Oscar’s captures that classic Las Vegas feel
By Brock Radke
Photos by Jeff Green
Old Vegas is new again. The original Sin City hot spot, downtown’s Fremont Street, is experiencing a supercharged resurgence thanks to an intriguing blend of acknowledging its colorful past and a fresh, hip energy. Fremont Street culminates at the Plaza, one of downtown’s most iconic hotel-casinos, and the place to be here is a classic steakhouse with a distinct speakeasy vibe.
Oscar’s, of course, is named for Oscar B. Goodman, former mayor and mob defense attorney and, most importantly, unabashed lover of all things Las Vegas. Goodman’s story is the story of Vegas, of building something amazing (by any means necessary) in this desert oasis, and indulging in the luxurious good life. Walking into this swanky bar and restaurant, you may feel as if you’re in a movie, one of those sparkling glamorizations of how the city was made, a tale of gangsters and neon excitement. There’s a reason for that: Hollywood has visited this room often, most notably to film a pivotal scene between Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone in Casino—a film in which Goodman appeared, playing himself.
Now, the dark, intimate bar at Oscar’s has quickly become one of downtown’s hottest places to imbibe, always full and occasionally highlighted by a sultry jazz singer setting a sizzling mood. It would be criminal not to partake in a martini; Oscar’s affections for Bombay Sapphire gin are matched only by his feelings for the city he supervised for 12 years.
Then, enter the shimmering glass dome that is the main dining room, decked out in rich, dark colors that set a foundation for the incredible view to the east into the twinkling corridor of the Fremont Street Experience. It doesn’t get any more Vegas than this. Your tuxedo-clad server may recommend you begin a sumptuous meal with Johnny Quinn’s crab cakes, fresh lump crabmeat lightly fried with two incredibly flavorful sauces, a tangy stone ground mustard and a semi-sweet red pepper rémoulade. Other classic seafood starters include a chilled shrimp cocktail, seared tuna with blackened Creole seasoning, and golden fried calamari.
Many menu items are named for colorful characters of Las Vegas’ past, which explains Jasper & Hunchy’s tomato salad. It’s a simple yet sublime combination of ripe tomatoes, burrata cheese, basil and balsamic vinegar. Goodman’s favorite is the chopped salad, sparked by creamy avocado and pink peppercorn dressing. Sherry and white veal stock-infused onion soup is a rich treat, too, but be sure to save some room for the aged steaks charred to perfection on a 600-degree grill. Whether you prefer a tender filet, a juicy New York strip, or possess the appetite for a gigantic Certified Angus Beef 24-ounce porterhouse, your cut awaits.
Prime rib, certainly an old Las Vegas favorite, is particularly luscious at Oscar’s. Choose a petite but still plate-filling cut or the big boy, a bone-in 24 ounces. Both come awash in savory jus with creamy horseradish, a meal fit for a made man. Complement your beef with king crab legs, jumbo shrimp or a plump lobster tail, and don’t forget about the shareable side dishes: sautéed mushrooms, sweet potato fries, steamed or creamed spinach, and a beautiful roasted corn brûlée stand out.
Satisfying cuisine and pitch-perfect ambience, Oscar’s is a can’t-miss experience, connecting the city’s present to its vibrant past with style … and steak.
Opens at 5 p.m. daily, lounge opens at 4 p.m. 702.386.7227