Updated October 22, 2020 - 9:40 am
Plenty of nods to classic Las Vegas will be visible at Circa. But you would be hard-pressed to find one as iconic or as tasty as a 99-cent shrimp cocktail.
“It’s a Vegas institution, and we’re gonna have it at Saginaw’s,” proclaims Steve Mangigian, a partner in Saginaw’s Delicatessen.
Saginaw’s will offer the appetizer at the throwback price from 3 to 5 a.m. daily. If that’s past your bedtime, the price will be $11 during the other 22 hours a day the deli is open.
Mangigian describes the shrimp cocktail as “identical” to the one formerly sold at Circa’s sister resort, the Golden Gate. It will be served in a tulip glass and use a recipe that dates to the 1950s.
“We have been given permission to use the recipe for the cocktail sauce, and we will be producing it just like it was,” he promises.
The Golden Gate, just across Fremont Street from Circa, introduced a 50-cent shrimp cocktail as a promotion in 1959. The price was raised to 99 cents in 1991 — 25 million had been sold. It was available in the resort’s deli until 2010, when California’s Du-Par’s took over the space. The new business continued to sell the shrimp cocktail through its closure in 2017, although not always at the bargain price.
Asked how he felt about returning the dish, and the deal, to downtown Las Vegas, Mangigian had a simple reply.
“It’s awesome,” he said proudly.
When they’re not serving shrimp, Mangigian and his partner Paul Saginaw will offer sandwiches and other deli treats at Saginaw’s and what Mangigian describes as “approachable and accessible” specialty coffees at the nearby Jack Pots coffee stand.
Those are just a few of food and beverage options Circa will offer when it opens Wednesday. Here are a few others:
Victory Burger & Wing Co.
Overlooking Circa’s centerpiece sportsbook, Victory maintains the athletic theme throughout, with a decor that includes a scoreboard, chairs designed to look like basketballs, lights reminiscent of footballs and vintage lockers. For foodies, the restaurant is notable as the first burger spot from American Coney Island’s Chris Sotiropoulos and Grace Keros.
“We’ve already dominated the world in hot dogs for the past 103 years,” Sotiropoulos says. “Now it’s our turn for burgers and wings.”
The signature Victory Burger is a half-pound patty of Angus ground beef, brisket and short rib, topped with two strips of proprietary bacon and a secret sauce. Sotiropoulos also recommends the Martini Burger: his twist on a Midwestern olive burger that substitutes cream cheese for mayo in the olive sauce, providing what he describes as “a little more tang and a little more of that salt aspect that really makes a great burger.” Wash it down with the owner’s favorite cereal shake: Cap’n Crunch Crunchberries.
Barry’s Downtown Prime
Circa’s steakhouse is the only place in the resort that will allow customers under age 21, who will need to be escorted down to its basement location.
“We understand there are a lot of people in town, and from out of town, who come in to celebrate big family events with us,” partner Yassine Lyoubi says. “So, we want to make sure that we’ll be able to accommodate all ages.”
Don’t expect a kids menu, however. Instead, the offerings will lean heavily on classics that served chef Barry Dakake well during his tenure at N9NE Steakhouse.
“We’re keeping the classics as they needed to be, and as they should be,” Lyoubi promises.
The restaurant is large, with seating for 350 at full capacity. It’s broken up into smaller, more intimate spaces, with curtains and other design elements. Among the multiple private dining rooms, all but one are named for famed eateries in classic Las Vegas casinos. There’s The Sultan’s Table, The Garden Room, The Main Street Room and The Pioneer Club. And VIPs who are looking for privacy may try to score an invitation into the exclusive Chef’s Table, which features a side entrance as well as easy access to the kitchen, so Dakake can provide tours and consult with them on a custom menu.
Step outside Circa onto Fremont Street to get a taste of Project BBQ, which chef Rex Bernales describes as “Vegas-style barbecue that has traditions of Carolina, Kansas, Memphis and all that, but (with) a Vegas twist to it.” That means everything from a Carolina apple cider vinegar sauce for the pork to Texas-style brisket on sandwiches and platters. As for the Vegas twist, Bernales’ partner, Rob Baker, says it’s all about the location.
“We’re under the canopy,” he says, noting the VivaVision light show overhead. “We’re front row to the Main Street stage. So we’ve got the best entertainment.”
While Project BBQ will offer casual grab-and-go from its walk-up food truck or at a 53-foot bar rail, it will also take reservations for a handful of tables. The latter are prime spots for people-watching or catching a band on the Fremont Street Experience’s Main Street stage.
For something really special, large parties will want to look into the 2-foot-long Hundred Dollar Sandwich (smoked brisket, pulled pork, chopped chicken, coleslaw, beer cheese sauce, barbecue sauce and chips on French bread). Or ask about a whole Hawaiian pig, available in limited numbers and wheeled to the table with sparklers blazing and air horns honking.
Circa scores a bit of Fremont East street cred with this new concept from husband-and-wife duo Dan Coughlin and Shauna Dong, best known to the downtown crowd for their pioneering Fremont Street restaurant Le Thai. But longtime fans shouldn’t expect the pair to stick to proven hits in the new establishment.
“We wanted to change it up a little bit from what Le Thai brings to the table,” Coughlin says.
While dumplings will anchor the menu, Coughlin promises a lineup that fuses multiple Asian cuisines and draws heavily on both of their backgrounds, as well as their travels.
“We want to experiment a little bit more here,” he says. “Definitely pan-fried dumpling based, and any influence we have from Chinese culture — my wife’s Chinese. We’re bringing Thai food here. We’re bringing Japanese food here. Anything that inspired us through our years of hanging out or traveling.”
They’ll round that out with a bar program that focuses on Japanese and possibly Indian whiskeys, as well as natural wines and cocktails that incorporate Asian flavors such as ginger, basil and lychee.