Since opening its doors in 2010, Born and Raised (or B.A.R.) has been one of the most popular neighborhood bars in the southwest. Its funky décor, welcoming atmosphere and varied menu have consistently drawn a crowd that’s a bit younger and more sophisticated than what you’ll find at your typical video poker bar. I’ve been a fan of that menu since Day One, and despite a few brief, shaky periods in the midst of chef changes, it’s continued to excel. So when the owner, Scott Godino Jr.—who, as the name indicates, is a Valley native—recently opened a second spot in Henderson, residents of that area who might not want to cross town for the original’s unique vibe rejoiced. And after a few visits, I can tell you that the new locale is indeed a bigger and better version of its crosstown cousin.
The new Born and Raised, on Eastern Avenue just off St. Rose Parkway, occupies a space that formerly housed Tommy Rocker’s Southside Grill. But the owners have expanded it by knocking down a wall and incorporating the spot next door. And while I always liked Tommy’s, the atmosphere here is much more upscale.
The bar is to the left as you enter—still fairly casual with exposed brick walls and all the video poker machines you’d expect. To the left of that is a plush lounge area. The furnishings are modern and the décor is bathed in shades of orange and copper, with a bit of black and even some animal prints thrown in for contrast. Toward the back, you’ll spot a row of large sliding wooden doors. Behind them is what looks to be an ultra-modern living room that is available for private parties or opens up on game days when the main areas get too crowded.
Now back to that great menu. Like the original location, the centerpiece of the menu is B.A.R.’s slider selection. There are 15 varieties, including portobello (with garlic spinach, roasted peppers, mozzarella, tomatoes and mayo), black and blue (ground beef with caramelized onions and blue cream cheese) and a banh mi (sriracha-glazed chicken, cucumbers, carrots, cilantro and sriracha aioli). Trios of the mini sandwiches are available from $10 to $13. Unfortunately, you can’t mix and match. Although, if you think you have the stomach for it, ask for the Bar Gamble, which challenges you to eat one of each of the 15 sliders in less than an hour along with a mountain of fries. Succeed, and the meal is free along with a T-shirt. Fail and you owe them $75.
I’ve enjoyed plenty of these sliders over the years at the original location. Here, however, I’ve only sampled three. My favorite is probably the chicken katsu version: thin crispy pieces of fried chicken coated in a well-seasonedpanko crust and topped with tonkatsu sauce and Hawaiian macaroni salad. (And I say this as someone who does not generally like macaroni salad.) I found the prime rib dip—made with thin slices of beef, horseradish sauce and caramelized onion—to be a bit salty, but not overbearing. The accompanying jus, however, was a sodium overload. And while the kitchen’s spin on Cubanos was very good, they required heartier bread than the soft, slightly sweet rolls on which the sandwich arrived.
The menu goes far beyond sliders, however. Dig deep and you’ll find both traditional bar food, including five varieties of wings and mac-and-cheese bites, and such unexpected surprises as ahi poke. I was pleasantly surprised by a thick, well-spiced gumbo packed with andouille sausage and chicken. I also enjoyed a pair of corn tamale cakes, whose sweet flavor was balanced by topping them with salsa verde, sour cream, pico de gallo and avocado. (The cakes were so sloppily assembled, however, I almost didn’t get past its unappetizing appearance.) The only thing that’s been a total bust so far was a rather boring order of calamari that revealed no hint of the promisedtogarashi seasoning, a minor complaint that is easily corrected and hopefully will be as the chef gets his footing.
While B.A.R. proclaims its devotion to that rare set of Las Vegans who actually have Clark County listed on their birth certificate, anyone who’s lived here for more than a few months will recognize that what Born and Raised is offering simply goes above and beyond.
Al’s Menu Picks