The Steakhouse at Circus Circus in Las Vegas is one of my all-time favorite steak houses. Being the sort of "defacto" restaurant guide for our company while we're in Las Vegas for CES, I've wanted to take my colleagues to the Steak House for quite sometime. I made a reservation for 10 the day I got to Las Vegas. I was fortunate to get us in on a Thursday night.
Now, the Steakhouse is about 180 degrees out of kilter w ith the rest of Circus Circus. While the Circus Circus casino and hotel is rather tired, schlocky and low-end compared to the other casino/hotels in town, the Steakhouse is elegant, vibrant and high-end. Let's face it - Circus Circus is a dump. How the Steakhouse has been able to maintain a very high level of food, service and decor for over 30 years in the midst of such a miserable place as Circus Circus, well, it's a miracle.
If you can make it through the grungy, smoke-filled casino with old people playing the nickel slots, past the circus themed acts that go on non-stop, and down a hallway littered with run-down shops you'll come to the front of The Steakhouse - decorated with ornate dark wood paneling on the outside. (Photo at right courtesy of Exploring Las Vegas.) The interior of The Steakhouse combines the dark wood paneling with green wall panels and paintings of cattle and outdoor scenes. As one of my colleagues said, "Now THIS is what a steak house is supposed to look like."
The Steakhouse cooks all their meats on an open wood fired grill. You can actually peer through the thick glass at the chefs grilling the large chunks of meat. The smell of the meat grilling over the wood is just heavenly and mouth-watering.
Now, this was not the first time I've been to The Steakhouse. I think I've been there, maybe, eight or nine times prior. But this was my first visit in over 7 years. It was on my first visit in 1987 when I was introduced to Atomic Horseradish. (For that story and others connected to Atomic Horseradish, click here.) I'd been in nice steak houses before, but The Steak House was, by far, the best steak house I'd ever been to up to that point in my life.
I like to joke that The Steakhouse has three different sizes of steaks to choose from. There's the "Hunk-o-Beef", the "Ton-o-Beef", and the big daddy of the all, "The Shitload-o-Beef". The large filets are, seriously, about four inch cubes and have to be completely charred on the outside just to get the inner part of the steak to a perfect medium rare. But there's nothing better than that wood-fired taste on the steaks when you bite into them.
Starting at the valet parking in front of Circus Circus, it took us about five minutes to wind our way through the smoky and down-trodden casino to the front of The Steakhouse that particular evening. We had two more people tag along with us and the staff at the restaurant were very accommodating to add a couple seats to our table. I don't think we waited any more than two or three minutes while they set two more places at our large table in the middle of the restaurant.
In addition to the large steaks and prime rib The Steakhouse offers, they also feature some seafood entrees, as well as pork chops and chicken dishes. But you don't go to The Steakhouse and order chicken. It's all in or nothing for great beef.
While they're famous for their prime rib and filets, they also have a wonderful bone-in ribeye steak that is a signature item on their menu. And their strip steaks are lean and flavorful. It's so difficult to make up your mind when you sit down to eat at The Steakhouse.
I was just starting my diet and I was looking for something good and lean, so I ended up ordering the filet. I got the smaller of the two, I believe it was 12 oz. of beef. I also ordered up a salad along with a side of asparagus.
The wine list at The Steakhouse is better than what you find at many restaurants of the same caliber. I let my colleague, Ian, pick out a couple of cabernets for dinner.
My colleague, Todd, ordered the bone-in ribeye on my recommendation. When it came out, the look on his face was priceless. Here was this huge bone with a large amount of beef attached to it. And being that he likes more of the European taste in his beef, he had ordered it rare. It looked like the meat had just been cut off the cow moments before it was quickly grilled. It was truly a "Shitload-o-Beef".
My filet was more of the "Ton-o-Beef" variety, served a perfect medium-rare with a side of Atomic Horseradish. The asparagus was served in a family style fashion and I shared some with other people at the table. The filet was just wonderful - flavorful, great texture and it had that wonderful smoked barbecue taste to it. From the first bite, I was in heaven. All the memories of previous visits flooded back into my brain.
I had a couple of meltdown moments taking a little more of the Atomic Horseradish in bites than I bargained for. I'm telling you - there's nothing better than fresh, out of the bottle Atomic Horseradish. It's almost like torturing yourself when you get a big hit from the horseradish, but the taste sensation is out of this world.
As this was the first visit to The Steakhouse for everyone else with me that evening, I took an informal poll after dinner to see if they liked it. Their replies were overwhelmingly positive. As I was leaving the restaurant, I ran into Vance Pflanz, the owner of Pflanz Electronics in Sioux City, IA, and his son, Scott, having dinner at The Steakhouse. Vance said, "We eat here at least once every time we come out to Vegas."
The Steakhouse at Circus Circus is an oasis of fine dining in the midst of a major dump in Las Vegas. If you can get past the fact that one of the finest restaurants in town is located in one of the most horrid casinos, then by all means go to The Steakhouse at Circus Circus when you visit Las Vegas. You'll never be dissatisfied.