Las Vegas is known as a city that’s always blowing up the old to make way for the new. However, some places are too good to let go…
Much time is spent lamenting “Lost Vegas”—the fabulous places that are no more, such as the Sands casino or Swiss Chalet restaurant. But there are Las Vegas establishments that manage to keep pouring and serving for decades. Here are a dozen delightful places that, thankfully, we haven’t imploded yet.
Bar, American, $$$
The oldest free-standing bar in Clark County, Atomic Liquors has been pouring since 1952. The Atomic was a popular bar with local casino workers, be they cocktail waitresses, blackjack dealers, Barbra Streisand or Frank Sinatra. Over the years, the bar has also been featured in films such as The Gauntlet, The Hangover, and Casino. Several years ago, the bar underwent renovation, from the patio seating to the craft brew beer menu. In 2017, the Kitchen at Atomic opened in what used to be a gas station.
The Bootlegger Bistro honors two things Las Vegas adores: Italian food and lounge acts. The Hunt family opened their first restaurant in 1949, which evolved and relocated to the south Strip bar, restaurant, and performance space. For those seeking authenticity, the menu is based on family recipes from the old country, and the lounge is frequented by Strip performers on their off-hours.
A Vegas stalwart, Battista’s Hole in the Wall began serving Italian food and unlimited wine back in 1970. Battista’s wandering accordionist is just part of the atmosphere—there are also collections of photographs, decanters, tchotchkes, and other eccentric memorabilia. The menu is basic Italian—ravioli with meat sauce and chicken parmigiana—and all meals include bread, soup or salad, cappuccino, and unlimited red or white wine.
There are a lot of reasons to love Champagne’s Cafe, but the wallpaper is chief among them. Red velvet and gold metallic, it’s the basis for the bar’s old-school atmosphere, with dim lighting, comfy banquette seating, and vintage Vegas photos. Whether you want to party with your pals at Saturday karaoke night or have a quiet midday drink solo, Champagne’s Cafe has been the spot since 1966.
The Dispensary Lounge has been pouring since 1976. It’s something you’ll have no trouble believing as you survey the shag carpeting, planters full of ferns, rustic wood furniture, and Kenny Loggins on the sound system. But it’s more than Brandy Alexanders, as the Dispensary also serves excellent live jazz several nights a week, as well as a fine cheeseburger 24/7.
Situated in a vintage brick bungalow downtown, Chicago Joe’s serves up classic red-sauce Italian food. The atmosphere is cozy and inviting, complete with checked tablecloths and lace curtains, pleasant table conversation, and crooners playing in the sound system. It’s an ideal spot to linger over chicken parmigiana or mussels diavolo and a carafe of the house red.
Bar, Restaurant, Restaurant with Rooms, American, Steakhouse, $$$
A true old-school steakhouse, the Golden Steer has served stars from Sammy Davis Jr. to Marilyn Monroe to Elvis himself. The Steer is known not just for top-notch red meat but also for tableside Caesar salads (with the dressing mixed the way “Frank” liked it), as well as bananas Foster and cherries jubilee. The wood paneling, Western paintings, and attentive service make everyone feel like a high roller—and that’s before having one of their excellent Martinis.
Situated amidst the taxicab companies, plumbing supply shops, strip clubs and dispensaries of Industrial Boulevard, the Hard Hat Lounge has seen many changes since opening in 1962. The bar has added a menu of burgers and sandwiches, as well as comedy and karaoke nights. However, the distinctive ’50s pulp-style mural that stretches behind the bar remains the same.
Hugo’s Cellar offers a full dining experience, from the red roses ladies are given as they enter to the chocolate-covered strawberries that conclude every meal. The specialty is old-school fine dining, featuring dishes such as tournedos of beef and Chateaubriand with lobster, complete with salads and desserts made tableside.
Beloved dive bar the Huntridge Tavern opened in 1962, and very little has changed since—at least within these walls. Wood veneer paneling, cracked red vinyl seats, and clunky video poker machines are just part of the charm. There’s an extensive beer selection as well as low-priced mixed drinks, and you can also purchase bottles and six-packs to go.
A low-key slice of French graciousness tucked in among the bodacious hubbub of Vegas, Pamplemousse Le Restaurant has been serving since 1976. Low, rosy lighting and intimate rooms make for a romantic setting. The menu has several multi-course prix-fixe options and features classic dishes such as duck confit, rack of lamb, and filet of wild boar.
Whether you seek a bustling diner with gigantic plates of comfort food or a sleek cocktail lounge with a firepit and glossy cocktail menu, the Peppermill has you covered. The restaurant is decorated with lit-up fake trees, and waitresses in cheerleader uniforms ferry huge plates of French toast and club sandwiches. In the back, the Fireside Lounge is a ring of burgundy velour banquettes around a bubbling firepit, where you can sip a blue Hawaiian and dig the Vegas-ness of it all.