The first of two casinos debuting this December will open its doors today. The Durango Resort and Casino opens at 10 a.m. at 6915 S Durango Drive, near the 215 Beltway, in the southwest part of the Las Vegas Valley. The 201-room casino and resort broke ground in March of last year, more than 20 years after the Station Casinos company first acquired the land. Now, one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in Las Vegas will have a casino designed for locals that is just as accessible as Red Rock Resort, another Station Casinos property, is for the Summerlin area.
The $780 million property is home to about 200 rooms and suites, a sophisticated sportsbook, and 15 bars and restaurants. Here are all the highlights.
The George Sportsmen’s Lounge
Equal parts sports bar, 24-hour restaurant, and outdoor entertainment hub, the George is a new hybrid for Las Vegas casinos. Located adjacent to the STN Sportsbook, and facing its 4,200 square feet of digital LED screen space, the George offers an enviable menu and an even better outdoor patio. Inside, banquettes and tables wrap around a central bar, where customers can order drinks and food at all hours, with breakfast options like banana bread served with caramelized brown butter and a breakfast sandwich with sausage and bacon on a flaky, buttery croissant. The George serves some fare expected of a sports bar — beer-brined wings ($14), fried mozzarella ($14), and bacon cheeseburgers ($16). But many dishes are interesting enough to be compelling even to those with little interest in catching the day’s big game. There’s a sprawling platter of charcuterie with meats, cheeses, spreads, and pretzel crostinis ($45), Philly cheesesteak egg rolls ($13) that are crispy and filled with savory ribeye, and a tender hot honey chicken sandwich ($16).
Created by Jonathan Fine, founder and CEO of Fine Entertainment Management, the same hospitality group that owns the corn hole-centric PKWY Tavern bars, the George has an outdoor area with a bar, a lawn with oversized games, lounge seating, and three massive TV screens. Fine says he hopes the game day programming will rival even seeing the game in person. For thrice-weekly football games, the center of the three screens will transform into a scoreboard. During commercials, the screens will show kiss cams and clips of people answering trivia questions — all of it scripted and filmed on-site. Fine says that entertainers from shows like “Absinthe” and the supper club Superfrico will pop up from the crowd and perform acts. And the George will boast even more for Golden Knights games.
“On away games, we’ll have real Drumbots and real cheerleaders,” says Fine. “The southwest is the most under-serviced neighborhood. And the area is densely populated. I think compared to the experience of paying $350 to go the stadium and pay to park, you can come to the casino and have an amazing meal and experience, maybe gamble, and then drive home.”
Nicco’s Prime Cuts & Fresh Fish
Helmed by Chef Danny Ye, the former corporate executive chef for Catch Hospitality Group, the Durango’s steakhouse shares a lot its DNA with Red Rock’s T-Bones. In a modern and woodsy restaurant, Nicco’s serves USDA Prime, dry-aged, and Wagyu cuts of steak. The seafood takes center stage, with Dover Sole cooked just until the outside is lightly crispy and served with meuniere sauce. Yellowtail crudo is delightfully citrusy with a hint of heat and super creamy mashed potatos are made Joel Robachon-style with lots of butter.
Bel-Aire Lounge and Bel-Aire Backyard
The Clique Hospitality company manages the Bel-Aire Lounge and Bel-Aire Backyard. The lounge, right next to the lobby, is high-energy with gold and brass finishes, lush seating, cocktails poured in whimsical glassware, and a tight selection of small plates like Kobe sliders, bites of crispy rice with spicy tuna, and sushi rolls. The Pink Flamingo ($28) combines tequila with curacao and dragon fruit, all served in a flamingo-shaped glass. The Tea For Two ($38) is matcha-based and designed to be shared. Doors open from the lounge to the Backyard’s pool area. In warmer months, customers can order food and drink poolside.
Eat Your Heart Out
The food hall, an unrelenting new Las Vegas trend, brings in locally-owned restaurants and a few out-of-towners for a variety of burgers, frozen custard, pizza, noodles, and oysters. Chef Gene Villiatora expands his California restaurant, Ai Pono Cafe, to Las Vegas, where he serves his Hawaiian street food plates. New York pizza place Prince Street Pizza moves in with its Sicilian pizzas. Marc Vetri opens his third Las Vegas restaurant, Fiorella. The 50-year-old Los Angeles burger joint, Irv’s Burgers, and Los Angeles sandwich hot spot, Uncle Paulie’s Deli, make Las Vegas debuts. And five Las Vegas restaurants are expanding into the food hall, including Yu Or Mi Sushi bar, Vesta Coffee Roasters, Nielsen’s Frozen Custard, Oyster Bar, and Shang Artisan Noodles. Vesta also has a location in the lobby. In addition to doubling its locations, Vesta has significantly stepped up its food offerings, with daily selections of gorgeously laminated pastries, browned-butter cookies, and fluffy focaccia.
Mijo Modern Mexican Restaurant
The entrance to the resort’s Mexican restaurant is a winding pathway of textured wood accents and sunset-colored marigold flowers. Inside, the restaurant is dim and sultry, while the outdoor seating area is breezy with delicate macrame chandeliers suspended over the tables. Find dishes here like charred octopus with white beans ($22), coconut ceviche ($18), and lobster enchiladas ($34.) Tucked away is the concealed entrance to Wax Rabbit, a speakeasy-style lounge drenched in shades of red.
In addition to a parking garage, the Durango has ample free surface parking surrounding most of the resort, with a direct entrance from the parking lot to the George, and entrances near Nicco’s, Mijo, and Summer House — a casual breakfast and lunch restaurant with quick-service offerings and huge, soft cookies. The Durango Casino and Resort opens at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, December 5 and will present a fireworks show at 9 p.m.