The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino premiered its Guitar Hotel yesterday with a celebration 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 new Hard Rock Live entertainment venue.
Also new is the Oculus, a Las Vegas-like indoor sound and light show with a circular dancing fountain, that features several trippy scenes including whales gliding through a city.
The sprawling facility was so spanking new that the shopping arcade's tenants were still struggling to open yesterday, with employees frantically steaming clothes and assembling 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 — and any casino hotel — 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. Knowing this, the Hard Rock touts 19 restaurants. The only way to get to 19 is to count all the eateries inside the food court.
More accurately, there are about a dozen or so restaurants, cafes, and buffets with a healthy dose of grab and go options to allow people to power through a gaming session. Though there are some standouts, most of the options are standard casino fare. The food court, for instance, features generic eateries like Egg (breakfast) and Healthy (salads).
In a bold bid to keep control over all 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 like an Estefan Kitchen, a concept by local celebrity chef Steve Martorano, or an outpost of a local chain like Coyo Taco.
Instead, the property's executive chef and creative culinary director, Alex Becker, was tasked with creating new concepts and refreshing old favorites like Council Oak Steaks & Seafood.If some of the eateries feel like pretty but generic hotel restaurants — it's because they are.
The only non-Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino place to eat is at 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 at the casino shops as well.
Here's a rundown of all the food and drink 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. This restaurant offers a fantastic view of the Guitar Hotel and the sprawling pool area. Open daily until sundown.
The Bol. Located off the casino, the Bol offers standard Chinese and Vietnamese dishes like 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).
Constant Grind. The Hard Rock's in-house coffee brand serves lattes, pastries, and gelato made in-house daily. Constant Grind has two locations — at 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 at the Guitar Hotel and features 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, with a 12-ounce New York strip going for $49 and a 34-ounce long-bone rib eye offered at $110. Certified wagyu beef is also offered at market pricing.
Daer Dayclub, Nightclub, and Rooftop. Considered three different clubs, the dayclub is located at the new lagoon-like pool, while the 11,120-square-foot nightclub will feature guest DJs when the dayclub closes at dusk. The rooftop club overlooks all the action.
Entice. The Hard Rock's new ultralounge, located at the shopping arcade.
The Food Court. Off the casino, find fast/casual offerings at generic stands called Egg, Healthy, Shake & Burger, Lucille's (hot dogs), Asian Palace, and Sirico's (pizza).
Fresh Harvest. At the base of the Hard Rock tower, find the casino's buffet, Fresh Harvest, serving lunch and dinner. The buffet features five different themed and live-action stations.
Hard Rock Cafe. Not surprisingly, the Hard Rock Cafe remains the most popular restaurant at the property. This is Cafe number 119 of 185 Hard Rocks located in 75 countries; it's also a prototype of the brand's remodel that 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 milkshake like the hot fudge milkshake with Jim Beam, Myer's dark rum, vanilla bean ice cream, and dark chocolate sauce ($11.99).
Kuro. One of South Florida's most loved sushi restaurants, Kuro remains a solid spot for sushi and sashimi ($4-$12) and items from the robata grill including pork belly ($10), sea bass nori ($12), and wagyu beef ($20).
L Bar. An intimate cocktail lounge located in the casino.
Oculus Bar. A beautiful midcentury-modern-decorated bar, located in the Guitar Hotel lobby, offering draft beer, cocktails, and live entertainment.
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Poker Snack Bar. Fuel your game with flatbreads, salads, and sandwiches.
Pool Bar & Grill. This pool 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 including a Rise Reuben ($16) and a $28 plate of steak and eggs.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood. 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood; seminolehardrockhollywood.com.