotel EBITA up 23% Year over Year. Vdara 0ver 40% EBITA increase.
  • MGM Detroit EBITA only ranks behind Bellagio, MGM Grand & Mandalay Bay. Better than The Mirage, New York New York, etc.
  • MGM hotel rooms had a 96% occupancy rate last quarter. Up 1% from same period last year.
  • Average Daily Room rate for MGM hotels was $141 last quarter. That’s up $10 (8%) from same time last year.
  • Circus Circus is interesting opportunity for MGM seemingly because it’s 100 acres of land on the Vegas Strip.
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A Look At The Renovated Red Rock Sports Book

Red Rock Sports Book

Red Rock Sports Book

I’ve been posting pictures and updates on the renovation of the Red Rock sports book as it’s been happening here and on twitter, instagram and facebook. Unlike some other recent sports book renovations this was mainly a television screen upgrade. Boy is this an upgrade.

Even at 20% brightness the new screens at the Red Rock sports book are the brightest and clearest screens you’ll find in any Vegas sports book.

The comparison I’ve heard most from the pictures I’ve posted are that they look like The Venetian sports book screens. The Venetian is generally lauded as having the best screens in Las Vegas. I’ll go out on a limb and say The Venetian screens are the second best now and here’s why.

The new 2.5mm NanoSlim LED displays are the largest of their kind in North America. They replace the rear projection systems that were installed when Red Rock Resort opened. The 2.5mm space between pixels offers almost twice the clarity of the old 4mm pixel spacing.

All three of the 17′ x 31.5′ screen use 4K Ultra HD technology and can each be configured to display screens in 45 different ways. That number can and will increase.

Here’s a look at what a typical afternoon at the Red Rock sports book will look like. Notice how the lines are displayed since it’s a slow day.

Red Rock Sports Book

Red Rock Sports Book

When seasons change and there’s a need to show lines for football, baseball, basketball and hockey the configurations can be changed quickly so you don’t have to wait for rotating boards only showing limited lines. This will be great in the winter.

Red Rock Sports Book

Red Rock Sports Book

When there are nights with standalone football games the screens can be changed from showing multiple games to one big 17 x 31 foot TV. You could probably see this display from the Vegas Strip if it were outside. Check out that middle screen.

Red Rock Sports Book

Red Rock Sports Book

The next photo is kind of blurry on purpose (not really but it makes my point). The scroll at the bottom of the screens is huge and easy to read while the fonts used for the lines are smaller and a little more difficult to read unless you have good vision or are close to the screens. The size isn’t bad but it’s something that stood out to me.

Red Rock Sports Book

Red Rock Sports Book

As I mentioned earlier this was only a viewing upgrade. The seat configuration remains the same with 75% of the seats being chairs and desks while 25% are comfy lounge chairs. I’d prefer the seating to be the other way but the Red Rock sports book still gets a lot of people betting on the ponies.

Red Rock Sports Book

Red Rock Sports Book

Summary

The new screens at the Red Rock sports book are the best you’ll find in Las Vegas. I live right down the street so and my opinion for this sports book may have a little bias.

While The Venetian may offer the best screens on the Vegas Strip but I can’t vouch for it being the best sports book since you probably won’t get a seat during football season unless you’re set up with a CG Technology account and bet with them while you’re watching games.

For comparison 98% of the seating at the Red Rock sports book is open to anyone who visits. The 2% is saved for VIP guests and higher tier Boarding Pass players club members.

The Mirage sports book is great but the clarity of their screens can’t be compared with Red Rock. When Westgate unveils their new sports book screens I’m told they will be similar but not as good as the Red Rock setup.

I’ve been recommending the Red Rock sports book to people even when the screens needed updating. Now that the screens have been upgraded I think the Red Rock sports book is easily one of the best sports books in Vegas. Easily.

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Mandalay Bay Sports Book On Deck For Renovations

Mandalay Bay Sports Book

Mandalay Bay Sports Book

Hidden deep inside an awesome #LongRead article called “Evolution of The Sportsbook” on Covers last week was a nugget about which MGM Resorts hotel will renovate their sports book next.

Technically it won’t be next since Monte Carlo is closing and moving their sports book but it looks like Mandalay Bay is on deck for some well deserved changes.

Rood said Mandalay Bay will hopefully get that treatment next spring or summer, with a completion date ahead of the 2016 football season.

This isn’t a proclamation that Mandalay Bay will definitely have their sports book updated but it does fit into a timeline I heard about last year. This would make sense since for MGM Resorts as they’ve updated almost every facet of Mandalay Bay in the past few years (See Delano here, Mandalay Bay here).

A Mandalay Bay renovation would also make sense since MGM Resorts has renovated their other larger sports books at The Mirage, Bellagio, Aria and (soon) Monte Carlo, in the past few years.

The Mandalay Bay sports book space is huge and could be great but is very very dated. The TV screens and seating may be the same from when the property opened in 1999.

