Desert Shores is my neighborhood, and we could use a better neighborhood bar. I was hopeful I’d find it upon my first visit to the brand new Sierra Gold at the corner of Buffalo and Smoke Ranch, and for good reason: Though it’s been closed for years, this site was the former home of Becker’s Steakhouse, for a short time an odd but comfortable neighborhood gem with an old-school Vegas feel. I was hoping the folks at Golden Gaming, architects of the PT’s Pub and Sierra Gold dynasty—this is the 40th location—would maintain the cool setting and not turn it into just another video poker bar, the last thing the neighborhood needs.
The results fall somewhere in the middle. The massive bar is still the centerpiece of the room, sheep heads and other Nevada imagery have made their way onto the walls and the former private dining room has been transformed into a swanky lounge area called the Locker Room, begging to be booked for special sports event viewing. But it’s still Sierra Gold, which means the service is friendly (especially if you’re gambling), the food is a notch above average pub grub, and the beer, wine and cocktail options are varied.
I don’t remember Sierra Gold having an interesting specialty drinks list, but there it was, tempting with a Herradura margarita or Daisy Duke (Bulleit bourbon, Grand Marnier and lemon sour). Sounding crazy but tasting great, the British Car Bomb is a creamy Newcastle draft with a shot of Three Olives root beer vodka. As I settled into a few easy Maker’s Marks, I noticed my fellow patrons were an older set, not unusual for this neighborhood but not as diverse as the usual gang at my No. 1 haunt, Steiner’s. It doesn’t matter; this is a cozy spot, and one where you can grab an order of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos-crusted onion rings if you have a few too many.