East Las Vegas area guide

Get to know Las Vegas area by area—the best local restaurants and bars, arts and entertainment and things to do in East Las Vegas

Champagnes Cafe, an East Las Vegas nightlife institution

Once characterized by ugly quick-build housing tracts and trailer parks, East Las Vegas has been unable to avoid the incursion of new development. Still, the once-posh Commercial Center (953 E Sahara Avenue, between S 6th Street and S Maryland Parkway) has resisted change. One of the city's older malls, it's a scruffy spot that's home to a couple of the city's best ethnic restaurant, Lotus of Siam, various gay bars and sundry other businesses. 

South on Maryland Parkway is the smarter Boulevard Mall; behind it is the modernist Paradise Palms, another old 'hood at the earliest stages of revival. East of here is Fremont Street, which runs into Downtown to the north-west and to the south-east, past Sahara Avenue, becomes Boulder Highway. 

At the far north-eastern end of the valley, beyond Sunrise Manor, is Frenchman's Mountain, commonly known as Sunrise Mountain, where modern desert homes with pools enjoy panoramic views of the city. Along Boulder Highway sit several locals' casinos. Catch a movie at Boulder Station; if you're here in December, don't miss the Christmas lights at Sam's Town. A turn west down Tropicana Avenue to Pecos Avenue will take you to the Pinball Hall of Fame.

Restaurants and bars in East Las Vegas

Champagnes Café

Critics' pick

With velvety flock wallpaper, Frank and Dino on the jukebox, and a shrine (a martini, a coffee cup and a cigarette) dedicated to former manager Marty, this vintage bar is a Dom Pérignon ’53 among Vegas saloons. Hipsters, barflies and discerning locals head here at all hours for cheap drinks; many find it hard to leave.

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Lindo Michoacan

Critics' pick

Las Vegas’s favorite neighborhood Mexican, Lindo is housed in a colorful, bigger-than-it-looks building on Desert Inn Road, and is busy at virtually all times of day. The lunch specials are good value, but dinner is more enjoyable, with the menu of standards brought to life by an atmosphere that’s never less than lively. There are two other Lindos in the city, one on the west side (10082 W Flamingo Road, 838 9990) and one in Henderson (645 Carnegie Street, 837 6828).

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Dispensary Lounge

Critics' pick

You can look at the waterwheel, you can listen to the waterwheel, but you certainly can’t touch it. Sort of like the waitresses. The Dispensary is a throwback to old Vegas, complete with shag carpets, fake plants and leotard-clad serving staff who become more boisterous and less balanced as the night wears on (well, you try wearing high heels on a shag carpet). A dark, quiet answer to a bright and frenetic city.

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Things to do in East Las Vegas

Pinball Hall of Fame

For the most part, a pinball machine is just a pinball machine. To some folks, though, it's a kinetic monument to a simpler time when mindless entertainment didn't necessarily involve sex, hyper-violence or the pixelated undead, a perfectly designed blend of challenge, workmanship and skill. In Tim Arnold's world, it's all these things and more besides. How else to explain his Pinball Hall of Fame, a functioning museum of sorts where more than 100 operational pinball machines spanning seven decades are on show? The Pinball Hall of Fame is a true mecca in a city of replicated ones. Over the years, Arnold has assembled a vast array of machines from Gottlieb, Bally, Williams and other oddball manufacturers, from gear-and-magnet models to modern digital wonders. Descriptions of each machine's attributed and historic values have been attached to them, most handwritten on index cards. And then, best of all, Arnold invites all-comers to play his machines. All you need is quarters; and if you don't have them, he can change your bills into them. Arnold has recast some of these machines so visitors can best appreciate their inherent beauty. Take, for example, his painstaking public refurbishment of a 1978 Bally machine devoted to the band Kiss. Paying attention to the smallest detail (excepting, perhaps, an actual drop of Ace Frehley's blood in the back glass), Arnold is like an Italian restoration specialist working on the Sistine Chapel. But while both share a certain reverence in th

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Casino highlights in East Las Vegas

Sam’s Town casino

If you like Old West-style casinos, this is your place. Though gunfire is kept to a minimum, the theme is nonetheless prevalent, from the saloon-style bars to Roxy’s, the rowdy dance hall. There’s even a quality western store (Sheplers). Elsewhere, modern amenities include a 24-hour bowling center, an 18-screen movie theater and Sam’s Town Live!, a 1,100-seat venue that stages a variety of country and pop concerts. In the middle of all this is Mystic Falls Park, a ten-story atrium whose indoor nature walk (with trees and chirping birds) gets interrupted four times daily by the Sunset Stampede, a laser light and water show. Check out the TV sets over the tables in some of the pits, and bet up to 20x odds at the crap tables. There are thousands of video-poker machines, though few, if any, are full pay. Games: Bingo; blackjack ($5–$3,000); craps (20x, from $5); keno; Let it Ride; pai gow poker; poker (9 tables); roulette (double zero).

