The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino premiered its Guitar Hotel yesterday with festivities filled with celebrities, a signature guitar smash, and a pool party complete with mermaids and mermen.
The $1.5 billion expansion's focus was the opening of the 450-foot tall, 638-room Guitar Hotel and the seven-story Oasis tower that features 168 rooms and swim-up suites, along with the glorious return of Hard Rock Live.
Also new is the Oculus, a Las Vegas-like indoor sound and light show with a circular dancing fountain, which offers several trippy scenes, including whales gliding through a city.
The sprawling facility is so new the shopping arcade's tenants were still struggling to open yesterday as employees frantically steamed clothes and assembled racks. Sharper Image made the opening mark with a remote-controlled T-Rex that invited attendees to come in and shop.
The heart of the Hard Rock lies in its casino and food-and-beverage operations. Casino patrons are the bread-and-butter, and they must be fed and hydrated to keep them gaming. Thus, the Hard Rock boasts 19 restaurants, including the stalls in the food court.
A more accurate count is about a dozen restaurants, cafés, and buffets, along with a healthy dose of grab-and-go options to allow patrons to power through gaming sessions. There are some standout spots, but most of the options are standard casino fare. The food court, for instance, offers generic eateries such as Egg (breakfast) and Healthy (salads).
In a bold bid to maintain control over all of its food-and-beverage operations, the Hard Rock houses no celebrity chef-driven restaurants. There are no Guy Fieri or Bobby Flay eateries, nor any local names to give a proper taste of South Florida cuisine, such as Estefan Kitchen, a concept by celebrity chef Steve Martorano, or an outpost of a chain such as Coyo Taco.
Instead, the property's executive chef and creative culinary director, Alex Becker, was tasked with creating new concepts and refreshing old favorites such as Council Oak Steaks & Seafood. If some of the restaurants seem like pretty but generic hotel restaurants, that's because they are.
The only non-Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino place to eat is in the shopping arcade area, where Aubi & Ramsa has opened an outpost of its boozy ice-cream and sorbet shop. Marky's Caviar is set to open in the casino shops as well.
Here's a rundown of all the food and drinks available at the Seminole Hard Rock:
Abiaka. This American wood-fired-grill restaurant overlooks the Guitar Hotel's insanely gorgeous pool area and features live fire and solid-fuel grilling of various proteins and vegetables.
Bae Korean Grill. This Korean grill restaurant, located next to the shopping arcade, is set to open soon.
Beach Club Bar & Grill. The restaurant offers a fantastic view of the Guitar Hotel and the sprawling pool area. It's open daily until sundown.
The Bol. Located off the casino, the Bol offers standard Chinese and Vietnamese dishes such as pork dumplings ($16), Chinese egg rolls ($10), and pad thai ($19).
Center Bar. In the center of the casino, enjoy a cocktail while playing video poker.
Cipresso. Next to the Hard Rock Cafe, Cipresso offers Italian-American fare and pizzas. Offerings include lamb ragu and garganelli pasta ($25), cacio e pepe ($26), and a sausage pizza with broccolini ($18).
The Comedy Club. Head here for comedic headliners and cocktails.
Constant Grind. The Hard Rock's proprietary coffee spot serves lattes, pastries, and gelato made in-house daily. Constant Grind has two locations: inside the Hard Rock Hotel and the Guitar Hotel.
Council Oak Steaks & Seafood. Every casino needs a restaurant for high-rollers, and Council Oak is the Hard Rock's. The restaurant has a new location inside the Guitar Hotel and offers a comfortable lounge, a large dining room, and an open kitchen where you can see your steaks being prepared. Council Oak's focus is on USDA Prime steaks dry-aged for 28 days: A 12-ounce New York strip goes for $49, and a 34-ounce long-bone rib-eye runs $110. Certified Wagyu beef is also offered at market pricing.
Daer Dayclub, Nightclub, and Rooftop. Considered three clubs, Daer offers a "dayclub" at the new lagoon-like pool, while a 11,120-square-foot nightclub hosts guest DJs when the dayclub closes at dusk. The rooftop club overlooks all the action.
Entice. The Hard Rock's new ultralounge is located in the shopping arcade.
The Food Court. Off the casino, find fast-casual offerings at the generic stands Egg, Healthy, Shake & Burger, Lucille's (hot dogs), Asian Palace, and Sirico's (pizza).
Fresh Harvest. At the base of the Oasis tower is Fresh Harvest, serving lunch and dinner. The buffet offers five themed and live-action stations.
Hard Rock Cafe. Unsurprisingly, the signature Hard Rock Cafe remains the most popular restaurant on the property. This is the 119th of 185 Hard Rock Cafes located in 75 countries; it's also a prototype of the brand's remodel, which features an open kitchen, new menu items, and a stage for live entertainment. A must-try is the 24-karat gold-leaf steak burger ($25.95). It's exactly what you think it is — a steak burger topped with edible gold leaf, served with cheddar, tomatoes, and red onion. Wash it down with a boozy concoction such as the hot fudge milkshake, made with Jim Beam, Myers's dark rum, vanilla bean ice cream, and dark chocolate sauce ($11.99).
Kuro. One of South Florida's best-loved sushi restaurants, Kuro remains a solid spot for sushi and sashimi ($4 to $12) and items from the robata grill such as pork belly ($10), sea bass nori ($12), and Wagyu beef ($20).
L Bar. This intimate cocktail lounge is located in the casino.
Oculus Bar. The beautiful Oculus Bar, boasting midcentury modern decor, offers draft beer, cocktails, and live entertainment in the hotel lobby.
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Poker Snack Bar. Fuel your game with flatbreads, salads, and sandwiches.
Pool Bar & Grill. This bar, located at the original Hard Rock Hotel site, offers light fare poolside.
Rise Kitchen & Deli. This new restaurant at the Guitar Hotel offers 24-hour dining, including all-day breakfast and deli-style offerings such as a Rise Reuben ($16) and a $28 plate of steak and eggs.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood. 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood; seminolehardrockhollywood.com.