When you want to escape the hum of urban life, there's a wonderful place to go in downtown Las Vegas. The Park on Fremont is located in the Fremont East Entertainment District on the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street. Both charming and quirky, this gastropub has a wonderful open-air layout that is bicycle-friendly (thanks to a large bike rack) and pedestrian-friendly (with parking in the vicinity at a paid surface lot next door, metered spots and free garages at Downtown3rd and El Cortez).
Like any idyllic rural setting, the front patio at the Park on Fremont is surrounded by a white picket fence, flower boxes and tall potted plants. Two windows are propped open in the wooden plank façade, where you'll find countertops and bar stools as well as easy access to the bartenders inside. Pavement seating is available too -- and ideal for warm summer evenings.
The interior décor also has a unique feel. Antique porcelain plates line the ceiling, and wallpaper with a black-and-white floral print has been hung. There's an eclectic art collection consisting of paintings of big-eyed girls by Mark Ryden and oddly re-imagined deer trophies by Peter Gronquist. Sparkling chandeliers add to the over-the-top adornment and create an odd degree of fanciness. A 1940s-era jukebox plays vinyl records. Everything in here is kind of peculiar, but in an elegant way that somehow works.
The most striking thing about the Park on Fremont, hands down, is the "backyard." Stepping out amid the twinkling lights and lush greenery is like entering a fairy tale. There's even a Cinderella-style carriage on the roof that's filled with pots of brightly colored flowers. A game of hopscotch made with mosaic tiles is set up on the floor. There's a little bar akin to a lemonade stand tucked in one corner, while intimate bistro tables are sprinkled in front of the benches that stretch along two walls and around a central tree. At the far end, a fireplace topped by an eight-foot-tall statue of an archangel draws all eyes.
There's more to the Park on Fremont than the interesting atmosphere. The drink menu lists over 60 beer selections from around the world. You can also order one of four specialty Bloody Marys (creatively called Hunting Season, The Bored and The Beautiful, Texas Tuxedo and The Lady Cave). Among the bar's signature cocktails -- perfect for hot weather -- is The Unicorn, which is made with Ketel One Citroen vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, mint, ginger beer and a lemon wedge. The taste is truly refreshing. Of course, each of the beverages (including the water) is served in a Mason jar or mismatched glassware.
If you get hungry, there are some delicious dishes to eat that offer a nod to gardening. Try the Hammered Chicken, which is flattened (not drunk!) and topped with baby spinach and arugula, or the Very Veggie Sliders made with sprouts and avocado.
Last but not least, the Park on Fremont gives you the chance to travel back in time by reliving childhood days spent at the playground. Just look for a two-seater seesaw in a nook on the rear patio. What more could you ask for? It all makes for a magical evening!
-- By Renée LiButti