What Are The Best Las Vegas BBQ Barbeque Restaurants Near The Strip, Fremont Downtown?

We are currently in Las Vegas, the most beautiful city, for our first time and absolutely loving it! We are wanting to go out for proper BBQ food, and looking for recommendations as trying to search the internet for recommendations is overwhelming.

Rebecca H.


I understand the frustration of trying to find a good BBQ restaurant in Las Vegas, and one that is close to where visitors are.

Here are my top picks that are either walking distance from tourism visitor areas, or a very short/cheap Uber ride. If you are new to Uber, we’ll post our code for your first ride (up to $20) for free the first time you download and use their app (which is a super easy and fun way to get anywhere in Las Vegas):

Big Earn’s BBQ (Fremont East in Container Park) – Ribs, great brisket and pulled pork, and a nice variety of side dishes (plus cold beer). From the Fremont Street Experience (where most of the downtown hotels are), walk east until you see the big launch “slot machine” for Slotzilla. Walk two more blocks, and you can’t miss Container Park — a fun locals hangout with restaurants, bars, and fun stores — on your right. 707 E. Fremont Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101

Benny’s Smokin’ BBQ & Brews – Located inside Binion’s Hotel Casino downtown, the prices are right but the selections are limited. Chicken or ribs (or both). You can sit at a table, or at the full bar (with video poker). 128 Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101

Rick’s Rollin Smoke BBQ & Tavern – If you are a Pawn Stars fan, this is your spot. Prices aren’t the cheapest, but portion sizes are nice and the menu has some serious variety. Just a really cool atmosphere all around, and having a full bar doesn’t hurt!

From where Fremont Street crosses The Strip, you’ll be hiking a little more than 1/2 a mile south on Las Vegas Blvd. It isn’t the most exciting walk in the world. You may want to just hop an Uber. 725 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89101

pawn stars rick harrison rollin smoke bbqPhoto courtesy of Rick’s Rollin’ Smoke BBQ and Tavern

Rollin’ Smoke Barbeque – These are the people who run Rick’s Rollin Smoke. Their no-frills (and no booze) location just behind the Fashion Show Mall is a mile from The Strip and should only be visited if you want to do take-out (for back to your room) and you are farther north on The Strip, to where the other options are farther away than you wish to travel. 3185 Highland Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89109

Ellis Island Hotel Casino (Near Las Vegas Strip) – Ellis Island BBQ is a favorite of both locals and visitors. Prices are super-reasonable, and each entree is service with their own home-brewed root beer, corn on the cob, garlic bread, and coleslaw. Or you can order one of the many beers brewed on the Ellis Island property. Like Binion’s, this is a chicken or ribs (or both) barbeque place. That’s it.

This hidden gem pretty much sits right behind Bally’s Hotel Casino. Walk east on Flamingo. Past the end of Bally’s, you’ll be approaching Koval Lane. Turn right (south) on Koval and you can’t miss it! 4178 Koval Ln, Las Vegas, NV 89109

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Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

Should I Visit Las Vegas In December Before Christmas?

Hi Ted,

Long time fan and reader of your newsletter. Love it! I’m thinking of coming to Las Vegas in December the week before Christmas but I’m flexible. When would you suggest? I always stay at Palazzo. Look forward to hearing from you.

Gary Pisani

Note: Gary is a long time member/subscriber to our Access Vegas Premium Insider Advantage. For about the price of a cup of coffee each month, Gary gets our Super Secret Deals list (hundreds of unpublished Las Vegas food and drink specials), our regular newsletter full of Las Vegas savings tips and tricks, plus our guarantee do do our very best to answer his Las Vegas questions. Be a smarter Las Vegas visitor next time. Join Today: Access Vegas Premium Insider Advantage

bellagio las vegas conservatory christmas
Bellagio Las Vegas Christmas Gardens Display.

Hi Gary,

Thanks for your longtime support! Great question. If you are flexible, the week before Christmas in Las Vegas can be one of the best times of the year to visit. Once the National Finals Rodeo leaves town (Dec. 7-16, 2017) and Christmas Eve, Las Vegas is the slowest you’ll see it all year. Here are the rest of the pros and cons:


– You’ll find some of the lowest room rates for Las Vegas hotels of the year. You can stay at the place you usually enjoy generally at a bit of a discount. Of this is a good time to shop around and maybe up your level of accommodations simply because the price will often be right.

– Elbow room. Everything (except the Las Vegas shows, which will be in the cons section) is still open. Just without such long lines or long waits. I’m not suggesting you’ll have Las Vegas completely to yourself. However, if you are used to being here during peak times, you’ll notice the difference.

