[Bar Exam]

PKWY Tavern maintains an easy local vibe, just with more beer

Beer emporium: PKWY Tavern boasts more than 250 different brews.
Photo: Spencer Burton

There’s only one Roadrunner Saloon left in Las Vegas, and it’s a cowboy-themed, Denver Broncos-cheering gaming bar on Buffalo Drive just off Summerlin Parkway. It’s a really fun place, actually, but it’s the last evidence of a once-dominant local tavern chain.

PKWY Tavern's backyard: Giant Jenga, anyone?

PKWY Tavern's backyard: Giant Jenga, anyone?

There were at least two other larger, super-successful Roadrunners back in my prime Vegas bar-hopping days. The southeastern location, on Eastern Avenue near the Beltway, was the beer-and-shot-soaked heart of all suburban social activity in the early aughts—at least, that’s the way I remember it. You’d hit that ’runner for food and fuel first if you were going out for real—to a club or to the Strip—and half the time, you’d never make it out. Once your posse converged on one of those never-big-enough booths on the patio and a shared pack of cigarettes, your night needed nothing else. One of my best friends met his wife at that bar, now a PT’s Tavern, where other people are probably meeting their future mates. I was there that night. We had a lot of drinks. I ran interference with her friend. Wonder what happened to her.

The other Roadrunner was on way-west Flamingo Road, also near the Beltway, and now that bar is PKWY Tavern. There are slight echoes of the cowboy theme, like the sunset-behind-the-mountains backdrop still situated high above the main bar, but PKWY is not necessarily for cowboys. It’s for beer drinkers. There are 150 taps and 250 different brews available any given night, and you can join the PKWY TEAM (Taphouse Exclusive Active Member) loyalty program to earn rewards for every beer you drink. It’s also a bar for sports, with mini bowling lanes and pub games and the Mark L. Fine Red Room where UNLV games are always playing, named for the owner’s father, who just happens to be a pioneering developer of the Las Vegas Valley. Not every neighborhood bar has local history behind it.

PKWY Tavern took over the space formerly occupied by the Roadrunner Saloon.

PKWY Tavern took over the space formerly occupied by the Roadrunner Saloon.

It’s just after happy hour in the middle of the week, I’m drinking a Magic Hat No. 9 and snacking on fried pickles and chicken-and-waffle sliders, Blue Öyster Cult is blasting and I’m thinking this place doesn’t look like the Roadrunner but it sure has the same feeling. The big backyard (or is it the front yard?) patio space is lovely, but since it’s cold, it’s the only area without a lot of people. There’s no Rebel game tonight, but there are folks in the Red Room, hanging out under a giant Tony Sanchez face. Every little nook of the place is busy yet incredibly calm. I spot at least one longtime local casino executive drinking alone, waiting for his group to arrive, and soon, they do. There are groups everywhere ... we’re the only two-top in here. Maybe PKWY is the beer-soaked heart of activity along the western perimeter of the Valley. There’s no reason for it not to be. But there’s a lot of maple syrup on these waffle sliders.

PKWY Tavern 9820 W. Flamingo Road, 702-243-5329. 24/7.

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Brock Radke

Brock Radke has been writing about Las Vegas for almost two decades. He currently serves as editor-at-large covering entertainment and ...

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