Virgil’s Real Barbecue fires up all kinds of styles
It’s easy to love barbecue. It’s unpretentious, it brings communities together, and there’s just something romantic about tearing into a slab of messy ribs with your God-given utensils: Hands. But when you’ve stayed on the Strip for a couple of days, you might become jaded, thinking there’s no place to roll up your sleeves, let your hair down or relax without feeling like you’re in somebody’s way.
Virgil’s Real Barbecue understands your dilemma, and its mission is to take you away from Vegas, as if you’re chowing down at any street-side joint along Interstate 10. Here, there are no labels. You’re not even considered a customer—you are a friend. The same goes for the barbecue; they don’t discriminate. They’ve got Memphis, Kansas City, the Carolinas and Texas. No matter which sacred school of barbecue you’re loyal to, it’s all there and it’s all good.
Before your meal, order a frosty glass of Lone Star, also known as the “national beer of Texas” for its ubiquitous presence in the region. It’s that light, easy-to-drink kind of lager you’d probably shotgun in the middle of a cow farm with your buds. But since you’re at Virgil’s, it’s a simple beer to sip on while taking in the restaurant’s friendly, familiar ambience.
It almost seems an injustice to start with the chicken wings, but you should, for their sweet, smoky flavor will give your tastebuds that showstopper, drop-the-mic feeling. But you’ll soon realize that the huge wings are a tender, fall-off-the-bone microcosm of what to expect during the rest of your meal. Other delicious starters are the barbecue nachos, a pileup of Texas brisket and Carolina pulled pork, smothered in a mild, tangy barbecue sauce, and topped with jalapenos and cheese.
Finding an entrée proves a bigger challenge. The Memphis-style pork ribs are marinated for up to 24 hours in a signature dry rub, smoked for up to six hours, then served the Memphis way: dry with barbecue sauce on the side. Or take on the mammoth Texas brisket, where the dry rub creates a crumbly top layer of bark, providing the perfect amount of texture to the otherwise tender brisket. Whichever dish you choose, order a creamy side of mac and cheese, mixed with Ruffles, saltine crackers and cereal for an extra crunch.
It’s possible, however, that Virgil’s greatest achievement is the Kansas City fried chicken. It’s the perfect combination of crispy, crunchy and zesty on the outside, and juicy and succulent on the inside–a quality mainly accomplished by roadside chicken shacks and tiny gas stations.
And before you feel like you’ve had too much of a good thing, make way for some Texas-sized desserts. Choose from a rich key lime pie, or banana pudding with Nilla wafers. Though, if someone suggests you order the peanut butter pie, a cool slab of sweet and creamy peanut butter on a graham cracker crust, take up the offer and finish your meal plump, overindulged and happy.
The Linq Promenade, 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Fri.-Sat. 702.389.7400