Hawaii's favorite casino has lots to offer the islander, like oxtail soup, and Spam as a side with almost everything in the coffee shop. But the main reason the Hawaiians love it here is the owner's cheap junkets from the Islands that include room and board. The Cal is a small joint a block off Fremont Street, and usually pretty busy. It has a nice, unpretentious, old Vegas feel to it.
Room Quality: Small, standard rooms are equipped with as much furniture as will fit in them. This is a king or two queens, a table and chairs, a dresser, armoire, a fridge and a flat-screen TV. The decor is tastefully neutral and modern considering the Hawaii theme. The rooms are up-to-date. The bathrooms are small but fine. This is pretty typical for downtown, where most people don't spend a lot of time relaxing in the room because the casino is calling out to them. No matter where you are in the hotel, the views are not good since you either look toward Main Street Station or toward the Las Vegas Valley.
Service Quality: It's a small hotel with fair amenities. They are happy to provide you with an iron, or fax service. Room service is quick. Watch out, they may try to get a bellhop to take you up to your room whether you want him to or not.
What You Get Bottles of in the Bathroom: Shampoo and lotion. Everything you will need to wash the stinky smoky smell you pick up in the casino off of you.
Clientele: Hawaiians and lots of them. This place really caters to the Hawaiian crowd, but that doesn't mean you aren't invited to join the fun. It's generally a more slots-oriented group.
How's the Pool? Rinky-dink. It's a tiny 20x40 foot roof-top job that isn't much bigger than your average backyard pool.
Table Games: Blackjack, mini-baccarat, craps, roulette, Three-Card, Let It Ride and Pai Gow. They've got them all here, and the tables usually have room. In fact, even when busy the casino always seems to have room for one more, so if you really need to find a place to play, come back here.
Bet Minimums: Blackjack is $3 minimum most of the time, but can go higher. Craps is too, with lousy 2x odds. Mini-bac, LIR, the poker games and Pai Gow are at the lowest a $5 minimum. Roulette is played with $1 chips and a $5 minimum.
Machines: A good selection of video poker and slots. This is really where this casino's action is, and the machines are humming around the clock. They've got everything from a nickel to $5 a pull. Video poker is fair, with a few full-pay machines. In keeping with the Hawaiian theme, there have been Don Ho and Spam-themed slot machines.
Cocktails? Fair cocktail service, but they also have four well-placed bars in the small casino that will keep you from getting too thirsty.
Who Gets Comps? You can score some food for a while at $25 a hand. Slots are a trickier beast and you've got to rack up a lot of points before they feed you or give you a free room. The slot club, B-Connected, is linked to other Boyd properties, including the Fremont and Main Street Station.
Aloha Specialties: A small cafe that serves Hawaiian foods exclusively. It's upstairs and not easy to find, but for those who do, you'll get some very authentic Island food. That's not to say it's fantastic or exotic, just very representational of what they eat out there in the middle of the Pacific.
Market Street Cafe: It's one of our favorite coffee shops, although the service can be slow. The food is good and the prices are right. For breakfast, try the tasty French toast. They offer Hawaiian and Chinese specialties and have good-priced weekday specials, plus a small breakfast buffet. Some dishes come with a side of Spam. Open 24 hours a day. Hooray!
Pasta Pirate: Another good value, this time it's Italian food and the occasional steak. Nothing fancier than the Olive Garden, but the prices are reasonable and the decor is cool and sort of dim. Dinners are complete with bread, a soup or salad and glass of sort-of-bleh wine.
Redwood Bar and Grill: A great value for a good steakhouse. You can get large steaks or seafood specials almost any night of the week (not Wednesday or Thursday), and the service and ambience are pleasant. While it's not world class, you get more than you pay for. Our personal favorite, though, is the Porterhouse special for under $25 that includes salad, potato and dessert. It's not on the menu, ask for it by name.
There is a popular Lappert's ice cream store upstairs, and the Cal Club which serves American and Asian snack bar stuff, including bowls of poi.
Number of TVs: About eighteen TVs, with all being medium or small screens. The four largest are still just medium-sized, but this is a small book.
Number of Seats: Somewhere in the neighborhood of 28 unreserved, mediocre chairs. Actually, they feel like school desks, so if you have bad memories...
How Many Betting Windows? Just three, but don't worry, it doesn't get too crowded. Check the line on the electronic boards.
Free Drinks? Nope.
Snack Bar? No, but there's a bar pretty close and it has frozen daquiris. Those can be a meal in themselves. Trust us, we've had many for breakfast.
Minimum Wager: $5
Other Notes: Race and sports book is a bit of a misnomer. They only make sports bets, no racing. We suspect the owner might have had a bad experience with a horse at one point in his life.