After I got back from my little trip to Hoover Dam when I was in Las Vegas recently, I decided to have lunch at Gordon Biersch - an upscale brewpub/restaurant that is part of the Gordon Biersch chain with 26 locations in 15 states and Washington D.C. The food is very good, made from scratch each day; and the beer is pretty good, as well - a very German-style of beer.
It had been a while since I was last in a Gordon Biersch location - actually it was about seven years and the last time was at the Las Vegas location on Paradise Road (see map). This location is in an area with a number of other upscale restaurants, not far from the Las Vegas Convention Center and near a number of corporate offices.
In 1987, Dan Gordon, a successful restauranteur, was looking to open an upscale brewpub. He sat down with veteran brewmaster Dean Biersch and over a couple three beers they hashed out the master plan of the Gordon Biersch blueprint. Gordon and Biersch were fans of great food and German beers. That's what they had in mind for their brewpub. With that, the first Gordon Biersch opened in Palo Alto, CA in 1988.
Gordon and Biersch grew their chain of upscale brewpubs for the next 10 years before running into an antiquated California law that allowed for only a small number of breweries to be owned by one company in the state. They tried to get the 70-year-old law repealed, but to no avail.
They sold the restaurants to Big River Brewing Company of Chattanooga, TN, which then changed their corporate name to Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group. The Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group also runs the Big River Grille and Brewery, a couple of Rock Bottom Breweries and a handful of other brewpubs in the Southeast. However, Gordon and Biersch continue to own and run the brewery operations of Gordon Biersch.
I got into Gordon Biersch around 1:30 on a Friday afternoon. I had two and a half hours to kill before I had to get to the airport, so a leisurely lunch was on the docket. The Las Vegas location is open and airy, with a definite contemporary theme. They have a beer garden, but I opted to sit at the four-sided bar to read a newspaper and watch television.
I also looked over the lunch menu trying to figure out from the large selection what I wanted to eat. In addition to appetizers - which include their world-famous Garlic Fries (above picture courtsey of Foodhoe) - Gordon Biersch has a large selections of salads, sandwiches and entrees, including steaks, pasta and seafood. And this is just the LUNCH menu!
They had a meatloaf made out of Italian sausage and ground beef on the menu. They also had a pulled pork with a Marzen beer-based barbecue sauce. And G-B also had a mushroom-Swiss cheeseburger which a guy near me was having and it looked yummy. A main entree was tempting, given that I probably wouldn't be eating again that day, but I didn't really want a steak or chop.
They also serve a 10" thin crust pizza at Gordon Biersch. Don't ask me why I kept going back and looking at the pizzas on the menu. I normally don't like to get pizza at a place like this, but from the description the bartender was giving, the pizzas sounded great. I bit the bullet and ordered an Italian sausage, mushroom and pepperoni pizza.
And I'm glad I did. The crust on the pizza was flaky and chewy, but still sort of thin. The Italian sausage on the pizza were the big chunks, ground in house. The mushrooms were fresh and the pepperoni had a great kick to it. And the homemade sauce was tangy and the mozzarella was incredibly fresh. I was happy that I got it, although anything I would have ordered probably would have been great. And that was the problem - there were too many good things to choose from on the menu.
They've just recently opened locations in Kansas City and in suburban Chicago, so I'll have more chances to sample some of the good food and good beer at Gordon Biersch in the near future. I've tried the pizza and now I want to try some of the other things they have. Their beer is above average, but Gordon Biersch's food is not like most other brewpubs. It's definitely a step above.