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My Town: Penn Jillette’s Picks for Las Vegas

Magician reveals his favorite spots to savor the food, culture and atmosphere


spinner image fremont street in las vegas with lots of buildings and people; photo of penn jillett in upper left corner; the words greetings from las vegas nevada in upper right corner
Photo Collage: MOA Staff; (Source: Roger Kisby (2))

Penn Jillette, 68, and his magic partner Teller are currently performing multiple times a week with a Las Vegas residency at the Rio Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, and a new season of their CW reality competition show, Penn & Teller: Fool Us, launches Oct. 27. On the show, magicians perform their best tricks, and if Penn & Teller can’t guess how they were done, the competitor wins an appearance at the pair’s Vegas show. After you’ve checked out their magic act for yourself, Jillette shares which Sin City hot spots you should visit for the best food, entertainment and people watching.

 

Catch more magic at …

Fortunately, two of my best friends have two of the best shows. The best comedy magician in the world is Mac King, and he does afternoon shows at the Excalibur [The Mac King Comedy Magic Show]. And when magicians come in from all over the world, they’re all going to see Mac King in the afternoon. He’s just fabulous. And then my other really good friend is Piff the Magic Dragon, and he also does one of the best shows in Vegas [at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino].

spinner image the flamingo las vegas hotel and casino at night with palm trees in front of it
You can see Piff the Magic Dragon perform at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.
AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty Images

 

Satisfy your hunger at

Edo Tapas & Wine. The best. My favorite place in Vegas. … My Spanish friends, when they come over to visit, they can’t believe it’s in a strip mall. I’m an insufferable vegan. So, Edo has that. … There’s no place my wife [producer-director Emily Zolten Jillette] and I would rather go than Edo. My wife is a real gourmet — which I’m not —  a real foodie. And she goes to New York often, and goes to all the restaurants, and I was shocked when she said the other day that Edo was her favorite restaurant, bar none. … [And] Crossroads [Kitchen] — which is at Resorts World — it’s just fabulous. It’s such a good vegan restaurant that I’m always wondering: Is their secret ingredient meat? Do the tasting menu. Just say, “Bring me everything.” They have an amazingly good risotto and their pasta is fabulous.

spinner image inside of restaurant with tables and booths, wine display on back wall, giant painting of woman holding drink and bar with bar stools on left wall
Edo Tapas & Wine offers classic Spanish dishes with modern and innovative twists.
Louiie Victa

 

Coffee talk at …

Sambalatte. Teller and I do our writing at coffee places all the time. We go to a place called Sambalatte and a place called Madhouse Coffee, which is really delightful. What I love about Madhouse Coffee is that I know the owner. He hires the people that work behind the counter based on their happiness and their friendliness and not necessarily on their skill.

spinner image inside a coffee shop that's two levels; people sitting at tables
Sambalatte offers a variety of freshly roasted artisan coffee sourced from sustainable farms in Brazil and around the world.
Roger Kisby

 

People watch at … 

I really love Fremont Street [Experience]. It’s downtown. It’s what Vegas used to be. It’s neon-y instead of video screens. It’s just funkier. You know, there’s street performers there doing really questionable acts. You have topless people posing on the street, people dressed as [the band] Kiss that are nearly naked, and people doing very, very Times Square acts. And very county fair. Just that kind of funky, and I love it.

spinner image fremont street with people on street, golden nugget hotel and casino on left, binion's gambling hall and hotel on right, more buildings, video canopy over street
The Fremont Street Experience is a six-block, pedestrian-only thoroughfare lined with shops, casinos, restaurants and open-air bars.
Roger Kisby

 

Explore outdoor art at …

Seven Magic Mountains [near Jean Dry Lake and Interstate 15, approximately 10 miles south of Las Vegas]. [Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone] stacked all these huge boulders and painted them bright colors [The exhibition opened in 2016 for a two-year display window, but Rondinone has agreed to keep it up longer.] I love that kind of stuff.

spinner image boulders of all different colors stacked on top of each other in 7 piles
Artist Ugo Rondinone's outdoor scultpure is the perfect destination for a photo-op.
Courtesy: Nevada Museum of Art

 

Browse the stacks at …

The Writer’s Block. It’s where I do my book readings when my books come out. It’s really nice and comfortable. And bookstores are still a really good place to be.

spinner image Bookcase with many books on it; woman grabbing book in section under a sign that says mystery and suspense
Located on the northeast corner of 6th Street and Bonneville Avenue, The Writer's Block is an independent bookstore and coffee shop.
Roger Kisby

 

Jazz it up at …

Maxan Jazz Sushi & Jazz Club. There’s a lot of studies that say when you cross age 60, you should learn an instrument and you should learn a language. So actually, I got a head start on that. When I was 45, I started studying upright jazz bass very seriously. And over these 20 years, I play an hour of jazz with a piano player every day before our [magic] show. I’ve gotten good enough that I was shocked. We just did a record [Are You Sure You Three Guys Know What You’re Doing?] with Jeff Hamilton — who’s considered the best jazz drummer going — [and] Mike Jones, who I play with every night.

spinner image band performing on stage with sign behind them that says maxan jass
Maxan Jazz Sushi & Jazz Club features live music six nights-a-week paired with an upscale sushi menu.
Roger Kisby

 

Cool off with some ice cream at …

Salt & Straw [In the Uncommons neighborhood, about 10 miles from downtown Las Vegas]. A great place. This is not Vegas-specific, but they have good vegan flavors.

 

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