Sunday, May 19, 2019 | 2 a.m.
When I first learned that Golden Entertainment, parent company of the vast PT’s Pub tavern chain, had purchased the Stratosphere, all I could think about was the food. I didn’t blink an eye when the rebranding to the Strat was announced. I was more interested in what kind of restaurants Golden would install in the north Strip casino property as it made renovations and upgrades, and most importantly, whether the company would create its own version of the ultimate sports bar, based on its years of experience perfecting the neighborhood pub.
If the new BLVD & Main Taphouse isn’t the ultimate Vegas sports bar, I don’t know one that deserves the title. It’s situated right next to the Strat’s slick new William Hill sportsbook. It has a wide-open, minimal design that feels more clean and industrial than the worn-wood look of the stereotypical sports pub. There’s a week-day “tappy hour” from 4 to 6 p.m. featuring $4 draft beers and $5 wings, pizzas and sliders. And best of all, the back room is a beer hall with a huge, customizable LED wall for catching all those Vegas Golden Knights games, a space that can also be used for private events accommodating up to 200 people. Give me a booth opposite those big screens and a cold pint and I’m good.
But what about the food? It doesn’t disappoint. The menu weaves back and forth between the bar food staples that PT’s does so well and more creative fare, but the emphasis is always on fun. Standout appetizers include nachos with black bean purée, smoked cheddar cheese and grilled steak; crispy tater tots decked out in bacon, beer cheese sauce, sour cream and chives; “Cheetorrones,” or crispy pork skins dusted in spicy cheese seasoning with cilantro-lime crema; and chile-glazed meatballs made with half ground beef, half Nueske’s bacon.
You can’t go wrong by keeping it simple with chicken wings or tenders, available in three different portions for sharing. Sliders come in standard burger, barbecue shortrib or Maine crab versions and you can build your own pizza or indulge in the Carnivore, piled high with pepperoni, ground beef, bacon, mozzarella and tomato basil sauce. There’s a “super food” salad with quinoa, farro, broccolini, pickled carrots and the protein of your choice for those in training mode, but I can’t resist the tavern classics like grilled bratwurst, beer-battered fish and chips or a crispy fried chicken sandwich stacked with bacon, lettuce, tomato and ranch dressing. If you’re feeling more refined, consider brick-pressed and beer-brined organic chicken, wood-fired salmon or a flatiron steak with chimichurri sauce and crushed potatoes.
Strip casinos have been spending a lot of time experimenting with casual dining destinations for a long time now, from gourmet burger joints to fancy gastropubs and everything in between. Leave it to the neighborhood bar experts to create that cozy experience in an amped-up — but still chilled-out — environment with just-right flavors.
BLVD & Main Taphouse at the Strat (2000 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-380-7777) is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until midnight.