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Reno’s Hellfire Saloon: Wicked Enough for Alice Cooper?

By Kyle Young

Hellfire Saloon is located on S. McCarran Blvd. and Mira Loma Drive in the Mira Loma Park Shopping Center. The family friendly BBQ joint features gaming, a full bar, and your favorite game on the big screen.

Okay, so Alice Cooper probably hasn’t been to Hellfire Saloon, but the restaurant still rocks. I couldn’t write this article without some homage to fire and brimstone.

I spoke with owner, David Heffern, about what makes his restaurant tick. “We’re a 220-seat non-smoking BBQ restaurant. We are competition style. We will be saddling up into the Rib Cook-off this year. We are one of only two local purveyors that actually make it into that show, so we consider it a great honor … What we do out there, we do in here,” said Heffern.

He buys everything he can locally. He sources his meats from Ponderosa Meat & Provision Co. and his breads from Truckee Sourdough Company.

MAXI Model 600 Chicken Rib & Beef Cooker. Image: Kyle Young

I grilled Heffern about the bad-ass industrial rotisserie smoker that sits in front of the restaurant. The MAXI Model 600 Chicken Rib & Beef Cooker can cook about 800 rack every four hours. Heffern uses a combination of mesquite, maple, mahogany, apple, and cherry wood to smoke the restaurant’s meats.

My first time dining in Hellfire was full of great tunes, fantastic service, and some killer eats.

My fiancé and I began our meal with the Arkansas Toothpicks, better known as fried pickles. The Kosher dill spears had a nice briny flavor. Whatever the kitchen does to adhere the batter so tightly to the pickles is genius. The $8 appetizer generously comes with about ten pickles and some tasty ranch dressing.

My fiancé ordered the Tonopah/Tokyo/Thai Burger for $13. The burger included cheddar cheese, blue cheese, bacon, and was topped with a teriyaki and Thai inspired BBQ sauce. In case the burger doesn’t sound enough like Frankenstein’s monster, the plate gets served with a side of fries, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickle chips. My fiancé reaffirmed my love for her when she turned down the vegetable accoutrement. The ingredient list may be long and a little unusual, but the final product delivers. The hearty beef patty was well-charred and the bun well-toasted. The two cheeses, beef, pork, and saucy identity crisis made for an exceptionally tasty burger.

I opted for the Smoked Chicken Wings for $12. Flavor choices included Hellfire Habanero, BBQ, Bourbon Buffalo, Garlic Parmesan, Thai Chili/Teriyaki blend, Salt & Balsamic, or Lemon Pepper Rub. Paying homage to the name on the restaurant’s door, I selected the Hellfire Habanero. The order included ten super-sized wings. I liked that they baked some sauce on after the wings received their smoke. The dish also included a bit of sauce on the plate for dipping. The juicy wings had solid smoke flavor. The wings didn’t have any crunch, but I didn’t mind. The BBQ sauce had plenty of kick, but I wouldn’t call it habanero hot. I appreciated that the carrot and celery sticks served with the dish were crisp and fresh. A little fiber going down with a chicken wing bomb never hurts. With seven wings and half the Arkansas Toothpicks in my belly, I tapped out.

ThisisReno’s Nick McCabe on the drums. Image: Kyle Young

The night’s live act, Apothic, tore the place up with bluesy rock ‘n’ roll and superb musicianship. The band had the crowd singing along and dancing the night away.

Given how packed the house was, I was surprised that our server apologized for not being more attentive. Not only was the service prompt and attentive, but our server also maintained a friendly demeanor throughout the whole dining experience.

Hellfire hosts line dancing on Thursday nights. Dancers of all skill levels are welcome. I’m not much of a dancer myself, but the great food and atmosphere might get my boots clicking during my next visit.

Hellfire Saloon’s address is 3372 S. McCarran Blvd. They are open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m, and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. They are closed on Mondays. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekends. Call 775-825-1988 for take-out orders and catering inquiries.

 

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