John Mull's Meats and Road Kill Grill (Las Vegas, NV)
When my dad invited me along to Las Vegas for this year's Safari Club International convention, I could hardly contain myself. For weeks I anxiously awaited our trip, which of course meant researching and planning some spectacular restaurants to try out. My dad has an odd fascination with eateries he's seen on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, but we saved those for lunchtime. I found John Mull's Meats and Road Kill Grill on Guy Fieri's list of Las Vegas hot spots, and I knew it was sure to satisfy us both.
John Mull's is way out by the North airport, about twelve miles or so from the south end of the strip. Needless to say, this was not a cheap cab ride by any means, so I hoped the food would be worth the trip. This joint has been around since 1954, and the surrounding suburban neighborhood you see today has grown up around them. Their "dining area" consists of canopy-covered picnic tables out on some gravel. I'd bet that gets a touch warm in the summer months.
Even at 1:15pm on a weekday, the line to order stretches outside the entrance door, and they only let people inside five or six at a time. There was a kid making his way through the line taking orders, but all he did was write it on a ticket and give it back to us. I guess that's meant to speed things up, though it didn't seem to be helping the slow-moving line. It ended up taking about twenty-five minutes for us to get inside, and another twenty before we had food in hand.
Inside things are running like an assembly line, yet somehow still far from efficient. All of the meats were pre-sliced and sitting in metal warming trays for serving. It makes me wonder why there was such a long wait for food, since the plating involves minimal effort. The guy working the line was incredibly friendly and energetic though, so I'll give them that one.
True to form, I ordered a 3-Meat Combo of brisket, ribs, and hotlinks. For my two sides, I rather brilliantly picked a potato salad/macaroni salad duo.
The macaroni salad had a high mayo content, which the southerner in me always appreciates. I also liked the plentiful pimentos. The potato salad wasn't very different from the macaroni, as if they just used the same base and substituted potatoes for pasta. Similarities aside, I liked the macaroni salad better, although I suppose I should have gotten beans or something instead.
My meat trio had the hotlinks right on top, so that seemed as good a place to start as any. The casings had a nice snap, while the meat inside was very finely ground. This is an actual meat market, so I'm assuming that the sausage is made in house, but this assumption is unconfirmed as of yet. There wasn't any smoky flavor that I could pinpoint. Even more disappointing, most of the slices weren't spicy at all either, with just one slice that had any real kick to it. East Texas hotlinks these were not.
The razor-thin brisket looked more like deli meat than barbecue. Looks can certainly be deceiving though, because this brisket had a great smoke level and was incredibly tender. The flavors I found were mostly natural beef, salt, and smoke, since they had cut away all of the delicious bark. I can't help but think their brisket wouldn't have been nearly as good had it been sliced thicker, but it was quite tasty in this form.
I saved the massive spare ribs for last. There was plenty of meat to go around here, that's for sure. The ribs were juicy and cooked just right, with only a slight tug needed to separate meat from bone. I tasted some smoke, but not as much as I expected. Smokelessness aside, the slightly sweet glaze was a great flavor addition.
Eating outdoors is something I'm rather accustomed to, but what I don't enjoy is having to spend the entire time fending off swarms of bees. I had to sacrifice my sugary soda just to get them away from me long enough to eat. Granted the presence of bees isn't the restaurant's fault, but you'd think by now they might have figured out a way to combat them.
My overall impression of John Mull's was that they're definitely lacking in terms of organization. Between the $100.00 worth of round trip taxi time (including tips) and the excessive and unnecessary wait for food, I don't think John Mull's is worth all the trouble.