Michael James puts some meat on his bones at Rollin’ Smoke BBQ
All this talk of Resort Fees, parking fees, 6:5 blackjack, gallbladder surgeries, timeshare hawkers and bottle service has me a little depressed. You know what will un-depress me? A big ol’ plate of meat. And if you’re in Vegas, I know just the place… Rollin’ Smoke BBQ.
Located just west of the Strip near the Trump Tower, Rollin’ Smoke opened in 2012 in an unassuming strip mall just north of where Desert Inn Rd passes over. A little difficult to find unless you’re using your phone’s map app, the building sure doesn’t look like a restaurant, much less one that smokes a lot of beef and pork.
My first visit was in April 2016 with my beautiful bride. We had just attended a TV taping of Penn and Teller: Fool Us, and wanted to cure the disappointment of a lackluster show. Let’s say that Rollin’ Smoke did not disappoint. Armed with a 10% discount coupon from their website, I looked at the menu and strongly considered the All You Can Eat option (currently $35). Keeping in mind that this was pre-diet, I had designs of putting away a full rack of ribs, a beef rib or two, some mac and cheese, collard greens and maybe the banana pudding.
Then I remembered that we had been off the plane for only six hours and was down a few hundred already, so I tightened my belt and went with the Trio platter.
The hot sausage was a little disappointing, as it was neither spicy hot or particularly heat hot. The ribs were very good, as they had a little give to them when chewing off of the bone, and the rub that was used didn’t require the addition of sauce. But that brisket!
I used to fear restaurant beef brisket, as it is the easiest of the barbecued meat to dry out. To combat that, Rollin’ Smoke takes the cleaver to the brisket and gets it blending with the fat to create this moist, flavorful mouthful. If I had ordered just a five-pound slab of brisket, I’d have been very content.
My wife had the pulled pork. It never occurred to me to photograph her meal, but she non-verbally reported delight by rolling her eyes into the back of her head upon the first few bites. I think that meant that she liked it.
Rollin’ Smoke has six flavors of barbecue sauces available, ranging from good, sweet, spicy, some of each, whatever… point is, the meat is so good as is that it doesn’t need any additional sauce.
Fast forward six months, I came back to Las Vegas in November with my poker buddies, and as the tour director, I had to find a place for the group of seven of us to eat as soon as we got off the plane that would be affordable and quick. It took me all of about 10 seconds to head the minivan to Rollin’ Smoke again.
This time I had the Duo platter (diet, you know).
I had considered the five pounds of brisket, but then we’d be stuck in the parking lot as (apparently) nobody in my poker group knows how to drive while out of town. The others in our group got random goodness and raved. But one the buddies had something that caught my eye.
That photo doesn’t even do justice to the size of the ribs. The other six of us had been done eating for awhile while Romeo was still chewing on his bones.
So if you are ever in a position to be looking for a good, quick meal and you don’t feel like navigating a big resort or worrying about paid parking, Rollin Smoke BBQ is a great option. Even if you don’t have a car, Uber and Lyft drivers know where Rollin Smoke is, and the fares are pretty reasonable from the Strip.
[Photos: Michael James]