Sin City is home to a lot of restaurants and bars, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Las Vegans aren’t unearthing. To help guide readers to these potential discoveries, Eater Vegas enlisted some of the city’s food players to share their recommendations for a feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Oscar Goodman served as a three-term mayor in Las Vegas from 1999 to 2011, but his colorful past includes working as a defense attorney for 35 years for organized crime figures including Meyer Lansky, Nicky Scarfo, Herbert “Fat Herbie” Blitzstein, Phil Leonetti, former Stardust Casino boss Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal, and Chicago mobster Anthony “Tony the Ant” Spilotro. Goodman moved from Philadelphia to Las Vegas with his wife, Mayor Carolyn Goodman, in 1964. In 2002, he became a spokesman for Bombay Sapphire gin, his favorite libation that’s practically required in one hand at any outing, and received a $100,000 salary that he donated to charity. Then in 2011, he opened Oscar’s Steakhouse at the Plaza overlooking Fremont Street from its dome setting. The restaurant features memorabilia from Goodman’s tenure as mayor and defense attorney and occasionally hosts dinners with the mayor, who talks about some of his favorites memories from his storied career. Here he shares some of his favorite places to dine in Las Vegas.
Eater Vegas: Do you remember your first trip to Vegas? What happened that was memorable?
Oscar Goodman: On my first trip to Las Vegas in 1964 (other than stopping for a couple of hours when I was hitchhiking with a buddy after my first year in college) my bride Carolyn and I stayed at the Flamingo. We had a martini in the Candlelight Room that was garnished with a pickled Brussels sprout. Awesome!
What made you decide to move to Las Vegas?
We moved to Las Vegas because it was a city of promise, where if you had half a brain and worked hard, success was in the cards. When I was at Penn Law School, I clerked in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. My boss, Arlen Specter, had me interview two Las Vegas detectives who arrested some fellows who were charged with the murder of a wealthy widow and taking $300,000 from her to “launder” it at the craps table. The detective told me about Las Vegas and the opportunities there. I went home that night, woke Carolyn, and asked whether she would like to go to the land of milk and honey. She said, “I love you, but I’m not moving to Israel.” That’s when we took the trip where we had the Brussels sprout martini.
Where do you like to eat breakfast in Las Vegas?
My two favorite breakfast spots are Kevin Mills’ Omelet House (around the corner from where we live in the Scotch Eighties) where we share a #31 The Mexicali (Ortega chilis, onion, and jack cheese) and well-done spuds, and The Bagel Café where I have a scrambled egg on a well toasted rye bagel and Tabasco sauce for a late breakfast.
What about lunch?
I am not much of a lunch guy, usually having an apple and Werther’s hard candies at my desk. But if I can sneak away, I will treat a family member to a delicious Angus burger at the Las Vegas Country Club.
If you’re going out for dinner, which restaurants do you like to frequent? What makes them special? Any dishes you can recommend?
For dinner, we of course love Oscar’s Steakhouse at the Plaza. Not only is it a winner because it bears my name, but it also has top-notch culinary talent in the kitchen with chef Ben Jenkins. And Jonathan Jossel, the Plaza’s CEO, always greets us. The bone-in rib-eye steak melts in your mouth. For fish, we head to Salvatore’s at the Sun Coast where chef Chas La Forte makes a Parmesan crusted sole. We also go to Piero’s where the veal chop is butter fried and cooked Milanese style. Carolyn loves the swordfish.
Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?
Oscar’s, Salvatore’s, or Piero’s are all great for a special occasion.
Let’s say you want to hang out with your friends after work. Where do you like to go?
The vintage, iconic old Vegas vibe at the bar at Oscar’s is where I hang out with pals. A Bombay Sapphire martini with a jalapeno is what I imbibe, made by my buddy Rocky, a bartender at Oscar’s. I also like to take visitors to the Underground, the bar at the Mob Museum.
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