When I lived in New York, my wife and I frequently took our dog, Jezebel, to a sidewalk cafe, where she’d lay quietly at our feet while we enjoyed a meal or a few drinks. Unfortunately, Las Vegas is not a dog-friendly town. But Downtown Summerlin’s Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar is trying to change that by welcoming our well-behaved canine friends.
Lazy Dog is unapologetically geared toward suburbanites who might not have the most adventuresome palates. Unlike some food snobs, I don’t consider that a sin. On the contrary, if you can give people a relatable menu and introduce them to some unexpected sophisticated touches at an incredibly reasonable price point, I’m a huge fan. And that, along with the puppies, is why I love Lazy Dog.
The people menu at Lazy Dog (and yes, there’s a dog menu; more on that later) looks a lot like a billion other places that cater to the shopping masses in malls across America: It’s all over the place, but predictable. Apps include fries, lettuce wraps, mac ’n’ cheese and wings. For entrées, you’ll find wok-fired dishes, pastas and pizzas. When I spoke to the chef shortly before the place opened, he explained his goal was to introduce more refined details in the guise of the familiar. The result is a menu that reads a bit dumbed-down, while the food retains a very respectable level of complexity and quality. (The overwhelming majority of ingredients are made in-house from scratch, including two types of sausage, all sauces, dressings and desserts.)
A perfect example of a serious dish with a generic title is the chicken sriracha sandwich. It is, in fact, a pretty damn good banh mi. OK, it’s not quite up to Chinatown standards, and I don’t think chicken and bacon is a traditional Vietnamese combo. But the French bread is excellent, as is the Asian slaw of cucumbers, radishes and carrots seasoned with sweetened rice-wine vinegar and sesame oil.
Expect the same above-average details from the edamame, coated in a togarashi spice mixture similar to the one Kerry Simon used to offer at Palms Place, as well as a trio of hummus that includes walnut-pesto and sundried tomato varieties next to the traditional version. And Sicilian turkey meatballs are reminiscent of braciole, thanks to a smattering of pine nuts in the mix.
Among the entrées, lemon-caper chicken pasta is excellent, although describing the vegetables tossed in as “ratatouille” is a stretch that seems aimed at fans of the animated film. And while the chicken pot pie is moist and well-seasoned with a great flaky crust, the shallow pan it’s cooked in leaves it sadly lacking in gravy.
Even the bar program is above what you’d expect in a shopping mall. The agave nectar, sweet and sour mix, simple syrup, mojito mix and hand-cut sugar cane are all prepared on premises.
Now to the dogs. Water bowls are, of course, complimentary. But a bowser bowl of plain brown rice is available for $2, or you can add a hamburger patty or grilled chicken breast for $3 more.
The decor at Lazy Dog is a casual take on a mountain lodge, with plenty of exposed wood beams and allusions to cowboy culture. The outdoor patio (the only place dogs are allowed) is partially covered, with an open skylight over a large round fire pit. And there’s plenty of dog-themed artwork scattered throughout the restaurant.
Service so far has been exceptional. And I’ve been blown away by the reasonable prices. On one visit during one of the two daily happy hours, my wife and I ordered more food than we could finish, a beer and a soda, and the bill came to less than $30.
If this is what’s meant by “going to the dogs,” count me in.
Al’s Menu Picks
- Togarashi edamame beans ($5.75)
- hummus trio ($9)
- sriracha chicken sandwich ($9.50)
- and lemon-caper
- chicken pasta ($11)
Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar Downtown Summerlin
702-727-4784, Open for lunch and dinner, 10 a.m.-midnight Sat-Sun, 11 a.m.-midnight Mon-Fri. Dinner for two $25-$60.