We're not sure why aquarium bars are so popular in Las Vegas. Perhaps because, after the spinning roulette wheel and blinking slot machines and shrieking around the blackjack table, people want the soothing experience of aquatic life gliding by, smooth, silent and unconcerned. And maybe they're just fantasizing about mermaids. Regardless, the Silverton has the most impressive 117,000 gallons of water in its Mermaid Restaurant and Lounge. It contains thousands of fish, tons of coral and the occasional mermaid all maintained by on-staff marine biologists.
The Mermaid Lounge is open to the casino itself, but its aquatic theme sets it apart: the Silverton's trademark lodge-y stone walls are built to undulate like waves, and iridescent blue-green fixtures give an underwater feeling to the light. The multiple flat-screen TVs are hung between mini-aquariums and presided over by a life-sized, silver mermaid statue. It also features the most comfortable seats in the Silverton -- an array of high-backed, deep-seated velveteen chairs and couches, as well as lamé chairs with fishtail-shaped backs and the names of prominent sea creatures such as Nemo, Ariel, Flipper, Moby Dick and Craig embroidered on the back. You know Craig the fish, right? Yeah, neither do we.
Since the Silverton is off the Strip, the Mermaid Lounge has a local feel to it. The cheerful and chatty bartenders, knows their regulars, who in turn, know the staff by name and schedule. But it's still a Las Vegas casino bar, with hair-sprayed wives waiting for their husbands to finish at the tables; women in tank tops sipping lemon-drop martinis and picking at their mini-pizzas; and dudes with their beards, Bears sweatshirts and Bud Lights. Mixed in are little kids enthralled by the fish and the fish-people, pressing sticky fingers against the glass. Tip: Don't lick the glass. You don't know where it's been.