Local restaurants opening downtown outposts

*logoHaving won over legions of Las Vegans, a handful of local restaurants are now taking a shot at the big time, opening outposts in hotel-casinos downtown and giving Vegas visitors a chance to eat like the locals do.

This recent trend reverses the normal way of Vegas works: After running high-end kitchens in top restaurants, chefs typically decamp for their own restaurants, either at other properties or in stand-alone locations.

If the new trend works, this twist could convince more gaming officials to consider going local.

The Plaza downtown, for example, landed Firefly, a wildly beloved Paradise Road tapas restaurant that locals swear by. Firefly’s Plaza location sits on the mezzanine level and features a gaudy dome with fantastic views of the Fremont Street Experience.

Not to be left out, the Vegas Club Hotel & Casino added Tinoco's Kitchen, a something-for-every-palate restaurant that has drawn raves for eight years. The hotel also boasts a fast-food Tinoco's Kitchen Express outlet next to the restaurant.

Italiano at Aliante

In another twist on locals hitting the big time, Rino Armeni opened Pips Cucina & Wine Bar inside Aliante Station Casino and Hotel last year. His Italian restaurant has quickly become a favorite.

Before becoming a restaurateur, Armeni served as vice president of food and beverage for Caesars Palace and built a loyal following of casino customers during his 14 years at Southern Wine & Spirits, a prominent liquor and wine distributor in Southern Nevada. Pips gives diners a choice of 32 vintages, which can be purchased in one-, three- or five-ounce pours.

If this new trend continues, more local restaurants will get the chance to show tourists that not all the best meals in town are to be found on the Las Vegas Strip.

For more on dining at Aliante Station, visit www.aliantecasinohotel.com. For the Plaza, go to www.plazahotelcasino.com. For the Vegas Club, log on at www.vegasclubcasino.net.

This article has been corrected to remove reference to the Omelet House, as it is no longer open.

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