Every December, the usual high-heeled footwear that’s worn on the Las Vegas Strip gets replaced by cowboy boots, and every bar in town stocks up on whiskey. Country music streams from casino speakers and suddenly spurs are in style. The sudden appearance of cowboys isn’t a coincidence; it’s the National Finals Rodeo.
For Las Vegas, the annual National Finals Rodeo marks a chance for the land of neon and sin to return to its wild west roots. It’s an opportunity to wear cowboy boots, ride a mechanical bull and catch some of the best rodeo action in the country. It’s also an opportunity to eat steak, order a whiskey neat and generally drink and dine like a cowboy at one of these restaurants.
A whole platter of wild game meat
There are a lot of steakhouses to choose from in Las Vegas, but few offer the diverse selection of aged beef and wild game meat as Tender. Located in the Luxor, the fine dining restaurant, which is only open for dinner service, offers an award-winning wine list plus beef aged for 21 days minimum and a game tasting platter that features venison osso bucco, wild boar rack chop and a rocky mountain elk medallion. In short, it’s the perfect plate of meat to dig into after a day at the rodeo.
Tender, Luxor, 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-262-4778
Cocktails and country music
Despite the name, Losers Bar is an absolute winner for those in the mood for a post-rodeo hoedown. Located inside MGM Grand, the country bar serves up draft beer, inventive cocktails and live country music. Customers can expect an especially lively time during the National Finals Rodeo.
Losers Bar, MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-891-3003
Bull riding and barbecue
With its barbecue menu, mechanical bull, line-dancing lessons and honky-tonk saloon, Gilley’s Las Vegas feels like a wild outpost that’s been transplanted to Las Vegas. The TI hot-spot serves ribs, hot links, fried chicken and burgers along with stiff drinks and draft beer. Rodeo fans can expect live country music, servers in chaps and Wild West revelry, Vegas style, with a mechanical bull to boot.
Gilley's Las Vegas, Treasure Island, 3300 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-894-7111
Down home cooking and rodeo action
At PBR Rock Bar & Grill, PBR means Pabst Blue Ribbon and Professional Bull Riders (though amateur bull riders can take a spin on the restaurant’s mechanical bull too). The center Strip bar and grill serves deep-fried goodness in the form of bacon mac & cheese balls, fried pickles and crispy boneless wings. For a meal that’s truly fit for a cowboy, PBR Rock Bar features the so-called biggest burger in the country — that’s the Double Trouble Burger, which includes two beef patties, cheddar cheese, fried eggs, bacon and Hollandaise sauce.
PBR Rock Bar & Grill, Miracle Mile Shops, 3663 Las Vegas Blvd. S. #730; 702-750-1685