El Dorado revels in its Art Deco past

Feb 15, 2005 5:58 AM

In the heart of downtown Henderson there is a cluster of casinos literally within a stone’s throw of each other.

Serving as a kind of Grand Dame is the El Dorado, marked by its majestic Art Deco spire that was probably once the façade of an old movie theater.

But don’t let the 1950s architecture deter you. The El Dorado is a modern, comfortable and fully-equipped casino and one of the more popular of the Water Street group.

The casino has virtually everything one would find in a major Strip or neighborhood casino. But there isn’t the rush or intensity one finds in the mega resorts. The 600-plus machines are spread among several distinct casino areas giving patrons a chance to "lose themselves" to their hearts’ content.

The machines include all the popular locals’ favorites — reel slots such as Wheel of Fortune, Cleopatra, Filthy Rich, Little Green Men, Reel ”˜Em In, to name a few, plus the most popular video poker and video keno variations, including penny and two-penny denominations as well as multi-hand and Multi-Card Keno games.

The table game pit is non-intimidating and features blackjack, craps (with 10x odds), 10¡ roulette and pai gow poker.

There is also a full-blown sports book and, because the El Dorado is owned by Boyd Gaming, it features all the betting packages offered by the Stardust. The sports book comfortably seats up to 35 fans, and there are six satellite hook-ups for viewing all the action.

Rounding out the casino amenities are a 30-seat keno lounge that offers competitive ticket prices and a million dollar keno special for just $1, and an intimate bingo parlor that offers five sessions daily (Sun-Thurs) starting at 1 p.m., and six sessions on the weekend.

Like all the great boutique casinos, the El Dorado has a nice mix of dining options. Its Café coffee shop serves great food at bargain prices, including a prime rib dinner for $5.95 and breakfast special for only $1.09.

For dinner, there’s Mariana’s Mexican Restaurant, an intimate cantina that is open Wednesday through Sunday. Specials include a generous Fiesta Feast for only $6.95, plus a variety of margaritas and Mexican beers.

For players who like to refuel on the run, the El Dorado’s snack bar serves sandwiches, chili, nachos and other "comfort foods," including a half-pound hot dog for only $1.25.