Posted by: kurtsh | December 31, 2012

INFO: Consumer Electronics Show 2013 – Las Vegas Shows & Restaurants Jan 6-10

imageMy plans for CES 2013 in Las Vegas are complete!  Every year this is a HUGE production for me because I don’t like to waste time looking for things to do at the last minute while in Vegas so I plan almost everything out from shows to restaurants to spas to gambling to… well, basically anything.  I consider this to be a work vacation in many respects because I learn so much for work during this trip… but let’s not kid ourselves: 

THIS IS NERDVANA.

SHOWS
This year, I thought I’d highlight some of the shows & restaurants I considered for the week of CES 2013.  I’m not actually listing what I eventually put on my agenda but I think this will help folks understand what’s available during their stay.  I should point out that I’ve seen virtually all the 1st & 2nd tier shows in Vegas so if it’s in this list, it’s because it’s brand new (Rock of Ages, for example), it’s been redone with new content (Blue Man Group), or I simply haven’t been there before. (Brad Garrett’s)

(Note: All shows are purchasable off of Vegas.com between Jan 6th & 10th.  You will pay a convenience fee of $10 per ticket if you go through them HOWEVER I have always gone through Vegas.com because their service is impeccable.  If something gets screwed up or you need a refund or you need to switch dates/times… no problem.  Otherwise, you’re on your own and at the cost of these tickets, you really don’t want to throw tickets away if you can’t make the show.  Also, if you use them, be sure to at least use the coupon ‘retailme15’ for $15 off.)

  • Rock of Ages/Venetian – Jan 6, 8PM; 8, 8PM; 9, 8PM; 10, 8PM
    http://www.venetian.com/Las-Vegas-Entertainment/Resident-Shows/Rock-of-Ages/
    This is the only show that can not be purchased on Vegas.com hence the URL reference above.  The show is brand new to Vegas and one of the few I’ve never seen.  I believe it replaces “Phantom” which ran for years.
  • Jersey Boys/Paris – Jan 6 (7:00), 8 (6:30,9:30) 9(7:00), 10 (7:00)
    I’ve seen this show numerous times however the recent move to Paris from the Palazzo has changed the show dramatically.  It’s clear they still have to work out some issues however I find on a personal level that the new show is much more heartfelt due to some additions to the storyline that they’ve made.
  • Blue Man Group/Planet Hollywood – 6 (7:00), 7 (7:00), 8 (7:00), 10 (7:00,9:30)
    Why?  Because their show is new.  Since moving from the Venetian, I understand their show’s been redone so I’m hoping to see something completely different having seen the old show (back when it was at Mandalay Bay) several times already.
  • Eddie Griffin/Rio– Jan 7, 8, 9 (7:00)
    I have no idea why.  I just like Eddie Griffin.  His bit on the bank robbery in Los Angeles had me in stitches:  “We need mo’ POLICE in Los Angeles!”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrdPIE6frdg
  • Absinthe/Caesars Palace – Jan 6 (7:30), 9 (7:30,9:30), 10 (7:30, 9:30)
    If you’re a little twisted & you don’t mind vulgarity or adult-oriented entertainment, this is the best show on the strip.  Period.  Cirque du Soleil can suck it.  Worth every penny.  And sit in the VIP seats.  Seriously… it’s worth it for the extra entertainment.
  • Brad Garrett Comedy Club/MGM Grand – Jan 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (8:00)
    Reputed to be the best comedy club on the strip, I’ve never been here so I’m looking forward to it.
  • Penn & Teller/Rio – Jan 6, 7, 8, 9 (9:00)
    The longest running magic show on the strip, Penn & Teller are artists that change their show constantly so it’s never the same year after year.  Worth seeing again and again.

RESTAURANTS
This is a fun topic.  Having been a 20+ year veteran of Vegas cuisine, I’ve already weighed in on most Vegas restaurants that have remained in my rolodex.  Here’s a set of restaurants that I either WANT to go back to or on occasion, really haven’t visited yet.

