It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve visited Las Vegas. Until you work your way off the Strip and into the neighborhood nooks, take it from this local: You’re missing out.
For starters, Vegas has a notable coffee scene, with independent roasters crafting small-batch beauties all over the place. Our dimly lit small-bite eateries and old-school lounges are topping “best of” lists year after year. And then there are the incredible shopping and nightlife venues off-Strip… But you need to know where to find these things. Here are a dozen-plus spots to include on your next trip to (the other) Las Vegas.
THE COFFEE SCENE
The Latin-inspired Makers & Finders
Start your Vegas day with coffee from or at Makers & Finders, a relaxed cafe with a location halfway between the Strip and downtown’s Fremont District. The neon behind the bar will remind you you’re still in Vegas despite the ultra, ultra urban vibes, and the coffee menu spans from new-age (turmeric in your latte, anyone?) to kid-age (spoonful of nutella, please).
Apart from their awesome coffee roasted in-house, the brag-worthy matcha and tea bar makes coming every morning not at all routine (and totally understandable). And we haven’t even gotten to the food yet! Breakfast ranges from a mean veggie hash to coconut tres leche waffles to what they’re really known for: their Latin bites (empanadas highly recommended). Grab a seat on their sidewalk patio for people-watching on a laid-back morning, and dig in.
The house-roasted and innovative Mothership Coffee
Off to hike Sloan Canyon for the day? On the way there, drop into Mothership Coffee for serious baked goods and uhhhh-mazing house-roasted coffee. The coffee shop is ultra-cool with minimalist design, and so are their offerings. The menu isn’t huge, but everything they do, they make sure they do well.
This is the spot to go in Las Vegas for dedicated coffee culture — the kind that’s an art form — without commercial pretension. Local favorites include the nitro cold brew, lavender and maple-cardamom lattes, and gluten-free quiche. But a plain cup o’ black can do the trick here, too.
Bad Ass Coffee (a la Hawaii)
Las Vegas has long been known as Hawaii’s ninth island, so it’s no wonder you’ll find a little island influence around town if you know where to look.
If you’ve ever been to Bad Ass Coffee in Maui’s Lahaina village, here’s some good news: A Bad Ass Coffee Truck motors around Vegas on the daily. In addition to legendary Kona beans (this is a “gourmet coffee truck,” after all), they’ve got Hawaiian shaved ice, tropical smoothies, and teas. You can check their online schedule to know in advance where to find this Maui cafe on wheels.
The always-fresh Las Vegas Farmers Market
From afar, it may not seem possible to tire of all-you-can-eat buffets and celebrity-chef restaurants, but trust me — it can happen. When that mood strikes, head to the Las Vegas Farmers Market — an easy ask, considering they have five locations. If you need it narrowed down, Saturdays at the downtown Summerlin location are always bustling.
You’ll find local honey, organic produce, grab-and-go foods, and a lively community culture with musicians and artisans. Bring reusable bags and cash, and feel good supporting local businesses.
PinkBox Doughnuts, the king of sweet
Maybe you’ve spotted PinkBox Doughnuts along the Strip, but visiting their full-sized doughnut shop takes it to a whole other level, if for nothing but the sheer ambiance of being surrounded by so many tiny rings of happiness. If you’re looking for award-winning doughnuts, PinkBox is a great place to get your breakfast/snack/dessert fix.
Go for classics like a maple bacon bar or warm apple fritter, or live large and order from the highly decorated menu. Presley fan? There’s the Fat Elvis. Love pink? Their strawberry shortcake doughnut is well dressed with fresh berries and a smooth whip atop a squishy glazed circle of sweetness. Most are so done up you’ll wonder if they technically qualify as doughnuts. They do — and yep, you can have two.
The old-school Peppermill Restaurant & Fireside Lounge
Settle in for a retro vibe at the Peppermill Restaurant & Fireside Lounge, a 24/7 eatery that’s been thriving in Vegas for more than 40 years. Have you done anything remarkable consistently for 40 years? Yeah. That’s not easy.
Movie buffs will recognize the swanky venue from Casino and Showgirls. The place is decked out in moody neon lights and fitted with round cushy booths, supper-club style. Prepare for huge servings of diner classics like country-style steak and eggs, pastrami sandwiches, half-pound burgers, and more. And definitely be sure to pair your breakfast with one of their signature Bloody Marys.
The late-night Raku
Vegas insiders will tell you Raku, a Japanese charcoal grill, is the place for late-night dining in the city. Omakase, a chef’s choice selection of shared plates, is the experience here, offering highlights from the menu along with daily specials. With this approach, you’re likely to nibble on house-made tofu, oysters, bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms, Kobe beef, and a sashimi platter.
