They get their name from the tough and hardy shrubs that proliferate across the region. Much like the plant itself, Nevada’s “Sagebrush Saloons” offer a unique form of nourishment. These are the state’s longest-running waterholes, dusty ol’ quarters where bartenders pour cold drafts—and in some cases, dish up big plates of food—with a slice of history. Think of them as places that literally ‘held the fort’ when boomtowns went bust, safeguarding the stories that are seemingly oozing from every hand-painted sign and ceiling-stapled dollar bill.
There’s the Pioneer Saloon in Goodsprings, a ghost town south of the Vegas Strip, where patrons can sidle up to the same mahogany bar that’s been welcoming visitors for well over a century, and dine on stacks of cinnamon roll flapjacks and spicy “ghost” burgers in the presence of—if some are to be believed—the ghost of Hollywood actress Carole Lombard. You can still see the cigar marks left by a distraught Clark Gable, while he awaited word on whether his wife, Lombard, had survived a fateful airplane crash, and view a trio of bullet holes left as unintentional mementos in the saloon’s pressed-tin walls. Or catch some live music at Virginia City’s Red Dog Saloon, known for its psychedelic-fueled, summer-long concert series that took place in the mid-1960s. Some of the very “proto-hippies” that performed here went on to produce shows for big-name bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. Today, tasty pizza and juicy ribs (all ordered at a little window in the back corner) provide the substance for night-long jam sessions.
Whether it’s sipping on Moscow Mules served up in copper mugs at Nevada’s oldest drinking parlor, or trying to devour a four-pound “Monster Burger” at a roadhouse pit stop that once served as a horse-changing station along the legendary Pony Express mail route, here are six Silver State saloons that are as authentic as they come.