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Tangy taste of Memphis hits Santa Fe

Feb 19, 2002 4:35 AM

World champion barbecuer Mike Mills opened his third Las Vegas Memphis Championship Barbecue at Santa Fe Station earlier this month, and the restaurant has been packed ever since.

“We’re somewhat surprised though delighted at the turnout,” said director Carlos Silva. “Not only has the sit-down business been phenomenal, but take-out is nearly double the average of our other restaurants.”

Business is booming for a reason: the restaurant ”” like its two cousins on North Las Vegas Boulevard and Warm Springs Road ”” serves juicy, tender barbecue that’s sparked by tangy, secret spices called Mike’s Magic Dust.

Among the house favorites are the barbecued pork shoulder, St. Louis ribs, smoked chicken, baby back ribs, beef ribs, smoked all-beef hot links, Southern catfish and blackened rib-eye steak.

A nice way to sample the tasty fare is to try the restaurant’s Grand Champion Plate ($19.50), which features servings of St. Louis ribs, beef ribs, smoked chicken, hot link, shredded beef brisket and pulled pork shoulder, along with the choice of two side orders. There’s no way a normal human can consume the entire plate (without sacrificing dessert!), and the leftovers you take home make great second meals and/or sandwiches.

Helping to make the barbecue so tender and juicy is the unique process, Silva said.

The ribs, for instance, are slow-cooked for about six hours at 200 degrees, then they’re wrapped in plastic to retain juices.

In addition, the special oven smokes the meat as apple wood logs slowly burn.

Owner Mike Mills learned the art of barbecue from his father, and parlayed those skills into his original restaurant, 17th Street Bar and Grill in Murphysboro, Illinois. In light of the tremendous response to his barbecue, Mills formed the Apple City Barbecue Team in 1988 and began competing in various competitions, which eventually led to his becoming Grand World Champions of Barbecue in the famed Memphis competitions.

Mill’s Santa Fe restaurant follows the successful openings of restaurants in Henderson and North Las Vegas.

The 8,500-square-foot Santa Fe Station restaurant is a rustic affair with plenty of spacious booth and table seating, brick walls and 28-foot high ceilings.

The restaurant also includes a 2,000-square-foot Blues Lounge that features entertainment Thursday through Saturday. The dining room is open for lunch and dinner, daily.