– No scorching heat. This is a great time of year to finally take that Hoover Dam Las Vegas tour, drive the Lake Mead loop (Lakeshore Road), get out to Red Rock Canyon, or even up to the Valley Of Fire. Plus, car rentals should be cheaper to reflect the lack of demand.


– Much of the Las Vegas entertainment will be on Christmas vacation. Very few (if any) big concerts or headliners. Many of the shows will be closed. If major maintenance needs to be done to things like the Bellagio Fountains, this is when they will do it.

– It gets cold and dark EARLY. The sun is gone by 4:30 PM and while the average high is in the 50’s, temps plummet once it gets dark. Overnight lows around (or even below) freezing aren’t uncommon. Even if you stay at one of the few hotels which keep one of their pools heated all year, you probably won’t want to be using it.

Hope this helps!

Ted Newkirk
Founder/Managing Editor
Access Vegas

What Cheap Casinos Are A Short Walk Or Uber From The Las Vegas Strip?

Where are the cheap places to eat and gamble which are within walking distance of the Las Vegas Strip (or a very short/cheap Uber ride)?

Michael C.

Getting just off The Strip will save you a fortune (compared to Las Vegas Strip pricing). You’ll save far more than the few dollars an Uber will cost you. (Not yet an Uber user? Your first ride is on us, up to $20. See the end of the post).

Gold Coast: This spacious, no-frills property is part of the Boyd Gaming company, which means they share a players card with Main Street Station, The Fremont, and California casinos downtown Las Vegas. Of note is their multiple award-winning Ping Pang Pong Chinese kitchen. 1.1 miles west of The Strip on Flamingo.

Stage Door Casino: This popular “dive bar” is located just beyond The Cromwell on Flamingo. This combination bar and liquor store serves super cheap drinks (especially considering how close they are to The Strip) and currently runs a $3 beer and hot dog special. Gambling is limited to bar top machines.

Ellis Island Casino: They have their own (really cheap and good) beer, brewed on site. Plus, a great locals pizza place called Metro Pizza and a great BBQ place. Oh, and ask about the off-menu steak special in their diner. Visitors make the trip just for that steak special.

bbq serving platter ellis island las vegas nevada
BBQ platter at Ellis Island Casino in Las Vegas.

Plus, the full-service casino has really low limits and the bar pours some stiff but inexpensive drinks. Did we mention nightly karaoke? A favorite of casino workers when they get off work. 0.6 miles east of The Las Vegas Strip on Koval, kitty-corner from The Westin Las Vegas.

Tuscany Suites and Casino: Noted for their free lounge entertainment many nights and their Pub 365 with 365 beers available and a great bar menu of burgers, tacos, and small bites, this full-sized casino and locals hang-out is .7 miles east of The Strip on Flamingo.

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Should I Stay At The El Cortez Hotel Casino In Downtown Las Vegas?

I’m thinking of staying at the El Cortez? I like the nostalgic thought of “old Vegas” but I want somewhere clean and nice. Also, is that part of downtown Las Vegas safe?

Lynn D.

el cortez las vegas lobby interior
The Lobby Stairs of the El Cortez Hotel Casino Las Vegas

The El Cortez is an often overlooked gem. If you want traditional, stay in their normal rooms (not the newer, hipper, more expensive Cabana suites across the street). The traditional rooms are clean and well-kept.

Located on East Fremont Street, it is a quick 2 block walk from the Fremont Street Experience. It is generally very safe, and surrounded by a number of great bars and restaurants.

The El Cortez has a full gambling casino with slots, table games, a sports book, and even keno! The slots are loose, and the table games have low limits with good rules.

Locals love their Parlour Bar happy hour with $5 appetizers, 1/2 priced draft beer, and 2-1 cocktails. Their other bar Ikes has similar (minus the appetizers) from 11PM – 1 AM.

Click for more info: El Cortez Hotel Casino Las Vegas

Did All Of The Winter Rain Help Out With Lake Mead’s Water Levels?

Reading and seeing all the news about your heavy rains over the winter, I am interested in the water levels for Lake Mead.

Has the rains increased the water levels any?


Astor Kinney

Ted Responds:

Heavy, sustained rains like we had will generally bring it up a few inches (and did this time). Unfortunately a drop in the bucket for what it needs, but we’ll take all the help we can get. The rise isn’t so much from the rain we got here in the Las Vegas area as it was the runoff from the Virgin River. Those were the rains and floods that made national news, washing away homes in Littlefield, Arizona about 100 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

Contrary to popular opinion, the lake level isn’t low because of Las Vegas’ water use. Southern California uses over 14 times the amount of Colorado River (Lake Mead) as Nevada does. Arizona uses almost 10 times as much as Nevada does.

