My 19-Hour Gold Strike Tunica Vacation
Last week, I went on a 19-hour vacation.
There aren’t a lot of places you can take a 19-hour vacation to from Memphis, but Tunica is one of them. I figure most people who live in Memphis who want to go to Tunica have been, but like me, maybe haven’t been in a while. If you’re thinking about going back, or checking it out for the first time, or if you just like looking at pictures of food, this post is for you.
There are nine big casinos in Tunica, but I chose to spend my trip at the Gold Strike specifically because – full disclosure – they invited me, but most importantly because they have three new restaurants and a few other new features, all of which I wanted to try out so I could report back to you.
Here’s the run down of my 19-hour break from reality.
Thursday, 5 p.m. – My friend and I drive to Tunica. Leaving Memphis at 5 p.m. on a Thursday is probably not as bad traffic-wise as leaving on Friday, but it is not good. Once we escape the city, though, the drive is fairly quick and uneventful.
View from the room.
6:15 p.m. – Check into the room. There’s valet parking, but we found a spot right in front of the hotel, so we pull right in. Our room is on the 20th floor of Gold Strike Hotel, and it’s comfy and clean and wi-fi is included.
6:30 p.m. – Head downstairs to the grand opening party for TEN10. TEN10 is Gold Strike’s brand-new wine and whiskey bar and lounge. The first Thursday of every month, they’ll have either a whiskey or a wine tasting with food samplers (complimentary and open to the public). A few other folks are also here for the opening (including Choose 901 and Yelp and Paul & Angela) so it’s a festive atmosphere.
A sommelier leads us through five different wines, which are fantastic. Even the wine newbies (read: people who don’t like wine) are very impressed. Now I’m ruined for the regular stuff. Also, their menus are on iPads – fancy!
8:30 p.m. – Dinner time in the recently remodeled Chicago Steakhouse. I like the decor – it’s all the dark wood and white tablecloths you hope for from a steakhouse, but with contemporary materials and spiffy light fixtures. We order oysters to start, some raw, some Chicago-style, and my friend comments that the raw ones are some of the best he’s had.
During dinner, we witness the “roman candle birthday” service (instead of a candle, it’s a sparkler that shoots sparks about three feet in the air, stuck in the middle of a giant piece of cake) and everyone orders steak. My filet is delicious and cooked perfectly to medium-rare, but in my opinion, it really needed sauce or reduction for a bit more flavor.
The service in the Chicago Steakhouse is excellent; they do things fine dining restaurants should do – impeccable wine service, folding your napkin when you leave the table, clearing crumbs along with plates. It’s the little things that make a place like that worth the trip and the investment (steaks range from $38 – $45 and sides are $8).
10:30 p.m. – Accompany friends to the blackjack tables. I’m not much of a gambler, so I enjoy a cocktail and people watch. At Gold Strike, you can play any number of table games (most people were playing blackjack or craps) or choose from what must be 1,000 slot machines. The floor is pretty lively for a Thursday night, but not totally packed. There’s a band playing on a stage that’s also a bar, and they’re surprisingly good, so I walk over to listen for a bit.
This is proof that I was actually in Tunica, and also shows bits of the first and second gaming floors.
11:30 p.m. – Check out the smoke-free gaming floor. The first floor gaming area is huge, and although smoking is allowed and I see a few folks lighting up, it’s not bothering me. They must have an excellent ventialition system. Gold Strike Casino has renovated their second floor to be the very first smoke-free gaming floor in Tunica, so we head upstairs to check it out.
Friday, 12:30 a.m. – Back to the room and hit the hay.
9:00 a.m. – Up and at ’em. The bed is so cozy and the pillows are so fluffy (what is it about hotel bedding?) that I don’t want to get out of bed, but breakfast is calling.
10 a.m. – Breakfast at the Buffet Americana. This is another of Gold Strike’s remodeled restaruants; this one reopened just last summer. It looks totally different from any other hotel buffet I’ve seen, with contemporary decor and natural light.
It’s your standard breakfast food, and I see no problem with that. There is a meat carving station, an omlette station, and a pastry station, along with every other kind of biscuit, egg scramble, or quiche you can imagine. The buffet serves breakfast until 11 a.m. If you want to read more about their dinner buffet, take a look at this post from Tiffany Tastes.
11 a.m. – Leave for Memphis. Check out time is at 11 a.m.
12 p.m. Arrive in Memphis. I wish I’d had time to stay another few hours and check out the rest of Tunica outside of casino-land to make it an even 24-hours, but that will have to wait for another time. I had a ton of fun on this little trip, though.
Gold Strike Casino
1010 Casino Center Drive