Updated December 12, 2023 - 6:51 am
With National Finals Rodeo returning to town, the stage is set for throngs of barbecue fans. While Las Vegas might not be Kansas City, it still offers a host of places to satisfy a craving for barbecue. In that spirit, here are nine places to do the ’cue:
■ 888 Japanese BBQ Yakiniku, the Japanese tradition of grilled meat, stars at this Chinatown restaurant. Diners cook their own meats — ribeye, filet mignon, pork belly, chicken and more — that have been marinated in Japanese flavors. The expansive menu also features salads, noodles, sashimi, nigiri, sushi rolls, and barbecue lunches and platters. 3550 S. Decatur Blvd., 888japanesebbq.net.
■ Hobak Korean BBQ Hobak is one of the most highly regarded Korean barbecue spots in Vegas. In a twist on self-cooked Korean barbecue, the staff here prepares the food for guests at their table. Among the numerous proteins are beef brisket and short ribs, pork jowl, spicy pork belly, bulgogi and a host of dry-aged meats. Hobak also serves specials like spicy beef noodles and clam bibimbap. 5808 Spring Mountain Road, hobakkoreanbbq.com.
■ Mabel’s BBQ Michael Symon, the chef, restaurateur and a host of “The Chew” on ABC, created Mabel’s. The restaurant smokes its meats (humanely raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free) daily over a mix of post oak and fruit woods. Look for standards like brisket and pork belly, plus classic barbecue sides, sandwiches, bourbon cocktails, and live music on the patio. In the Palms, 4321 W. Flamingo Road, mabelsbbqvegas.com.
■ Matiki Island BBQ Plate lunches variously supplied with teriyaki beef ribs or strips, kalbi short ribs or teriyaki chicken (plus rice and macaroni or green salad) lead off the menu. There are also vegetable, chicken and beef bowls with rice, and a Big Kahuna plate heaped with teriyaki beef, teriyaki chicken, kalbi, rice, macaroni salad and green salad. 3430 E. Tropicana Ave., matikisbbq.com.
■ Rollin Smoke Barbeque Rollin Smoke serves Southern-style hickory-smoked barbecue and a range of accouterments. The menu at the original on South Highland Drive runs to half or whole racks of beef ribs or St. Louis pork spare ribs; half or whole smoked chicken; brisket, burnt ends or pulled pork by the pound; sandwiches; and sides like sweet cornbread, barbecue beans or dirty rice. Multiple locations, rollinsmokebarbeque.com.
■ Smoke & Fire At this popular spot about 10 minutes drive from the NFR venue, half and whole racks of smoked ribs come with a choice of two sides. A Fire Deal family meal consists of a full rib rack, a pound each of pulled chicken and pulled pork, four smoked chicken quarters and five sides. Barbecued meats also star in pulled pork and chicken fries, pulled pork street tacos and smoked brisket sliders. 3315 E. Russell Road, smokeandfirelv.com.
■ SoulBelly BBQ Bruce Kalman, a James Beard Award nominee and a “Chopped” champion on Food Network, is chef-owner of SoulBelly. The restaurant celebrates American regional barbecue, with Texas brisket, pork spare ribs, turkey breast, burnt ends and other smoked meats. Combos feature a choice of meat from the pit and one side. Brisket forms the patty in a smoked burger; it’s also piled high for The Belly of Soul sandwich. 1327 S. Main St., soulbellybbq.com.
■ South Point South Point doesn’t have a dedicated barbecue spot, but barbecue dishes are served at some restaurants. Primarily Prime Rib offers barbecued prime rib topped with macaroni and cheese, then baked. At Silverado Steak House, baby back ribs are smoked over hickory, with Jack Daniel’s barbecue sauce for dipping. For lunch, prime rib brunch, prime rib night and seafood night, Garden Buffet presents a barbecue station featuring ribs from the smoker and comfort food dishes. 9777 Las Vegas Blvd. South, southpointcasino.com.
■ Virgil’s Real BBQ Virgil’s has locations in Vegas, New York City and the Bahamas. In Vegas, Virgil’s low-and-slow method uses a mix of hickory and fruit woods. Three Pitmaster Platters, a house specialty, include The Pig Out for two with Memphis pork spare ribs, Texas beef brisket, Carolina pulled pork and a barbecued half-chicken. There are also smoked meat sandwiches and sides like potato salad or collard greens. In the Linq Promenade, virgilsbbq.com. ◆