Amid the chain eateries of the southwest suburbs, DW Bistro stands out with eclectic, spice-infused cuisine — and a comfortably upscale vibe
You can feel it best on the weekend, during busy brunch. Sunday is ridiculous. It’s noisy and active but never uncomfortably so; it feels like the family is home for a holiday and you’re recovering together, over coffee and scones, from a wild night out. But you can feel it other times, too, like at the bar after work, where it feels fancy for the southwest Vegas suburbs but not too fancy to suck down a Red Stripe. (Honestly, the décor at DW Bistro cries out for a cocktail, so maybe switch to the Tingy V, made with Ketel One, guava liqueur and a splash of Jamaican grapefruit soda.) This place definitely has layers, different experiences within a single venue. This feeling is the common thread.
What is this feeling, and how did it come to live at DW Bistro? It’s immediately comfortable, yet never boring. There’s excitement, mostly when you’re perusing the unique modern American menu, with heavy hints of New Mexican and Jamaican spice. It’s fun and friendly, utterly champagne-worthy. If you take someone from out of town to DW Bistro, they might say: “Ooh. This is nice. This isn’t what I expected. This is so not Las Vegas.” And then you have to think about what that means.
“We get that all the time,” says Bryce Krausman. If you’ve been to DW, you know Bryce and you know Dalton. Bryce Krausman and Dalton Wilson opened the restaurant in the spring of 2010. “It’s funny to think about that, because I’m born and raised here. They say it feels like San Francisco or L.A., and maybe it’s because there’s no gaming or TVs here like at so many neighborhood bars.” Krausman knows, though he won’t say it, that what they’re really saying is: This place is cool. This place reminds me of other cool places that I like. “It’s kind of an intangible thing,” he says, “but they might not know that to us, this is Vegas, this is what it feels like to us. This is the environment we’ve created.”
Oasis of the hip
After two and a half years, what they’ve created is Las Vegas’ next great neighborhood restaurant. It’s
equal parts great food and great vibe, and a clear leader in its part of the valley. In this wide-open southwestern sprawl (think Spring Valley with chunks of Summerlin, Peccole Ranch, Rhodes Ranch and other tony housing communities), big chains still dominate the dining landscape. DW Bistro is something of a hip oasis.
“We were blessed with a nice space,” Krausman says. It’s true. (La Madonna inhabited this space before moving downtown to become Mundo.) Its artsy-edgy Latin design was replaced by DW’s charming, space-age tangerine-creamsicle motif. This past July, an expanded northern dining room opened. Putting the pieces together was an easy agreement; Krausman and Wilson have been friends for a long time. “We like the same things, eat at the same restaurants, and once we go somewhere we love, we always go back,” Wilson says. “This restaurant, the food, it’s our life story, basically.”
Krausman and Wilson met when Wilson was working at a local Williams-Sonoma store and Krausman was looking for a 12-inch pie pan. “We didn’t carry it anymore. We got into a little fight about it,” Wilson says. Krausman returned to apply for a job, and a friendship began. They went to dinner, exchanged recipes, cooked for family, hosted brunch every Sunday. “We really took our time to make sure brunch was perfect, much to the chagrin of our friends who were like, ‘Can we get it going already?’” Krausman says.
They knew something would happen, but Krausman was thinking about a cookbook, not a restaurant. But this turnkey space became available, and they saw its intimacy and potential, the right light coming through the windows. It could be what they wanted in a neighborhood restaurant; the transportive, un-Vegas element occurred naturally.
A different kind of heat
People came for the food. Wilson’s background was diverse and he wasn’t afraid to let it shine through. There’s Jamaican jerk seasoning, on a chicken salad with grilled vegetables or on juicy lamb chops. There’s a different kind of heat, from New Mexican chilis, stewing tender pork for a ridiculously good omelet with melted jack cheese. “Our first sous chef thought the menu was aggressive for a neighborhood restaurant, but we didn’t think so,” Bryce says. “Half the menu isn’t spicy. We have a chicken and bowtie pasta dish with garlic sauce and people just love that sauce.”
Others want their butts kicked with flavor, from a cheeseburger with green chiles and jalapeño bacon to oven-roasted pork shoulder marinated in that jerk seasoning. At brunch, those savories (chicken chilaquiles or yes, jerk chicken and waffles) are balanced with sweet stuff, including the perfect pastry basket, chocolate chip pancakes or challah French toast.
DW Bistro has become, well, a brand, in a relatively short period of time, and Krausman and Wilson are being careful with it. Widely rumored to be expanding downtown, where Krausman lives, they are in fact exploring the possibility of taking over the space once known as Andre’s. But nothing is final.
“It’s a great space, very iconic. And we love what’s going on downtown, but we want to do it right when we go,” Bryce says. “If you come to Dalton’s house for dinner, it’s just like DW. It’s DW times ten. Wherever we go, we need to be able to transport that energy.”
Also, there are other projects that need attention. That cookbook needs finishing. There might be a small, fast-casual DW concept popping up wherever it’s needed. “We have customers all over town, now,” Bryce says.
However the intangible thing was achieved, they know the formula. “It’s about everybody having a great conversation, talking about the night before, being with friends and family, and having the best time,” Dalton says. “We appreciate our customers so much. They’re unbelievable.”
6115 S. Fort Apache Road #112,
Tue-Thu 11a-9p; Fri 11a-11p
Sat 10a-11p; Sun 10a-2p