You can judge barbecue however you wish, but I do it by brisket and ribs. They’re my favorite meats among the standards (which also include pulled pork, chicken and sausage), but they’re also the most challenging to perfect. Literally anyone can slow-cook a nice pork butt into fall-apart tenderness ready to be slathered with sauce. Ribs are much less forgiving, and bad-ass brisket requires scientific knowledge, a degree in smoke-ology.
And if I’m only eating brisket and ribs, I’m going to Sin City Smokers. You can get both in a combo with one side ($16) and put them to the test, but you’ll find the ribs are rich and smoky, not too soft and in no need of extra flavor by sauce, and the brisket is just fatty enough, moist and tender with a thin layer of savory bark. You can get these or other delicious meats in various forms, ranging from $7 to $16: as a sandwich or two flour tortilla tacos, on top of a salad or Bad Ass Fries, stuffed into a quesadilla, or by the pound to share or take home. I’d recommend brisket fries ($11), a mountain of shoestrings, baked beans, cheese, corn salsa, sweet barbecue sauce and sriracha ranch dressing.
Sin City Smokers, which has been racking up competition trophies for more than 10 years but just opened its first restaurant in Green Valley in January, is the creation of longtime Vegas hospitality pro Steve Overlay, formerly the pitmaster at Memphis Championship BBQ. His expertise is evident in the details, including sides ($2) that are as flavorful and interesting as the meaty mains. The five-cheese “smack-a-roni,” jalapeño-tinged potato salad and creamy coleslaw are particularly perfect accompaniments. There are signature sandwiches that jump off the menu, like the Whole Hog ($10) teaming pork, ham and bacon, and the Porkstar ($8.99), forcing that mac and smoky chopped pork into a grilled cheese. Daily specials are also tempting, like Louisiana-style red beans and rice ($8) on Monday, barbecue tamales ($7) covered in pork, cheese and Fritos on Tuesday, and Big Daddy Mac ($9) topped with fried jalapeños and burnt ends on Thursday. Let’s just go every day.
Sin City Smokers 2861 N. Green Valley Parkway, 702-823-5605. Daily, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.