When they drew up the agreement to split the water, very few people were living in Nevada and the Las Vegas area had more than enough ground water. Hence, they thought that Nevada would never need to even tap their share of the Colorado River. Other states were allowed to use the excess which went unused by states with the rights to it (My understanding is that although Colorado has rights to half the river’s water, they don’t need it and thus don’t use it).

Then… Nevada started using ours. California was already over-drawn (taking more than their allotment, what other states didn’t use). Then the drought hit for the past decade. And Lake Mead’s water level is the lowest it has ever been since they started filling it.

Nevada continues to stay within our allotment. We continue to convert grass to desert landscaping and take other water conservation measures (and they are working). The Southern Nevada Water Authority has aquired significant water rights in Northern Nevada and we are prepared to spend $3 Billion on a pipeline to pipe that water down to Las Vegas.

Side Note: Resorts are actually an efficient use of water. Landscaping, pools, and water features are enjoyed by many tens of thousands guests and visitors each day. For example, the amount of water to fill the Bellagio lake is the equivalent of what just a few households would use in an entire year. Next-to-nothing in the big picture. But it is enjoyed by tens of millions yearly.

Of interesting note: A water expert I talked with earlier this year told me that it takes more power to pump Colorado River over to Southern California than it would to desalinate Pacific Ocean water. (25% of the power from Hoover Dam goes specifically to pump water hundreds of miles across the desert to areas of California). So why not start using desalination and let Lake Mead fill up again? California fears that once it stops taking some of the water it is entitled to, it could end up relinquishing the rights to it (use it or lose it).

Per filling Lake Mead back up, what we need is year after year of above-average snow in Western Colorado where snow from the mountains feeds the genesis of the river. That or having everyone in Southern California turn off their taps (obviously out of the question)!

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor

Comments on this topic? We want your opinion! Leave it below. Comments, questions or Vegas suggestions on other topics? Email us at [email protected]

Good Place To Go Horseback Riding In Las Vegas?

Can you recommend a place to go horseback riding in LV?



Ted Responds:

Bonnie Springs is the best over-all “western” experience:


The price is reasonable for the situation ($55 for an hour ride), and that scenery in the Red Rock area is incredible.

The employees I’ve encountered are passionate about the place and it is the real-deal old-west. It used to be a stop on the Spanish Trail. Plus they have an on-site restaurant and bar so you can grab some food or a drink after the ride. Yes, they have running water and electricity. It is “updated” old west.

As for transportation out there: It is 22 miles by car from center strip. However, return taxi might be a pretty big problem. I’d have them contact Bonnie Springs directly to ask about transportation suggestions.

Locals should check it out on a weekend (even if they don’t want to ride horses). It is a best-kept secret. You are 30 minutes from town, but feel like you are somewhere in wilds of Arizona at the ranch. Go in the middle of the day when the sun is highest for best experience (this time of the year). Have lunch and a couple of cocktails.

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor

Comments on this topic? We want your opinion! Leave it below. Comments, questions or Vegas suggestions on other topics? Email us at [email protected]

When Will Las Vegas Casinos Get Back To Customer Service and Decent Slots?

When are the casino’s going to realize that the main reason that most people come to Vegas is to play the slots? When they keep returning less and less it becomes no fun any more. When it becomes no fun people eventually quit playing. When they remove all hope of that winning streak that used to happen one time in ten, people will quit playing.

I live in Illinois and the casino’s here have done the same thing. I was talking to a casino host and she said ever since they put all the penny slots and reduced returns to players,the crowds just keep getting smaller.

I also was talking to a couple about this problem,that had just returned from Vegas. They said the casino’s were not as clean as they used to be, employees were not friendly, food way too expensive,and slot machine play was even worse than here in Illinois. They said they used to go to Vegas twice a year and now they don’t think they will return at all.

I think its time for the casino’s to give us back that small glimmer of hope if they want us dedicated slot players to become regulars again. My wife and I never missed a year since 1980, until now. We haven’t been there in two years, and don’t plan on it until things change. Old fogy maybe so, but until a glimmer of hope returns I’ll keep my money here in Illinois.


Ted Responds:

The trend toward penny slots has resulted in tighter slots, no question about that (a number of reports have been published on the topic). I won’t touch them. You have to put more than a few pennies in anyway. To really win, you need to be playing 50 cents or more per spin. Give me the quarter slots where I have a shot at winning!

No question some of the debt-ravaged major gaming players here need to step up the cleanliness and maintenance issues. There are glimmers of hope but you need to know where to look. The Stratosphere was just redone from head to foot, literally. The casino, the rooms you name it. Huge investment and everything is really nice. We’ll have a full report coming soon.

Station Casinos is more of a local place, but Palace Station (just across the freeway from The Sahara) has rooms that were remodeled just a few years ago and in great shape. As we’re reporting in a future issue, they are also really increasing their help and employees there are very friendly. We’ve also found great video poker payouts and looser slots.

