photos courtesy Shelley Stepanek 

ONCE, a one-of-a-kind fantastic restaurant located in the Grand Canal Shops at The Palazzo, is the best Peruvian restaurant I have ever tried. Here you’ll find a beautiful wall of plants, a full-service bar, terrific view of the Strip and impeccable service. The room is rustic, but the interior design is totally native Peru. There is a large patio which has five large communal tables to give an outdoor feel. The menu is comprised of dishes I had never tried even though I have been in Peru. The only thing I recognized at first glance was a favorite drink of many, the Pisco Sour. Pisco is the local liquor of Peru, and most everyone drinks it daily. After a wonderful glass of Prosecco, I told the chef to bring us whatever he wanted. And he graciously did. All the flavors are distinct, and the menu a fantastic ceviche, a braised fennel salad and a dish I had never heard of before called yuquita—stuffed yuca with smoked mozzarella cheese in a jalapeno and cilantro sauce. There was also arroz chaufa (Peruvian fried rice with snow crab, yuzu aioli and crispy calamari), ox tail bibimbap with black mint stew, pan fried scallops, grilled shrimp with charred lime, albacore sashimi and a beautiful piece of seabass with pickled salsa. For dessert they showed off their mouthwatering flan and a grand sorbet. Chef Alex Carrasco was the grand master and Leland Fischer, the general manager, was on hand for this special night, their one- year anniversary. Call 702-607-3797 for reservations. 

BOTECO has a monthly wine tasting event. April was “A Taste of Beaujolais” hosted by a wine storyteller. Guests participate in region-inspired appetizers paired with two wine varieties, for $25. Check their website for the events. 

Each second Saturday of the month, Boulder City Chamber of Commerce hosts the BEST DAM WINE WALK from 4-8 p.m. Participants stroll thru the city, visiting historic sites, with 25-plus stops to sample. Plenty of places to shop, sit down and enjoy the many antique shops. The event takes a break during the hot summer months, but it will resume in September. 

The STRAT, as the old Stratosphere is now called, has opened two new restaurants.  First up, BLVD & MAIN near the property’s entrance, replaces the decade-long shuttered nightclub. For years the nightclub, which looked like a giant cave, sat empty. Now it has come to life.  Totally revamped and redone, this huge bright new venue is a sure winner.  Lots of highboy tables, plenty of giant screen TVs for game days, this taphouse and lounge could easily hold 1,000 people.  Right off the entrance to the main valet, and with free parking in a town that now charges at most casinos, try out the new place.  Large bar, lots of room for dancing.  The concept has been in the making for quite a while, with Bart Mahoney and Charline Padgett and Chef Johannes Bernau bringing out 30-plus items.  Open from 11-10 daily.  

The other new eatery, on the 108th level on the Tower's Observation Deck is 108 EATS by James Trees.  Mainly treats, such as artisan cookies, spiked chips, root chips and chili cheddar popcorn, but also panini sandwiches, ice cream & sorbets.

PLACE ON 7TH has a wine dinner every two to three months featuring a five-course menu, which runs $65.  Quite a treat. The next one is slated for June 12, paired with Italian wines. 

Launching this month is brunch at TOP GOLF every Sunday at the Hideaway Pool.  They feature Mimosa Summer Sundays from 10-2 with a huge brunch menu and $5 Mimosas and Bloody Marys. You'll also find a live band starting at 11. 

And, coming up is the 13th annual LEE’S BEER & TEQUILA EXPERIENCE at Thomas & Mack on May 11th.  Unlimited tequila and beer tastings, along with a live DJ, food for purchase and a silent auction. Tickets are being sold at all Lee’s locations with a two-for-one deal being offered for $60 through May 10. 

UNLVino was a huge success, as it is every year. Numerous wine and liquor companies from all over the world came out for The Grand Tasting at the Mirage. Included were Duck Pond Cellars with Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir; Rascal with Pinot Gris from Oregon; City Lights Shine with Blueberry and Cherry Lemon; and Alpine Distilling with Persistent Vodka, Summit Gin and Spur Whiskey. Alongside these brands were Grand Leyenda with Tequila Reposado and Tequila Anejo; Atlántico Rum from the Dominican Republic; Sunora Bacanora had Mocha Cream and Pineapple Colada Cream; and Koloa had Spiced Rum, Coffee Rum and Rum Punch from Hawaii. The Taub Family Selections had a large booth with Saget La Petite Perriere Sauvignon Blanc and La Petite Perriere Rose. Transcendent had Merryvale Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay from Napa, Coeur Clementine Rose from France, Dobbes Family Estate Wine by Joe Pinot Gris and Grand Assemblage Pinot Noir from Oregon and Starmont Winery Merlot from Napa. Of course Sierra Nevada Brewing Company showed off its Pale Ale, their new IPA, Hazy Little Thing and Bigfoot Barleywine. The Stoli Group came out, along with Deutsch Family Wine and Spirits and Ambros Banana Whiskey. Quite a fantastic group! If you missed it, do yourself a favor and never miss it again.