New Wolfgang Puck Restaurant, 1288 Main, Hits Hot Las Vegas Arts District Scene

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While the downtowns of many American cities have stagnated since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Las Vegas Arts District is staging an impressive comeback. The area, once known for bail bonds, pawn shops and wedding chapels, boasts artist studios, bars, clubs, tattoo shops, bookstores, coffee roasters, vintage clothing shops, and now a $4 million restaurant from Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, 1288 Main.

“I started my career in San Francisco and some of my best memories came from exploring the diverse, ethnic cuisine and the freshly baked breads,” says David Robins, a partner in 1228 Main. “Downtown Las Vegas has become an urban center for the city and it’s where a restaurant like 1228 Main belongs. It is a neighborhood restaurant, and that’s exactly what you feel when you walk in. We see our neighbors and friends every single day.”

The growth of the Las Vegas Arts District and downtown as a whole is all the more impressive considering how urban downtowns throughout the West are suffering. While Las Vegas has its share of urban problems, the increasing vibrancy of its downtown area stands in sharp contrast to the well-publicized problems of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Seattle and Portland, where while walking to breakfast at 8:40AM I watched two young men shooting up in a doorway.

The arrival of the new restaurant is clearly a vote for the growing popularity of the Las Vegas downtown scene. As befits a new arrival to the Arts District, an area loaded with street murals, the restaurant displays colorful art by celebrated local artist David Ryan. Graffiti art from Recycled Propaganda, [local street artist Izaac Zevalking], decorates the walk-in cooler.

1228 Main is both the restaurant’s address and its name. It was created to be an artisan bakery and café by day, craft restaurant and bar by night. The 6,000 square foot restaurant accommodates up to 130 guests between the dining room, patio and bar.

1228 partner David Robins, also executive vice president of domestic operations for Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, says “1228 Main blends our passion for dining and the joy that is felt when everything harmoniously comes together– the food, the drinks, the music, the atmosphere, and, most importantly, who you share those experiences with.”

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 1228 Main features California cuisine with a menu loaded with signature house baked breads. An expansion to the building houses a bakery and catering business that can manage orders throughout the Las Vegas Valley.

Wolfgang Puck has been satisfying American appetites and changing America’s palate for more than 40 years. The restauranteur and his eponymous company Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. are famous for Spago, Chinois on Main and more, with over fifty locations. Wolfgang Puck restaurants have long had a presence in Las Vegas, but typically, like Spago at Bellagio, are inside an enormous casino.

Now, with 1228 Main, the company is operating a free-standing 6,000 square foot restaurant in the urban Arts District. The new bistro is a strong bet on the continuing upward trend in the once rough-and-tumble area. Known for the pawn shop in TV hit Pawn Stars, the nearby area now boasts the Punk Museum, the Mob Museum, the Writer’s Block Bookstore, the boutique (yet Marriott) The English Hotel, artist’s studios and galleries, and dozens of trendy restaurants and bars, including ten operated by nightlife entrepreneur Ryan Doherty.

As for 1228 Main, it understands that man may not live by bread alone. So the restaurant has paired its ‘pain’ with other tempting treats.

For breakfast, toasted ciabatta is topped with house-made strawberry jam, creamy goat cheese, pickled strawberries and basil. A multi-seed rye comes with fresh avocado, green chile cream cheese and leeks. Lunch and dinner pairs an assortment of breads with niçoise tapenade, Spanish anchovy, goat cheese and fresh thyme, or organic chicken foie mousse with port wine syrup and tart cherries. The sheep’s milk ricotta served with Tuscan olive oil and cracked black pepper also sounds tempting.

Diners will also find protein delights like big eye tuna crudo, a 1228 Wagyu Burger with Kennebec fries, sautéed Pacific Snapper with blistered tomatoes, roasted Jidori Chicken and a grilled SRF Zabuton Steak with potato-bacon terrine.

Drinkers are not neglected either, as the wine list includes more than a dozen selections by the glass. In keeping with downtown Las Vegas’ eclectic bar scene, 1228 Main also offers barrel-aged spirits and cutting-edge cocktails from mixologist and director of operations, Doug Chippewa.

Current hits include the 1228 Negroni, made with Botanist Gin, Campari, Amaro Nonino, Carpano Antica and house-made brine. There’s “Mysterious Ways,” a ginger spice and stone fruit cocktail inspired by a Pimm’s cup, with apricot Carpano Antica, Averna, cucumber and Fever Tree pink grapefruit sparkling soda. Diners may find respite from Las Vegas heat with a cool “Somebody Else,” a rich, spiced and slightly bitter rum punch made with Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum, Triple Sec and pineapple.

Full of art, bars, clubs and hot restaurants like 1288 Main, downtown Las Vegas has become a neighborhood to explore. Just as important, the area is becoming a favorite of Las Vegans.

As Robins puts it, “While we primarily see locals, we do see a few tourists who wander downtown to the Arts District to explore. The area is earning a reputation for a mix of progressive cocktail bars and restaurants. It’s a scene.”

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