Imagine Dragon’s Dan Reynolds On His Favorite Las Vegas Eats And Activities

How does a band followup a massively successful platinum album with four Billboard charting singles packing anthemic adrenaline rush choruses that can electrify a whole stadium of people? For Imagine Dragons, the obvious move was to link up with legendary producer Rick Rubin and record a two-part follow-up at his Shangri-La studio in Malibu. But Imagine Dragon’s Mercury — Acts 1 & 2 (the second part of which released just this summer) isn’t a loud and proud victory lap that chronicles Imagine Dragons as they continue to solidify themselves as one of the biggest rock bands of the 2020s. Those stadium-ready bangers are still in adequate supply, but at its heart, it’s a deep and contemplative two-part album that chronicles loss, grief, loneliness, and, especially in Act 2, a celebration of what it means to be left alive in the aftermath.

“We went into it not knowing it was going to be two albums. We sat down with Rick Rubin who produced it and went through a lot of demos that I had worked on over the previous years” singer Dan Reynolds tells me over Zoom, “There were two prevalent themes that Rick had pointed out. I dealt with quite a bit of loss. I lost quite a few people in my life. Then there was also really a prevalent theme of, ‘and then what?’ Post grief and seeing the world differently, we really felt like we couldn’t tell that in one album properly, and so, it was Rick’s idea actually to do two records.”

While that all sounds incredibly heavy, Mercury — Acts 1 & 2 isn’t full of somber sounds and depressing dirges, Imagine Dragons hasn’t gone and made their Radiohead record, they’re still bringing that sonic intensity that has earned them multiple stadiums worth of fans, but they’re doing it in a totally new way. This is best exemplified by Mercury — Act 2 single “Sharks,” which is playful in a way the band rarely is and features a music video that explores Reynolds home town of Las Vegas. It serves as a celebration of the city that made them the band they are today.

“I’ve lived in Vegas my whole life. Vegas is the reason our band is successful. None of us had parents that were giving us money to live, so the only way we paid for rent was playing cover gigs at the hotels on the side. We’d do six-hour shows at O’Shea’s, which is the cheapest beer on the Strip, so we really owe a lot to Vegas.”

That deep love is mutual. There aren’t a lot of other bands the city would let surf the Bellagio fountains, but Imagine Dragons do just that in the “Sharks” video directed by Drew Kirsch, which follows Reynolds in an Ocean’s Eleven-indebted tribute that thumbs its nose at all the people who have written the band off as too serious. “Sharks” is a lot of fun, and it’s informed by Reynolds’ own relationship to the city that made him.

To get a little more acquainted with Reynolds’ Las Vegas, we asked the singer for his favorite Vegas haunts, from the finest hotel eats to the hidden gems off the beaten path. Let’s dive in!

What’s your favorite Las Vegas breakfast spot and what’s the go-to order?


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I love this place called Neighbors. It’s in the Summerland area, I just love typical, normal, boring breakfast. Eggs, bacon, pancakes. I don’t need it to be fancy. In fact, I don’t like it to be fancy. I just want greasy spoon breakfast. I’m hungry, actually, right now talking to you about it. Salivating. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, so I get really excited to go there and just sit down with my kids or friends, and have a good meal.

What is one Vegas bar people have to visit?

The Chandelier

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Aside from the local stuff, I would say if you’re just looking for a great bar in Vegas to try a special drink, I would go to the Cosmo Bar, and get a drink called the Sichuan Flower. It’s this special drink that they have where you eat a flower and it’s very strange tasting, but it changes your taste buds. You try the drink before you have the flower first, to understand what the drink is and then you chew up the flower and it changes your taste buds and the drink tastes completely different. It becomes sweet and interesting, and it’s just a fun experience.

It’s at the Chandelier bar, I believe it’s called, because there’s this huge chandelier over it. But you feel very Vegas. You’ll sit in that chair and you feel like you’re in an Ocean’s Eleven movie or something. But if you’re looking for a more dive bar-type scene, the Bunkhouse is the go-to.

What’s your favorite hidden gem in Las Vegas?

The Outdoors

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The Bunkhouse is a really cool venue [recently closed], and the Beauty Bar [permanently closed]. I don’t know if the Beauty Bar is still there, actually. I haven’t been to the B Bar in a while. Both cool venues with local acts that are great. And I really love the outdoors. So, not a lot of people know that Vegas draws in tons of bikers and climbers, like Alex Honnold.

A lot of people live there because there are great trails, and the Red Rock Mountains are beautiful, and Lake Mead is there, so you can go to the lake. There’s camping and skiing not that far out, with Mount Charleston. There’s just a lot of cool outdoors available to people that live there. It’s like anytime I tell someone I’m from Vegas, they assume I was raised in a hotel, or something. Bathed in the Bellagio fountains. People really don’t understand that there are houses, and parks, and there are farmer’s markets. Vegas has got a lot to it. And you can have the party on the Strip, if that’s what you want, but you can also have the mountains, or you can have suburbia. It’s whatever you want it to be, Vegas has that.

