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Hi-Scores/The Players Club is a 1up in the Rough

Anyone who’s talked food with me in the past week will attest to my vigor in recommending this hip little spot down in Henderson.   If you can remember way way back when people couldn’t stop talking about Insert Coins because it was a new, cool idea?   Then, in our embarrassment at having had high hopes for a bar/arcade (I am loathe to use the portmanteau: Barcade) which were quickly dashed by what became one of the least appealing bars downtown, we quickly developed a Pavlovian gag-reflex against the concept?   Well, I do; that’s why the overbearing theme for my visits here at Hi-Scores were just “Surprise”.   A preface: I’m not even a ‘video game guy’, and even without that much interest in the subject (I’ll shoot up some Zombies when I’m there if the mood strikes, but that’s it) Hi-Scores and The Players Club stands very well on its own.  I have to say that there is no other restaurant or bar that has surprised me so thoroughly, in almost every facet.

The Hi-Scores Bar

First:  While these are technically two separate places, there are only a couple differences.  Primarily, it’s a matter of atmosphere;  the Hi-Scores side caters to a bit of a younger crowd, and is the primary video-game-centric side.  This is the side that has a slightly longer tap-list, is a bit more of a high energy setting, and has a ton of old arcade cabinet games, racing chairs, tabletop Pac-Man, and a row of modern gaming consoles on projectors.  The best part about this is that they are all free; not one red cent you’ll have to divert from your beer tab.  The other side is a more upscale venue.  It’s quieter, more relaxed, and just has a few Golden Tee type games.  They have a very solid list of whiskies and especially tequilas (look up that Casa Dragones tequila in the picture, it’s WORLD class), and is more cocktail focused than it is beer.  Aside from that, both sides have the same menu, same beer bottle list, and same craft cocktail list.

Casa Dragones. This is a beautiful tequila and I haven't seen it elsewhere in town...

I came because I was hearing rumors of a good beer list from my brew-aficionado friends, but I stayed and returned (a few times now) for this food.  Like I said, huge surprise.  The Davalos red chile tacos are shredded pork, marinated in Davalos tequila, super slow roasted to smoky-spicy perfection,  and thankfully avoid the too-common soggy homogeneous mess some tacos can be.  I half expected these to be bused in from some “Hey, I know a place” taco joint, but this is an item they take some serious care in.  Plus, it comes with a shot of the Davalos.  In fact, many of these menu items are surprisingly (eh, see?) high-concept and laborious for a pretty casual bar.  The “Angry Birds” wings are braised in Newcastle’s Wear-wolf red ale, tossed in sauce and THEN fried.  This sauce=>fry idea is one I’m surprised I haven’t seen adopted universally, as the returns on these crispy, tender wings are worth the work.

Davalos and Davalos tacos, pairs even better than it sounds.

There is nothing on this menu I’m avoiding, and in fact I have set a goal for myself to work my way through the whole thing.  The Templeton Rye peach BBQ sauce on the pulled pork fries: sweet without being cloying, smoky, and delightfully complex.  The Ahi Poke: definitely above the board compared to most places I’ve tried it (and I ALWAYS try it).  The “Fig It Out” bison burger with fig jam, gorgonzola, and pepper bacon? Give it to me now.  The chef, Chris Sailer, was originally at Johnny Mac’s sports bar (apparently celebrated for their food), but has really been allowed to spread his culinary wings at Hi-Scores/The Players Club and pump out some truly amazing food.

Can you believe a list like this is in Henderson?

I should mention that the cocktail list is the brainchild of up-and-coming mixologist Michael Przydzial (Opened Comme Ça, opened and resides at Central in Caesars), and each drink displays a very active and creative mind.  His signature Priz Fizz combines the sweet vanilla and wood of Knob Creek Single Barrel bourbon, adds some spice and nutty characteristic with ginger infused cognac, suspends it all with egg white, and finishes it on an inspired herbal note with just a wash of absinthe.  Believe me when I say, “MOVE OVER, Downtown Cocktail Room!”  I’d especially recommend The Departed (Tullamore 12, clove infused honey, brown sugar, and a hand-beaten cream float), one of the best Irish whisky cocktails I’ve ever had.  Michael has some serious chops, and like Chef Chris, he has all the room to grow that he needs.  Seeing this in such a casual, off-strip bar is about the must surprising thing I’ve seen in a while.

The Prizz Fizz Izz... amazing.

