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Leisure: Streetwise: Industrial Strength

A primer on the overlooked charms of this gritty, varied street

From the charter-bus lots and welding shops to the boutiques selling clothing for strip-club performers, the aptly named Industrial Road serves the city’s industrial needs. It encompasses the past and future of the city, with some of the oldest and newest businesses operating near Downtown.


1. Hard Hat Lounge/Cody’s Smoking Barbecue

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The mural behind the bar, featuring poker players and men ogling pinup posters, dates to 1963, but bartenders at the Hard Hat have been slinging cold beers since 1958. A recent redesign allows Cody’s to serve various well-smoked meat products. 1675 S. Industrial Road, 702-384-8987,


2. Downtown Spaces and Naked City Studios

Two years ago, developer Charlie Fox gambled on properties on Industrial, including Downtown Spaces. Fox says there are about 50 small art galleries and hip businesses there, and he predicts Industrial will undergo the same revitalization that has affected other parts of Downtown. 1800 S. Industrial Road, 702-429-1295,

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3. Las Delicias de Las Vegas

It looks like a local Mexican restaurant that could have been there for decades, but it’s just a couple of years old. There are few frills, but the food is good — the huaraches, wet burritos and cheeseburgers are spiced and served Mexico City-style. Drivers from nearby cab companies crowd this hole-in-the-wall during shift changes, but you’re also likely to see visitors who’ve heard it’s worth seeking out. 2129 S. Industrial Road, 702-542-6286


4. Circus Circus

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Circus Circus was the locale for some of writer Hunter S. Thompson’s most vivid nightmares. His rotating Carousel Bar is now a snack bar, but you can still catch a vibe of early-’70s weird in the massive casino. The RV park and Circus Circus Manor (with some of the most affordable rooms on the Strip) open up directly onto Industrial. 2880 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 800-634-3450,


5. Battlefield Vegas

This is a gun store, improvised museum of military equipment and, most important, a gun range. Some visitors — especially those from countries that restrict access to firearms — have never even seen a gun up close, explains manager Anna Shum. Visitors can shoot pistols or, going total Rambo, a fully automatic belt-fed .50 caliber machine gun. 2771 S. Industrial Road, 702-566-1000,


6. Erotic Heritage Museum

It went through some changes about a year ago, but the museum remains the must-see for anyone interested in human sexuality. All of it. Billed by Director Dr. Virginia Hartmann as the world’s largest museum of sex — it sprawls across 24,000 square feet — it is home to the world’s largest sex bike and features regular installations by local and international artists. 3275 S. Industrial Road, 702-794-1000,


7. Sonny’s Saloon and Casino & Diamond Chinese Restaurant

This generic-looking video-poker bar is really a slice of local history: one of the city’s oldest continually operated businesses. Don’t be put off by the signs demanding two pieces of photo ID and “no loitering” by police order. The food is actually quite good. 3449 S. Industrial Road, 702-731-5553


8. Rollin Smoke Barbeque

A block west of Industrial Road, on Highland Drive, Rollin Smoke has helped establish Las Vegas as a leading light on the competitive barbecue circuit. The extensive menu focuses on dry-rubbed brisket, ribs, hot links and chicken, which are redolent of fragrant wood smoke, not tomato sauce. It’s a small, informal joint, with picnic tables inside and out, and patrons from everywhere. 3185 S. Highland Drive, 702-836-3621,