Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill kicks home-style dishes into high gear
By Brock Radke
Photos by Peter Harasty
Gentlemen (and ladies), start your engines … and then accelerate rapidly until you’ve arrived at Harrah’s, home to one of the most rowdy, rebellious and rewarding restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip. Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill is the place where down-home hospitality collides with a rock ’n’ roll mentality, and that goes for the setting as well as the food and drink. On the second level, this venue’s got it all: a dark and daring bar that feels like a country roadhouse, a retail shop, regular live music and a cozy dining room where hearty fare is served up in a hurry by staff clad in cowboy hats and chaps. There are several reasons Toby Keith loves this place.
Things really start jumping at night, when a Patriot cocktail—Jim Beam, Southern Comfort, vermouth and sour mix—and a rack of roasted and basted baby back ribs is the perfect pair to hold you over until a band hits the stage. But all this evening action, and its slightly hidden location, can overshadow the fact that Toby Keith’s is one of the most fun and flavorful lunchtime destinations in Las Vegas.
Satisfying appetizers start things off the right way, including Whiskey Girl wings, crispy chicken bits tossed in a tangy barbecue sauce; breaded, fried shrimp dusted with a spicy Cajun dry rub and served with traditional rémoulade sauce; and playful mac and cheese balls, fried in a beer batter for stimulating crispy-and-creamy results. Soulful soups are another great midday meal opener, especially the chicken- and pepper-laden tortilla soup, and home-style chili topped with cheddar cheese.
Southern cuisine tends to be heavy, but you can keep it light with the build-your-own salad option, or stick to classics like a crisp Caesar or spinach salad. The sandwich options at Toby Keith’s are plentiful and big on flavor. It’ll be hard not to try out the “world famous” fried bologna, seared with onions and topped with American cheese and Miracle Whip, mounted on thick Texas toast. This is a guilty pleasure for sure, but all fun. For the more refined sandwich lover, there’s a cornmeal-crusted catfish po’boy, a tender pulled pork masterpiece on brioche with coleslaw and barbecue sauce, and the interesting Cowboy Reuben, which combines corned beef, Swiss cheese, bacon and jalapeño ranch dressing on grilled rye.
You can always keep it simple with an all-American burger, or go all-out with the infamous Big Dog Daddy 100-ounce Challenge, a two-pound burger with all the toppings and trimmings, with a 32-ounce Coors Light riding shotgun. Knock that out and take home a free T-shirt. As a less painful alternative, allow me to recommend the Old West BBQ bacon burger with onion rings, a side of decidedly decadent deep-fried Twinkies for dessert and a trip to the store next door to pick out your own shirt. Either way, lunch or dinner, this will be one memorable meal.
11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-midnight Fri.-Sat.; bar Sun.-Thurs till 2 a.m., Fri.-Sat. till 3 a.m. 702.693.6111