Las Vegas Restaurant Review: Spiegel’s 1941

Spiegel’s 1941 is located inside the El Cortez in the heart of downtown Las Vegas. The restaurant takes its name from the gangster Bugsy Siegel, the famous mobster and man behind the Flamingo Hotel. His picture graces the walls of the restaurant, giving the restaurant an old-school feel. The restaurant is open daily and twenty-four hours a day.  I found this restaurant by accident one night wandering around Fremont Street, and decided to give it a spin. While I find it to be an affordable “high-end” steakhouse, I think you can find a better bang for your buck in the area.


Spiegel’s menu is simple. Most of the dishes are American in origin, but there are a few exceptions such as challah, poutine, fajitas and chow mien. The dinner menu features a number of steak and potato dishes, as well as deli items.


Parking is available at the El Cortez and the surrounding hotels. If you’re unable to find parking at the hotel, I would recommend the Fremont Street Garage. It’s easily accessible and cheap compared to the surrounding parking lots.


The service was decent, but not extraordinary. I didn’t have to wait long for a table or my food, which is unusual on a weekend. The hostess and wait staff are pleasant, but not the sort of friendly I think you would find in more expensive, upscale restaurants.


The drinks were a little too strong for me. The prices are reasonable based on downtown Las Vegas standards, but I prefer cocktails to have a flavor other than alcohol. I think you can find better drinks at Commonwealth, La Comida and the Downtown Cocktail Room.


I would give Spiegel’s a chance if you find yourself staying at the El Cortez, or if you want to try a steakhouse without completely emptying your wallet. Spiegel’s is also a good choice if you’re short on time and want to get a quick drink or meal. It’s not the best place I’ve eaten at in Las Vegas, but it’s decent.



Downtown Vegas Reviews: The Commonwealth

Downtown Las Vegas has undergone a major facelift in the last five years. In an effort to bring more business to the area, the Downtown Project has poured close to 350 million dollars into revitalizing the area. Commonwealth is one of many businesses that have the Downtown Project to thank.
The Commonwealth is unique, like every bar in the downtown area. Surrounded by neon signs and kitschy neighbors, the Commonwealth stands out with only its name and an art deco fan to draw in its patrons. Inside, the bar looks more like a Victorian-era pub or speakeasy than a modern Las Vegas bar. The bar stools, tables and the black and white photography give the bar a muted, relaxed atmosphere also unique to the Commonwealth.
Another plus about the Commonwealth is its space. The two story building offers an inside space on the ground level, and an open deck area on the top of the building. You’ll find more people on the deck where the DJ is set up; during the summer, it offers an unbeatable view of the downtown area. I prefer the downstairs space since there’s usually more available seating (and I am a lazy bar patron ).

Dress Code

There is no strict dress code at the Commonwealth, but I would stick to casual nightlife attire. I’ve been inside in jeans and never had a problem getting in. I would always say no to flip-flops (except in the summer), but you can always call ahead. It’s better to know ahead of time than get down there and get turned away.

 The Laundry Room

If you play your cards right, you can admission to the hidden gem – The Laundry Room. The speakeasy allows 10-12 people inside at a time, and photographs aren’t allowed. If you’re interested, ask one of the bartenders about admission.

Things to Do in Vegas: Visit the Secret Garden

The Secret Garden has been a staple of the Las Vegas Strip for nearly twenty years. It’s a tourist favorite, especially among those with kids. The habitat started out in the late 90s as a sanctuary for the big cats that entertainers Sigfried and Roy rescued, and has since expanded to include a dolphin habitat. I recently took my first trip ever to the sanctuary, adjacent to the Mirage’s hotel pool area. It wasn’t quite what I imagined, but it was worth the experience.

Pricing: Tickets to the Secret Garden can be kind of expensive, compared to other family friendly attractions. They offer no discounts for local, seniors or military members on tickets, whereas Shark Reef does. Still, the ticket prices are on par with most other family activities in Las Vegas.

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Tours: They don’t offer guided tours throughout the sanctuary, which I found a little odd. There are a few attendants throughout the “garden” portion of the experience to answer questions, but there is no informational talk on the history of the tigers, which I think would enhance this part of the habitat. The dolphin specialists and trainers get together about twice an hour to give a talk and demonstration with the resident dolphins, which makes most of the ticket price worth it. The dolphin staff is knowledgeable, friendly and very patient with every question the kids in attendance may ask. This was by far my favorite part of the whole experience. The dolphins are incredibly friendly, intelligent and agile. If you will have kids, this will be where you spend the most time in the sanctuary.

Amenities: Snacks and drinks are available inside the habitat; all of the amenities inside the habitat itself are eligible for discounts.  There are two gift stores located inside the habitat, but they are in separate buildings, apart from the dolphin habitat and the garden. If you have kids, you’ll appreciate this; you won’t find yourself exiting a portion of the experience and getting bombarded with toys and souvenirs. If you choose, you can bypass the gifts shops entirely.

Staff: The staff is very friendly and available to answer any questions you have about the animals. As stated above, I wish they would have some more information available about the cats in the habitat. The dolphin specialists went above and beyond to entertain the guests and answer questions, for both the kids and adults in the audience.

Other Notes: I went through the park on a general admission pass, but there are a number of other activities available to do with the dolphins. For extra fees, you can pet the dolphins, do yoga with them, swim with them and paint. The most reasonable activity is petting the dolphins, but the rest of the activities vary in price.


Overall, I would say the Secret Garden is worth visiting. You don’t get as much for your money as you would at similar experiences, but it’s still interesting and entertaining. There are shows available in the dolphin sanctuary at certain times, but I didn’t get to see one during my time there. But show or not, the Secret Garden is a unique, memorable experience to share with the family.