Most Unexpected Find of 2012
Downtown's Neonopolis is enjoying a resurgence on the coattails of its Fremont neighbors. After years of morphing into a
teenage Vegas wasteland, the neighborhood has produced stores, restaurants, exhibits, and bars that are anything but a drag. However, when Denny's, complete with its own wedding chapel, was announced as the newest anchor tenant, popular opinion was that of one giant step backward toward downtown's roots of cheap eats, dirty dining, and cheese that only a mid-westerner could love.
Bets were made as to which VegasChatter writer would be drunk, desperate or both enough to land there first for an up close and personal. In other words, expectations were low, low, low, low. But, then a funny thing happened after a foodless night at Commonwealth. One starving writer entered, one impressed patron left.
Denny's on Fremont was a super clean, super friendly restaurant with a full bar, photo booth, gift shop and the same super cheap prices we're all familiar with. Yes, it was just a Denny's like every other Denny's yet nothing at all like any other Denny's. We became believers. Even the not-yet-built-but-rumored-to-still-be-on-the-way wedding chapel started to sound like a winning idea. Okay, we didn't go quite that far. But, Denny's on Fremont has inserted itself into our eating, drinking, and people watching rotation. Denny's on Fremont, a.k.a. the one with a bar, isn't gourmet, but is a solid downtown option open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just like every other Denny's. Just expect it to be anything but.
Runner-Up: Pop Up Pizza
With a roster that includes multiple east coast writers here at VegasChatter, Las Vegas pizza offerings were a disappointment joint after joint for several years. Then a glimmer of hope emerged at The Cosmopolitan in the form of a circle-shaped secret. Followed by the announced downtown expansion of another pizza operation.
Radio City Pizzeria's Plaza plans fell through and Pop Up Pizza stepped in. Pop Up opened in the shadows of a big-named steakhouse and a nationally recognized, award winning restaurant with over-sized servings. Quality ingredients and solid flavors win out every time, though, and Pop Up comes out on top in our book. The handmade gourmet pizzas are made with particular premium ingredients flown in just for the sake of pie. Pop Up Pizza is open late, offers free WiFi and, for our money, comes out on top in head-to-head competition. It also happens to be the best reason to pop into the Plaza. Pizza in Vegas worth going out of your way for. That's unexpected.