RIP Casa Del Matador

I feel like complaining. Bare with me.

For a long time now it’s been my tradition to hit up a cantina with my mother each Monday. We eat fried peppers, chips and salsa, and most importantly, enjoy a few margaritas. We call this tradition, “Margarita Monday”.

For years this ritual took place at a specific location here in Vegas called El Segundo, and involved a particular cheeky bar tender by the name of Chris. We drank prickly pear drinks: a specific variety of the margarita, and would even have an occasional shot of tequila before hitting the mall to shop while fully loaded.

The weekly binge slowly escalated over the years, eventually growing too out-of-hand to be considered a healthy habit. And as if the excess of tequila wasn’t enough of a reason to shy away from the bar, our bartender quit working at the cantina sometime early last year. The ritual as it existed was over. As such, all good things end eventually.

Eager to keep our tradition alive, my mom and I started hunting around town for a new cantina the likes of El Segundo; something attached to a mall, with a gritty dia de los muertos aesthetic, and above all… a fun bartender to shoot the shit with.

The closest proxy we were able to find last year was a bar called Casa Del Matador. It had a killer bar top, a fire pit, delicious habanero salsa, street tacos, and above all… the best micheladas I had ever had in town (at some point I switched from margaritas to micheladas because I quit hard liquor).

As you can see, it was gorgeous inside:

Photography by Amelinda B Lee |

Look at this thing. LOOK AT IT. Its froth is making me froth…

and yeah, the tacos were fantastic

The intangible factor was the ambiance. “Matador” was in the title of this place, so naturally, the decor was like a gothic church to the sacred bull… and those who know me personally are also aware that I am a big fan of bulls.

For a little over a year, I made this location my new stomping ground. I ventured here with my own friends to share in the bar’s splendor, mood, drinks and yummy tacos…

Each time I would tune out the noise of daily life while staring at this backdrop as the light faded from the desert sky.

Every time I paid the Matador a visit, I would notice something new and quaint about its interior that made me like it more and more:

Photography by Amelinda B Lee |

The most recent time, I noticed that high up along each of the walls hung the skull of a bull, each beautifully adorned in a unique way with either metal, ink, flowers, beads, or carvings. There were about eight total.

As I took the time to appreciate their individuality, adoring my happy little bull shrine more and more, I had a sad thought. What would happen to all of these beautiful things if the bar were to close?

I quickly pushed the thought from my mind, telling my worried self, NO. This bar is too nice, too good to close unceremoniously like so many others do in this vastly competitive city.

…and then a week later I got the sad phone call from my mom and learned that it had.

My heart broke. So many things go out of business in this day and age. Las Vegas as a service town is transient in nature. Bars and restaurants come and go so frequently that it’s hard to notice or care about any one thing enough to miss it when it disappears.  But this hit me the same way the news of Borders Bookstore going out of business had. It upset some pillar within me; a shitty reminder that nothing stays the same, and all things in life are ephemeral.

I suppose this is somewhat of a eulogy… and maybe a reminder to appreciate the things we have in life while they’re around.

Cheers to a really nice bar. We’ll surely find a new one to make memories at in time- but none will mean quite what this one did to me.

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