Art lovers will be privy to a unique perspective on Vegas’ vibrant 18b Arts District in this tour, which takes them through one of the city’s most distinctive and colorful neighborhoods. It’s where “First Friday’’ began 17 years ago, Vegas’ premier arts and cultural festival that attracts upwards of 15,000 people the first Friday of each month to stroll and admire one-of-a-kind art. Full of spunk and creativity, the Arts District is a lively mix of independent businesses including vintage clothing boutiques, antique stores, theaters, art galleries, and of course, bars and restaurants with personality to spare.
On this tour, guests will get a taste of all of that, as well as meet some of the district’s best chefs whose plates are akin to canvases for striking edible creations. That’s no more evident than at Esther’s Kitchen, where the seasonal Italian cuisine is actually served on handmade plate ware fashioned at a pottery studio just steps away. Vegas native, Chef James Trees, who has worked under such culinary luminaries as Gordon Ramsay and Eric Ripert, takes pride in making all his pastas, pizzas and breads from scratch.
At Jammyland, guests feast not only with their palate, but their eyes. Former New Yorkers Danielle Crouch and Allan Katz have created a love letter to Jamaica in a converted garage. Groove to more than 1,500 Reggae tunes, peruse a rum list of more than 100 choices, and feast on modern Caribbean fare like jerk wings marinated for 24 hours and smoked in-house to perfection. The spacious patio with twinkling lights features two vibrant wall murals, including one that depicts the history of Jamaican music around the globe.
Then, it’s on to view more arresting art, including “Paintbrush Gateway,’’ Dennis Oppenheim’s two 45-foot tall steel paintbrushes that emit beams of rainbow-colored LED light 2,000 feet skyward; and the thought-provoking “Chain Migration’’ by artist Izaac Zevalking, aka Recycled Propaganda, which depicts the Statue of Liberty in handcuffs.
The excursion ends with a sweet taste of history at Cornish Pasty Co., where Cornwall native Dean Thomas continues the tradition of proper English desserts, including Sticky Toffee Pudding with a warm, toffee-drenched sponge cake with dates served à la mode.