Gabe Zaldivar | April 14, 2016 4:30 PM ET
A Case For Good Ol' Fashioned Debauchery in Downtown Las Vegas
My stomach and I were having a disagreement of sorts as I meandered gingerly down Las Vegas’ Fremont Street Experience.
You see, I was of the mind that there was indeed ample space, time and reason to continue eating and drinking. My 36-year-old stomach was of another opinion, instead declaring that it would be best to slip into the nearest cab and get back to the hotel room as soon as humanly possible.
Thankfully, we both agreed on a third option that seemed to quell my suddenly fickle insides: really bad and highly suspect Asian food.
And I really do have to refer to the slop I ordered and then devoured at the “International Eatery” to be just that, Asian food.
This particular corner of the food court featured chow mein, ramen and fried rice as if it were some cultural version of a Pizza Hut/Taco Bell that covers all manner of late-night sin regardless of the cuisine’s ultimate origins.
Who can be bothered to open a Japanese and a Chinese restaurant side by side after all?
I opted for the friend rice and ramen combo, which managed to fool the stomach into believing that returning to the downtown area to reengage in revelry might be a great idea.
Now I can’t attest to being a doctor, but bad food does the body good when you are at your most dire.
And that is how my remarkable night back in downtown Las Vegas began, on the heels of a prior night wherein my fellow fantasy baseball owners and me partied the night away. Unlike a seasoned MLB vet, I don’t do back-to-backs that well at my age.
But despite my inner turmoil, I was able to appreciate the surrounding and continually revitalized area around the Fremont Street Experience.
For far too long I have ignored downtown and opted for the glitz and cocktails of the strip. Well, by darn there is something to be said for downtown.
The limits are low. The booze is inexpensive and there are plenty of food and entertainment options.
While my tender tummy couldn’t withstand anything -- and I mean anything -- besides bad fast food, there are plenty of fine options around the area: The Smashed Pig, F. Pigalle, Itsy Bitsy and various casino fare.
And there are things to do outside gambling, such as take in Big Business and The Melvins at the nearby Fremont Country Club, which I did.
But first, there was a brief respite between grumbling that meant I needed a beer. And the fact that you can walk between casinos freely without having to cross a street means you can saunter like a proud man attempting to illustrate sobriety with minimal harm physically or emotionally.
The Four Queens, besides providing a demographic of serious gamblers that may just make their home at the Blackjack table, also houses the Chicago Brewing Co., which has a nice set of beers and a nifty selection of cigars.
From there you can walk the floor and appreciate things that are of a much different speed, just make sure you wade past the gaggle of retirees making their way to the local show. You get behind one of these packs and you better call the airlines, because you will miss your flight.
There is so much less of a scene in downtown than there is along the strip. It offers a refreshing break from bachelor parties festooned with popped collars and massive crowds pumped into the area by the busload.
Fremont is vibrant, eclectic and, um, smoky.
Walking in the open air between casinos gives you a sense of what Vegas should feel like. Take a quick whiff at any corner and you know none of this can be particularly good for you, which is exactly what you needed and precisely why you brought along your asthma inhaler.
A stone’s throw from the casinos I would see my very first Melvins show. Not being a big fan of the genre, I was ready to go with the literal punches that come with this kind of live and raucous affair.
In the end, I left rejuvenated and ready for the ride home the next day. But first, there was some much needed penance that needed to be offered to the party gods.
As it turns out, that International food experiment had a final verdict. And it wasn’t a good one.
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