Peppered with a fleet of entertaining games, the jovial bar atmosphere at Beer Bellies serves as a textbook example of the ideal environment for patrons to throw back libations and snack on classic grill fare. Like a fish's dining room, the watering hole boasts limited table seating, but customers can perch along the ample bar to imbibe beers and cocktails mixed by a staff of friendly bartenders. Fried appetizers, including mozzarella sticks and cream-cheese-stuffed jalapeño poppers, precede burgers swathed in american or pepper jack cheese. Between bites, diners can test their luck and elbow strength on penny, nickel, and dime slot machines. A fleet of Keno varieties, including Caveman Keno and Lightning Keno, neighbor digital poker and black jack, and budding opera stars can take the stage for karaoke on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Inspired by Prohibition-era vigilante Richard Williams Jr.'s illicit liquor deliveries, Whiskey Dick’s boasts a menu of savory burgers, sandwiches, and more, as well as 16 draft beers. Goad chompers into taking on the Big Dick’s burger challenge, a beef binge that bombards mouth caverns with nine 1/3-pound patties slathered in cheese ($26.11). Those who complete consumption in 15 minutes are rewarded with a T-shirt, not having to pay for the burger, and a set of false teeth once worn by champion eater George Washington. Vacant belly hovels can also be furnished with the fried mac 'n' cheese ($8.79) and a slab of Don’t Let Your meatloaf ($10.14, available 5–11 p.m.)
In the early 1950s, at the start of the Cold War, crowds would gather on the roof of Atomic Liquors, cocktails in hand, waiting for the show to begin. However, this particular brand of Vegas entertainment didn't feature singing, dancing, or strongmen wrestling slot machines. In fact, the stage was nearly 50 miles away, where the massive blasts from nuclear-bomb tests sent mushroom clouds billowing into the desert sky. Atomic Liquors—née Virginia's Cafe—changed its name in 1952 to jibe with its free entertainment. That same year, the bar's original owners, Joe and Stella Sobchik, outfitted it with a new sign, which the Huffington Post recently lauded as a classic piece of Americana.
When it first went up, that now-iconic sign was a beacon for Las Vegas' stable of stars. The Rat Pack and the Smothers Brothers used to drink here after their shows, and Barbara Streisand even had her own seat, which has since been restored and put on display. Indeed, as Atomic Liquors' list of famous patrons grew, so did its acting resume—movies such as Casino and The Hangover and TV shows such as The Twilight Zone have all filmed scenes at the bar. Yet despite the history of glitz and glamor, Sin City's oldest freestanding bar doesn't rest on its pedigree; its updated list of libations includes 60 different kinds of beer, including 20 on tap, as well as a plethora of whiskeys and other spirits.
Free parking is located on Fremont Street.
Vanguard Lounge opened in 2010 with a bang, winning the awards for Best Lounge and Sexiest Wine List from Vegas Seven magazine. Since then, the hangout hasn't lost touch with what brought it to the party. The bartenders mix classic cocktails such as negronis (seven different kinds, in fact) as well as more ambitious concoctions such as the gin- and vodka-based Fuego Pepino, which is livened up with jalapeños and a few dashes of habanero bitters. A selection of wines and craft beers round out the all-liquid menu. Once guests receive their drink, they can find a seat inside the desert-toned lounge, migrate outside to the patio, or navigate to the dance floor where DJs spin four nights a week or until they get dizzy.
Adding an element of whimsy to downtown pub crawls, Cycle Pub Vegas takes parties to the city's top bars on a group-peddled bike. Facing each other across two bars, groups power their movement through the peddles at their feet as a trained driver captains them to a custom itinerary of bars, each offering their own drink and food specials. An onboard sound system allows riders to pump their own tunes or create eerie zones of silence with the opposite waveform of a noisy crowd. Peddlers are welcome to tote along snacks and non-alcoholic beverages to keep bodies fueled while powered their nightly transport.
Located on Fremont Street, right at the gateway to the Fremont East Entertainment District, Don’t Tell Mama is well situated to attract downtowners looking for live entertainment. A black and white checkerboard floor sets the tone, with ample tables and half-booths lining the walls, plus red velour drapes that hang around the large space. But the bar’s real draw is the grand piano, elevated on a small stage, from which singing bartenders and accompanists perform nightly. Patrons can make song requests and sing along with the waitstaff if they so choose. Or, better yet, get onstage themselves to perform renditions of Broadway show tunes, pop, rock, country, cabaret or any other song that comes to mind (and can be cued up from Don’t Tell Mama’s voluminous music files). There’s no cover but an enforced one drink minimum, so be prepared to spend some cash.