Vegas4Visitors.com Weekly Column by Rick Garman

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The Countdown: Top 10 Vegas News Stories of the Week

10. Ventriloquist Paul Zerdin Gets Show at Planet Hollywood

America's Got Talent has become a breeding ground for Vegas acts. Mirage headliner Terry Fator got his start on the NBC show as did The Linq's magician Mat Franco. Now last season's winner, ventriloquist Paul Zerdin, is getting in on the "act" by bringing his to Planet Hollywood. Zerdin will take the 7pm slot at the PH showroom while singer Frankie Moreno will take the 9pm slot in the same theater, which is getting a revamp to bring it down from 1,500 seats to 750. The show starts April 30, will play daily except Monday, and has tickets running from $42-$97. Read more about Planet Hollywood.

9. Go Behind the Scenes with Open Rehearsals of Mystere

The long-running Cirque du Soleil show Mystère is giving a peek behind the curtain, so to speak, by opening up rehearsals to audience members. Every Saturday and Sunday, guests will be able to attend open rehearsals at Treasure Island for free so they can see some of the work that goes into putting on a show like this. In addition, anyone who attends will get a voucher to get two tickets to Mystere for only $99. The open rehearsals run from 3-3:45 on Saturday and from 5-5:30 on Sunday and are free - no reservation is required. Read the review of Mystère by Cirque du Soleil.

8. Paris to Get Room Makeover

Well, at least Caesars Entertainment is spending all the money they are raking in on resort fees on something worthwhile. Paris Las Vegas is the latest hotel in the company's portfolio to be getting room revamps, joining the previously announced Planet Hollywood and Harrah's. In addition, Caesars Palace is getting more than just the Julius tower (formerly the Roman tower), it's also going to have a makeover for its Augustus rooms although the name of that is not going to change. In total, nearly 5,000 rooms in Vegas will be updated this year. Read more about Paris Las Vegas.

7. New Cigar Bar Set for Caesars

If you have been wondering what's going on behind the construction wall at Caesars Palace where the Asian restaurant Hyakumi used to be, the mystery has now been solved: it's going to be a cigar bar. Montecristo is slated to open in the next couple of weeks, a companion to the outlet in the Forum Shops mall. It'll have a lounge with fine whiskeys and small bites, a walk-in humidor, and a cigar store of course. The 100-seat space will have a state of the art ventilation system that they insist will keep things "fresh." Sure. You can find the new Montecristo by following your nose, most likely, but if that doesn't work it's right across the hall from the entrance to the Nobu hotel tower and the Gossy Room where Matt Goss performs. Read more about Caesars Palace.

6. Another Vegas Mall Gets An Aquarium

There's a big aquarium at The Forum Shops but that isn't stopping The Boulevard Mall from getting one of its own. As part of an effort to revamp the mall, Sea Quest is moving in with a 31,000 square-foot aquarium that will allow visitors to get up close to more than 1,500 marine animals and exotic birds. A sister to similar facilities in Austin and San Antonio, Texas, Sea Quest will offer live interaction with opportunities to feed animals, go snorkeling with stingrays, and even "sleep with sharks" (you get to stay overnight and feed the beasts in the dark). Sea Quest should be open within the next month. Read more about the Boulevard Mall.

5. New Wynn Nightclub Set for April Bow

The newest nightclub at Wynn Las Vegas is looking to "Intrigue" you. Intrigue is the name of the new club that is taking over the space that used to be Tryst (and was Le Bete before that). It's aiming to be more than "just a club" by offering an immersive entertainment experience, where performances will pop up around the club randomly to go along with the pounding house music provided by big name DJs. The specifics of these performances are a secret, but could be anything from dancers to singers to Cirque style aerialists to vignette actors and more. Intrigue will open April 28. Read more about Wynn Las Vegas.

4. Reba, Brooks & Dunn Returning to Caesars

The country music universe can breathe a sigh of relief - Reba McEntire and duo Brooks & Dunn are not only returning to Caesars Palace they are adding nine more shows. They were already set to do a half dozen dates in May but now have added more performances in July. Tickets are on sale now. Read the full review of Reba, Brooks & Dunn Together in Vegas.

3. Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips Back On

Last year there was great excitement in the food-verse as Gordon Ramsay announced plans to open his fourth restaurant in Vegas, a Fish & Chips stand at the Linq Promenade. Then... nothing happened. Although no one would say why, the restaurant didn't open and everyone stopped talking about it. Well, now they are talking about it again saying the casual eatery will open by June. It'll primarily be a grab and go outlet with limited seating for its menu of British pub favorites like the eponymous fish and fries, bangers and mash, and chowder. Read the reviews of Gordon Ramsay Steak, Gordon Ramsey's Pub & Grill, and Gordon Ramsay BurGR.

2. Elvis Drama Goes to Court

Things got litigious last week in the ongoing saga over hundreds of pieces of Elvis Presley memorabilia. It started when the Westgate hotel suddenly shut down the Elvis exhibit, saying that the company that managed it wasn't going to pay them what they were owed. The Elvis estate, which owns the memorabilia, wants it back but the hotel isn't budging, insisting if they give it back to the owners they lose their leverage in their complaint against the managers. Hence the lawsuit, which seeks both compensatory and punitive damages on top of a return of the memorabilia. Read more about The Westgate.

