Here's How to Master the Summer BBQ on a Budget
Off the Strip
Less than four years ago, a family from Arkansas started selling food on the side of the road, with the mission of bringing true Southern BBQ to Las Vegas. They quickly made enough money to open their own dining room near the north end of the Strip and earned a reputation that’s spread nationwide. Make sure to order the smoked meatloaf, made with hamburger, smoked pulled pork, and smoked brisket. It’s served on mashed potatoes and topped with fried onion rings.
The initials in the name stand for “Contemporary American Smokehouse,” while “pot liquor” is a term used to describe the broth leftover after collard, turnip, or mustard greens are boiled with smoked meats, bones, or pork. It’s a sign that you’re sure to find traditional favorites like Carolina pulled pork and Kansas City-style burnt ends, but a few items are given a modern twist, like the pork belly with cheese grits and the bacon-wrapped meatballs, known as “Moinks” (moo plus oink), with jalapeño slaw.
This business has been serving more than a few purposes since opening in 1954. The butcher shop is where hunters tend to bring wild game like deer, elk, antelope, and bear to be chopped up into little pieces. And there’s also a BBQ kitchen that features spices made from scratch, recipes that remain unchanged since opening day, and mouthwatering St. Louis-style ribs that are marinated overnight, parboiled, and smoked for 45 minutes. While the food is technically “to go” from the counter, people tend to stick around and hang out at the picnic tables on the patio while they eat. So many of them, in fact, that a second Road Kill Grill location recently opened about six miles north, with a modified menu and hours.
Red Rock Casino Resort
Before spreading to Las Vegas, Lucille’s got its start in California. It remains the best bet for BBQ in an area dominated by an onslaught of new and intriguing restaurants at Downtown Summerlin and the Red Rock Resort. The fried okra is a nod to the business’ Carolina family roots, and there are a few family-style options, like the hickory-smoked ribs, chicken, beef, and sausage.
Green Valley and other locations
While the name sounds like it could be inspired by Saturday morning pro-wrestling from the '80s, it’s actually a reflection of the regional and national competition victories that have brought founder Mike Mills a hard-earned reputation and a spot in the official Barbecue Hall of Fame. Memphis Championship Barbecue has both ends of the Las Vegas Valley covered, with one location by Nellis Air Force Base, and another near Henderson. The meat is cooked slowly with applewood, providing a sweet-and-smoky flavor.
Off the Strip
Quietly flying under the radar as a local favorite for years, Ellis Island is known for brewing its own beer, deep discounts on food and gaming, goofy karaoke nights, and some incredible baby back ribs. The dining room is just off the casino floor and strictly for those 21 and over. So leave the kids at home and spend your slot machine money on a BBQ menu that is basic and barebones... but one of the most satisfying in Vegas.
Off the Strip
There are plenty of Asian BBQ restaurants in between the ramen, pho, and sushi spots in Chinatown. But Gangnam sets itself apart on the other side of the Strip with a unique Korean tapas menu and its quality of meat. It’s the only restaurant of its kind that serves Certified Angus Prime beef as well as natural pork and chicken. The speciality of the house is the kalbi (marinated short rib). Just try not to hum that song in your head while eating here.
Proof that good BBQ can be found at a casino on the Strip, this cowboy bar draws rowdy crowds for its mechanical bull, line dancing, and cute servers in skimpy clothing. It just happens to have some pretty good food as well. Get things started with the spicy pork green chili and move on to the bone-in BBQ short rib with a Dr Pepper glaze. Make sure the fries come with the house-made molasses ketchup.
1. Rollin Smoke BBQ3185 S Highland Dr, Las Vegas
2. Pot Liquor CAS6587 South Las Vegas Blvd,
3. John Mull’s Meats and Road Kill Grill3730 Thom Blvd, Las Vegas
4. Lucilles Smokehouse Barbque11011 W Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas
5. Memphis Championship Barbecue2250 E Warm Springs Rd, Las Vegas
6. Ellis Island Casino4178 Koval Ln, Las Vegas
7. Gangnam Asian BBQ4480 Paradise Rd, Las Vegas
8. Gilley's3300 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
Owned and operated by an Arkansas family determined to bring Southern BBQ to Las Vegas, Rollin Smoke delivers. Make sure to order the smoked meatloaf, made with hamburger, smoked pulled pork, and smoked brisket. It’s served on mashed potatoes and topped with fried onion rings.
Pot Liquor Contemporary Smokehouse reinvents Southern American-style favorites with dishes including Fried Catfish Benedict and pork rinds with chili lime salt. Think of it as a home-cooked meal, taken up a few delicious notches.
Since opening in 1954, this business has been serving more than a few purposes: The butcher shop is where local hunters bring wild game to be chopped up, and there BBQ kitchen offers spices made from scratch as well as mouthwatering St. Louis-style ribs that are marinated overnight, parboiled, and smoked for 45 minutes.
Located in the Red Rock Resort, this BBQ joint got its start in California before bringing its amazing fried okra, slow hickory-smoked ribs, chicken, beef, and sausages to the strip.
Check out this down-to-earth BBQ restaurant known for its slowly-smoked ribs and pulled pork. Try The King— a pulled pork sandwich the size of Texas served with coleslaw and tangy sauce. The honey-infused butter on cornbread muffins will take your tastebuds over the edge. You’ll be back before you know it.
This casino comes with its own excellent brewery, offering light, amber, IPA, weiss, stout, and seasonal specials. There's even house-brewed root beer, if you're one of the brave souls who avoids alcohol in a city like Vegas. Ellis Island's dinner is an equally solid bet, boasting some of the best ribs in Vegas.
GangNam stands apart from the other BBQ and Korean spots on the Strip with a unique Korean tapas menu and a super-high quality meat. It’s the only restaurant of its kind that serves Certified Angus Prime beef as well as natural pork and chicken. The contemporary setting is great for both casual and business meetings.
True to its original sign outside the Frontier Casino that reads "Cold Beer... Dirty Girls..." the Old West saloon and dance hall has been reincarnated in a whopping 14,000-square-foot space with a stage for live music, faux-tin roofing, and an outdoor patio overlooking the Strip. And because no incarnation of the West would be complete without it, Gilley's offers a full barbecue feast that's available until midnight, with rib meat that falls right off the bone, brisket and pulled pork slathered Texas-style sauce. Oh, and a mechanical bull.