You’ve come to the right place if you are in search of the best, authentic, and local Las Vegas restaurants and cannabis dispensaries that may be off-the-beaten path and off-strip. Regardless of why you are in Vegas (work trip, conference, weekend getaway), you are looking for unique, exciting, and even life-changing experiences.
Truth be told, a part of me loathes the fact that I am starting the Free Range Kings site with yet another Vegas work trip, but these are the…er, cards I was dealt. This is my 14th time in the City of Lights/Sin, so I have thoroughly explored and experienced the city, for better and worse. If you’ve been, you know one thing is for certain – you are going to get hustled. The casino. Taxi, limo, and shared ride drivers. Host/hostesses. Club security. Everybody is hustling for their cut of the nearly $35 billion brought in by non-residents annually (Source: 2016 Report by Applied Analysis, a Nevada-based hospitality and gaming consultant firm). Las Vegas is a city of many faces, and if you’re looking for something specific, you’re likely to find it here, or at least some façade of what you are seeking.
I’ve won many bets. I’ve lost many bets. Just when I think the city has broken the last bone in my spirit, it cruelly places the elixir of victory against my chapped lips to ensure I come back with a renewed fervor. At one point, I ranked Las Vegas in my top three most loved cities. Now it’s more of a love-hate relationship, and I recognize that expressing too much of an affinity for Vegas probably doesn’t reflect well on me as a person – upon hearing my praise, I’m sure one would think I am one of three things: (a) Suffering through a mid-life crisis, (b) a degenerate gambler, or (c) contributing to the human trafficking epidemic.
One of my long-term observations about Vegas is that it is constantly evolving. The city I visited in the late 90s is so drastically different from Vegas in 2019. The city seems to learn what you collectively want and adjusts accordingly, and this includes continual culinary reinvention. The uninitiated are so wide-eyed with excitement and entranced by the neon signs and bright lights of the strip, that they limit their food choices to the casinos along Las Vegas Boulevard.
They do not realize there is a world outside of those 4.2 miles between the Stratosphere and Mandalay Bay, and that actual people live in this city – people like you and me that go to work, have families, and don’t wake up regretting the previous night’s hedonistic choices. I’m sure many of the uninitiated have only heard whispers of Downtown Vegas and are cringingly oblivious to other 702 stomping grounds, such as Spring Valley, Chinatown, Summerlin, and Henderson. Don’t get me wrong – some of the very best restaurants sit along the Vegas Strip. In fact, the legendary food blogger and culinary expert of Las Vegas John Curtas provided Free Range Kings with his three favorite dishes in the city, two of which are on the Strip:
Ask A Local: My 3 Favorite Dishes in Las Vegas
1. Paella at Jaleo
2. Dry-aged Porterhouse Steak at CUT Steakhouse
3. Omakase Sushi at Yui Edomae Sushi
However, for work trips that are scheduled a month out or less and possibly having to accommodate a larger group, you’ll likely to be scrounging for reservations to B-minus restaurants and later begging your corporate accounting team for an exception for the ridiculously-lavish expense report. Don’t be that person.
During my latest work trip to Vegas, I decided to hit a couple restaurants I’ve been meaning to try for a while – one for more than a decade in Lotus of Siam – and one that has gained culinary prominence more recently in Carson Kitchen.
Since July 2017, there was another reason to visit Southern Nevada: cannabis tourism. It wouldn’t be right if a city known for hedonism and indulgence was left out of the legal weed business, right? This town is budding with new businesses focused on satisfying your every cannabis-related need. I will be visiting many more shops in the future, but during my most recent trip, I visited one of the more popular dispensaries in the area – superstore Planet 13. Mind you, this visit was after my very last work meeting ended and out of sight of coworkers.