By Nikki Neu
It’s a taxing life when you’re a rock star.
Five cities in five days; one, sometimes two shows a night; sleeping on buses; eating from gas station convenience stores – wait, strike that last part.
Rocker and restaurateur Sammy Hagar says that while rock stars probably start out starving in the beginning of their careers, they end up pretty well fed once they’re successful.
“Pretty soon, you know every great restaurant in every great city in America because you’ve played there and you’ve been to their restaurants and you take note,” says Hagar.
That hardly sounds like a starving artist savoring a convenience store burrito. In fact, Hagar has eaten at some of the best restaurants in America and considers super chefs like Michael Mina close, personal friends. Greasy gas station snacks and indigestion-provoking truck stop fare is a thing of the past.
“Once you’ve had great food and great wine and had great tequila, you cannot go back,” says Hagar.
If convenience store cuisine isn’t cutting it for Hagar, other musicians must feel the same way. Maybe that’s why successful artists like Hagar, B. B. King and Jimmy Buffet all decided to open up restaurants in Las Vegas.
When rock stars eat, they want to eat well. Now, they’re sharing some of their favorite dishes with you. From lip-smackin’ ribs to a heaping tower of volcano nachos, Vegas is home to some of the best rock star restaurants.
These rock star restaurants offer everything from great food and a fun atmosphere to surprise performances and memorabilia from the artists themselves. Guests get the ultimate experience at any one of these hot spots and all of them are right here in Vegas.
Cabo Wabo by Sammy Hagar
It’s funny how life worked out for Hagar. The restaurant owner never intended to be in the food business, but much like music, he developed a passion for it.
Cabo Wabo Las Vegas was more than eight years in the making before opening at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. Now, the Mexican style cantina is constantly busy, perhaps because of the prime location on the Las Vegas Strip.
“Where can you be sitting, looking at Lake Como and the Eiffel Tower at the same time [while] eating tacos in Mexico? One place: the Cabo Wabo Las Vegas,” says Hagar.
In fact, Cabo Wabo is doing so well that Hagar wishes it was a little bigger. When he’s in Vegas, you’ll often find Hagar at the restaurant. He says when he plays an impromptu show, the place is packed.
“My favorite thing to do is just show up and play without announcing it, without selling tickets. You know, to me that’s a great experience for fans that happen to be in Las Vegas…they’re just drinking a couple of margaritas and all of a sudden I pop up on stage for a couple hours. I think that’s the ultimate experience for a fan,” says Hagar.
Cabo Wabo by Sammy Hagar
at the Miracle Mile Shops in Planet Hollywood
Hours: Open daily, 11 a.m. – late.
Rockin’ right: Hagar might show up for an impromptu performance, Cabo Wabo tequila available in mass quantities.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
When you think about Jimmy Buffett, you think about a cheeseburger, Heinz 57 sauce, one lost shaker of salt and mind-blowing margaritas. So it stands to reason that a man who loves food so much he sings about it would open a tremendous two-story restaurant right on the Las Vegas Strip.
When Buffett is in Vegas, you can find him devouring a “Cheeseburger in Paradise” or the jambalaya. When you’re in Vegas, you can get a taste of the Margaritaville way of life too.
“The concept is based around Jimmy’s lifestyle. It’s easygoing, it’s laid back, everybody’s welcome at Margaritaville,” says General Manager Mark Setterington.
Everybody’s welcome and there’s something for everyone. During the day, kids love the plane dangling from the ceiling or the booths that look like the back of deep sea fishing boats. For adults, there’s live music and a great bar scene under a volcano that erupts about once an hour. For fussy diners, the menu contains everything from volcano nachos to more healthful salads and of course, the cheeseburger.
“Your vision of Margaritaville could be different than what my vision of Margaritaville is and we try to give everybody an escape when they come through those front doors,” says Setterington.
Hey, whatever floats your boat. Get your little piece of paradise at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at the Flamingo hotel.
Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville
at the Flamingo Las Vegas
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 8 a.m. – 2 a.m. Friday & Saturday, 8 a.m. – 3 a.m.
Rockin’ right: The food: Volcano nachos, cheeseburger in paradise.
Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar & Grill
Named after the song “I Love This Bar” by country singer Toby Keith, this restaurant at Harrah’s offers a mechanical bull, a stage area, a private dining room and multiple flat screen televisions.
Menu items include fun favorites like “Whiskey Girl” Wings and the “Big Bull Rider” steak sandwich. Drinks from the bar include the Mason Dixon and the Georgia Peach.
The venue is also home of the 100-ounce “Big Dog Daddy” challenge – basically it’s 100 ounces of food and drink including a 32-ounce burger. If you finish it, you get the T-shirt to prove it.
Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill
at Harrah’s Las Vegas
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m. Friday & Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 3 a.m.
Rockin’ right: Live music nightly at 9 p.m. and home of the 100-ounce “Big Dog Daddy” challenge.
B. B. King’s Blues Club
B. B. King is one of the most soulful blues singers in the country. So, it’s only natural that his restaurant be soulful as well. However, it’s the fusion of live music, good company and great food that makes the evening for King.
“I love to eat! I think food and music are natural together – two things that stimulate the senses more than almost anything I can think of. You notice I said almost. I still love the ladies. So the best thing I can think of is to be with my lady sitting at B. B. King’s Club eating dinner and listening to great live music,” said King.
One of the best features of the club in Las Vegas is the intimate feel.
“As an entertainer you are so close to the audience that it creates this immediate connection. That’s what’s most special about B. B. King’s Vegas,” said King.
As for the food, there’s variety on the menu, but it’s mainly Southern-style cuisine. Two of King’s favorite menu items are the deep fried catfish and the ribs, but he’s not opposed to the other items like steak and seafood on the menu.
“As you can see, I haven’t missed trying a little of everything on the menu,” he said.
B. B. King’s Blues Club
at The Mirage
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 6:30 a.m. – midnight. Friday & Saturday, 6:30 a.m. – 2 a.m.
Rockin’ right: Live music nightly, starting at 7 p.m. and good Southern cooking in Vegas.