By  on February 4, 2002

GET INTO THE SIN CITY SPIRIT BY PLANNING A VISIT TO SOME OF ITS MOST CELEBRATED RELICS, AS WELL AS SOME NEW HOT SPOTS INSPIRED BY THE GOLDEN YEARS.

Stall-ing for Time

Located at the intersection of East Charleston Boulevard and Main Street, at the end of a deserted stretch of warehouses, the Red Rooster Antiques Mall is a bargain hunter's paradise. From furniture and floor coverings to curios and clothes, you'll find it at the decade-old, 20,000-square-foot Red Rooster, which can easily provide a few hours' worth of happy digging. A tip: Since the mall's in a veritable taxi-free zone, have the manager at the mall's "front desk" call you a cab in advance of when you'd like to haul your stash back to the hotel. 1109 Western Avenue, (702) 382-5253.

Cafe Ole!

Post-antiquing, stop for a restorative margarita at El Sombrero Cafe, a smallish concrete-block mom-and-pop a few minutes' walk from the Red Rooster mall. Marked by a neon sombrero sign and beloved by both locals and informed visitors, El Sombrero has been serving up authentic Mexican dishes, such as chile verde and chorizo con huevos, since 1950. Entrees range from $5.50 to $10.50 and span breakfast, lunch and dinner. Check out the jukebox with its hand-typed menu of Mexican song selections. As one regular put it, "You can go to any fancy restaurant in town, but I'd rather go to a hole in the wall where the food is home-cooked." 807 South Main Street, (702) 382-9234.

Kitsch Club

For a truly authentic lounge lizard experience, head to Champagne's Cafe, an intimate boite on a commercial stretch off the Strip. The dim lighting, velvet wallpaper and leather booths set the tone for a mellow nightcap that can easily extend into the morning hours. One of the cafe's walls comprises a pictorial shrine to Marilyn Monroe, while another boasts autographed photos of Dean Martin, Frankie Valli and Wayne Newton. 3557 South Maryland Parkway, (702) 737-1699.

Raising the Bar

The Venus Lounge and Taboo Cove, located in The Venetian Resort & Casino, attempt to take patrons back to a time when Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Jayne Mansfield ruled the Strip. The retro-looking decor features vintage pin-up-girl posters to leopard-print lounge chairs to video screens showing clips from such cheese-ridden classics as "Strip-o-Rama" and "Teenage Hot Rodders Hellbent on Destruction." To complete the mood, it doesn't hurt to have a Mr. Mancini (Kettle One Vodka and fresh cucumber juice), or a Tempest Storm (Absolut Mandarin, Peach Schnapps and cranberry juice) in hand. Taboo Cove, a votive- and lantern-lit tiki bar, the first one built in Vegas in over 40 years, features a most un-tiki-like twist: burlesque dancers writhing on a stage behind the bartender. In short, if you're looking to misbehave in Sin City, look no further. 3377 Las Vegas Boulevard. South, (702) 414-4870.

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