This week’s boutique casino, Wildfire Casino on Rancho Road, has everything folks look for in a neighborhood casino — a friendly staff, first-rate food at bargain prices and the "right" mix of gaming activities.
Even though Wildfire is part of the Station group and is located across the street from the sprawling Texas Station, the diminutive casino that replaced the wildly popular Ernie’s a couple of years ago has generated a loyal following who enjoy playing in a less intimidating environment.
The layout of the casino floor puts all the amenities within easy access. The machines aren’t crowded together so players have "breathing room" and can move easily from video poker to keno to reels at their leisure.
At one end of the casino is a cozy sports book that features comfy club chairs and even a few tables and chairs, similar to those found at a sidewalk café.
The book adjoins the Wildfire Lounge, a kind of "TV room" that opens into the sports book and is a couple of steps down from the actual bar area.
The casino’s eatery, Dante’s Restaurant, is a bright and airy affair with lightwood furnishing and — here’s a first! — windows with views of the landscaping outside.
Most important, the kitchen serves a solid selection of American favorites at great prices. Among the specialties are $4.99 dinner specials consisting of a baked half chicken, meat loaf, fish and chips, spaghetti with meat sauce and a hearty Yankee pot roast with mashed potatoes.
Other chef specialties include a half-pound burger with fries or cole slaw for $2.49, a half-pound Portherhouse steak or prime rib for $6.99, a half-rack of baby back ribs for $6.99, and a nice mix of breakfast specials for only $1.99.
Finally, one of the often-mentioned reasons people like to come here is the easy parking — pull into the parking lot, walk a short stroll into the casino, sit down at your favorite machine and have at it. That’s a combo that’s hard to beat.