The Best Grocery Store In Las Vegas Doesn't Sell Any Groceries

Meow Wolf's Omega Mart offers a hidden speakeasy with a side of surrealism.

From a distance, Omega Mart looks like any other grocery store: bright lights, piles of produce, row after row of canned goods, people milling in the aisles. But when you get closer, you'll quickly realize something isn't quite right. Everything looks almost normal, but just slightly off. It turns out those aren't cans of Campbell's Soup in front of you, they're Camel's Meal Substitute, in flavors like Homestyle Pigeon, Dream of Mushroom, Fashioned Beef, and Implied Chicken.

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What does it all mean? Honestly, I spent three hours at Omega Mart and I still can't really tell you. What I can tell you is that it was the most mind-bending, expectation-challenging, absolutely fascinating afternoon I have enjoyed in a long time.

Omega Mart and Meow Wolf, explained

Omega Mart is the Las Vegas outpost of Meow Wolf, the interactive art production company that started in Santa Fe and has since expanded to Denver, Dallas–Fort Worth, and Las Vegas. Each location is site-specific, with a whole new concept that isn't duplicated anywhere else.

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The sites are created by hundreds of local independent artists working collaboratively, and each production results in the kind of experience that's hard to describe unless you see it for yourself—even then, it's a challenge. In Santa Fe, Meow Wolf is "The House of Eternal Return," a Victorian manor inside a giant warehouse where it's your job to find out what happened to the family that disappeared (and eventually make your way through secret slides hidden in washing machines and secret tunnels hidden in refrigerators to get to the concert venue concealed in the back). The Dallas—Fort Worth location in Grapevine, Texas is called "The Real Unreal," and the Denver installation is "Convergence Station." A Houston location is opening in 2024.

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In the Las Vegas Omega Mart, the front half is a massive grocery store featuring hundreds of products you can't imagine you'd ever need, like cans of Dehydrated Water and protein-rich Mammoth Chunks. It offers things that seem impossible and impossibly tempting, like cans of 100% Pure Omnipotence, a product of the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company. "If you don't know," the can's label reads, "you will." Next to it, a can of Cold-Pressed Inspiration notes that it "may also contain perspiration."

The endless "grocery" offerings pose endless philosophical questions, like why anyone would want such products and what you would give to have the ones that appeal to you. This is all a first course, of sorts—the perfect setup for what's next in the experience. The shopping portion is only the first mind-bender.

Walk behind the meat counter with its ground beef sculptures and tattooed turkeys, or open the door to the freezer section to walk through a twisting corridor of bottle after bottle of Omega Cola, and you'll find yourself in the second half of Omega Mart, the half that explains how the grocery store came to be, and what the owner is trying to accomplish by luring guests in and hooking them on his wares.

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In one area, you'll sit on a "rock" at the bottom of a canyon, and watch the most beautiful light show all around you. In another, a garden with 15-foot-tall neon flowers arches overhead, like you're Alice in your own personal Wonderland. Each area is a separate art installation with a totally unique aesthetic, but each plays a part in telling the story.

You can take it as an interactive museum and not worry too much about the storyline, or you can dig deep into the connections between rooms and try to uncover the clues about what's really going on. Once you find the offices of Dramcorp, the corporation behind Omega Mart, you can open file cabinets (some drawers have files and some are portals to other dimensions), rifle through papers for clues, or pick up the phone and dial a number, deciphering what you hear for another piece of the puzzle.

You can watch plenty of walkthroughs on YouTube that explain the full story in detail, but, fair warning, it's complicated. That's a good thing, for a few reasons: not only will it challenge your idea of what art and immersive entertainment can be, but it allows so much room for interpretation that you can find your own meaning in the strange beauty all around you. To me, what the narrative essentially boils down to is a metaphor for all-encompassing consumerism and the danger of focusing on material goods. It's a perfect message in Las Vegas, one that's aptly delivered via the context of a grocery store: If we're not careful, the things we consume—whether we eat or own them—will eventually consume us.

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For you, the message could be something completely different. But you'll definitely leave with your gears turning.

When your brain is good and fully scrambled, when you've taken in as much visually stunning art and high-concept storytelling as your mind can hold at one time, it's time for a drink. But Omega Mart then presents you with one more task: Find the speakeasy hidden inside.

The cocktail I ordered was called The Source, made with mezcal, Lillet Blanc, shiso, tarragon, and lime, topped with a bubble filled with rosemary smoke. What did it mean? I have no idea. How did it taste? Like art in a glass.

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