Photos by Ben Brown
Virgil’s Barbecue Adds a Little Bit of Country to LINQ Promenade
A bit of Texas. A bit of Carolina. A bit of Kansas City. Virgil’s Barbecue combines them all and many more styles under one roof along the LINQ Promenade. Getting its original footing in New York, the Vegas location is the restaurant’s first expansion, and has been well-received by many a patron looking for hearty taste in this bustling thoroughfare.
Virgil’s is about the closest you can get to a Southern backyard summertime gathering on Las Vegas Blvd. Casual tables, dish rag napkins and oversized silverware, as well as an indoor performance stage and an outdoor patio make you feel right at home.
The menu focuses on pit master classics, and does them well. The dry-rubbed pork ribs, smoked for hours on end, are packed with flavor and that hearty, feel-good quality you look for in American comfort food. The beef brisket boasts many of the same qualities, as do all of the classic sides—mashed potatoes and gravy, mac and cheese, cheesy grits and so on. Also factor in the Texas barbecue nachos, where tortilla chips are simply a vehicle to house as much pulled pork and barbecue sauce as humanly possible.
A fun-filled drink list brings together country flavor and Vegas pizzazz. The bloody Mary is exceptional, with just a hint of barbecue sauce to make it something new and different, garnished with a piece of homemade secret recipe beef jerky. Just about every part of the drink program is homemade for that matter, with fresh-squeezed juices and house made mixes, making each order rise above the norm. Another star player is the electric lemonade, which packs a much stronger punch than the taste gives off.
A few more fun gimmicks add to the dining experience. For one, most orders are served in either cast iron skillets or, more likely, on metal trays. And, while it’s not often that a bathroom feature makes a restaurant story, every guy who’s used the facilities will attest that urinals made out of retrofitted kegs are simply hilarious.
3545 S Las Vegas Blvd. 702-389-7400 VirgilsBBQ.com
10a–11p Sun–Thu, 10a–midnight Fri - Sat. Average out-the-door price for split appetizer, entree, split dessert and 1-2 drinks is ~$72/person.
Slice of Vegas Does Casual Pizza and More at Mandalay Place
Slice of Vegas has called The Shoppes at Mandalay Place home for more than six years, joining the ranks of its wildly successful neighbors along the stretch of casual eateries within. Part pizza joint and part sports bar, it’s the friendly neighborhood destination you never knew existed on the Strip; a safe haven of sorts to eat pizza, drink beer and watch sports in a homey environment that doesn’t break the bank.
While finding a quality low-cost meal on Las Vegas Blvd. can be a challenge, Slice of Vegas saves the day with surprisingly affordable pizzas and other American-Italian menu options. Pizzas that feed two hover around $15-20 and include toppings spanning from your basics, like pepperoni and sausage, to the more exotic, such as three-meat meatballs and truffle oil. With both featured specialty pizzas and build-your-own options, Slice of Vegas is sure to cook up a pie for just about anyone.
Non-pizza lovers will still find themselves at home with a list of salads, pastas and other entrees to choose from. Vegans will be equally pleased, as there is an extensive plant-based menu.
And what would a Las Vegas pizza place be without an extensive drink lineup? Slice of Vegas features a rotating draft beer list, which highlights craft brews local to Las Vegas as well as favorites from across the country. The bottled selection rounds out strong coverage across lagers, pilsners, IPAs, ciders and just about everything else that pairs perfectly with whatever sports might be showing on the many TVs throughout
In the mood for something sweet? The skillet cookie and its mound of vanilla ice cream on top melds hot and cold with a chocolatey, brown butter taste that will put a smile on your face.
The Shoppes at Mandalay Place, 3930 S Las Vegas Blvd, near Ri Ra and Burger Bar. 702- 632-6470 SliceOfVegasPizza.com
11a–11p Sun–Thu, 11a–midnight Fri-Sat. Average out-the-door price for split appetizer, split pizza, and 1-2 drinks is ~$32/person.
Hussong’s Cantina Brings a Bit of Mexican History to Mandalay Place
Unbeknownst to most, Hussong’s Cantina is one of the oldest, most storied Mexican dining destinations out there. Its roots date all the way back to the late 1800s, when German emigrant Johann Hussong opened up his first eatery in Ensenada, Mexico. Hussong and his team have been credited with inventing the margarita, and while this and many Mexican favorites have been replicated across the US, Hussong’s Cantina itself has made the jump to Las Vegas.
A humble setup in the Shoppes at Mandalay Place, Hussong’s delivers the laid-back experience you’d hope to find at a beachside eatery in a quiet Mexican fishing village (yes, Ensenada was a quiet place back in the day). But don’t fool yourself: With a margarita recipe that’s more than 125 years old, Hussong’s knows how to make a mean drink and get the party going. Seriously though, they make a darn good margarita, and many variations of it. If you can’t decide on just one, they also serve them in flights of four.
Tacos are, of course, a specialty. You’ll certainly have your bases covered with your classic carne asada, which boasts a rich meatiness not found in most cuts north of the border, as well as the fish taco, beer battered with excellent texture and consistency. Hussong’s has gotten inventive over the years, with new creations such as the pork belly taco topped with cabbage and crushed chicharrones. The taco selection is mix and match, so patrons will be able to enjoy a happily satisfy their curiosity.
Enchiladas are another iconic favorite, where guests can customize the selection with their choice of filling from land or sea as well as any of three sauces—red, green, or signature cheese—or they can go with all three for a meal that resembles the Mexican flag.
Quite a bit of American influence has taken over the dessert menu, but with good intention and even better results. Fried ice cream with a Frosted Flake coating and sweet tomatillo glaze is just as decadent as it sounds, and the churros are top notch, served a la mode atop a mountain of candied walnuts.
Shoppes at Mandalay Place, 3930 S Las Vegas Blvd, 702-632-6450, HussongsLasVegas.com.
Open 11a–11p 7 days/week. Average out-the-door price for split appetizer, entree, split dessert and 1-2 drinks is ~$55/person.