When deciding on the best show to attend or where to go for a steak dinner in Las Vegas, why not ask a local? In this month’s issue of Sunset Magazine, Sarah Johnson, Food and Beverage Director at Mandalay Bay, and Danielle Kelly, Executive Director of The Neon Museum, talks with the magazine about their go-to destinations on and off The Strip. The Q&A reveals where the locals hunt for mid-century modern gems, kid-friendly places that take them back to their childhoods, and answers the almighty question of where to have breakfast after a long night of, well, you know, things that only happen in Vegas.
Where’s your favorite un-Vegas place to hang out?
Sarah Johnson: Amber Unicorn Books is the best used bookstore in the city, with a huge cookbook section. They stock first edition James Beards and other fun stuff. Danielle Kelly: They have a secret vintage sci-fi collection. I found a copy of Nightwood by Djuna Barnes published in the 1960s with a beautiful cover. And the store also has the uniquely Vegas attribute of being hidden in a strip mall. Oh—and you get 10 percent off with your Trader Joe’s receipt!
Where do you have breakfast?
DK: A classic dinner outside the Golden Gate Casino, on Fremont Street. Best pancakes on the planet. They must be soaked in at least two cups of butter—yet somehow they’re really fluffy. If pancakes aren’t your thing, try a pie. Pecan. Peach. Blueberry. The display case is jammed with them 24 hours a day.
Where are some fun places to take the kids?
SJ: Walking in here is like going back in time when I was a kid. It’s the world’s largest public collection, hundreds of machines, rows and rows of them. DK: Some games date to the ‘30s, and you can play them all—for a quarter or two each. I’m pretty loyal to the Kiss pinball machines. SJ: They have some nonpinball arcade games too, like Tron. I keep coming back to that one. It torments me.
And for the big kids?
SJ: I grew up with Off The Wall and Thriller, so I could not wait to see the show. The people sitting in my section ranged from children to retirees, and everyone was into it. We all engaged with it in our own way. There’s video, magic, acrobatics, and incredible lighting effects like you’ve never seen. It’s phenomenal.
If you want a good cocktail away from slot machines?
DK: New spot. I half expected to walk in and see the handle-bar mustaches and the whole 1890s fetishism, but the bar is warm and friendly, no attitude. Bartenders are mindful of the mixeology trends, so drinks are good. I had one called the Resurrection, made with rum and jalapeno oil. SJ: My favorite is called the Green Bitch—Chartreuse, celery juice, lemon juice, and curry bitters.
Pick up the latest issue of Sunset to read the full interview.