1. Sprinkles Celebrates Birthday with Free Cupcakes!

It may be Sprinkles second birthday in Vegas but they are giving you the gifts. Visit Sprinkles at The Linq Promenade on March 21 and you could get anything from a free cupcake to an entire year of free cupcakes. Anyone who whipsers "Happy Birthday" to the folks behind the counter before 3:21pm will get a free cupcake. Use the cupcake ATM and you might be the recipient of a card that will be good for cupcakes for the year (one dozen each month). Or you can take a picture and post it on social media with the hashtag #SprinklesTurns Two and be eligible to also win cupcakes for a year. All this is good only on March 21. Read the review of Sprinkles.

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The 10 Best Bars in Downtown Las Vegas

10. Park on Fremont

Part bar, part restaurant, the coolest thing about this cool little bar is the gorgeous outdoor patio in the back. Read the full review.

9. Beauty Bar

One of the first residents of the Fremont East scene, this place has an unthreatening hipster vibe and a fun beauty parlor theme. Read the full review.

8. Hogs & Heifers

Don't be intimidated by the biker bar trappings (or the actual bikers that visit the place). It's a lot friendlier than that. Read the full review.

7. Triple 7 Brew Pub

Their own house made brews, some good food, and a bunch of TVs to watch the game on. What else do you need? Read the full review.

6. Commonwealth

This is probably the most Strip-like of the Downtown bars in terms of audience and attitude, but still a great place to grab a drink (especially if you can get into the super secret speakeasy). Read the full review.

5. Downtown Cocktail Room

Another longtime Downtown denizen, this ultra-cool ultra-lounge is popular with the after work crowd and anyone who enjoys a finely crafted cocktail. Read the full review.

4. Velveteen Rabbit

All of the other bars on this list are within walking distance of one another. the fact that this one requires a cab or an Uber to get to only speaks to how cool it is - a friendly, hip, and happening joint. Read the full review.

3. The Griffin

This club was doing cool Downtown Vegas bar before most of the bars on this list were even glimmers of an idea. The epitome of "chill." Read the full review.

2. Vanguard Lounge

If you are the type of person who prefers a cocktail over a drink, this is where you should go. Their mixologists do craft cocktails better than just about any other place in town. Read the full review.

1. Atomic Liquors

Whether it's the old-school neon out front, the Atomic Era themed cocktails inside, or the fact that they still have a stool dedicated to Barbra Stresiand when she used to drink here, the reasons to visit this slice of Vegas history are almost too long to count. Read the full review.

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Buffet Review: Rio's Carnival World Buffet

The Carnival World Buffet at The Rio has long been a favorite of tourists and locals alike who appreciate the wide variety of well-prepared food at prices that don't seem as outrageous as they may have until places like the Bacchanal came along. But a fundamental change in 2015 created a new dynamic that is worth knowing about.

The Carnival World Buffet is at one end of the building and while it used to have seafood options there used to be a separate Village Seafood Buffet at the other end of the building. The latter closed in 2015 and it was incorporated, sort of, into the main Carnival World.

You have a choice of getting just the regular buffet with its limited seafood options or adding the extended seafood experience for about $15 more at dinner time. Whether its worth it is totally up to you and how many crab legs you think you need to make a buffet visit truly successful.

The Carnival World buffet was one of the first in Vegas to utilize the concept of food "stations," individual themed areas that diners could pick and choose from as opposed to one long buffet line starting with salads and ending with the desserts. These days the food station concept is everywhere so it doesn't seem quite as revolutionary as it may have years ago but is still successful here primarily because of the varied offering they have which run the gamut from made-to-order omelets to a teppanyaki grill.

There are more than 300 dishes prepared daily although you won't find that many available at any given time. Still, the lineup is epic with salads, American, Latin, Asian, a carving station, desserts, and more.

Everything I sampled was very good and well-prepared although some of the warm entrees had been sitting under the heating lamps a little longer than they probably should have been. This is something I have noticed on multiple visits - not a huge issue but worth noting.

So talking strictly food, the Carnival World Buffet is a terrific choice. Costs are high but it certainly isn't the most expensive buffet in town. Lunch is around $25, dinner $33, weekend brunch $32, and the aforementioned seafood add on available as a $15 upcharge for dinner only. There is no weekday breakfast or brunch.

One thing to note is that lines can be very long here at peak times so plan ahead.

This is a good buffet for the prices they charge but to be honest I'd rather pay the extra few bucks to bump up to something like the Caesars Bacchanal or Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas, experiences that are undeniably more expensive but also substantially more satisfying.

Carnival World Buffet
Rio Las Vegas
3700 West Flamingo
Las Vegas, NV 89103
702-777-7777
website
Lunch $25, Dinner $33, Brunch $32, Seafood +$15 Daily 8am-10pm
Vegas4Visitors Grade: B+

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