Sam’s Town surprises with Big Mess Bar-BQ

Brisket fries at Big Mess Bar-BQ.
Photo: Mikayla Whitmore

Boyd Gaming has rebranded and upgraded virtually all the steakhouses at its Las Vegas properties—Alder & Birch at the Orleans, Cornerstone at Gold Coast, Redwood at the California and more. Sam’s Town doubled down on its meaty renovations, converting Willy & Jose’s Cantina into the Angry Butcher and Billy Bob’s Steakhouse giving way to Big Mess Bar-BQ. A solid steakhouse is a requirement at neighborhood casinos, but the latter is a bit of a bold move. Barbecue is tough to execute, and most locals seem fine sticking to franchise dining when it comes to this cuisine.

Guess what? Big Mess is high quality. It’s a slightly nicer version of a country roadhouse restaurant, with a soundtrack and menu to match. Deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes and hot wings lead it off, but there’s at least one enterprising appetizer in the form of brisket fries ($7.99), with shredded beef and horseradish sour cream.

After that, the focus is on smoky meats, and they’re all better than your average chain ’cue spot. Pork spareribs are meaty and moist and hit the precise point of being tender yet not mushy. (Big Mess does beef ribs, too, on a plate with beans and slaw for $21.49.) The brisket is delicious and tender, and if it’s a bit dry, a squirt of the house or spicy barbecue sauces on the table makes it magical. Smoky, spicy sausage is a big winner, and unlike so many local barbecue eateries, the side dishes shine, particularly the baked beans, home-style potato salad and cornbread served with honey and butter. I recommend a three-meat platter ($18.99) so you can see just how big a mess you can get into.

Big Mess Sam’s Town, 702-456-7777. Wednesday & Thursday, 4-9 p.m.; Friday, 4-10 p.m., Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

Photo of Brock Radke

Brock is an award-winning writer and reporter who has been documenting life in Las Vegas for 20 years. He currently ...

Get more Brock Radke
  • Tuna Pizza might not sound amazing, but these thin slices of sashimi-grade tuna, black garlic soy aioli, micro shiso and white truffle oil on top ...

  • Think Boston cream, German chocolate, lemon and carrot for starters—modern dessert masterpieces created by executive pastry chef Douglas Taylor, who runs the property’s baked goods ...

  • VegeNation chef Donald Lemperle will go head to head with Fiesta Henderson executive chef Chris Clark.

  • Get More Dining Stories
Top of Story