  • Hugo’s Cellar/Four Queens (Downtown Vegas)
    This is arguably the best steak restaurant in Vegas with only a 2-3 other steakhouses being in it’s league IMHO.  Better than CUT, Circus Circus, Prime, StripSteak, Charlie Palmer’s, Craftsteak, N9NE steakhouse, etc.  They know they’re out of the way so they work doubly hard & it shows.  It’s a $25 cab fare there but fortunately, it’s much cheaper to dine there so it balances out.
  • Del Frisco’s Double Eagle/Independent (Off strip)
    Despite being a chain, this is one of those places where the management gets that they have to be better because they don’t have the name brand that Wolfgang Puck or Mario Batali have.  But their menu is to die for & their steaks are either the 2nd or 3rd best in Vegas IMHO.
  • Carnevino/Palazzo (Strip)
    Honestly, I’ve never been to Batali’s restaurant because of mixed reviews from trusted friends but I’m at the end of my list of 4 1/2 & 5-star restaurants to try & Carnevino is generally a 4-star most lists so, I figured why not consider giving it a whirl.
  • Andre’s/Monte Carlo (Strip)
    The best French food and possibly the best restaurant in Vegas.  Every dish at Andre’s is crazy-lick-the-plate-good & Andre himself often comes out to serve his favorite dishes.  Hands down better than Alize, his other restaurant at the top of the Palms.
  • Mastro’s Ocean/Crystals-City Center (Strip) 
    Never been here being that I haven’t visited a lot of what’s at City Center (since I don’t like the place at all) however if it’s anything like Mastro’s of Beverly Hills, it should be great… and a real wallet killer.  I’ve read that the ambiance and the service are off the charts but occasionally the dishes are a miss.
  • Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse/Golden Nugget (Downtown Vegas)
    This is the only steakhouse I’ve never been to that has rated on all the review sites as high as Hugo’s Cellar so this should be interesting.  If they have any where NEAR the quality & craft of Hugo’s I’ll be happy.
  • Border Grill/Mandalay Bay (Strip)
    I will be here – guaranteed.  Border Grill is a staple of mine as I love Mary Sue & Susan’s Mexican cuisine… especially, their tortilla soup:  Best anywhere.  And as a bonus, there’s a $10 purchasable coupon from Restaurant.com available to discount your meal.
    BONUS: http://www.restaurant.com/microsite/13440
  • First Food & Bar/Venetian (Strip)
    High roller bar food galore… period.  Lobster Mac & Cheese.  HUGE hot wings w/ 3 sauces.  Kobe Beef Sliders.  Crab Dip.  You get the picture.  If you like tapas like snacks & baskets, this is it. The problem is that it’s the STRANGEST location.  You literally have to hunt this joint down… and it’s at the end of a long lonely corridor.  I don’t understand how it was that they agreed to this location.  The service here is also weak sauce & the prices are NOT friendly for this sort of cuisine, thus I wouldn’t go back if not for the fact that the dishes are really tasty & satisfying.  I frankly wish they would deliver to my room.  Fortunately, there’s also a Restaurant.com coupon available to discount your meal.
    BONUS: http://www.restaurant.com/microsite/61851
  • ENVY the Steakhouse/Renaissance (Off strip)
    If you want QUIET and a really frickin’ good steak with just the right amount of char & seasoning on it, this is your place.  I was really surprised when I went here the first time how good the food was.  They clearly cater to a business clientele being in the Renaissance. (walking distance from the convention center, no casino, no frills)  There’s also a coupon available via Restaurant.com to make your visit a little cheaper.
    BONUS: http://www.restaurant.com/microsite/14825
  • Fleur/Mandalay Bay (Strip)
    So Hubert Keller took his old but DELICIOUS Fleur d’ Lys French restaurant and turned it into a more profitable tapas bar.  Here’s the thing:  The prices are at the same sky high level but the value’s not there.  Lots of small plates that add up to $100+ really quickly.  Add a drink & you’re going into dangerous territory.  That being said, I stop by annually because the flavors are easily the best at Mandalay Bay, next to Border Grill which is much more affordable.  Do NOT go there without a coupon from Restaurant.com.
    BONUS: http://www.restaurant.com/microsite/54273
  • Gordon Ramsay Steak/Paris (Strip)
    Brand new.  I reserved a table two months in advance and could only get a weak sauce early evening reservation, if that tells you anything.  This is purportedly the newest, hottest steakhouse on the strip & it’s packed with who’s who as well as great meals.  Apparently Gordon Ramsay lives up to his billing per every site I’ve read so I’m looking forward to this one. 
  • KJ Dim Sum & Seafood/Rio (Strip) – tel:7027777777
    There’s no way to make a reservation without phoning it in believe it or not since they don’t use OpenTable or any online reservation services near as I can tell but I get the feeling a reservation isn’t necessary most of the time.  This, I am told by many Chinese, is the best Chinese on the strip if you consider the Rio “the Strip”… otherwise you have to go to Spring Mountain Rd to Chinatown.  Prior to this, I would have given the nod to “Woo” at the Palazzo, but the incompetent layout of Palazzo killed that joint and so they closed up shop sadly.

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