Reservations are suggested for this small, in-demand venue, and don’t you dare think about getting anything smaller. You’d only regret it.
The retro Charleston Antique Mall
When you need a break from your normal Vegas adventures, slot in a few hours for strolling the Charleston Antique Mall. In this massive cornucopia of vintage and resale goods, you’ll find reasonably priced mid-century furnishings, antiques and collectibles, kitschy accessories, and vintage toys and games. The thrill of the hunt is half the fun here, but don’t be surprised if you find an absolutely perfect accent for your home or wardrobe. You never know what to expect in Vegas, and you really never know what to expect at Charleston.
The stylish Patina Decor
A top local (and celebrity!) resale shop favorite is Patina Decor, located in the heart of the Arts District. They stock hand-selected vintage clothing, retro couture, and stylish home furnishings — it’s a fabulous shop with unique finds for dressing up head to toe before a night out. Be sure to check out their designer jewelry selections, and make it an event. You’ll walk in wearing jeans, but you’ll walk out ready for a night on the town — complete with your new Vegas persona.
The local-favorite Amber Unicorn Books
Bibliophiles should plan a visit to Amber Unicorn Books. This locally loved bookshop carries an extensive collection of modestly priced used books, but they’re also known beyond the Vegas border for carrying impressive rare collections. You’ll find vintage cookbooks, first editions, and antiquarian goodies in this awesome-smelling hideout. Keep an eye out for author-signed hardbacks!
BARS & NIGHTLIFE
The surprisingly Midwestern Big Dog’s Brewing Company
Big Dog’s Brewing Company may be packed with Midwestern cheer, but it’s also considered a hometown brewery for Vegas — the hometown brewery for Vegas. Order up some Wisconsin cheese curds, Bavarian soft pretzels, and walleye tacos to pair with one of their signature lagers, stouts, ales, or IPAs — try the Red Hydrant Brown Ale, an English-style brew that’s won gold twice at the World Beer Cup.
Oh, and expect to come and cheer on the Badgers. The Rebels. The Packers. Whoever. This barn-shaped brew house is all about camaraderie, and it’s a great place to kick back with friends and enjoy some Wisconsin — or otherwise — fandom.
The no-frills Hop Nuts Brewing
Hop Nuts Brewing is a go-to spot if you’re in the mood for craft beer in a #chillaf neighborhood bar — and they’re also the first microbrewery in the Vegas Arts District. They have 20 brews on tap, with about a dozen brewed in-house, and, despite their name, you don’t have to be a “hop nut” to get down here (their “Harry Porter” is a prime example).
You can sneak a peek at their brewing in progress, get in on a game of darts with friends, or just kick back on the patio with a “Summertime in the LVC.” Happy Hour runs 4-7pm with $4 pints, or you can sample their not-hoppy-to-super-hoppy varieties in a flight any time of day. Starting at, say, Friday at 11am, is allowed — you’re on vacation.
Bunkhouse Saloon (awesome band bar)
One of Vegas’s top venues for catching small-space live music is downtown’s Bunkhouse Saloon. They’ve been around since 1953, and their dance floor and variety of shows have kept it a contemporary local favorite for a while now. Bands vary from rock to blues to punk, with DJ theme nights thrown in for good measure. All that being said…it’s definitely still “saloon” themed. Even if you’re shredding to some metal, you’ll be shredding to some metal next to an old piano and some farm tools.
Pro tip: If you prefer a quiet(er) spot to catch up with friends, head to their backyard and gather around the fire pit. There are tons of picnic tables, too.
The bluesy (and brews-y) Sand Dollar Lounge
The absolutely iconic Sand Dollar Lounge has been around since 1976, catering to the rock and blues crowd — this is “where music lives.” Early years saw Muddy Waters, BB King, and Mick Jagger stopping by, and now you’ll find a mix of touring acts and regional up-and-comers, all Sand Dollar-approved.
Check out their extensive and music-themed cocktail menu, with drinks like “La Bamba” and “Smoke on the Water” (they’ve got a sizable beer selection, too). In addition to nonstop shows, there’s a popular billiards area and plenty of seating, and they’re open every night save Monday till 3am.
The jazzy Dispensary Lounge
The Dispensary Lounge is a dive bar with late-night entertainment, and it’s almost always some kickin’ live jazz. Here’s the scene: No loud voices competing to be heard over the band. No wishing you’d stayed home with a book. No ear plugs. And no overpaying for your drinks. You will feel like you’re in Adele’s living room…if Adele’s living room tables came with wait service (maybe they do?). Explains why Thrillist named this place one of the best dive bars in Vegas.
All in all, this is where to go for settling in with a drink and listening to groovy tunes among friends. Turns out, in Vegas, you can roll hard or take ‘er easy — or both.