In the grand tradition of every great barbecue shack you’ve ever discovered, Jessie Rae’s is open from 10 a.m. until it runs out of meat. The reason every great barbecue shack does this is simple—it takes a long time to turn meat into memorable ’cue, so unless the crew plans on smoking around the clock, today’s batch will be all there is, and that’s the way it should be. This method also tends to create a perception of demand: Get it before it’s gone. Is Jessie Rae’s that good, that you should rush to its middle-of-industrial-Vegas-nowhere location? It’s definitely worth a try, and then you can decide if it’s your favorite.
Several new barbecue restaurants have popped up around the Valley in recent months, an encouraging development as we’re short on quality and quantity. Mike Ross is the man behind Jessie Rae’s, named for his wife, open since September and also serving it up through catering gigs and at local farmers’ markets. Instead of specializing in a specific regional style, Jessie Rae’s, which has already won prizes at several small competitions, claims to serve Las Vegas-style barbecue. Is that a thing? Probably not yet.
But if it was, and this is the place for it, Las Vegas-style barbecue is eclectic, aggressively flavored if subtly smoky, a bit on the dry side but spiked with sensational sauces. Things are done a little differently here, and that’s generally a good thing. For example, different woods are used at different times, which is unusual.
Even if you manage to make it to Jessie Rae’s before they run out of anything, the star of this meat show is the brisket, fatty, smoky beef with layers of savory richness and a fantastic charred bark around the edges. It’s best by itself with a bit of the house God Sauce, but you can get it on a sandwich ($12), as a combo plate ($11-$18) or as part of the house specialty, the Belt Buckle ($12 small, $16 large). That’d be your choice of waffle fries, mac and cheese or mashed potatoes—Ross likes the mash—topped with meat, melted cheese and various sauces and dry seasonings. It’s a messy, magnificent feast that seems to go on forever.
That God Sauce is as close to brilliance as barbecue sauce gets. More fruity than sweet, it gets deep and robust fast. Pig Sweat, a Carolina-style vinegar-based sauce, turns the solid pulled pork ($11 as a sandwich) stellar. And the Fallen Angel sauce is not to be trifled with. Made with the Carolina Reaper pepper, it starts candy-sweet but gets dangerous in a hurry. Be careful.
If you don’t have the appetite for the Belt Buckle, consider the Household of Three ($13), a sandwich with pork, brisket, sausage and slaw, and maybe a side of mac and cheese ($2).
It’s clear this little barbecue shack is intended as phase one. If things get going, Jessie Rae’s will likely find a new location soon, and maybe even expand on those sensible hours. Judging from its food so far, I’d like to see that happen.
Jessie Rae's BBQ 5611 S. Valley View Blvd., 702-541-5546. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.