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Arizona Charlie’s Boulder casino

Arizona Charlie’s Boulder is a no-frills, 300-room bunkhouse for serious players who need a place to drop. The theme is the Yukon gold rush, though you won’t notice: the interior design is little more than a floor, a ceiling and rows of machines. Food options include the Yukon Grille, a low-price steakhouse, but the surest bet at Charlie’s is still the Sourdough Café, where you can grab a generous meal any time of the day, usually for less than $10 a head. There’s also a buffet. The Palace Grand Lounge hosts a range of lounge acts. The blackjack games here are decent, with typical low minimums, as is some of the video poker. Another outpost, Arizona Charlie’s Decatur (740 S Decatur Blvd, 1-800 342 2695, 258 5200, www.arizonacharliesdecatur.com) can be found in north-west Las Vegas. Games: Bingo; blackjack ($3–$1,000); craps (10x; from $5); keno; roulette (double zero). Bus BHX/self-parking & valet parking S Decatur Boulevard

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Boulder Station casino

This Victorian-styled Station casino on the Boulder Strip is mostly a locals’ joint. The Railhead hosts a stable of mostly forgettable acts on the cheap, but there are plenty of family-friendly amenities, such as an 11-screen movie theater and a Kids Quest childcare center. There are decent dining options too: the Feast Gourmet Buffet is popular, as is the Broiler. The casino is typical for the Station chain, though the minimums in this part of town seem to run a little lower, with some $3 tables scattered about, 10x odds at craps and 50¢ roulette chips. The newest machines seem to show up here first. Games: Bingo; blackjack ($3–$1,000); craps (10x; from $2); keno; Let it Ride; mini baccarat ($5–$1,000); pai gow poker; poker (11 tables); roulette (double zero); three-card poker.

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Hotels and resorts in East Las Vegas

Ritz-Carlton, Lake Las Vegas

Critics' pick

Carefully isolated within the Lake Las Vegas community, roughly 20 miles south-east of the Strip, the Ritz-Carlton is one of the most luxurious resorts in the Vegas metropolitan area, in no small part because it doesn't really feel much like Las Vegas. Key to this, of course, is the lack of an in-house casino: gamblers can wander next door to the Casino Montelago (939 8888, www.casinomontelago.com), but the Ritz-Carlton remains unsullied by the incessant blinking lights and tinkling melodies that characterise most major resorts in the region. The hotel itself offers all the luxury you'd expect to find in a Ritz-Carlton property. The rooms themselves are handsome without being needlessly flashy, kitted out with plush beds and chairs, fabulously generous bathrooms and most conceivable amenities (minibars, high-speed internet access and so on). The lobby bar, Firenze, delivers worthwhile cocktails, decent sandwiches and, on weekend afternoons at 1pm, a Florentine-style high tea. The real culinary action is downstairs in the renowned Medici, which serves a winning range of Mediterranean-influenced American dishes for breakfast, brunch (Sundays only), lunch and dinner. The luxury extends to the hotel's capacious spa, rightly regarded as one of the city's best. Nearby amenities include the Falls and Reflection Bay golf courses, which essentially adjoin the hotel, and Montelago Village, a sort of upscale Italianate theme park dotted with expensive boutique shops, restaurants and bar

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Residence Inn by Marriott Las Vegas Henderson/Green Valley

This all-suite Henderson hotel offers a free shuttle to/from the Las Vegas Strip and McCarran International Airport. It features an outdoor pool and sundeck and all suites have a full kitchen.Cable TV and free Wi-Fi are included in each spacious suites at Residence Inn Las Vegas Henderson-Green Valley. A seating area and a dining table are included. Select suites feature a fireplace.A free hot buffet breakfast is served daily in the dining room. On select nights, a light dinner is offered during the manager’s reception.Las Vegas-Green Valley Residence Inn offers a gym as well as an outdoor hot tub and barbecue picnic area. Guests can also use the business center.Ethel M Chocolate Factory is less than a 5-minute drive from this hotel. The University of Nevada-Las Vegas and Las Vegas Convention Center are a 20 minutes’ drive away.

