Foreword by Stan Lerner: it’s a working vacation in Las Vegas, so while this is a dining piece on it’s a travel piece on downtownster—the job has its good points.

Because I was born and raised in Los Angeles it was only natural that Las Vegas became my second home. In 2003 I came for a weekend and stayed for a year—producing the “Night Tribe” show at the Rio Hotel and Casino—I love Vegas. So, when my writing career went on to encompass blogging, I started, I was sure that the next city after LA that I’d be blogging in would be Vegas Baby!

Now every good blog needs some regular characters, so let me take this opportunity to introduce Carlos Harper. I met Carlos when he was a young fellow working at the Rio’s pool. He was arguably the best pool guy at the Rio, which meant I was sure to recruit him to do some promoting for “Night Tribe”—he was good at promoting as well. Carlos went on to college, graduated, worked in real estate, and became a VIP host with Pure Group—a star on the rise. As you can imagine he knows Vegas and even though I used to be the boss I’ve come to rely on him to keep me up on what’s going in this great town.

The call went something like this:

“Hey little brother, you up for lunch?” I asked driving towards Desert Inn.

“Sure, where do you feel like going?” he responded.

“Up to you. But first stop Starbucks.”

“Have you ever been to Society?”

“No. Where is it?”

“At Encore. Trust me you’re going to like it.”


“Meet me at Las Vegas Blvd. and Blue Diamond.”

Two cappuccinos in my blood, the top down, and Carlos riding shotgun I was on my way to Encore, which is one of my favorite hotels in the world—particularly the Eastside Lounge.

Funny enough I had noticed Society when I was at Encore’s opening, I thought it was going to be a 24/7 café. As it turned out, it’s not, and upon entering with Carlos I noticed that they added a bar.

“Mark, this is my friend Stan, he’s the writer I told you about,” Carlos said, introducing me to his friend Mark Steele who happens to be the Assistant General Manager… I remembered seeing Mark around when he worked for Pure…I might have even met him at the Grand Opening, but couldn’t remember for sure, which given the bottle of Blue Label I drank that night, is understandable.

Mark sat us at a great table in the bar area and the bar itself does really add something to the place—a kind of excitement. Frankly, when I was at the opening I remember thinking that it might look a little high end to just be a café, so the bar is a good move.

“You have to try our Mojito—we have five different types.”

“I’ll take one of each.” Carlos gave me that look. “Just make that one,” I said changing my order to something more respectable.

Let me put this simply: go to Society and order the Strawberry Mojito. I could have put down four or five, but since I was on my best behavior I just drank one…and then finished off Carlos’s pineapple version, which was also a winner.

The Mac & Cheese Ball appetizer went perfectly with the Mojito. And the chopped salad was light and tasty—I ordered mine without turkey. As for the entrée, I had it on good word that Steve Wynn eats the Fish ‘n’ Chips, and I had just written a blog that singled out Fleming’s at LA Live and Chaya Downtown as having the worst Fish ‘n’ Chips I’ve ever eaten. If you browse the dining section on downtownster you can read this review for yourself. But to put it succinctly I stated that OPEC had to increase production to compensate for the amount of oil that went into these foul tasting things. So, on a quest for good Fish ‘n’ Chips I ordered.

A nice size portion landed on the table, enough for two people to share—and were clearly made on premise. I liked that they used a high quality Halibut, there was so little oil that they almost appeared to be baked. I asked Mark about this and he explained that they bread the fish and flash-fry it, them bread it and fry it again, which keeps the oiliness to a minimum. Hey I’m sold. I ended with a cappuccino made from a special blend of beans roasted in Seattle for Society. Now if they would just leave this place open 24 / 7 I’d be a happy man.

Blew out of Encore and headed back down to Starbucks. Ran into Dean from Elite Realty, but that’s another story.

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