Poker bars have been, well, raising the bar as far as food during the past few years. No longer is it enough to serve the world’s best wings or nachos; if you want to draw ’em in for your food as well as for the shots, cold beer and poker machines, you need to get creative.
And Born and Raised — which is, of course, the acronym BAR, but also represents management’s proud status as Las Vegas natives — does that, in part, by featuring a whole bunch of sliders.
Sliders had become really popular a few years ago and still are in some circles (and most notably, on some food trucks) but they’ve disappeared from a lot of menus, which is sort of a shame. Instead of taking the form of one big burger or sandwich, sliders are a set of three diminutive versions, which are easier to eat and easier to share.
At Born and Raised, the slider menu lists a lucky 13 styles, which is a clear indicator of dedication to the genre. But still, I didn’t have much faith in the Cubano ($12), because the fine tradition that is the Cuban sandwich has been so widely bastardized that I figured this would be just one more example.
Au contraire. These were indeed Cuban sandwiches, pillowy little rolls sandwiched with roast pork and ham and Swiss cheese and pickles and mustard. The only thing missing was that they hadn’t been squashed in a panini press, but to squash these little guys would have been to do them a disservice, so we’ll forgive that bit of inauthenticity. They were slightly soft and very good, with the complementary and contrasting flavors that made this sandwich a classic. Offered coleslaw or fries on the side we chose the slaw, which turned out to be a coarsely shredded melange of cabbage, carrots, etc., in a creamy dressing.
So far, so good, but things went downhill a bit with Bucky B’s Jack Daniel’s Ribs ($14 for a half-rack, which we had, or $20 for a full). These were kind of big for the baby backs that the menu promised, but then again baby backs have gotten bigger over the years. They didn’t taste as though they’d seen the inside of a smoker (and, to their credit, the restaurant calls them “slow-cooked”), but the biggest flaw was that the sauce was overly sweet. The menu says, “We miss you, Bucky,” and I might miss him, too, if I knew him, but I wouldn’t miss his ribs. On the side, the same laudable coleslaw, and nicely crisp fries.
Our starters were a bit of a mixed bag, too. The grilled artichoke ($10) was nicely charred and overall quite good, especially with the cup of a very mild chipotle aioli that accompanied it. But warm soft pretzel nuggets ($6), while very appealing, were oily on the outside — more garlic knot than pretzel — which was not only odd but also meant the sauces slid off.
Service throughout was good. This is, after all, a sports/poker bar; it was pretty noisy with all of those sports games on the various and sundry flatscreens, so keep that in mind.
We’ll keep Born and Raised in mind as a good casual recommendation in the southwest part of the valley. It wasn’t perfect, but with triumphs like those sliders, the kitchen is helping to further the trend of improved poker-bar food.
Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0474.