World Championship Wrestling (WCW), in their efforts to beat the World
Wrestling Federation (WWF) to town after the WWF purchase of the Debbie
Reynolds hotel on Convention Center Dr. recently opened the Nitro Grill in
the old Wild Bills Saloon & Steakhouse area of The Excalibur Las Vegas (second floor).
Unfortunately, the haste of getting this up and running along with the
shoe-strip budget are all too evident. For the most part, they just emptied
out the steakhouse and put up some arena-style lighting girders and a 30
foot tall TV screen which plays recent pay-per-view and other WCW wresting
The problem is that the entire place still has the old look and feel. From
the bad multicolored carpet to the red, yellow, and green booths, this
place still screams EXCALIBUR in the worst sense in every category. No
wonder the steak house failed — imagine eating in a cheap mid evil Circus
Circus setting and you have this room. A photo is online at
http://www.nitrogrill.com/ngint.jpg — see for yourself.
The food has some cute names taken from the WCW wrestlers — hamburgers
like the Goldberger, Hoganburger, and Stingburger. The onion ring order is
called Wrestling Rings and the chicken fingers Broken Fingers.
I tried the Flyin’ Filet, advertised as a “10 oz. center cut filet — our
most tender steak” (see http://www.nitrogrill.com/menu_5.html ). This steak
was a standard steak dinner with baked potato, salad, and rolls with a
price tag of $15.99. The steak wasn’t bad, but if this is their absolute
most tender steak then they need to employ some of the wrestlers to jump up
and down on the meat before they cook it.
The price was a bigger issue. This isn’t New York City or Chicago. This is
Las Vegas — probably THE most value conscious destination in the world.
While most casinos aren’t practically giving away the food like they used
to, you still except a LOT of bang for the buck in casino restaurants
(whether the casino runs them or not). And to add insult to injury, this
meal is virtually identical to the Binion’s late night $3.00 steak dinner
which I find the time to enjoy 3-4 times a month.
The problem is that once you get past the halfhearted cutesy wrestling
theme, this place is really just Applebee’s on steroids, with an inflated
price to match. The same appetizers, steaks, and sandwiches that you can
find in every coffee shop in town — at a 30% surcharge. If you are a
wrestling fan, stop on by the place, pick up a t-shirt, and move on. Their
website is at http://www.nitrogrill.com
By the way, before the hate email pours in from wrestling fans, let me
point out that I have watched wrestling on and off since I was 5 years old.
In fact, I prefer the WCW over the WWF for televised wrestling. But their
restaurant is going to empty out your pockets quicker than the tables
downstairs. Hit the buffet next door. It’s not the best in town, but at
least you get what you pay for.
This article originally appeared June 17, 1999 in the Access Vegas Insider Vibe