Desert Companion

Table for Two: Check It


MacKenzie Pizza
Photography by Christopher Smith

Slamming our way through MacKenzie River Pizza’s menu at the Golden Knights’ practice arena

(We settle in at a long table overlooking one of the two City National Arena hockey rinks. We just missed official Golden Knights practice, but there are a few people skating lazily around.)


Andrew: The ambience is kinda PT’s meets warehouse. But I don’t mind, because I would think you’re privileging the hockey-viewing experience.

Scott: (Gazing upon empty hockey rink.) I’m gonna have to imagine skaters, and body-checking, and maybe a tooth getting knocked out.

Andrew: Maybe a slow, improbably elegant pirouette.

Scott: I wonder what percentage of people in Las Vegas can ice skate. I tried it once, and was so terrible. And I felt like, at any minute, I was gonna fall over. And I was always afraid someone would skate over my hand and cut my fingertips off.

Andrew: I feel that way all the time just when I’m walking.


(We start off with the Lodgepoles appetizer — think cheesy breadsticks. We each tug off a cheesy, puffy stick and take a bite.)


Scott: Very Pizza Hut.

Andrew: A little underwhelming, yeah, especially with the hefty mouthfeel of the word “Lodgepole.” I want something I can use to ... what is a lodgepole? Is it holding up a yurt, a lodge?

Support comes from

Scott: Yeah. You’d think they would have done something a little more with it.

Andrew: I wanted a little more lodge-iness, a little bit more pole. Oh, look. Is that a Zamboni? Pirouette!

Scott: Drift!

Andrew: What if you turn the Zamboni over and it looks like one of those super-annoying Mach 5 Gillette razors?

Scott: I wonder how long before that guy’s job is replaced by a giant Zamboni Roomba.

Andrew: (Takes another bite.) The Lodgepole’s got a pretty decent layer of cheese. But when I actually eat it, I don’t feel the indulgent, experiential cheese-flavor blast, like this side view of the bread-cheese strata would suggest. Maybe it’s an optical illusion.

Scott: Sadly, these things are calibrated to our taste buds that have been trained by fast food to like this sort of stuff.

Andrew. Cheese. Bread. Filling. My tribe is safe. I am safe and warm.

Scott: But objectively, it’s pretty ordinary.


(For the main course, we order a meaty Stockman pizza, and Slammers, which are sliders.)


Andrew: All right, this pizza better body-check my face. (Pulls off a slice of the pizza) Whoa, that’s got some heft.

Scott: I will say, that’s a better cut of Italian sausage than is typical of what you’d order at your house.

Andrew: What do you think about the crust?

Scott: Seems pretty ordinary to me.

Andrew: I almost get a microwave pizza vibe. Sort of an affable, spongy, crispness to it. The toppings are good.

Scott: Definitely, there’s a density of toppings and multilayered quality to the different meats.

Andrew: The toppings say, “Yeah, indulgent burly hockeytude!” Then the crust says, “It’s not delivery ...” That said, it feels like it’s good for spectatorial eating. Because you don’t have to think about it too much, and you’d be watching something, like this Zamboni.


(We dig into the Slammers.)


Andrew: Here goes. Slam me! Hm. Good bun. I like the bun a lot. Is that egg bread? Toasted, firm, but slammy. What are your thoughts?

Scott: This one had a nice char on it. I mean, the meat itself is fairly standard, but it was well-griddled. I guess I was expecting it to taste a little bit like ground-up Gordie Howe or something. He was a famous hockey player. It doesn’t quite have that kind of a kick, but it’s not the worst slider I’ve ever had. I used to be the slider king. I started eating them because it was like a burger I could eat over lunch while taking notes. I just kinda liked the form. There’s a formal appeal.

Andrew: I feel like it needs a sin factor. Like if it had an unreasonable amount of pickles.

Scott: You gotta bring it a little harder than this.


(For dessert, we have the Mack Lovin’, skillet-cooked chocolate chip cookies with ice cream. Also, actual ice skaters have taken to the arena.)


Scott: There’s somebody talented and skilled out on the ice. She might pirouette.

Andrew: Look, unironic leg warmers. They’re actually leg warmers, that are warming her legs.

Scott: This may be the only place where you can wear leg warmers unironically. The skaters appear to be dancing.

Andrew: What if the woman doing the maneuver is going (voice of female opera singer), “Those Slammers were deliciouuuuus!”

Scott: Hmm. Cookies surrounded by bubbling hot chocolate.

Andrew: (Takes a bite): Oh, my god. That’s got like super melted chocolate delicio-decadence.

Scott: Yeah …

(Contented, largely silent period of dumbstruck bovine pleasure in eating what is essentially melted cookies.)

Andrew: These cookies actually have that crackaliciously doughy, chewy goodness you always hear about.

Scott: (Momentarily emerging from diabetic coma.) She pirouetted!



MacKenzie River Pizza, Grill and Pub

1550 S. Pavilion Center Drive


HOURS Sun-Thu 11a-10p; Fri-Sat 11a-11p


If you’ve enjoyed this read, wait until you get your hands on a bunch of these reads from contemporary voices mining the good stuff from Las Vegas — all laid out in a gorgeous design experience. Subscribe. It comes to your house. For real!

KNPR and NPR Thank-You Gifts including t-shirts hoodies and cap

More Stories

Desert Companion
Desert Companion