Circling back to the venues, what makes them special?

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The Bunkhouse and the Beauty Bar both have this local feeling to them, where everybody who’s in the music scene knows each other and it feels small, even though Vegas feels huge, it also feels very small in some ways. People in Vegas love to celebrate its localness. For instance, when the Golden Knights hockey team moved in, everybody was there every night. It was completely sold out. They get behind it, it’s on every car. Vegas wants to have culture desperately so there’s a real passion to the little bit of local culture that there is. It’s not Seattle or something, where it’s just booming with culture, and tons of farmer’s markets. It doesn’t have that California thing to it. But it’s on the up and up. And when it does happen, it’s because there’s really passionate, awesome people that put on neon reverb festivals, that’s been a staple there for a long time. That’s literally because there are just a few creatives that make it happen. It’s pretty rad. A lot of effort is put into it, but you appreciate that when you’re there, and celebrate anybody who’s really making that happen.

What’s the best late-night dinner spot? Somewhere to go post-casino?

Secret Pizza

Okay, so, there’s a couple things. There’s this hidden pizza spot at the Cosmo. So, if we’re talking about the Strip and you’re thinking, “What’s cool little gem?” This is it. It doesn’t even have a sign. You just have to know where it is. You go around this corner, and then you’re in this little pizza shop. It’s in the middle of the Cosmo, which is weird. A lot of people probably just walk right by it. But the pizza’s actually super good. I think it’s called ‘Secret Pizza’ or something like that.

Kame Omakase

If you’re off the Strip, though, that’s where the magic really happens. I think Vegas has the most Michelin stars in a city in the world. If you’re looking for fine dining, look at all those hotels, it’s awesome. But to be honest with you, where the real magic is off the Strip, on the west side. There’s this incredible sushi place called Omakase that… I’ve had sushi all over the world now, and it really holds up… You feel like you’re in Japan, it’s incredible.

Nittaya’s Secret Kitchen

There’s a place called Nittaya’s’s Secret Kitchen… I think it is called Nittaya’s Secret Kitchen. Why is everything secret in Vegas? Something feels a little weird about that. I want to get it right, though, because she’s really awesome. It’s a Thai restaurant and it’s so good.

La Strega

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It’s a really great Italian restaurant. Highly, highly recommend.

Lotus of Siam

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So, if you love Thai food, there’s Nittaya’s Secret Kitchen on the west side. But if you’re on the east side, there’s this place called Lotus of Siam that would blow — actually, I’m going to give this as my number one recommendation in Vegas. If someone’s passing through, and everybody’s like, “Well, we could go to the Bellagio,” and you want to be super cool and be like, “Well, why don’t we get off the Strip just a little bit and go to this local place?” It’s the best type of food ever. It’s on Sahara, East Sahara, and it’s so good. It’s crazy good. It’s actually pretty hard to get in, because it’s just always packed. But I highly recommend it.

What’s on the itinerary for the best day in Vegas from morning to night? Without the casino stuff.

Farmer’s Market/Hiking at Red Rock/Walking Old Vegas

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I would start your day out by going to the farmer’s market… And I’m just going to suppose you’re there on the weekend. Go to Farmer’s Market at the Summerland Mall, that is a fantastic farmer’s market. Lots of great produce, surprisingly, and local people that make incredible food and just bring it. There’s everything you could want, from local beef jerky to vegan sweets. There is always someone out playing music, and they’re actually really talented, which isn’t always the case at farmer’s markets. So, I’d start the day by going to the farmer’s market.

Then I would probably go to Neighbors for breakfast, that place I recommend to you. I would then go take a hike at Red Rock which is just 20 minutes, it’s not a hard drive at all. So, 20 minutes, go to Red Rock, go on a hike. There’s also some really beautiful lookout spots there that you can see the whole Strip, and take it in from the beauty of nature. You could also go on a bike ride out in Red Rock.

Then as the evening draws in, I would look at what local band is playing the Bunkhouse. Then I would wander to Fremont Street. The Fremont Street experience is old Vegas. A lot of people are like, “Oh, let’s go to the Strip,” and they go to Cosmo, and all these things, and it’s great. But I would recommend you go to Old Vegas. Walk it. There’s lots of performers, kind of that old weird Vegas vibe that’s the best part of Vegas. The weirdness and lots of sloppy drunk tourists that will make you smile. They have these deep-fried Oreos, and deep-fried Twinkies that are just so good, but so disgusting at the same time. And then, for me, typically it’s have friends over at the house, and cook some good food and have some cereal. Late-night cereal. That would be a Vegas Day.