2010. Craigslist. Ricardo Guerrero browses for used food trucks and a culinary wingman. Slidin’ Thru is born, and with it, an enduring craving in Las Vegas for good eats from a kitchen that can go anywhere.
A little more than a year later, Guerrero is celebrating the launch of a much bigger kitchen, minus the wheels but plus indoor seating for 30, a cartoon mural, custom neon, an enormous Lego head and a sound system worthy of the electronic music pulsing at just the right level in the background. It’s Slidin’ Thru’s first “official” restaurant—tantamount to brick No. 1 in what Guerrero and his crew of 60 (including original wingman Juan Herrera) and a team of investors hope will become a Great Wall of “mini burgs” across America.
“Our new partners are young and aggressive. The plan is to open 1,000 restaurants in the next 10 years,” Guerrero said, adding that the next location will open on the corner of Tropicana and Fort Apache in early 2012.
- Slidin' Thru Drive-Thru
- 6440 N. Durango Dr.
- Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-2 a.m.
But sliders have already made the rounds, from T.G.I. Friday’s to the ultra-fine eateries of Joël Robuchon (though he didn’t use that term). And as good as Guerrero’s creations are, is it reasonable to envision a nationwide franchise sensation?
“At the end of the day, it’s burgers and fries,” he said, smiling behind his giant red glasses. Gourmet twists and super-fresh ingredients set Slidin’ Thru apart from basic fast food. But Guerrero said the key to success, from the truck to the potential restaurant takeover, is creating a culture in which every customer gets a fist bump and every slab of bacon is crisp. “A little human interaction, showing that you care about the experience—it goes so far with people, leaves them thinking, ‘There’s something about that place,’” he said, holding up his hand for a high five.
Fans of the original Slidin’ Thru truck and it’s HQ (the “truck without wheels”) will be happy to see “window love” intact in the drive-thru and familiar sandwiches and sides on the menu. On a flash-charred bun brushed with balsamic reduction, the Captain’s Order stacks beef, tomato, arugula, bacon, feta and sautéed onions for highbrow flavor with lowbrow charm. Cooked for 10 hours in its own juices and a little spice, the succulent meat on the Pulled Porky is embellished only with caramelized jalapeños and Sweet Baby Ray’s, though Guerrero said part of the 10-year plan is to create and sell signature sauces. And the Yaya will leave you shamelessly licking tzatziki off your fingers and rescuing lost chunks of feta from your lap.
The Barby Fries (make that all of the selections on the Super Fry menu) are everything you love about excess—smothered in melted cheddar, smoky bacon, tangy caramelized jalapeños, crispy onion straws and BBQ sauce, with a pocket of tasty, naked fries underneath. Try them with a brand new Chicky Boom or a Buffalo Soldier, better known as the Mystery Slider (a new mystery flavor is in the works).
Even if Slidin’ Thru doesn’t become a household name, Guerrero is genuinely happy to be fighting the “evil Dr. Stalebuns” on behalf of the citizens of Las Vegas, the city where he and his business were born.
“I want to create something that Vegas is proud of,” he said. “We’re doing it for our hometown.”