Sin City is home to a lot of restaurants and bars, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Las Vegans aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's food players to share their recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Scott Pajak has spent a lot of time with Emeril Lagasse. His first gig after graduating from the UNLV Culinary Arts program was in the kitchen at Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House at the MGM Grand, where he worked every job in the kitchen over nine years. Then last year in May, he landed the big gig, chef de cuisine of Lagasse’s Stadium at the Palazzo. When he’s not working to feed hungry fans there, Pajak enjoys watching the game and cooking some of his favorite tailgating food for his friends and family. For the Buffalo, N.Y., native, that usually means Buffalo wings, beef on weck or his kicked up chili with black beans and ham hock. Here he shares some of his favorite places to dine when he’s not giving food a BAM! at Lagasse’s Stadium.
Is there a particular barbecue style you prefer?
As far as a style, it depends on my mood that day. I can go Carolina style with the tang of that vinegar base, KC style with a thicker and sweet flavor or Southern style and kick it up with a little heat.
Is there something in your background that makes you prefer barbecue?
There is nothing in particular, but I have always loved cooking on the grill and trying different sauces to create different flavor profiles.
Which barbecue restaurants do you turn to when you’re not working?
Rollin Smoke BBQ on Highland, Tucky’s Smokin’ BBQ on Boulder Highway in Henderson and Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que in Green Valley Ranch.
Is there a particular barbecue style served by these restaurants? What are they?
Rollin Smoke BBQ uses a hickory-smoked barbecue Southern style, Tucky’s Smokin’ BBQ uses barbecue styles from North Carolina, Memphis, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que uses a Southern influence, but also a little bit from other barbecue regions, as well by serving a few different sauces.
What dishes are most memorable?
Rollin Smoke BBQ serves this brisket dog. Man, it’s so good. It’s a beef hot dog, topped with brisket smothered in cheese sauce topped with onion strings.
Tucky’s Smokin’ BBQ features a brisket sandwich with coleslaw and pickles and is always a homerun. You can get the brisket chopped or sliced, I like getting it chopped.
At Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que, I will usually try on of their combo platters, so you can try their baby back ribs, pulled pork, burnt ends, chicken or sausage. They have a really good variety, which I like. It’s always good to have different options.
Why do you enjoy going there?
Rollin Smoke BBQ has some different offerings from your traditional barbecue restaurant. They put a good twist on it, plus using that hickory smoke, you cannot beat it.
Tucky’s Smokin’ BBQ is a good down home barbecue restaurant with great food, prepared really well.
Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que has a good offering on the food and drink menu which is good if you want to switch it up. The décor of the restaurant takes you down South and gives you that home feeling.
What side dishes do those restaurants serve that are memorable?
Rollin Smoke BBQ is there bacon potato salad. Who doesn’t love bacon!
Tucky’s Smokin’ BBQ mac ‘n’ cheese is a must.
At Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que I will usually get their Southern braised greens or creamy grits.