Let me tell you about my favorite restaurant in the world.
It's not a Michelin's 3 star, Forbes 5 star or AAA Five Diamond restaurant. You won't find a celebrity chef's name on the sign outside. In fact, you won't even find it on the Las Vegas Strip.
This restaurant is Hugo's Cellar -- and it's in a basement inside the 4 Queens Casino on Fremont Street. This place represents Old Vegas -- the way things used to be. You hear old timers talk about this all the time. You used to be able to get a great comped meal after losing a few bucks, they say. People would treat you with terrific service no matter who you were.
Things have changed in Vegas. But nothing, literally nothing has changed inside Hugo's Cellar.
This is why I love the place. I walk in and I feel like I should see Tony "The Ant" Spilotro dining at a table with a couple other Chicago outfit guys in suits and gold chains. The restaurant looks exactly the way it did in 1973, the year it opened. And, indeed, Tony did dine there during his time in Vegas throughout the 70s and early 80s. I know this because more than one waiter has told me he personally served him. Those waiters are still there -- some who have worked there for 30-40 years.
Can't find that on the Strip.
If you want a trip down nostalgia lane, check out this place. Hell, check out their website! It hasn't been changed since AOL ran the internet. It gives you a good idea about what you can expect. I don't mean this negatively. There's just not many that do it like this anymore.
It's certainly a wonderful spot to take your lady (all females get a rose upon entering!), but it's also a place you can go have a great steak with a couple buddies after some cheap(er) gambling on Fremont Street. There is a superb wine list with reasonable prices (and a great somm -- older english guy that knows his shit) and the cocktails are old school, strong and delicious.
I made it this far and haven't even talked about the food. The made-to-order salad cart creates the best salads in town. If you're not sure what to put on it, just trust the salad cart guy. He won't lead you astray. The appetizers are outstanding (try Hugo's Hot Rock Specialty appetizer, offering tenderloin medallions of beef, marinated swordfish, breast of chicken, and jumbo shrimp prepared on a sizzling slab of granite right at your table).
The steaks are outstanding (aged 21 days), the fish is my wife's favorite, but one of the underdog dishes is "Hugo's Chicken" -- my favorite chicken dish on the planet. To cap the meal, you'll receive complimentary chocolate dipped strawberries.
If you want to experience a meal in Vegas in old school style and with the type of service that old folks say is "the way it used to be," be sure to hit up Hugo's Cellar.
Yelp likes it (4.5 stars)
So does OpenTable (4.5 stars)
And Trip Advisor, too. (4.5 stars)