Price Per Person:
707 E. Fremont Street
Las Vegas, NV 89101
A BBQ joint with a downhome flair.
At the Downtown Container Park in Downtown Las Vegas.
BBQ, of course. Think ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and the like in a sweet sauce.
It's a very small restaurant so seating is a premium inside.
Very good - quick and easy.
Very affordable all the way across the board.
The lines can be long at peak times.
Makes a good case that BBQ doesn't have to come from The South to be good.
I freely admit that I am a BBQ snob. It takes a lot to impress me and I usually consider any BBQ produced north of the Mason Dixon line or west of Amarillo to be an insulting imitation of the cuisine. That is not to say that all BBQ produced in the American South is automatically good, but generally speaking, if you're looking for the best you're going to want to look toward the places where they say y'all to find it.
Big Ern's BBQ in Downtown Las Vegas doesn't change that assessment for me, but it definitely makes me want to consider expanding my geographical limits a bit.
The man behind the pit is Los Angeles native Big Ern Loya, a former Zappos.com employee who quit his job at the Vegas-based online retailer to pursue his passion: BBQ. He obviously studied the craft of making the stuff because this is serious 'cue. We're talking St. Louis style pork ribs, pulled pork or chicken, smoked beef brisket, hot links, and more all cooked slow over hickory and oak logs. The meat is tender and the sauce is sweet, just the way I like it (sorry, vinegar lovers, this one's for the rest of us).
We sampled the pulled pork and the brisket and while it may not have been the best BBQ I have ever eaten it is awfully darned good and certainly the best in Las Vegas by a mile. Add a tiny bit more smoke to the meat and I'd put this up against the finest the south has to offer.
You can get the meat by the pound, in sandwich form, or as a combo platter with your choice of cuts and sides like mac and cheese, pork and beans, or potato salad.
Prices are downright cheap. Sandwiches are all $7; platters top out at $15 and that's with three different meats and two sides (so pretty much a full meal for three people); a half-rack of ribs is $15 and a full rack $25; or you can get any of the other meat at $15 per pound.
The restaurant is located in the Downtown Container Park, a shopping and entertainment facility just a couple of blocks from the Fremont Street Experience and across the street from El Cortez. The place was built out of recycled shipping containers and pre-fabricated metal cubes, meaning that the restaurant itself isn't that big. There are only seats for about a dozen people inside but there are plenty of places to sit outside around the complex including tables in the shade.
The South still wins the BBQ wars but with places like Big Ern's on the case the battle just got a lot more interesting.