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Pretzel dogs
Photography by Sabin Orr

Pretzel dogs

Dave & Buster’s recently opened in Downtown Summerlin. Your inner kid will love the games — but the food (gasp!) isn’t bad, either

That whooshing sound you hear is thousands of Southern Nevadans rocketing to the brand new Dave & Buster’s in Downtown Summerlin. Seriously? What gives? Even in a metropolis flush with big-plate eateries, sports-blaring HD screens and countless blinking electronic distractions, this 34,000-square-foot restaurant-arcade mash-up seems to have filled an overwhelming, pent-up demand for colorfully conceived bar food and cutting-edge video games. Since opening last month, Dave & Buster’s has been thronged with entertainment-minded diners who are either fans of the chain (it’s a cult thing, really) or who’ve seen one of the Texas-based chain’s TV ads. Yes, thronged. (Seriously, I’d recommend reservations if they offered them.)

Summerlin’s new outpost is a frenetic spectacle that deserves description — and, believe it or not, culinary consideration. Okay, they’re not serving up hipsterized snout-to-tail gastropub cuisine, but, hey, if you’re going to spend an evening drinking beer and wasting bad guys in Time Crisis 5, judging from a recent trawl through the menu, the caloric fuel on offer is a few cuts above your average sports-bar basket of chicken wings and mozzarella sticks.

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Pepperoni bites

Pepperoni bites.  Photography by Sabin Orr.

I’m thinking of items such as the outrageous Caveman Combo — an appetizer, believe it or not. It’s a tin bucket filled with a quartet of barbecued pork ribs and a matching number of mini-cheeseburgers on skewers (plus fries). Also in the vertical mode is the aptly named Mountain o’ Nachos, which are of the traditional ground beef-meets-melted queso variety, with the addition of black beans, jalapeños, diced tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream and guacamole. Nothing avant-garde, but the platter will satisfy four. Other finger foods include the Three-Cheese Grilled Cheese Sticks. It’s basically a gigantic grilled cheese sandwich on overdrive. (Not only does it feature melted manchego, cheddar and mozzarella inside toasted sourdough bread, there’s an extra layer of cheese on top.) If you’re looking for soup, there’s a pair on tap: Southwestern-style tortilla and tomato-feta. Fitting for an eatery that started in Dallas, Angus Steak Chili is on the menu, too. It’s tomato-rich and strewn with beans, green peppers and green chilies. Though not especially spicy, it’s fresh-tasting and closer to salsa than your typical canned con carne glop.

Buffalo Burger

Buffalo burger.  Photography by Sabin Orr.

For the burger list, the vertical theme continues, such as the layered Buffalo Wing Burger. Not content with just a half-pound beef patty, it also contains a substantial spicy chicken tender and a layer of crispy onion strings. With the addition of bleu cheese spread and chunks of celery, it’s a zesty fork-and-knife job. In a similar style is the Short Rib & Cheesy Mack Stack. If you’re not content with butter-toasted sourdough planks crammed with sliced beef and bourbon-glazed onions, this construction is also loaded up with macaroni and cheese — because, really, who doesn’t want pasta inside their sandwich these days? It might seem that greens are an afterthought in the establishment. You wouldn’t be completely wrong: Most of the salads are also platforms for meats, such as slices of steak over romaine and spinach. (If you need to keep it truly light, go for the steamed edamame appetizer.)

The beverage menu is extensive, and inhabits a colorful realm somewhere between high-concept craft mixology like you can find on the Strip or Downtown, and a low-down, Sex on the Beach-slinging local’s lounge: They’ve got a three-rum mai tai, and 10 varieties of margaritas. Beyond a host of mojitos, sangrias and Long Island ice teas, there are even boozy, Day-Glo snow cones. Keep in mind, though, this is a corporate chain, so expect to stay in the mainstream of liquor labels — Absolut, Bacardi, DeKuyper and the like — rather than rare, handcrafted spirits.

Dave & Busters Interior

Dave & Buster's interior.  Photography by Sabin Orr.

Of course, all this is a prelude to the larger portion of the buzzing, flickering frenzy that is Dave & Buster’s Summerlin. This would be the immense game room, or what the company calls the Million Dollar Midway. It’s filled with a panoply of games, from uber high tech and immersive experiences like the ping-pong-flinging Ghostbusters Arcade and the blaster-tastic Star Wars Battle Pod to classics like Pac-Man (on a big screen, natch) and air hockey. There’s even a very Viva Las Vegas block of old-fashioned coin-pushers featuring Elvis.

It’s interesting to ponder just why Dave & Buster’s is going gangbusters in Summerlin. After all, there was already plenty of arcade action in greater Vegas, from Town Square and Circus Circus to Red Rock Resort. (And let’s not forget the Pinball Hall of Fame.) Maybe it’s the fact that it took so long for D&B’s to finally open here. Perhaps it’s that there’s external validation that our suburbs are up to par with Los Angeles or Phoenix. It’s surely the fact that, despite living in Casino Central U.S.A., many Southern Nevadans prefer Pokémon over Pai Gow when it comes to gaming. Also, we’ve become a bona fide family town, and the kids must be amused. But it definitely has something to do with the fact that today’s average adult has been raised around video games since Pong came on the scene. Whatever the reason, the promenades of Downtown Summerlin are filled with more foot traffic than before as gamers heed the siren’s call of hyperbolic bar food paired with a cutting-edge shooting gallery for kids and adults alike. The game is on. 


Dave & Buster’s

2130 Park Centre Drive #100

Sun-Thu, 10a-12a
Fri-Sat, 10a-2a

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