Rio Shares Canteen Food Hall Details


Rio is under new management (Dreamscape, formerly Caesars Entertainment), and changes to the neglected off-Strip resort are already in the works.

Rooms are being re-roomed, the Penn and Teller wrap has been unwrapped, the Duomo theater has been de-theatered, the loyalty club is being re-loyaltied and now there are details about the Rio’s new food court. Sorry, food hall. Food courts and buffets are out, food halls are in!

We’ve got all the details about Rio’s Canteen Food Hall opening in January 2024.

The Rio’s buffet served about 1,200 pounds of crab legs each day. There are so many happy crabs right now.

Rio says of the Canteen Food Hall, “This new culinary hub will feature a dynamic line-up of first-to-market concepts and Las Vegas favorites that invite locals and visitors alike to explore, indulge and savor in a lively dining experience.”

Translation: There’s hope for Rio yet.

We first shared the Rio’s Carnival World Buffet space would be a food court back in April 2023, because it’s our town and everyone else is just borrowing it.

While longtime Rio fans bemoaned the closure of the resort’s once-renowned buffet, buffets lose money and modern casinos aren’t fans of that business model. So, they partner with third parties, get rent and mitigate their risk.

Rio’s President Trevor Scherrer says, “Our partners behind each of these restaurants have been nothing short of exceptional in their commitment to create food experiences that represent the future Rio and we are excited to introduce them to our guests.”

Let’s go!

Here’s what’s coming to Rio in the Canteen Food Hall.

Southland Burrito Co.

Southland Burrito Co. will be one of the first restaurants in Las Vegas to serve Sonoran-style burritos, which is exactly like other burritos, just with additional syllables in the name. Southland Burrito will evoke the “feeling of backyard gatherings with friends and family.” In other words, anticipate gunplay.

Shogun Ramen

Shogun Ramen will serve umami by the bowlful “with an ever-evolving lineup of nostalgic, yet innovative ramen meant to be savored to the very last drop.” So, you know, soup. Except rather than a “Soup Nazi,” there will be a “Soup Shogun.” The “shogun” theme dovetails nicely into the aforementioned gunplay. Well played, Rio.

Tony Luke’s

This place sounds like it’s named after a NASCAR driver, but it’s actually a South Philadelphia brand known for its cheesesteak. The chain has more than 20 locations, but the one in the Rio food court—the brand’s west coast debut—will be the best one because Las Vegas. Tony Luke’s has been around since 1992 and specializes in Philadelphia favorites including cheesesteaks, roast pork sandwiches and chicken cutlets. Fun fact: “Cheesesteaks” are called that because cheese has a better agent than steaks.

Tender Crush

Now, we’re getting somewhere. The geniuses behind one of the best burgers in Vegas, Chris Barish and Julie Mulligan (Black Tap Craft Burgers at Venetian), are taking a stab at nature’s perfect food, chicken tenders. We hope they don’t muck with the classic versions too much, but we’re open to Bird Pepper, White BBQ and Sweet Sticky Chili because we are nothing if not culinarily adventurous. On a related note: We have ordered the exact same thing at Raising Cane’s (a locals chicken strip place) every Sunday afternoon for 10 years. While the Strip is lacking good chicken tender options, there’s a plethora downtown with Victory Burger at Circa, Whiskey Licker Up at Binion’s and Huey Magoo’s at Fremont casino. Tender Crush will be our first stop when Canteen Food Hall opens. To be honest, chicken tenders make up about 40% of our diet, the rest being pornography.

The Tender Crush photo on the Rio site sucked, so we helped.

Nama Nama

Oh, look! It’s a bunch of words we don’t recognize! “From the creators of Las Vegas Strip favorite Tekka Bar [located in Cosmo’s food court], this street food-style sushi restaurant, Nama Nama transports guests to the bustling streets and hidden alleyways of Tokyo.” Most of those we got. We went to public school. These lost us, “With a focus on fresh seafood and traditional Japanese flavors, the menu will feature made-to-order handrolls, cut rolls, poke bowls, nitro matcha and sake on-the-go.” Look, we know how implausible it is that people eat raw fish. It’s plum loco, but apparently, some do, despite the risk of death and intestinal worms. Sometimes both. When we go to sushi restaurants, it’s typically to make someone else happy so we can have sex with them. We order the teriyaki chicken, which we make into the shape of a chicken tender and dip into our hidden supply of Chick-fil-A sauce.

Attaboy Burger

This must’ve been a very awkward conversation with Rio given the team from Black Tap probably wanted to do the burger stall first. Attaboy Burger won the thumb wrestling match and will be “adopting a ‘less is more’ mindset” at Attaboy. This is a sassy strategy, because in Las Vegas, “more is more.” According to the restaurant announcement, Attaboy will offer “guests a choice of just four burgers—the single smash, the double smash and fried bologna sandwich. We are not a math genius, but we’re pretty sure that’s only three, and “fried bologna sandwich” doesn’t seem like a burger, so the mindset at Attaboy actually seems to be “less than less is more, especially when people are just skimming news releases and not actually reading them.”

Anyway, it all sounds fantastic, mostly because Rio is currently a virtual Hell on Earth due to the neglect of the former operator.

It’s a long story, but Rio became the bastard stepchild of Caesars Entertainment, and things got really bad when Dreamscape bought the place and Caesars continued to operate it. Caesars really had zero motivation to maintain or upgrade the place as it had one foot out the door.

Dreamscape took over operations from Caesars on Oct. 2, 2023.

Props to Dreamscape for not replacing this wrap. Looking at you, Luxor.

Dreamscape has said it will invest $350 million into the Rio. We’ve speculated the company will flip the Rio, but that could change if the Oakland A’s end up building a ballpark in the resort’s parking lot. (It’s a really big parking lot.)

Yes, we know all the conversation about the A’s moving (should it ever happen given the team’s inability to get funding) has focused on Tropicana, but that’s a terrible location and the Rio location is perfect for any number of reasons.

That’s for another time! We want some damn chicken fingers, already. And a reason to visit the Rio again. A food hall may not seem like a big deal, but given Rio’s slow decline in recent years, it’s great news and the hope is food options for real people will get locals and tourists to stop by. Penn and Teller have been doing all the heavy lifting.

Here’s more about the Canteen Food Hall at Rio on the resort’s official Web site. Fair warning, there aren’t as many jokes, so why even bother?

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