Often, when people find out I live downtown, they’ll ask a variation on the question, “Oh, really? Where do you do your grocery shopping?” I always feel a little sheepish admitting I primarily shop at the Trader Joe’s located on South Decatur Boulevard, which is decidedly not downtown, but it happens to be the closest location to central Las Vegas, so you’ll often find the denizens of downtown’s historic neighborhoods pushing carts around that quirky chain market’s aisles.
It’s not just because we all love Trader Joe’s. (Well, OK, in my case, it is, but stick with me). It’s because there is truth to what critics claim about the lack of essential services in Downtown Las Vegas: Unlike the suburbs, you won’t find a cookie-cutter strip mall every mile or so, outfitted with the same types of businesses and retailers, anchored by a major supermarket or big-box discount store. There’s definitely a supply-and-demand disconnect, one that will only get worse if more people move into the city’s core without the proportionate amount of markets, dry cleaners, hardware stores and the rest of their ilk also moving in.
However, a dearth of the usual suspects doesn’t equal the absolute absence of viable options. So, over the next few months, we’re going to explore the often unique, sometimes surprising and, yes, even infrequently maddening places to get your car fixed, your clothes cleaned and your pet spayed in Downtown Las Vegas.
We’ll start today with the not-as-elusive-as-it-seems search for a store where you can buy some meat, some cheese, bread to put them on, and a beer with which to wash it all down. By no means is this a complete list and you are encouraged to leave constructive suggestions in the comments, but here we go anyway:
White Cross Market (1700 Las Vegas Blvd. S.) – Formerly White Cross Drugs, this grocer, delicatessen and liquor store located on the southern edge of the Arts District at the corner of Oakey and Las Vegas Boulevards opened last summer to much fanfare. It boasts an impressive craft beer selection, a Boar’s Head deli and a 10 percent discount for locals on everything but alcohol and tobacco, but that discount doesn’t quite offset the steep price found on many of the basics, and the fresh produce selection leaves much to be desired. White Cross is making improvements all the time, however, and recently started carrying fresh blooms from fellow downtowner Gaia Flowers.
Resnick’s Grocery (900 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Suite #120) – Recently reopened after an ownership change, Resnick’s doesn’t try to be all things to all people. With a bodega-like location at the foot of the pricey SoHo Lofts, the prices are surprisingly fair on what few essentials, artisanal items and produce are available, but the real draw are made-to-order paninis, a small but interesting selection of European wine and craft brews, and grab-and-go options such as sandwiches, pastries and sushi. Resnick’s also offers daily lunch box delivery and features a self-serve Seattle’s Best coffee/espresso machine.
Manila Market (1416 E. Charleston Blvd.) – This small Asian grocery store is located in Lafayette Square, a strip mall just east of the Huntridge Theater that houses a number of Filipino-friendly businesses. As its name indicates, Manila Market is one of them, not just selling meat, produce, seafood and Filipino specialties, but also balikbayan boxes–care and gift packages sent home to the Philippines by overseas relatives.
Rainbow’s End Natural Foods (1100 E. Sahara Ave., Ste. #120) – This health food store has been a Vegas staple since 1977, building a loyal following with a large selection of herbs, vitamins and supplements, organic groceries, a cafe serving vegetarian, vegan and raw food, and a special event space hosting classes and lectures.
Smith’s Food & Drug Center (600 S. Rancho Dr.) – Technically, there are two Smith’s locations at the periphery of Downtown, but the one at Maryland Parkway and Sahara Avenue—like the Albertson’s across the street from it—is technically outside of the city limits, so it doesn’t fall within the greater Downtown area. The one at the corner of Rancho Drive and Charleston Boulevard, however, is settled quite nicely between the Scotch 80s, McNeil Estates and Rancho Circle, and its neighboring Rancho Towne & Country center tenants include a plethora of service-based businesses, including a smoke shop, jeweler and mail center.
And we’ll address where to find those other services in future Urb Appeal columns, as well as update and amend previous categories as new businesses come online (or, sadly, go away). Until then, happy shopping and a Happy New Year, you beautiful readers, you.