When General Manager Freddy Delatorre (also a Central alum) was brought in, he has kept the same “philosophy” that the owner (an Ex-NASA and Arcade gaming software engineer!) adopted in its inception.  Get as much talent as you can grab, and let them run free.  THAT is a recipe for success, and especially for surprise.  This is the place that everyone (except for Insert Coins) was hoping for Insert Coins to be.  I promise, this is worth a visit to sample what every neighborhood bar would be like in a perfect world.  You owe it to yourself.  YOU, dear reader, are going on a lunch date or night of beer and food at Hi-Scores/The Players Club.  Do enjoy it.

- Mitchell Wilburn

http://mitchellwilburn.com/

Hi-Scores/The Players Club

65 S Stephanie St, Henderson, NV 89012
(702) 522-7766

http://hiscoreslv.com/

http://theplayersclublv.com/

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9 Responses to Hi-Scores/The Players Club is a 1up in the Rough

  • Is the location of this place supposed to be a secret? Your review doesn’t give a street address so I looked for their website which is http://hiscoreslv.com/ but it doesn’t have the address either! From another source I found it:

    65 S Stephanie St, Henderson, NV 89012
    (702) 522-7766

  • Jeff, that was a glaring oversight, thank you for letting me know. Fixed it!

  • Great research and I’m glad to hear things are looking up in Henderson (and am looking forward to seeing the full list of tequilas from the bar). A few things, though, which I am writing not to be the Douchebag Who Corrects the Internet, but because I love the fact that foodies in Las Vegas are discovering these places way, way (way, way, way) off-Strip and the more accurate the picture, the more people will be encouraged to go find these places.

    1. Templeton is rye, not bourbon; the company makes exactly one product, which is rye. (It’s from Iowa, though some of it is aged and bottled in Indiana while the original Iowa distillery tries to keep up.) Masterson’s, Willett’s or Van Winkle Family Reserve it ain’t, but it’s quite a good rye, and at about $30 a bottle it’s pretty damn cheap too.

    2. I’m glad you enjoyed it, but my opinion is that Casa Dragones is a $20 tequila in a $30 bottle with $200 of marketing on top of it, which is why it costs $250 a bottle. Its chief appeal is that it’s made out of 100 percent agave; it’s got this ridiculous story about the Casa Dragones in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato when that municipio isn’t anywhere near the tequila appellation zone and the tequila itself is made on the connector road from the 15-D toll road to the town of Tequila, Jalisco; it’s tequila joven, and while there are great jóvenes (Jarro Viejo), this isn’t one of them. (Tequila joven is made by distilling the wort and then leaving the liquid to sit for two weeks, thus allowing much of the sediment and nearly all of the taste to precipitate out. It’s then drawn from the top.)

    3. Carnitas are not slow-roasted anything. Carnitas are pork confit. The way you make them is you rub a whole bunch of pig parts with salt and then you put them in a wide tub (traditionally copper, but these days much more likely to be stainless steel) with lard to cover. Then you build the fire up and simmer it for hours and hours and hours. They’re not marinated in tequila or anything else. I’m sure the pork was delicious but it’s a pet peeve of mine when people call things like that carnitas. Pick a different name! It’s unbelievable what people will perpetrate with pork in the name of “carnitas”.

    Still, it’s not Olive Garden. I need to make a trip out there.

    Thanks for your review.

  • Dave, Thank you for the feedback, and for letting me know about the carnitas misnomer. That and the Rye/Bourbon thing may have been a menu fudge-up that put a worm in my ear. And it seems you really know your tequila!

    I hope you enjoy your trip there! It’s worth it.

  • Having been a regular at the Pkayers Club, the food is also reasonably priced for High Quality Food . The bison burger with the fig jam is terrifc and the Wedge Salad is perfect bar food.

    The beer list is terrific, the wine list is lacking and the cocktail list is potent.

  • Been here several times and love it. Glad to see a, ahem, slightly younger demographic perspective on this site. No offense to the man in the white suit.

  • I’m confused, author is correcting errors graciously, without hurling epithets at anyone who dares to disagree? . . . did someone hack this site?

  • Just curious why you think Insert Coins is one of the least appealing bars downtown. A Google search of ELV brings up this article and a recap of Jet Tila’s “Iron Chef” viewing party, but no other review.

    What are your top three places to check out Downtown, especially for food? We ate at Le Thai last trip (enjoyed it), looking for another venue for next trip this month.

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