You just never know when those public-relations efforts are going to pay off.
Tips on restaurants to review come to me in a whole bunch of different ways, as I’ve noted before, including from co-workers as well as readers. I was recently musing to a co-worker who lives in Boulder City that I hadn’t reviewed anything there for a while and asked if he had any suggestions.
He did, as it turned out. At a festival or cook-off or something he’d gotten a free sample from a Boulder City barbecue restaurant, was quite impressed and thought it might be worth checking out.
So I did, and so was I, and I’m spreading the news further. If you’re a barbecue fan, Fox Smokehouse BBQ is definitely worth a stop, even if you don’t live in Boulder City.
It’s no wonder Fox’s has pretty much flown under the radar. Not only is it tucked away in one of the quietest areas of Clark County, it’s off the beaten path even for Boulder City. From points north you turn off Nevada Highway, the main route into town, onto Buchanan Boulevard, then hang another right onto Elm Street. And there, in a sort of industrial neighborhood, you’ll find the double storefront that houses Fox’s.
Indications were clear that the place stemmed more from a passion than a business plan, as barbecue joints tend to do. According to the restaurant’s website, the owner competes on the circuit (as “BBQ Junkie”) and is a member of the Kansas City Barbecue Society. A sign at the restaurant proclaims that barbecue is available after about 11 a.m., or when it’s ready, until about 7 p.m. (6 p.m. on Sundays, and not at all on Mondays), or until it runs out. All of that portended positively, the competitive aspects showing that these people are serious about their barbecue, the loosey-goosey hours a sign that we weren’t likely to get yesterday’s barbecue today.
Except, that is, for the Cowboy Beans, and in that case, it’s a good thing. Cowboy Beans are one of the sides offered with combo plates or a la carte ($2.50 for small, $4.50 for large), and the woman behind the counter said the beans are the destination of any leftover meats. It works marvelously; the smoky, meaty qualities infused the beans and produced a deeply flavored and hearty dish, and a truly good choice.
Then again, so was the coleslaw ($2.50/$4.50). It was a cold, crisp mix of red and green cabbage and shredded carrot with a brightness that nicely balanced the earthy flavors of the barbecued meats, but the best part was that the dressing was creamy but still carried a strong vinegar tang, giving it a nice kick.
Also creamy but without the vinegar tang was the potato salad ($2.50/4.50), but that was fine because it got plenty of flavor from a liberal amount of black olives and a lacing of celery seed.
We also tried the macaroni and cheese ($2.50/4.50), creamy and nicely balanced, with a cheesy crust from the pan.
Cowboy Cheese Fries ($4 or $8) were phenomenal, the potatoes crisp below a blanket of the meaty Cowboy Beans and a whole bunch of cheese. And our small portion was, we thought, quite large.
But oh, you probably want to know about the barbecue, right? If you’ve ever tried to smoke a brisket you know it can be a bit of a challenge, but it’s a challenge Fox’s has met, the meat wonderfully tender and full of good, beefy flavor. Pulled pork was suitably tender and flavorful. Sauces were good, with a prodigious kick even in the milder version. Combo meals are $10 with one meat and one side and a roll, $12 with one meat and two sides, $15 with two meats and one side and $18 with two meats and two sides. Meat also is sold by the half-pound or pound, ribs by the half ($13) or full ($24) rack. And there are family meals and sandwiches and on and on.
And a few surprises here and there. The restaurant clearly was introducing the cornbread; the woman behind the counter offered samples to some regulars, and when we didn’t get the piece we’d ordered, she gave us two. And not only was the cornbread well prepared, light and reasonably moist, but such actions are signs of great customer service, as was the generally pleasant attitude on the part of everyone we encountered and the fact that they were perfectly willing to let us time things as we wished.
The component of Las Vegas-area barbecue places tends to wax and wane, and lately it’s been waning a little. Fox Smokehouse BBQ is a worthy addition.
Send information to Heidi Knapp Rinella, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125. You also can send faxes to 702-383-4676 or email her at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.