Every year I make a pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament. We set up shop at the Flamingo cabanas, wager on basketball, and spend most of the day sipping frosty beverages and soaking up rays. It’s a wonderful tradition, though it doesn’t usually lead to many food reviews. That’s because Saturday night is reserved for Mesa Grill and during the day lunch is at the pool and breakfast is just a greasy, caffeine laden cure for a hangover. So Friday tends to be the night to explore and find new places to write about.
But this trip was different as I got in at a decent hour (coming form the East Coast this year) on Thursday. So, I sent my cousin a note and had him pick me up at the airport so we could grab dinner. When he asked me where I wanted to go, I told him we should go somewhere that the locals go. No reason to go on the Strip if we don’t need to, especially since it was bound to be full of drunken tourists. The result was Miller’s Ale House.
Miller’s is a sports bar located in a strip mall that is also home to a Whole Foods. Sometimes you forget Vegas is a normal city off the Strip. The layout is definitely more bar than dining table and almost all of the tables were full when we arrived. As luck would have it, the UNLV/Colorado game was on. But we managed to find an empty table and took a seat.
The restaurant was full of people watching the game, but instead of the normal Vegas crowd, these were fans. I’m sure some of them had money on the game, but it was obvious they had a genuine rooting interest for UNLV. As they were making their run to tighten the game with Colorado, we were trying to catch up and figure out what to order. When the crowd noise slowed a low grumble during a TV timeout, I quickly ordered my fish tacos and a Fat Tire (actually it was my second…that was an easy choice).
In between crowd roars and conversation, the tacos made their way to the table. Three of them in a little tray, presented nicely, looking nice and light just as I wanted. The fish was grilled with a fresh pico and a light sauce. The fish was a tad overdone which was unfortunate because it kind of overwhelmed the taco. Maybe two minutes less and it would have been perfect. But the surprise of the plate was actually the rice and beans. It’s something very simple, yet it was so good. Just light and seasoned well and not over done. I was pleasantly surprised and pleased.
At the end of the game, a UNLV loss, the crowd thinned quickly, things got quiet, and we were able to enjoy a couple more beers and a little conversation. The food was good, but not overwhelming. But it was a great place to catch up with my cousin, and show that Vegas is more than just the Strip.