Dining takes a theme twist

Feb 26, 2002 6:26 AM

Not to be outdone by Las Vegas’ “theme” hotels, a wave of theme restaurants has hit Las Vegas. Opened within the past few months are Kahunaville at Treasure Island, ESPN Zone at New York-New York, Bahama Breeze at Hughes Center, and the wild Crazy Armadillo Tex-Mex Grille and Oyster Bar at Stratosphere.

They join such popular restaurants as NASCAR Cafe (Sahara Hotel), Hard Rock Cafe, Rainforest Cafe (MGM Grand) and Harley-Davidson Cafe, just to name a few.

But first, light up the tiki torches for Kahunaville at Treasure Island. The tropical infused restaurant that doubles as an after hours nightclub has been riding a wave of national popularity since the first Kahunaville opened in Wilmington, Delaware.

Of course, it makes perfect sense for Treasure Island to christen a new restaurant that features coconut trees, dancing waterfalls, mermaids, shipwrecks, beachcombers and even a friendly octopus.

A tropical wonderland with island food, exotic drinks, games and nightly entertainment, Kahunaville features an eclectic menu with island selections ranging from coconut shrimp and Jamaican jerk chicken to teriyaki-ginger steak and Hawaiian pork tenderloin.

In addition to its tropical garden atmosphere, Kahunaville features a patio that flanks the hotel’s pool area and provides poolside bar and food service.

Diners who like sports will find Valhalla at New York-New York, which is host to ESPN Zone, a two-level sports dining and entertainment complex.

The seventh in a nationwide chain, ESPN Zone features a 10,000-square-foot Sports Arena with stadium seating and interactive sports attractions, the Screening Room for private viewing of broadcast sporting events and a studio for broadcasting radio and TV programs.

The restaurant also has 165 television monitors so die-hard couch potatoes will never miss a moment of sports action (there are even a dozen TVs in the restrooms!), and a dozen “Zone Thrones,” reclining chairs with speakers built into the headrests.

The ESPN Zone menu features a variety of solid American favorites such as barbecue ribs, steaks, burgers and more.

Keep in mind that the waiters at Roxy’s Diner also in the Stratosphere often dance across the dining room while belting out hits from the Fabulous Fifties, and that they frequently recruit dance partners from the dining guests. So anything is possible!

The new restaurants join fun spots such as the Caribbean-themed Bahama Breeze at Hughes Center, and Olio! at MGM Grand. The latter was brought to town by New York restaurateur John Tunney III, who wanted a restaurant that “is worthy of the entertainment capital of the world.”