The Mandalay Bay sports book ushered in a whole new VIP level of sports book experience years ago. They were one of the first sports books, if not the first, in Vegas to offer bottle service (see Vegas Chatter article). You now see this type of VIP service available at many different sports books around Vegas.

Photo: ATI-AV

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Sake Rok In, Monte Carlo Sportsbook Out

Monte Carlo Sportsbook

Monte Carlo Sportsbook

On July 8, I posted the rumor that the Monte Carlo sportsbook would be moving to a new location as MGM Resorts continued construction of  park project.

Yesterday Eater Vegas found some renderings of a new restaurant called Sake Rok that gave a little more insight to the Monte Carlo sportsbook moving.

Before the announcement of the Monte Carlo building a $100 million, 5,300 seat, theater and concert hall, Sake Rok was positioned to be built as an addition to the southern side of the resort, taking over space at the rear of their sports book. The renderings also indicate an outdoor dining area was scheduled to The Park, minus the theatrical presentations inside. An official location for the sushi restaurant has yet to be announced.

Sake Rok Las Vegas

Sake Rok – Rendering RAYDE

Sake Rok is scheduled to open in the spring of 2016 but specific details like time and date of Sake Rok construction and sportsbook closure have not been released by MGM Resorts. You can see more renderings of Sake Rok at Ray Design Environments.

A plan for the new sportsbook at Monte Carlo has not been revealed yet. This Covers article about the “Evolution of Sportsbooks” will give you some insight how MGM Resorts has approached their recent sportsbook renovations.

History tells us that MGM Resorts will have a new Monte Carlo sportsbook ready in time for the first weekend of March Madness.

You may remember that The Mirage sportsbook renovations were finished just before March Madness in 2013. Moving the Monte Carlo sportsbook to become a part of The Pub seems more realistic by the day. I’ll share details on that as soon as they’re revealed.

Monte Carlo Sportsbook: Vegas Photo Blog
Sake Rok rendering: RAYDE

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Rumor: The Mirage And Marriott To Partner

The Mirage

The Mirage

By now you’ve probably read the rumors and analyst discussion about MGM Resorts selling The Mirage. Today MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren said that The Mirage isn’t on the market. Well, if the rumors about The Mirage already being sold are true than he’s not lying. It’s not on the market.

My source that says the The Mirage has been sold also says that they will have a new hotel partner once they’re no longer be a part of M Life, MGM Resorts’ players club.

It’s rumored that Marriott will be the hotel partner for The Mirage once the sale goes through.

It’s difficult to be an independent hotel-casino operator on the Vegas Strip so Starwood Capital Group is taking steps to bring in a partner to help fill the hotel. Marriott was just voted the #1 national hotel chain rewards program by US News and World Report.

Starwood is also rumored to bringing in Paragon Gaming to operate the casino. Paragon currently operates the Westgate casino and used to operate the Riviera casino.

Marriott is currently the hotel partner for Cosmopolitan but it’s been rumor for while that the relationship will end soon since Blackstone, owners of Cosmo, also owns Hilton.

You can see the press release for MGM Resorts’ quarterly earnings here.

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Random Vegas Info From MGM Resorts

Random Vegas Info from MGM Resorts

Random Vegas Info from MGM Resorts

I’m easily amused. I find random information like the infographic above and the notes below fun and relatively useful. Thanks to this blog post you can now amaze your friends with useless Vegas knowledge from MGM Resorts like:

“Hey, did you know that Nine Fine Irishmen at New York-New York served 100,000 pints of Guinness?”

  • 7,982,550 pillows fluffed at MGM Grand
  • 3.2 million people who visited The Adventuredome at Circus Circus
  • 1 million Hershey’s Kisses distributed across Las Vegas to celebrate the opening of Hershey’s Chocolate World at New York-New York 
  • 729,753 pizza slices served at Shawn McClain’s FIVE50 Pizza Bar at ARIA
  • 267,436 toilet paper rolls used by the Blue Man Group at Monte Carlo
  • 100,000 pints of Guinness gulped at New York-New York’s Nine Fine Irishmen
  • 96,719 pounds of crab legs cracked at The Buffet at ARIA
  • 52,640 massages and facials enjoyed at Spa Bellagio
  • 46,363 margaritas sipped at Hecho en Vegas at MGM Grand
  • 34,580 costume changes by the Jabbawockeez at Luxor
  • 11,336 shows performed by The Fountains of Bellagio
  • 8,464 ice cream flavor combinations offered at BLVD Creamery since its May 2014 opening at Monte Carlo
  • 5,704 corks collected at Rock ‘n Roll Wine Amplified Festival at MGM Resorts Village
  • 5,472 roses distributed by Boyz II Men during “I’ll Make Love to You” at The Mirage
  • $5,000 – The most expensive dish purchased; 26 Fleurburgers sold at Fleur in Mandalay Bay
  • 1,117 ice buckets in the shape of FDR’s hat box, in the suites at Delano Las Vegas
  • 520 victories at Excalibur’s Tournament of Kings
  • 360 pounds of caviar spooned at The Buffet Bellagio
  • 3 new white lion cubs at Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage

