As a general rule, I don’t do quaint. I like big noisy cities and loud obnoxious rock bands. So driving out to Boulder City to see a folk rock band perform was not my dream assignment. But I had been anxious to review The Dillinger Food & Drinkery, so I figured I’d plan my visit for a night when a band was performing – and a friend recommended checking out Dusty Sunshine. At the last minute, I begrudgingly shelled out for a hotel room so I could at least enjoy a few drinks without having to worry about the ride back to Las Vegas. I was not, however, looking forward to the night. So I was pleasantly surprised when I ended up enjoying the music and the town just as much as The Dillinger’s great sandwiches.
The Dillinger is a small place that probably seats fewer than 30 people. There’s a patio outside, where Dusty Sunshine performed. (An inside table was removed to accommodate a second act’s drum kit later in the evening.) The dining room has a modern, urban décor that stands in stark contrast with the rest of Boulder City.
The menu offers a handful of appetizers, soups and salads. But this is primarily a sandwich shop. There are 13 burgers available ($8-$19), plus 11 other sandwiches ($6.50-$10). If you’re in the mood for pasta, the menu helpfully directs you to a restaurant across the street.
I began my meal with an order of Philly Cheese Steak Fries ($8). The shoestring fries were loaded in Cheeze Whiz and hot peppers, and then topped with crumbled slices of steak. The truth is, the meat seemed unnecessary. But the cheese fries themselves were excellent.
My wife started with an order of chili ($7.25), which the menu clearly stated was made without beans because the “chef hates beans.” He also seems not to like spice, since the dish was extremely bland and otherwise unremarkable. Of everything we ate, it was the only thing I wouldn’t order again.
For our sandwiches, we decided to take the advice of our waitress, who seemed to know more about food than some servers I’ve had in Las Vegas’ most expensive restaurants. From the burger section she recommended The Dillinger, a half-pound patty topped with cheddar cheese, applewood-smoked bacon and a large portion of beef brisket ($11). It was a big sloppy mess, but delicious. Our Firehouse chicken sandwich, made with a grilled chicken breast, jalapeno bacon, habanero jack cheese and chipotle mayo, was equally good. It’s obvious the chef doesn’t skimp on ingredients, from his delicious bacons to the amazing buns.
By the time we finished our meal, the band had already begun playing outside. So after settling up, we wandered out to check out the set. In addition to enjoying the music, we had a great time mingling with the local crowd. (It’s amazing how friendly people can be when they don’t have their heads buried in a video-poker machine.) Later, a theater across the street let out, and the two crowds began mingling. At one point, my wife and I wandered across the street and hung out on a park bench, where we were still able to see and hear the band. I felt like I was in a Norman Rockwell painting, but, surprisingly, I didn’t hate it. Later in the evening, we headed back inside The Dillinger to watch a second band play. After a night of great music and a few drinks I was glad we’d booked a room at the Boulder Dam Hotel, across the street — although $80 for the night seemed a little pricey for a double bed in a tiny room.
The Dillinger is certainly a top-notch sandwich shop with great food and a fun atmosphere. If you find yourself in Boulder City, you should make it a point to dine there. And those of you who don’t find yourselves that close to the Hoover Dam all that frequently might want to plan a trip just to check the place out. Trust me, small towns aren’t as scary as they seem.
The Dillinger Food & Drinkery, 1224 Arizona Street, Boulder City, 293-4001. Read more about the Las Vegas dining scene on Al Mancini’s blog, www.almancini.net.