May 20, 2022 - 10:19 am
Updated May 20, 2022 - 4:50 pm
For the past year and a half, local fans of Big Boy, the venerable Americana casual restaurant chain, had to drive 30 miles north of Las Vegas city limits to sink their teeth into a namesake double-decker burger. There, in the tiny desert hamlet of Indian Springs, Big Boy set up shop in Terrible’s Casino along U.S. Highway 95.
Recently, however, the trek to crispy, golden onion rings became much shorter with the opening of the family-friendly Big Boy Tavern at the burgeoning Skye Canyon Marketplace, 9800 Skye Canyon Park Drive.
“It’s American comfort food,” Amber Alloway, executive director of food and beverage at Terrible Herbst, said of the restaurant’s menu. The Terrible Herbst company reintroduced the Big Boy brand to Nevada in 2020 after it had been absent from the state for more than a decade.
Big Boy’s selections are classic diner-style offerings with some flourishes like cinnamon French toast featuring cream cheese frosting, caramel sauce and powdered sugar. There are malted waffle choices, too, including a sweet apple fritter version. Breakfast plates can be upgraded to “blockbuster” status, meaning adding eggs and either bacon or sausage on the side.
In the tavern’s burger realm, the enthusiastically named “Best Cheese Burger on the Planet” is a single beef patty topped with American cheese, shredded lettuce, mayonnaise and red relish on a toasted sesame seed bun. It comes with fries and makes a classic combination with a hand-dipped strawberry milkshake. Other hand-held choices include a patty melt with caramelized onions, a fresh turkey club and the Dolly Chicken Sandwich with hand-breaded, deep-fried breast meat, pickles and tartar sauce on a grilled brioche bun.
When it comes to “dinner” selections, chili spaghetti is a marquee option.
“It’s kind of a Coney Island chili — there’s no beans in it and it has a zesty flavor,” Alloway said. It’s distinctly not Tex-Mex chili con carne; rather, it’s similar to aromatic Cincinnati-style chili. It gets ladled over pasta strings and with a covering of shredded Cheddar cheese and diced onions before being served with garlic bread on the side for dipping. It goes well with a house green salad topped with chunky blue cheese dressing. Other dinners include fish and chips, bacon-wrapped meatloaf and sesame-ginger glazed salmon.
As befitting a tavern, appetizers include mozzarella sticks, chili-cheese fries and pretzel bites. From the bar, signature cocktails include sweet tea with Tito’s Vodka, lemonade with Jack Daniel’s and “woozey” shakes like the chocolatey “Turtle” with Frangelico, chocolate brandy and caramel. Roughly one dozen mainstream beers are available, plus there’s a compact wine list. And there are all the expected diner-style soft drinks from icy root beer to hot coffee.
While the lounge area does feature a modest number of gaming machines, the entire establishment is smoke-free, so it’s a suitable place for children, especially on the climate-controlled patio that provides a view of the Spring Mountains to the west.
The decor is a fun blend of contemporary clean geometric with retro sepia-toned photos of vintage Las Vegas, and the main dining room is airy and well-lit by natural light. The bar section is open 24/7, with the kitchen closing at 9 p.m.
On a final note: If you’re wondering if the eatery has one of the chain’s famous “Big Boy” fiberglass statues of its aptly named mascot sporting checkered overalls, round cheeks and swooshy, cowlicked hair, not yet. It’s being custom-made and will arrive in the near future.