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Courtyard by Marriott Henderson - Green Valley - Las Vegas

This Green Valley hotel is within an 18-minute drive of the Las Vegas Strip featuring entertainment, shopping and dining. The hotel offers an outdoor pool and rooms with free Wi-Fi.Courtyard Henderson-Green Valley-Las Vegas rooms include a seating area and work desk. The rooms are equipped with a coffee maker and pay-per-view movies.Guests at the Courtyard Henderson can work out in the fitness center or relax in the hot tub. The hotel also offers a restaurant and newspapers in the lobby. he hotel's restaurant, The Courtyard Cafe, features a breakfast buffet and lighter fare.The Green Valley Courtyard is within a 20-minute drive of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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Music and nightlife in East Las Vegas

Interstellar

Christopher Nolan’s overwhelming, immersive and time-bending space epic, Interstellar, makes Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity feel like a palate cleanser for the big meal to come. Where Gravity was brief, contained and left the further bounds of the universe to our imagination, Interstellar is long, grand, strange and demanding—not least because it allows time to slip away from under our feet while running brain-aching ideas before our eyes. It’s a bold, beautiful adventure story with a touch of the surreal and dreamlike, yet it always feels grounded in its own deadly serious reality. It’s hard to talk about the story without ruining its slow drip of surprises. So let’s be vague: Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) lives with his family—his father-in-law (John Lithgow) and two young kids—in a not-too-distant future where living off huge fields of corn is the only business around. Dust storms brew, and there’s an apocalyptic vibe, as if the Depression of the 1930s has been transplanted to a dying Earth. Cooper has a strong bond with his daughter, Murph (Mackenzie Foy), but when the former pilot is given a chance to head a mission into space, he grabs it. It’s all very messianic. This rough-and-ready everyman’s destiny is to join a secret project to save the Earth, directed by the aging professor Brand (Michael Caine). He blasts into orbit in the company of Brand’s daughter (Anne Hathaway) and two other scientists. This is no bus hop to the Moon: Their aim is to slip through a wormhole near S

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Nightcrawler

It's no news to anyone who watches TV—especially local crime coverage—that the beat has devolved into a cesspool of gore, jittery witnesses and "hot content." What was once prophetic in movies like Network and Broadcast News is now commonplace. Writer-director Dan Gilroy's supercharged Nightcrawler, a viciously funny film, starts from that premise and wisely avoids making the same points. Instead, it twins the frenetic, sleazy hunt for shocking footage with the career ambitions of a closet psycho who, naturally, rises to the top. Closer in spirit to the media-amplified perversity of Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, Nightcrawler feels like a major portrait of a sick, insatiable appetite. The hungry wolf at the center is Louis, impressively played by a wire-thin Jake Gyllenhaal, who right off the bat doesn't feel like your everyday L.A. loner. Bug-eyed, upbeat and frustrated by his nighttime excursions fencing stolen goods, he strolls up to a burning car on the highway, the rescue in progress. As he watches the swarming cameramen (freelancers who provide smut to stations for quick payouts), a light bulb goes off over Louis' head. Soon enough, he's out there with his own camcorder, getting closer than anyone—he nearly runs over a victim with his car—and sneaking through bullet-strewn homes without permission Initially, Nightcrawler plays like a darkly comic how-I-made-it story. Louis marshals an impressive (if slightly cracked) discipline to his new passion.

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Top Five

Of course, Chris Rock loves to crack us up, but lately, a stealth dramatist has emerged: His previous self-directed film, 2007’s I Think I Love My Wife, was based on a chatty Eric Rohmer classic, and watching him play off Julie Delpy in 2 Days in New York (2012) made him seem like a Linklater-ready natural. That impulse is further pursued in the dazzling Top Five—on the surface, a lost-artist comedy in the vein of Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories, but more deeply, a referendum on the dead-end choices Rock himself might be feeling. Rock plays Andre Allen, a star resisting the celebrity machine that has him wearing a bear costume in his latest blockbuster sequel and also engaged to a shallow reality-TV princess (Gabrielle Union). Warily, Andre eases into a long interview with a sharp journalist (Rosario Dawson) sure to expose him, but that’s when the movie drops into a sensitive register, mutual vulnerabilities coming to the fore during the pair’s walk-and-talk NYC chat. There’s still broad humor here (Cedric the Entertainer owns the flow as a rowdy concert promoter), but that material is funnier for being a part of many comic tones. Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

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Shopping in East Las Vegas

Las Vegas Cigar Company

Critics' pick

The Las Vegas Cigar Company’s established varieties of cigar are hand-rolled daily in-house, using Cuban-seed tobacco imported from Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.

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Valley Cheese & Wine

This gourmet wine and cheese shop supplies Las Vegas with artisanal and handcrafted wine, beer, speciality food and cheeses. Owner Bob Howald will be happy to help select wines to match your meal

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Boulevard Mall

A bastion of the Las Vegas shopping scene and the first mall of its type to open in the city; it’s centrally located, reasonably priced and loaded with familiar favourites such as Sears, Marshall’s, Macy’s and JC Penney. When you’re weighed down with bags and nearing collapse, head to the food court for cheap international cuisine.

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