The Plaza Hotel and Casino Gets a Facelift in Downtown Vegas
By Anne Braly
GoNOMAD Senior Writer
The Plaza Hotel & Casino, located on a historic plot of land once occupied by the Las Vegas railroad depot, sports a new look, energizing the vibe of the 52-year-old property.
The makeover is dubbed the “Main Street Reimagination” project that debuted earlier this year.
Where there once was a porte-cochère that operated as a driveway for guests, taxis, and ride-share vehicles, the iconic porte-cochere is now home to the whimsical Carousel Bar that serves creative handcrafted cocktails among life-sized Vegas-themed elements, including carousel horses moving up and down and offers the cities first outdoor table-top slot machines.
The bar is flanked by another first – the city’s first smoke-free casino and, on the opposite side, Pinkbox Doughnuts.
Then cast your eyes skyward and you’ll find that the popular Oscar’s Steakhouse now offers al fresco dining on a rooftop patio overlooking Fremont Street which is, if you’re unaware of the town’s history, the original Las Vegas Strip.
“The owners wanted to enhance the hotel’s facade at One Main Street to create a one-of-a-kind destination for cocktails, gaming, entertainment, and dining in the heart of downtown, Las Vegas,” says Amy Maier, hotel spokesperson.
And that they did. It’s all part of the Plaza’s commitment to enhancing the customer experience.
Sleep Tight at the Plaza
There are 998 guest rooms occupying two towers at the Plaza. Rooms in the north tower are accessed by elevators off the lobby, and the top floors were updated a couple of years ago with the addition of the Luxe Guest Rooms and Suites.
Updates to these accommodations include premium bedding, modern baths with upscale toiletries, and towels large enough to wrap yourself in luxury when you step out of the shower – a nice plus. Elevators to the south tower rooms are located off the casino floor and were renovated previously.
The hotel itself is situated so that rooms have views of the pool, pickleball courts, and stunning Las Vegas Mountains beyond on one side or, on the other, the sights of the action on Fremont Street.
Take A Dip
The pool area is accessible from the south tower and features a bar, food truck serving pizza, chicken fingers, sandwiches and snacks, cabanas that may be rented, and a large shaded area to keep the sun at bay.
The pool is a busy place on a hot Las Vegas day, but there are ample lounge chairs and some padded daybeds to sit back and relax with a good book while sipping an icy pina colada or cold soft drink.
Towel service is provided, so no need to take a towel from your room. If you’re a fan of poolside play, book a room at pool level with small patios overlooking the pool.
They’re convenient to the bar, the food truck, and the pickleball courts. In fact, with 12 quarts, the plaza, both the most courts dedicated to the fast growing sport of pickle ball of any Las Vegas resort.
Dining At The Plaza
Oscar’s Steakhouse: An award-winning restaurant, Oscar’s is one of the top steakhouses in the city, and that says a lot as there are some great steaks to be found in many restaurants in town. But at Oscar’s, it’s not all about the beef. It’s the service, too.
Combined, the two make this a must when you plan to dine in downtown Vegas. You know you’ve found a good steakhouse when you find that it’s been voted best steak in Vegas, best view and best place to celebrate by Casino Players magazine.
The New York strip, not known to be the tenderest of cuts, nears a state of fork-tenderness, like the filets on the menu. It’s seasoned perfectly and so delicious you may find yourself forgoing the side dishes to finish off your steak. No matter the cut, Oscar’s has figured out the secret to a good steak, one that you’ll put up against any other steak you may ever have.
As for the service: You know when you have a server who seems to know your likes and dislikes as soon as you sit down and recommends his favorite dishes as he delivers a cocktail to your table, one he’s picked out just for you?
It’s like you get just a little bit jealous when he attends another table. But then you remember: That’s his job.
Oscar’s new outdoor dining venue seats another 225 people and is the ideal place for a romantic dinner under the stars with views of the city lights.
Oscar’s is a dinner-only establishment. Reservations are highly recommended (oscarslv.com).
Hash House A Go-Go
There are many things that are over the top in Las Vegas. Dishes at Hash House A Go Go are among them. It lives up to its motto: “twisted farm food.” Actually, that’s an understatement. Plates are oversized, as are the meals, so wear your stretchy pants and go ahead with the chicken and waffles, one of its signature dishes with giant Belgian waffles and two big sage-fried chicken breasts adorned with a tall stalk of rosemary. This is not meant for the timid, and you might want to share it with your mate.
Hash House is open for breakfast through dinner daily (hashhouseagogo.com).
