My big Vegas family thinks me a food snob, it seems, because when they turn the tables and give me a recommendation, it’s something inexpensive, simple and unadventurous. My sister, who resides in the sprawling northwest Valley, says the ancient Bob Taylor’s Ranch House is a great place for lunch, serving an array of cheap and tasty burgers and sandwiches. I didn’t doubt her, but I do wonder: Who goes to lunch way out here?
This vintage spot was once in the middle of nowhere, and now the Beltway glides behind it. It’s been open since 1955 and claims to be the oldest restaurant in the city, and it doesn’t take long to notice that while Vegas has grown up around it, not a lot has changed at the Ranch House.
Its specialty remains mesquite-smoked prime rib, so I chomped the lunchtime version: a French dip sandwich with this beautiful beef sliced thin and arranged on a toasted roll beneath melted jack cheese, with warm au jus on the side. It was a satisfying meal if a bit pedestrian, lacking in that enticing smokiness you can smell the minute you step on the property. It was a much better choice than the sad New York steak salad: a pile of romaine with gristle-laden slices of beef, a handful of tortilla chips and a bland tomato vinaigrette. The soup of the day, unfortunately clam chowder on my visit, also is in need of an upgrade. The throwback cowboy vibe is fine, but somebody needs to tell the kitchen that change is good. Sorry, sis.