The Griffin’s Mad House

Navigating the social scene in a new town is quite a feat. It is a huge undertaking to find one’s niche when relocating to a city catering to tourists. While I appreciate the grandeur of the Strip, I found myself seeking a Vegas watering hole where locals flock. As a single guy in Vegas, I’m looking to meet people who are not on the next flight out, while simultaneously relaxing and unwinding after a demanding day.

Based on several recommendations, I decided to introduce myself to The Griffin at 511 Fremont St., in Vegas’ downtown area. Located just far enough from the Fremont Street Experience, this place is not chock-full of Vegas visitors. It is, however, close enough for curious tourists to belly up to the bar with trendy locals who are in on the secret of how great this place truly is. This is a must-see for those opting to experience Vegas like a local.

The Griffin’s unassuming exterior, boasting classic Vegas neon green, gives little indication of what’s to be found inside. Upon entering, one instantly feels underground and acquainted with a swanky secret Vegas tavern. Brick-like interior walls, wood beam trim, two circular fire pits and subdued lighting lend to The Griffin’s medieval feel. Submitting to the ultra-cool vibe is a given, thanks to the lounge-style layout complementing the welcoming ambiance.

Once the alluring atmosphere has won you over, the generously poured libations and courteous staff seal the deal. Known for their great selection of tap beer and impressive drink menu, there’s certainly something at The Griffin to keep you coming back.

Those into indie music cannot beat the quarter-per-song jukebox’s offerings. Indie music with a littering of cool bands defines the box’s playlist. Music fans appreciate the diversity while others find new beats serve to add to the delightfully off-beat character of The Griffin.

I find it refreshing this Vegas locals’ oasis hasn’t become a well-known tourist destination. That’s not to say tourists are not embraced; they are simply not found in abundance. This is definitely a place where strangers easily strike up conversation in the oddest of pairings. Not often does one find a PBR-toting hipster chatting up a cosmo-sipping stranger, but that almost seems the norm at The Griffin.

This is not a haute hangout, but oozes cool with every pour. The Griffin never charges a cover, yet spotlights local bands and treats customers to celebrated DJ appearances in the back room. I was fortunate enough to catch hillbilly jazz band, The All-Togethers, on my last stop, and they failed to disappoint. I had the opportunity at SXSW to experience this quartet for the first time and was delighted to happen upon them in Vegas in such an inviting setting.

Drinks are reasonably priced, and bartenders are not shy while pouring. The only menu to be found here is a drink menu, so you will have to get your dinner on somewhere else. They open the doors at five Monday-Saturday and at nine Sunday nights. Griffin-goers can follow upcoming events at the venue on Facebook, as The Griffin does not have a website. I find this admirable and further proof that the owners aspire to remain off the beaten path in Las Vegas.

I’m going to second the recommendations made to me and state this is a great locale for residents and Sin City sightseers seeking to enjoy Vegas like a local. I’ve enjoyed what The Griffin has to offer in the form of intriguing Vegas locals and an overall cool place to hang.