It’s hard to miss Pinkbox doughnuts, a local chain that screams hot pink! Don’t expect just any cream-filled or glazed pastry here. You’ll find Tutti Frutti, Purple Rain, Raspberry Squeeze, Java Mama, Cherry Bomb – or, if you must, a glazed or sugar doughnut. But please.
You’re in Vegas, so no one back home will know. Go ahead and get a dozen. Pinkbox (pinkboxdougnuts.com) is located off the casino floor and also has an entrance on Main Street through a giant 12 foot tall 3-D doughnut. It’s open 24 hours on the weekends and from 5 a.m.-2 p.m on weekdays.
Pop Up Pizza
For a truly New York-style pizza, pop into Pop Up. The slices are big and foldable, the telltale sign these people know the difference between an ordinary pizza and the kind that makes New York pizza in a class by itself. Order pizzas by the slices or the whole pie. The crispy pepperoni is a favorite.
Pop Up Pizza (popupizzalv.com) is open for lunch through late night seven days.
Food To Go
There’s a food court conveniently located off the lobby area with Subway, McDonald’s, a Mexican eatery, and Aloha Hawaiian Grill, making a nice option if you don’t want to commit yourself to a full-service meal.
Take A Gamble
The Plaza’s casino has everything a gambler might want – table games; more than 700 slot machines, from penny slots to high-dollar; Keno; a large sports book; and downtown’s only bingo hall. With a bar, pizza joint and doughnut shop, both just off the casino floor, you have everything at hand for a few hours to try your luck.
Smoking is allowed in the main casino, but the filtration system seems to do a good job of keeping the smell at bay. However, the non-smoking casino space – the first in downtown Las Vegas – is totally separate from the main casino, unlike some other casinos that offer nonsmoking areas as an afterthought.
Access is gained from outside via the Plaza’s porte-cochere. The new casino space was opened in collaboration with gambling influencer Brian Christopher and, though small, is perfect for those needing a break from the smokers – or just a shiny new casino with some fun slot machines and spots for selfies.
Rockin’ To The Blues
The Sand Dollar Downtown is another addition to the Plaza. It’s the second location for the iconic blues bar.
The first is still going strong and in a small office complex about a mile from The Strip and was a place where legends such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, The Who, and other famous musicians could come, drink and play in a laid-back atmosphere.
The original Sand Dollar is small, but its second location is larger at 4,000 square feet and has room for at least 300 more guests while retaining the vibe for which The Sand Dollar has been known. There’s live music nightly, hand-crafted cocktails, pizza, pool tables, and, on Thursdays, happy hour for hotel guests from 4 to 5 p.m.
The blues lounge is located off the casino floor and is open from 4 p.m.-4 a.m. daily (thesanddollarlv.com).
Future plans at The Plaza include a pedestrian-friendly walkway that will connect the Plaza with Symphony Park, a mixed-use development home to arts, a children’s museum and other attractions.
The nearby former Greyhound bus terminal is also being developed into an area for new restaurants, entertainment and retail establishments.
“We are very excited to usher in this new era on Main Street,” says Plaza Hotel & Casino CEO Jonathan Jossel. “Main Street is where downtown started, and today, it remains the heart of downtown, connecting a thriving Arts District, and popular destinations like the Plaza, Fremont Street Experience, our newest neighbor, Circa, and much more.
Outside the Plaza
Fremont Street, a magnificent five city blocks with a covered dome, is directly across the street from The Plaza and offers a whirlwind of action.
Along this original section of the Las Vegas Strip, you’ll find historic casinos like Binions; more hotels, such as the newly opened Circa with the largest sportsbook in the world and six salt-water pools; Slotzilla, a monster zipline; more restaurants; and shops.
In fact, within seven city blocks, you can explore 12 casinos and more than 75 bars and restaurants.
There’s even a Walgreens to pick up some Alka Seltzer if you need some relief from a night on the town.
“Fremont Street Experience has become a trendy spot to visit,” says Paul McGuire, chief marketing officer for Fremont Street Experience. “It used to be that you would come to Vegas and occasionally carve out an afternoon to go downtown. Now, many visitors make it a point to stay downtown and occasionally make a trip to the strip.
With three outdoor stages, Fremont Street is also the place to be for free live music every day of the year.
And then there’s Slotzilla …
Harness up and get ready to be launched from the largest slot machine in the world – seven stories up, or, if you dare, four stories higher – while traveling beneath the Fremont Street canopy with people gawking at you while you fly by at 35 miles an hour.
It’s an experience like none other. But then again, so is Vegas.