Downtown Life: Carson Kitchen, Gary Lewis and Hop Nuts
Las Vegas offers an endless array of options for whatever you’re in the mood for, and that includes Downtown. To help you get the most out of your time there, our staff has compiled some recommendations—everything from where to eat to what to see.
Carson Kitchen is unprepossessing from the outside, but inside it runs to a hipster chic, and the menu follows that vibe. Metal chairs and barstools dot the dark space, with high-tops and lower tables intermingling in the intimate dining area. Outside you’ll find a casual area and rooftop patio, but you might want to wait a few minutes until the heat dies down.
Carson Kitchen changes out its menus seasonally, and the summer menu here brings fresh, deep flavors to the fore, from cocktails to peach upside-down cake, perfect for sharing.
In the dining room, if you can, snag seating at the chef’s table, an intimate slab overlooking the kitchen, where chef Scott Simon (also younger brother of famed rock ’n’ roll chef Kerry Simon, who helped found Carson Kitchen) presides. You might even be able to have a few words about the cocktail selection with Matt Harwell (the cousin of Carson owner Cory Harwell), who will guide you through offerings such as the Machu Peach-U, a beautiful twist on a pisco sour, featuring Smith & Cross Jamaica rum, Giffard crème de peche and BarSol pisco.
The best option to start your meal here is to choose several dishes and share—peach panzanella, a kale and smoky watermelon salad, and sugar snap peas with smoked paprika butter are excellent choices. Each has a different flavor profile, yet each nicely ties into the others. For instance, the watermelon has a smoky exterior while the sugar snap peas have been bathed in an intense smoked paprika butter. Continue with chicken thighs under Alabama white barbecue sauce—super tender—and flatbread with earthy wild mushrooms. Peach upside-down cake has been created with Crafthaus zitrone (a bright local beer). The whipped mascarpone makes an excellent topper. Cap it off with the Family Jewel, a lovely concoction with Tattersall Barreled Gin and sweet vermouth. Nice! –Nina King
124 South Sixth St., No. 100, 702.473.9523
Legend has it that Gary Lewis kept the identity of his famous father quiet when the teenaged drummer and his band successfully auditioned for a gig at Disneyland. Producer Thomas “Snuff” Garrett thought differently about what was good for the son of comedian Jerry Lewis, which led to Gary Lewis coming out from behind the drums and the Playboys scoring their first and biggest hit in February 1965. “This Diamond Ring,” co-written by future Blood, Sweat and Tears founder Al Kooper, went to No. 1.
The group scored six more Top 10 hits, and made television and movie appearances such as the 1966 beach movie Out of Sight before Lewis was drafted in 1967. The time away proved fatal to Lewis’ pop chart run, but the nostalgia circuit was just around the corner. Lewis gathered a new gang of Playboys, and continues to play hits such as “Count Me In,” “Everybody Loves a Clown” and “She’s Just My Style” live for lovers of ’60s pop and fans with fond memories of listening to Lewis on the radio. –Matt Kelemen
Golden Nugget, 8 p.m. Aug. 17, starting at $29 plus tax and fee. 800.745.3000 Ticketmaster
Hop to It!
There’s some serious experimentation going on at Las Vegas Valley breweries, and that certainly holds true for Hop Nuts, a tap room that produces a mind-blowing variety of suds. Enjoy beers like Harry Porter, Green Mamba Double IPA and—in honor of our hockey team—The Golden Knight Belgian golden strong ale. –Ken Miller
1120 S. Main St., No. 150, noon-1 a.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Sun. 702.816.5371