What higher distinction than Dino's "Drunk of the Month?"
Moving away from the Las Vegas Strip is generally a good idea on a search for authentic city institutions, the city’s rebranded Arts District home to a handful of Vegas-original businesses. Dino’s Lounge opened in 1962 just north of what is now the upper end of the Strip and just south of downtown Vegas, a sort of in-between stopover perfect for trips between the two Vegas hubs of activity. In a city as young as Vegas, Dino’s Lounge ranks as one of the oldest dive bars in the city.
Dino’s Las Vegas lives up to the block lettering that runs along one of its exterior walls reading “The Last Neighborhood Bar in Las Vegas.” Prior to life as Dino’s Lounge, the space operated under the name Ringside Liquors, owned by so-called mobster Eddie Trascher. Trascher’s pre-Dino’s Las Vegas reign comes with the usual set of mob-linked legends like stolen goods stocked in refrigerators and a back room devoted to pool hustling.
Dean Bartolomucci purchased the bar in 1962, contributed his nickname to the new name of the space and ushered in a period of family ownership that persists today. Ownership shifted to Dean’s son Chuck as Dean advanced in age. Similarly, as Chuck advanced in age, ownership fell to daughter Kristin Bartolo, who owns and operates Dino’s Las Vegas today. Decades of family-owned stability resulted in a no-frills, neighborhood-focused vibe complete with monthly “Drunk of the Month” competition voted on by the bar’s service staff. The winner receives a shirt marking the hallowed occasion as well as a designated parking spot out front.
Karaoke is the signature amenity at Dino’s Lounge, Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at 10 PM devoted to what is largely regarded as one of the city’s best karaoke events. The evening’s proceedings are overseen by host and mainstay Danny G, the bar’s commitment to karaoke so thorough that its annual New Year’s Eve celebration morphs into an epic karaoke marathon. Additional community-building events dot the calendar, including potlucks for major holidays and even the occasional speed dating night.
The Dino’s Las Vegas commitment to its family of locals and regulars can be seen in the bar’s ceiling, where individual tiles have been painted by Dino’s patrons, each tile unveiled for a period of time on a select Friday each month. One of Las Vegas’ great gifts to dive bars is the ability to operate around the clock, creating the “graveyard special,” another community-focused Dino’s Lounge amenity, featuring select drink discounts from midnight to 8 AM Sunday through Wednesday.
Outside, the Dino’s Las Vegas sign is impossible to miss thanks to a towering multi-tier construction in the bar’s parking lot proclaiming the bar’s name and its signature offerings: “ice cold beer” and “red hot machines.” The “Last Neighborhood Bar in Las Vegas” mural sits behind a covered outdoor patio that wraps around the building with prime view of some of the other unique businesses that populate Las Vegas’ Art District. Inside, the space is filled with tall tables, some of them sitting under lettering that reads “Welcome To The Vortex” because why not. Some of the bar’s publicity over the years can be found in a framed case in the rear of the space, including a shotout by Playboy as one of the best dive bars in America.
The karaoke stage is the obvious center of attention inside, shimmering silver tinsel serving as backdrop to an elevated platform and attached music equipment. A pool table can be found in the rear of Dino’s Lounge, each game requiring a steep 50 cents. A large bar winds through the space, string lighting offering a dim glow matched by illuminated platforms for the Dino’s Las Vegas liquor selection and a set of mounted televisions. Gambling machines can be found embedded in the bar counter.