We keep talking about El Cortez as a place that has also been remodeled (casino and rooms) and is actually a really nice place to enjoy. Plus, downtown simply has the looser slots and (in my opinion) more friendly employees. And it still beats (by far) a stand-alone casino in another state.

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor

Comments on this topic? We want your opinion! Leave it below. Comments, questions or Vegas suggestions on other topics? Email us at [email protected]

Happy To Hear Lady Luck Las Vegas Will Re-Open, Miss Old Slot Machines

What wonderful news about the Lady Luck! She was the first place we stayed in Las Vegas and the memories I have of her are heartwarming and wonderful! It was being remodeled while we were there in 2004… but the Pool was a nice size, although not glamorous and a lot of folks took advantage of it,,(,our room was pool side…)

I think it would be great if some casino would bring back all those old slots…like Elvira and the old Monopoly, Bewitched, Adams Family etc. even the old Elvis machine was great…even if they would do this in just a part of a Casino would be great! Not a museum…actual machines that folks could play….I like a lot of the new machines…but $5.00 to $50.00 per spin on a Penny or Nickel machine sort of defeats the purpose….if these new machines continue with 50 to 100 line bets +, the Casino’s are going to price a lot of folks out of coming!

I love Vegas…but when I come I limit myself to $1500 in gambling money for 3 days…I can’t see this ever changing…I love the slots, and I go to play….not for the shows, the drinks or the food, (although I enjoy the food!) but to play the slots at all the Casinos… but I like 9 to 20 line bets…what I see happening is me not being able to afford it much longer…Vegas is my favorite Vacation Spot, and if it prices me out…well this will be one really disappointed tourist! I’m not real lucky, but I love to play!

While I usually come home with a little money…I usually leave much more, including any winnings! I just love the excitement of being there…I look forward to it for months in advance…it still holds its magic for me…but if this happens to me, how many other folks is it going to affect? I hope that Vegas will not become a Vacation Destination for only the affluent in our society….but it sure looks like it’s headed that way. Keep us posted on The Lady Luck!

Sherrie B.

Ted Responds:

No opening date set yet, but we understand work has started and are looking forward to it ourselves. They are doing remodel and upgrades (which is needed). Let’s hope they keep enough of all the old vibe which made it great while bringing it up to modern standards!

Video Poker Machine Las Vegas Full House

The Fremont Hotel Casino (also downtown) has quite a few of the “oldie but goodie” machines. In fact, next to their check-in area, they actually have old-school coin-fed (and high payback) video poker games. The kind that we were all used to in the 90’s. I know… I was playing one of them a few days ago (see above photo)!

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor

When Does Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman’s Term End?


I think you should run for mayor or even more (Senate). You have some great ideas.


Ted Responds:

Thanks so much for the thoughts. My dearly departed Great Aunt Helene encouraged me in that direction also. However… I’m a little too “Oscar Goodman” to be electable to really high office! I don’t say what is politically correct, and the only thing “green” about me is an occasional bottle of Heineken.

Besides… I have one of the best jobs in the world right now!

Speaking of Mayor Goodman, he’s term limited out at the end of the year. This spring will bring elections for our new Mayor. I live in the city limits of Las Vegas so will be following the race very closely and voting appropriatly. Unfortunately, no one running has anywhere near his public persona and he will be missed.

Fortunately, it looks like our Convention/Visitors Authority (LVCVA, who otherwise couldn’t find their rear-end with both hands and manages to flush millions down the toilet each year completely ineffectively) is considering hiring him in some capacity. In one of last year’s issues of our Las Vegas newsletter, I suggested that he be named Mayor Emeritus of Las Vegas and it appears that LVCVA is indeed considering the smart move of utilizing him in that capacity.

But thanks for the kind words, and thanks for reading!

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor

Las Vegas Shows and Tours, How Far Out To Book?

Hi, love reading your column. My question is regarding the double-decker tour bus I saw that only Feb and March are available. Are those the only two months it is offered? I was thinking about coming in May.


Colleen in Florida

Ted Responds:

Good Question: Tour availability and prices can be subject to change. Same can happen with some Vegas shows. Our advice? Book a show as far out in advance as possible for best seats. Yes, the economy has many shows not selling out. But isn’t your Vegas vacation worth planning ahead enough to get an awesome seat?

As for tours, keep an eye on a tour you want every week or two until your travel window is offered.

We see the double-deck British buses all the time (which have a celeb-impersonator as your fun tour guide), and it always looks like people are enjoying themselves! (Something else for my short-term to-do list). For those wanting more info, click over to Las Vegas Double-Decker Bus of the Stars

Ted Newkirk
CEO, Managing Editor