Every December, the usual high-heeled shoes worn on the Las Vegas Strip are replaced with cowboy boots, and every bar in town stocked up on whiskey. Country music streams from casino speakers and suddenly spurs are all the rage. The sudden appearance of the cowboys is no coincidence; it’s the national rodeo final.
For Las Vegas, the annual National Finals rodeo is a chance for the land of neon and sin to return to its Old West roots. This is your chance to wear cowboy boots, ride a mechanical bull and attend one of the best rodeos in the country. This is also the occasion to eat a steak, order a pure whiskey and generally drink and dine like a cowboy in one of these restaurants.
A whole plate of wild game meat
There are plenty of steakhouses to choose from in Las Vegas, but few offer a diverse selection of aged beef and wild game like Tender. Located in Luxor, the gourmet restaurant, open only for dinner, offers an award-winning wine list as well as beef aged for a minimum of 21 days and a game tasting platter consisting of venison osso bucco, wild boar chops and of a rock medallion of mountain elk. In short, it’s the perfect plate of meat to enjoy after a day of rodeo.
Tender, Luxor, 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-262-4778
Cocktails and country music
Despite the name, Losers bar is an absolute winner for those in the mood for a post-rodeo hoedown. Located inside the MGM Grand, the country bar serves draft beer, inventive cocktails and live country music. Patrons can look forward to a particularly lively time at the National Rodeo Finals.
Losers bar, MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-891-3003
Bull ride and barbecue
With its barbecue menu, mechanical bull, line dance lessons and honky-tonk saloon, Gilley’s Las Vegas looks like a wild outpost that has been transplanted to Las Vegas. The TI Hot Spot serves baby back ribs, hot ties, fried chicken and burgers as well as strong drinks and draft beer. Rodeo fans can look forward to live country music, guy waiters, and Old West, Vegas-style festivities with a Mechanical Bull to boot.
Gilley’s Las Vegas, Treasure Island, 3300 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-894-7111
Family cooking and rodeo
TO PBR Rock Bar & Grill, PBR stands for Pabst Blue Ribbon and Professional Bull Riders (although amateur riders can also take a ride on the restaurant’s mechanical bull). The center Strip Bar & Grill serves up fried delicacies in the form of bacon and macaroni and cheese balls, fried pickles and crispy boneless wings. For a meal worthy of a cowboy, the PBR Rock Bar offers the country’s supposedly largest burger, the Double Trouble Burger, which features two beef patties, cheddar cheese, fried eggs, bacon and Hollandaise sauce.
PBR Rock Bar & Grillme, Miracle Mile Stores, 3663 Las Vegas Blvd. P. 730; 702-750-1685
• A guide to cowboy-approved food and drink specialties during the National Finals rodeo [ELV]