AAA Editor Notes
Golden Gate Hotel & Casino is at 1 Fremont St. Opened in 1906 as the Hotel Nevada, this downtown Vegas classic is the city's oldest hotel still in operation. A mid-1950s name change to the Golden Gate brought an old-timey San Francisco feeling to this snug gambling crib at the corner of Fremont and Main streets. Low ceilings, dark wood paneling and Art Deco lamps create a vintage vibe.
Saddening old-school Vegas fans, a 2012 renovation and expansion did away with the casino's ragtime piano music and historic photos of the City by the Bay. Also gone is the birthplace of the 99-cent shrimp cocktail, the casino's beloved Shrimp Bar & Deli. You're not completely out of luck, though. The “best tail in town” (now an eye-popping $3.99) can be had at the hotel's Du-Par's Restaurant (by all means, avoid the miserably cramped tables in the back). The location has changed, but this cheapskate classic is still served in an old-fashioned “tulip” sundae glass, bolstered with a secret recipe cocktail sauce and garnished with a wedge of lemon. Bottoms up.
On the bright side, the casino is spiffier than ever, and low minimum bets mean the craps and blackjack tables (a 3-2 payout is standard for the latter) are usually mobbed. Above the pit, banks of HDTVs blaze bright with sports action. Between the tables, go-go dancers shake their moneymakers to 80s dance pop. If you're packing a hefty bankroll, throw down some bills in the plush high-limit blackjack room. In the hotel lobby, history geeks can ogle displays of antique slot machines and Golden Gate artifacts.
Food is available.