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Published 3/1/2015
S. Terry Canale, MD

Champagne Terry, the Sequel

My first trip to Las Vegas was 50 years ago, and my very first AAOS annual meeting 40 years ago was in Las Vegas. Since then, I’ve been going to Vegas three times a year on the pretense of education, but mainly to drink and gamble. They don’t call me Champagne Terry because I got a gold star in Sunday school.

I lost my first dollar on Fremont Street. You’ve probably never heard of it, but you will. But before you do, let’s reminisce a bit.

Vegas started out as a small gambling town in the desert, reportedly with mob ties. Then it re-invented itself and became a gambling town with entertainment, and the strip filled with glitzy hotels like the Sands, the Dunes, and the Flamingo. Later, it was sports entertainment such as boxing and tennis, then adult entertainment, and later still big-name entertainers with “star” quality like Elvis, Sinatra, and the Rat Pack. This was followed by the international flavor, with hotels like the Venetian, Caesars Palace, Luxor, and Paris Las Vegas. More recently, another image emerged—a spot for the whole family, bring the kids, with hotels like Mandalay Bay with giant water slides. Kids can’t gamble and young tourists have tight budgets, so Vegas re-invented itself yet again, back to adult entertainment with ads such as “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

As author Brian Freeman noted, “For Vegas to be the premier attraction city in all the world, it must re-invent itself every 15 years.” The latest reincarnation involves the renovation of the once-famous but forgotten downtown area and Fremont Street, thanks to Zappo’s CEO Tony Hsieh, who put $350 million into a new downtown and “re-invented” the word “hipster.” So Vegas is re-invigorated, re-invented, and renewed, and there is nothing old hat about Vegas and Fremont Street. Check out the new glitz in old Vegas, baby.

Since the last AAOS meeting in Las Vegas in 2009, the big news in the city is the revitalization of Fremont Street and the downtown area of “Old Vegas.” What was once a seedy, avoid-at-all-costs area has become a vibrant mix of restaurants, bars, entertainment, shopping, and even museums—including the Pinball Museum, the Neon Museum, and the Mob Museum. This is Vegas, of course!

As Fred Redfern, MD, the AAOS local chair, knows, Vegas has many great restaurants ranging from the casual to the upscale, and a dozen bars within walking distance of each other. (See “Las Vegas Is Ready to Welcome AAOS,” this issue’s cover story, as well as my list.)

Downtown Container Park (downtowncontainerpark.com) is a square block ringed in repurposed shipping containers filled with boutiques and restaurants. It all surrounds a central play area for children (a decidedly new demographic downtown) that features a fanciful treehouse with a four-story slide.

So if your reaction to Las Vegas is “been there, done that,” try out the attractions in Downtown. Enjoy the greatest orthopaedic show in the world, but take time to enjoy the greatest town on earth.

And don’t forget to pick up a Daily Edition, AAOS Now during the Annual Meeting. You’ll find more insider info from Champagne Terry. See you in Vegas, baby!

Champagne Terry’s Recommendations

Downtown/Fremont Street Restaurants (in no particular order)

  1. Carson Kitchen (American), 124 S. 6th Street (www.carsonkitchen.com)
  2. Chicago Joe’s (Italian), 820 S. 4th Street (www.chicagojoesrestaurant.com)
  3. Triple George Grill , 201 N. 3rd Street (www.triplegeorgegrill.com)
  4. Bronze Café (Vegan, Vegetarian), 401 S. Maryland Pkwy (http://thecenterlv.org/services/bronzecafe)
  5. Hugo’s Cellar (Seafood, Steaks), 202 Fremont Street (www.hugoscellar.com/)
  6. Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Italian Steakhouse, 301 Fremont Street (www.thed.com/dining/andiamo-steakhouse/)
  7. Du-Par’s Restaurant and Bakery (American, Breakfast, Brunch), 1 Fremont Street (www.du-pars.com)
  8. Pizza Rock (Gourmet Pizza), 201 N. 3rd Street (http://www.pizzarocklasvegas.com )
  9. eat (American, Breakfast, Brunch), 707 Carson Ave (eatdtlv.com)
  10. Aloha Specialties (Hawaiian), 12 E. Ogden Ave. (www.thecal.com/dine/aloha-specialties)

Top Ten Downtown Bars

  1. The Griffin (www.yelp.com/biz/the-griffin-las-vegas)
  2. Insert Coins (www.insertcoinslv.com )
  3. The Downtown Cocktail Room (thedowntownlv.com)
  4. Don’t Tell Mama (www.yelp.com/biz/dont-tell-mama-las-vegas)
  5. The Beauty Bar (thebeautybar.com/las_vegas)
  6. Velveteen Rabbit (www.yelp.com/biz/velveteen-rabbit-las-vegas)
  7. Atomic Liquors (www.atomiclasvegas.com)
  8. Commonwealth (commonwealthlv.com)
  9. Frankie’s Tiki Room (www.frankiestikiroom.com)
  10. Dino’s Lounge (www.yelp.com/biz/dinos-lounge-las-vegas)

On the Strip

  1. Aureole (www.charliepalmer.com/Properties/Aureole/LasVegas)
  2. Andrés at the Monte Carlo (andrelv.com)
  3. STRIPSTEAK (www.mandalaybay.com)
  4. Mix (http://delanolasvegas.com/dining/mix-at-delano.aspx)
  5. Foundation Room (www.houseofblues.com/lasvegas/fr)
  6. B & B Ristorante (bandbristorante.com)
  7. Il Mulino New York (www.ilmulino.com)
  8. Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro (www.morelslv.com)
  9. Carnevino (www.carnevino.com)
  10. N9NE Steakhouse at the Palms (www.palms.com)

Off the Beaten Path

  1. Aburiya Raku, 5030 W. Spring Mountain Road (http://raku-grill.com)
  2. Ichiza, 4355 Spring Mountain Road (www.ichizalasvegas.com)
  3. Lotus of Siam, 953 E. Sahara Ave. (www.saipinchutima.com)
  4. Parma by Chef Marc, 7591 W. Washington Ave. (www.parmabychefmarc.com)
  5. Hot & Juicy Crawfish, 4810 Spring Mountain Road (http://hotnjuicycrawfish.com)
  6. Firefly, 3824 Paradise Road (http://fireflylv.com)
  7. Hash House a Go Go, 1 South Main Street and three other locations in Las Vegas, (www.hashouseagogo.com/vegas)

Feeling Adventurous?

  1. Ride the SlotZilla ZipLine or ZoomLine (vegasexperience.com/slotzilla-zip-line)
  2. Ride the High Roller, the world’s largest observation wheel (www.caesars.com/linq/high-roller.html)
  3. Try the Big Shot (www.stratospherehotel.com/Activities/Thrill-Rides/Big-Shot)
  4. Take in an off-beat museum, such as the Neon Museum (neonmuseum.org), the Pinball Hall of Fame (pinballhall.org), or the Mob Museum (themobmuseum.org)