In all the world there is nothing that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and those who consider price alone are this man’s lawful prey. – John Ruskin
Back in the day there was a flashing blue light.
Back then, Bob Taylor’s Ranch House was a pip of a place, and gave the term “adventures in eating” a whole new meaning.
You traveled seemingly forever until you found a dirt road named Ann, turned right and then started looking. No one knew exactly how to get there — “just look for the blue light off Ann Road,” they’d say — and so you would. “Oh yeah, there it is,” you’d exclaim to whomever was seated next to you.
And then you’d make a left, and then hit a dead end, and back up half a block, and then a right onto another dirt road (none of which were marked), then a few more turns on gravel and dirt roads in the black of night, but never without keeping the light in view — every trip a mini adventure in scraping through the dusty, unmarked desert in order to get a steak. I probably ate here for the first time sometime in early 1982, and for the last time two weeks ago. It was the last meal my very pregnant wife ate before she went into labor with my second son (on October 14, 1984), and the only time I ever shared the dining room with a certified mobster.
To set the record straight, I had dinner with Tony “The Ant” Spilotro, insofar as he and I shared space in Bob Taylor’s dining room on the above date. But no bread was broken, no confidences shared, nor tips given on the proper way to whack a stool pigeon. He was seated at the next table with a couple of guys, and seemed like any other quiet dude having a steak, and not the least bit like someone who would end up beaten to death and buried in an Indiana cornfield less than two years later.
You went to Bob Taylor’s then for the mesquite-grilled steaks. The portions were plenty and the atmosphere straight from the 1950s. Everything about the décor — from the wagon wheel motif to the open-flame cooking — spoke to a simpler time when men were men, ladies teased their hair, and highballs in skinny round glasses were the cocktails of choice.
Nothing about the place seemed kitschy. It was more like the set of one of those 1950s black and white westerns, the kind where John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart or Roy Rogers would saunter in and ask the proprietor to rustle him up some grub.
These days, to be kind, time has taken its toll. That decor hasn’t changed a bit (and is no the worse for it), the perfume of mesquite-roasted-steer still gets your attention, and the crowd as rough-hewn as ever.
The problem is with the food. It’s gawdawful. Leathery steaks, freezer-burned potatoes, government-issue salads and chicken so bone dry I choked not once but three times trying to eat it. THERE WERE WITNESSES!
If you must eat here, get the smoked prime rib:
It appears to be the only thing on the menu they know how to cook.
To be fair, whoever owns Bob Taylor’s these days (the namesake founder was long gone by the 1980s) is trying to operate an old-fashioned, independently-run steakhouse, surrounded by suburban sprawl with all the charm of a bus station. Its customers don’t want to pay Strip prices for their strip steaks, and it obliges them by serving beef that tastes like it came from the bargain bin at Albertson’s.
And that is the problem isn’t it? People want to go “out to eat” and get big portions for little money. And the Bob Taylor’s of the world (21st Century edition) are there to accommodate their lack of taste and relieve them of their cash. But as we like to say around the ELV offices: life is too short to eat cheap meat.
It is sad too, because like the Golden Steer, everything this place once was it still could be…if anyone really cared. As it is, the Golden Steer (1958) makes its older sibling (1955) look like Joël Robuchon.
That blue light is long gone, now. So is the soul of this joint. So is any reason to come here.
If The Ant were around, he’d have somebody whacked.
The steaks here run around $30, instead of the $45-$60 you’ll pay for much better quality beef on the Strip. ELV’s steak dinner for one with a couple of martinis came to $50 + a $10 tip.
BOB TAYLOR’S RANCH HOUSE
6250 Rio Vista Street
Las Vegas, NV 89130