Modern Las Vegans often dream of the city’s frontier days — that long gone era when pioneers rode horses down Fremont Street before neon replaced saloons with swinging doors. While the period of true western outposts might be over, the closest living thing still exists just 90 miles away from Las Vegas in Laughlin, Nevada.
Located on the bank of the Colorado River, Laughlin began as a motel and bar for gold and silver miners and is now a sort of quaint, small town version of Las Vegas outfitted with casinos, steamboat cruises and a diverse sampling of restaurants. In addition to its local dining, golfing and riverside strolling opportunities, a road trip to Laughlin is the perfect jumping off point for other Nevada adventures. Visitors can take day trips to the ghost town of Oatman, Arizona, where wild burros roam the dusty streets or lounge on white sand beaches at nearby Lake Mohave.
Whether it’s fueling the day’s adventures with a waterside brunch, indulging with late night comfort food or cooling off at a desert microbrewery, here are five restaurants to try in Laughlin.
A microbrewery inside a riverboat replica
In Vegas, guests can book rooms in fake versions of Paris, New York City and Venice, but in Laughlin they can spend the night in a 600-foot-long replica of a 19th century riverboat. Even visitors who don’t stay at the Colorado Belle Casino Resort should stop by to have a burger and a hand-crafted beer at Pints Brewery & Sports Bar, the only microbrewery in Laughlin. The Rehab Red amber ale is smooth and well-balanced and pairs well with the Pints’ Pizza Burger, a pepperoni and mozzarella topped wonder wrapped in pizza dough.
Pints Brewery & Sports Bar, 2100 S. Casino Drive; 702-298-4000
Champagne brunch with a view
For a Las Vegas-quality buffet at a Laughlin price, the award-winning Windows on the River Buffet is the go-to place for brunch. Located in the Aquarius Casino Resort, the buffet features a Sunday champagne brunch with classic breakfast dishes plus escargot, crab legs and champagne. Laughlin may be a laid-back town, but a meal of champagne and caviar overlooking the river is as fancy as it gets.
Windows on the River Buffet, 1900 S. Casino Drive; 702-298-5111
The best steak this side of the Colorado
After a day cruising the river, hungry diners can satisfy the craving for red meat at Saltgrass inside the Golden Nugget. This Texas-style steakhouse offers prime rib that’s slow roasted for 10 hours and served with sides such as grilled asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes. Other carnivorous favorites include smoked pork chop with bacon jam, center-cut filet with crab cake and sirloin with shrimp.
Saltgrass, 2300 S. Casino Drive; 702-298-7153
24-hour comfort food
Bumbleberry Flats is proof that there’s no wrong time of day for fried chicken and cheddar bacon waffles. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or 3 a.m., Bumbleberry Flats, located inside the Pioneer Hotel & Gambling Hall, is available. In addition to the aforementioned life-changing fried chicken and waffles, the extensive menu includes pulled pork pancakes served with whiskey maple syrup, a burger topped with mashed potatoes and cajun macaroni and cheese.
Bumbleberry Flats, 2200 S. Casino Drive; 702-298-2442
Old-fashioned fine dining
From the table-side salad preparation to the distant tinkling sounds of piano from the lounge, everything about the Gourmet Room is vintage Laughlin. Offering some of the best views of the Colorado River, the Gourmet Room inside Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort serves classic fine dining cuisine. Guests can start with oysters on the half shell and then move on to French specialties like beef Wellington with foie gras or Italian dishes like chicken Marsala.
Gourmet Room, 1650 S. Casino Drive; 702-298-2622