You’ve heard of ultra light, ultra chic, ultra modern, right?
Now, live from Las Vegas, it’s the Ultra Tavern!
Get used to it—it’s the new term and the newest wave in the upscaling of bars and bar food.
And Sierra Gold is the perfect example of the trend.
Don’t let the cow hide bar stools and leather bustierres fool you. From elegant ambiance to the rich flavors of the food, this place is setting a new gold standard.
In fact, everything about the place gives an aura of wealth and importance, as though it were built from old Texas money. The sound of gaming is muted against the backdrop of dark paneling, brick, and an extensive collection of black & white Elliott Erwitt artwork on the walls. It just has that leather and amber gold ambiance that says rich, comfortable and urban Western.
According to Chef Lance Marcos (pictured, right), the Regional Food and Beverage Manager, Sierra Gold is the original concept of owner Blake Sartini. “The owner wanted to do a tavern that was a step above; that’s why we call it an ‘Ultra Tavern.’ It’s something people have never seen before.” It’s also called a “Nevada style” tavern, a term that signifies the typical gold and dark wood tones that have come to embody the state’s image. “He wanted to create something that people would look at and say, ‘This is Nevada,’” adds Marcos.
All of the restaurant’s locations offer plasma TVs, pool tables, and a fun atmosphere that is far from the kitchiness of other Las Vegas concepts. And the food reflects the owner’s desire to appeal to those with a little adventure in their soul.
“He’s a big game hunter,” says Marcos of Sartini. “We even have a Hunter’s Special on the menu. It’s a pizza with bacon, Italian sausage, linguico, pepperoni and onions.”
Like all of the pizzas, the Hunter’s Special is made with a thin crust, which is out of the ordinary for the region. “There are not a lot of thin crust pizzas in Vegas,” says Marcos. “It’s a flatbread recipe that we’ve played with and modified into a crust. You get more flavor and still get that nice ‘crisp’.” You can choose the Chicken and Ranch pizza, or Garden Vegetable, Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke, Bruschetta Style, and more.
The Gilroy (pictured above) is particularly popular, with its garlic white sauce, Italian sausage, pepperoni, salami, artichoke hearts, red onion, mushroom, tomato and a blend of cheeses. On our visit, layers of ingredients filled the crust right to the very edge.
All of the food has that same comfortable, familiar feel, but with a twist. Take the Cheeto’s® onion rings, for example. They are Flaming Hot Cheeto’s, crushed and used in the breading for the onion rings. They are a bright golden color, with a taste that is just as brilliant.
Or the Lobster Bites—a nice change from chicken nuggets, although you’ll find Golden Chicken Fingers on the menu, too. And you can’t forget the Sierra Gold Wings, their signature wings served bucket style with your choice of 20 different sauces with flavors such as Gold Fever, Double Baked Cajun, Apricot Chipotle Mustard, and Maple Hot.
Or, get the melt-in-your mouth crab legs, that are savory and juicy, not rubbery like so many crab legs can get. You almost forget you are in the desert; they taste freshly-caught and just the way crab legs should taste.
There’s also the Sierra Gold Tenderloin Sliders, billed as beef tenderloin medalions on slider buns with pepper bacon, 10-year aged Wisconsin cheddar chese, sauteed mushrooms and white truffle oil. Or the Calamari and Shrimp Fry, tossed with banana peppers and cilantro and served with sweet and spicy dipping sauces.
More? There’s the Sierra Gold Burger, a smooth Kobe beef burger. (Hint: try it with the signature Coo Coo fries for a flavor that is sweet, salty, spicy and garlicky all at the same time).
Here, too, Sierra Gold sets a new standard: the burgers here can be built pretty much the way you want them.
“In other places we’ve worked,” says Marcos, “you get a standard burger. We feel the guests are the ones who want it the way they want it. We figure, why not let them make it the way they want it.” So, go ahead and try one with the palate-cleansing homemade cucumber pickles!
For the lighter eater, try the Arugula and Pear Salad with candied walnuts, goat cheese and crisp onions. “The salads are great,” says Marcos. “There aren’t usual salads as tavern fare. We believe in using the best quality, freshest ingredients and they are just refreshing and nice.”
If you’ve been that good—and even if you haven’t—there’s no excuse to not go for the Sierra Gold Zookie. It’s a modernized version of a fresh-out-of-the-oven cookie baked and served with ice cream and whipped topping. The name was just one of those things, says Marcos. “It’s just the idea of a soft baked gooey cookie,” he says. “There really isn’t anything quite like a warm cookie. And it’s a great dessert to share.”
The first Sierra Gold opened in Reno; the Las Vegas location opened in August 2005. They consider themselves a destination restaurant where the majority of their traffic is locals and gaming industry workers.
“Our staff know the regulars by name,” adds Marcos, thanks in part to its 24-hour menu (you can create your own omelet whenever breakfast works for you) and eight hours of Happy Hour every day (4-8 p.m. and again midnight-4 a.m.). And, in keeping with the richness of the Sierra Gold style, there is a separate rich banquet room with dance floor, where you can hold a private party and choose your custom menu.
Call it what you will-a Nevada-style tavern, the newest gold standard, or an ultra tavern. We simply call it good.
See our blog from the Las Vegas tour, here.
See the video from Sierra Gold here.
Visit Sierra Gold when you are in the Las Vegas area:
215 & S. Jones
Stephanie & Warm Springs
Aliante Pkwy & 215
S. Meadows Pkwy & Double R Blvd.
This is a Raves & Faves Featured Restaurant.