Las Vegas isn’t known for its German heritage, but give us an excuse to party, and we’ll take it.
Dozens of restaurants, bars, clubs and organisations here celebrate Oktoberfest every year with special events, custom menus, specialty drinks and parties. If you’re visiting this October, they’re worth checking out.
The biggest Oktoberfest events take place at Hofbräuhaus, Las Vegas’ resident German beer hall. Built in 2004 as a perfect recreation of the original Hofbräuhaus in Munich, the bar/restaurant features communal tables, a robust atmosphere and authentic German cuisine.
Throughout the month of October, there will be live entertainment nightly, celebrity keg tapping and stein holding contests. Participants must stand in a line facing the crowd and raise a one-litre stein, which weighs 1.4kg when full, parallel with their shoulder for as long as possible. Winners take home an official Oktoberfest glass stein.
Think you’ve got what it takes? Maybe, but it’s harder than it looks. (My gym rat husband struggled to complete the contest last year.)
The city of Las Vegas and the German-American Social Club of Nevada will celebrate 3 October with a free festival downtown at the Historic Fifth Street School. Enjoy traditional German food, beer, dance and music. Oompoporama, an all-female Oompop party band, will provide the tunes, and the Las Vegas Bavarian dancers will perform. A children’s activity area will feature caricature artists, face painting, balloon artists and games.
On 9-10 October, the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino will host its sixth annual Fall Beer Fest. The weekend will feature beer selections from more than 30 breweries, live entertainment and delicious culinary offerings. I attended last year, and it was fantastic. Good eats, great drinks and a fun crowd.
The kickoff to the Beer Fest is the Golden Nugget’s Oktoberfest Pool Party, with fresh pretzels, bratwursts, music, dancing, and of course, keg tapping. The best part? Admission to the pool party is free. But if you want to attend the Craft Beer Grand Tasting on 10 October, it comes at a cost of $55.
Food and beverage specialties abound in local restaurants and bars as well.
Crush, inside the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, will feature a German-inspired pairing from 28 September through 4 October. Priced at $16, executive chef Billy DeMarco’s meal includes grilled bratwurst with house-made sauerkraut, new potatoes and Pommery mustard, paired with a Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest beer.
Shake Shack at New York-New York Hotel & Casino is celebrating with a special menu and commemorative beer stein. Fill it with Brooklyn Brewery’s Oktoberfest brew or the house ShackMeister Ale to wash down one of the seasonal specialties: the bacon cheddar bratwurst burger, a hamburger topped with a griddled bacon cheddar bratwurst ($7.59); the currywurst, a bratwurst topped with crispy beer-marinated shallots and curry ketchup ($4.99); or the Bavarian sausage served with German slaw ($4.99).
Shake Shack’s bacon cheddar bratwurst (L) and Lazy Dog’s pretzel crusted schnitzel are some of the variations of German classics on offer for Oktoberfest
Credit: Shake Shack (L); Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar (L)
For more authentic flavours, head over to the Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar in suburban Summerlin for a bite of schnitzel and a beer sampler. The specials run through the end of October. The pretzel-crusted schnitzel ($14.50) is divine, served with red apple and cabbage coleslaw, red potato salad and a creamy mustard sauce.
The Oktoberfest beer sampler is a battle of old world versus new. For $8.25, it features Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier, Lazy Dog Hefeweizen, Big Dog’s Brewing Dog House, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel, Hofbrau Oktoberfestbier and Samuel Adams Octoberfest.
If you’re here in October, everyone has a chance to celebrate German culture.