 

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Best Sportsbooks In Las Vegas

It’s time for my semi-annual update of the best sportsbooks in Las Vegas. There hasn’t been much change since the last time I detailed my favorite Vegas sportsbooks. Here are some things to note with my rankings:

  • I’m mostly concerned with great TV screens and comfortable seating.
  • Since I bet mostly via apps I don’t concern myself too much with finding drink tickets. Besides, they’re usually only good for a well drink, Bud, Miller or Coors. Bleh.
  • I care about access to charging my mobile phone.
  • Drink service is important as is access to grabbing a quick bite.
  • I like a clean environment. I don’t want to itch when I walk in or out of a casino.

1. The Venetian

Venetian Las Vegas Sportsbook

Venetian Sportsbook

Without a doubt there are no better TV screens at any sportsbook in Las Vegas than The Venetian. The combination of crisp color of the TV’s and the dark ceiling and perfect lighting make this almost like going to a movie theater. The seating is the same as every CG Technology (Cantor) sportsbook. The ugly red work desks don’t really matter since you’re watching the games. The chairs are comfortable office chairs. Each betting station has an outlet so you can charge your mobile phone, tablet or laptop. Even though the staff isn’t always nice there isn’t a better sportsbook to watch the games.

2. The Mirage

The Mirage Las Vegas Sportsbook

The Mirage Sportsbook

The Mirage was the Mecca of sports betting in the 70’s and 80’s 90’s but had fallen into disrepair until a couple of years ago. The space remains as one of the largest sportsbooks in Vegas but there is now a huge TV screen that takes up the entire wall and plenty of lounge chairs. They even installed some interactive tables that will come in handy for drink service and more (see article on Vegas Chatter). The sportsbook is open to the casino so the lighting isn’t as good as The Venetian but it doesn’t hamper visibility. It’s great to see this classic sportsbook restored to its glory.

3. MGM Grand

MGM Grand Las Vegas Sportsbook

MGM Grand Sportsbook

I’ve come around on this sportsbook. I don’t really like MGM Grand because it’s huge and has way too many kids for Vegas. That said, the sportsbook here is large with many upgraded seats. It’s easy to watch games here since there are so many large screens. With its proximity to TAP sports bar (review on Vegas Chatter) and the Sigma Derby game make it a great location. Pro-Tip don’t use the restroom near the buffet. Instead head toward the Sigma Derby game to relieve yourself without the leftovers from someone’s buffet.

4. Red Rock Resort

Red Rock Resort Las Vegas Sportsbook

Red Rock Sportsbook

This is my local sportsbook so I may be partial. The space is huge with seating for hundreds. The three main screens are massive and change size depending on how many games are on. The downside is that they’re older and could use updating. I’ve been to many of the sportsbooks off the Vegas Strip and no other sportsbook matches the intensity of when there are football games being shown here. Additionally, drink service is quick and they do offer drink tickets.

Notable omissions:

1. Lagasse’s Stadium (The Palazzo)

Lagasse's Stadium Sportsbook And Restaurant At Palazzo Las Vegas

Lagasse’s Stadium

2 years ago Lagasse’s Stadium was the benchmark for a great sportsbook. What’s happened? Poor service (which matters a lot since it’s a restaurant) and the same screens from when they opened. It’s still a good sportsbook when it’s not busy but there are now issues during large events and NFL games. 1) Seating is limited and reservations no longer secure space needed for large parties. 2) Mediocre restaurant service 3) Table minimums around $50 per person for most Sunday’s.

2. Westgate (LVH, Hilton, International) Superbook

LVH SuperBook - Las Vegas Hotel

LVH – Westgate SuperBook

SuperBook has the best linemakers in Las Vegas. There’s no questioning that. Even though they don’t allow smoking in the sportsbook it feels like they do. Sitting at this sportsbook is not fun. The sportsbook smells bad and the air makes me itch. I’ll revisit after they complete the pending renovations. Maybe they’ll add a working air filter and new carpet.

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BLT Burger Late Night Happy Hour

Late Night Happy Hour

Late Night Happy Hour

Cheap beer and less expensive food sounds good to me. Happy Hour on the Vegas Strip usually starts before the sun goes down but this late night Happy Hour At BLT Burger at The Mirage is from 10pm-1am. That’s the right time for cheap beer as far as most people are concerned.

Many of the dishes and drinks are half price. Check out the full BLT Burger Happy Hour menu. Here are my favorite deals at this Happy Hour:

  • New Belgium Fat Tire, Blue Moon and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – $3.50
  • Chicken Wings – $6
  • Waffle Bites – $3.50

I’ll probably grab the cheaper beer and pay full price for an awesome bacon cheeseburger the next time I’m at BLT Burger.

Copyright © 2017 Marc Meltzer & EDGe Vegas