Hope you’re hungry. Because it’s time to strap on your bib, loosen your belt and dig in to our compendium of the best cheap eats across the valley, from deep-dish pizza to bubble gum crepes to a Korean dish called, ominously and accurately enough, “fire chicken.” (We don’t recommend eating all those in one sitting.)
It was a tough job, but we did it all — and we ate it all — for you.
4440 S. Maryland Pkwy.
(University District), 836-3516
Rising from the ashes of Rebel Pizza like a warm, crusty phoenix, Whazzup Pizza cleaned up the old space and obliterated years of drunken graffiti from the walls. Happily, the prices are still redonkulously low: $4.99 fetches a meatball sub and medium fries. The cheese pizza is simple and tasty, made exceptional by the price: $3.99 for a fresh, 14-inch pie. Get a side of fries or upgrade to pepperoni for a dollar more. (JH)
Hot Dog Heaven
87 E. Lake Mead Pkwy.
The hot dog is a gateway meat for many vegetarians. Near downtown Henderson is a tiny food stand where you can lure your meat-free loved ones to the dark side. As omnivores know, encased meats are perfect to begin with. Make it Chicago style for $2.79 — with kosher beef, peppers, onions, relish and a pickle spear — and you may never have to endure a tofu dog again. (SK)
1 Fremont St. (inside the Golden Gate)
Downtown got a great diner and legendary pancakes when Du-par’s opened up in the Golden Gate about a year ago, but this place is just as famous for its made-from-scratch baked goods: giant glazed donuts, huge almond-sweet bear claws and, of course, big slices of creamy, fruity homemade pie for under a five-spot. I recommend banana cream, rhubarb or cream cheese pie. (BR)
Tacos El Gordo
1724 E. Charleston Blvd.
3049 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (on the Strip), 641-8226
For $2 and a bit of hearing loss (“What’d you say?!” “I said there are constant, clamorous throngs who love this place!”), you can experience the grand ceremony of the adobada soft taco: The meat carved from a swiveling totem pole of juicy, spicy pork, tumbled into a fresh corn tortilla, drenched in a creamy sauce spiked with cilantro and onions. It’s less a taco, really, than a tongue-tingling stew you can eat with your hands (Oh yeah: Watch out for your hands). A range of options such as steak and cabeza (head) come in taco form, too. (AK)
The essence of Hawaiian cuisine is sweetly marinated meat married to a starch, and the teriyaki bowls at Aloha Kitchen embody this essence at a truly blue-collar price. Your choice of chicken ($3.59) or beef ($3.89) is generously ladled over a big bowl of rice. Or you could go truly local with an order or two of Spam musubi (a thin slab of fried Spam lashed to a big cake of rice by a band of nori). Add a Hawaiian Sun Guava Nectar, and your tummy will say “Mahalo” for this quick culinary junket to Land of Aloha. (JW)
10100 W. Charleston Blvd.
How much would you pay to sample gourmet cheese and wine for an hour? How about nothing? Every weekday from 5-6 p.m., Vintner Grill pulls out one of the more interesting selections from their massive cheese inventory, and offers it for free — alongside wine chosen to complement it. Chef Matt Silverman is even in negotiation with cheesemakers to bring in special, rare selections for the program, which he’s calling “High Cheese.” (AM)
10345 S. Eastern Ave.
Skip the deer-in-headlights deliberation and choose a pre-invented specialty crepe ($4.95) or build your own blood-sugar rocket ship (waffle, $4.50; crepe, $3.50) with fruit, candy, sauces and ice cream (25 cents to $1). Quiet Asian influences — crepes rolled Japanese style, and red bean paste, condensed milk, green tea ice cream and mochi toppings — allow refreshing interpretations of this sweet trend. Get freebies and discounts by texting “crepes” to 77948. (MA)
The Steakhouse at Circus Circus
2880 S. Las Vegas Blvd.,
The revolving Horse-Around Bar Hunter S. Thomas rode while wasted on ether has been converted into an ice-cream parlor. So the only real reason for grown-ups to visit Circus Circus these days is The Steakhouse. While the place boasts amazing bargains all the time, its daily 3-5 p.m. happy hour is particularly amazing. Nine different dishes are offered for $8 or less. But the best bargains are the prime rib, which you cook yourself on a hot stone, and the trio of chicken lettuce wraps, either of which is available for just $5. (AM)
3730 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(inside Aria at CityCenter)
Michael Mina’s Aria seafood house has a fairly extensive bar menu, with 10 items priced at $8 apiece. But visit Sunday through Friday during the 5-7 p.m. happy hour, and you can get them for just $5. Choices include Dungeness crab “poppers,” fish and chips, yellowtail sashimi and Mina’s famous lobster corn dogs. If you aren’t into seafood, they also offer a prime rib sandwich. And you can wash it down with a $4 beer. (AM)
BFG Chicken Strips
873 S. Rainbow Blvd. (Central), 823-2835, bakedfriedgrilled.com
Hail to thee, O diamond-headed chicken god cleverly disguised as the BFG Chicken Strips logo. Praise to your tender, crispy, juicy trinity of baked, fried or grilled chicken strips that are only 85 cents apiece, as well as your dipping sauces, only 35 cents, that are sacramental injections of surprising flavor — we glory in your sweet chili, wasabi cream, spicy buffalo sauces and more. O diamond-headed chicken god, your church may look like a mere bland storefront wedged between a Home Depot and an Albertson’s, but we of the faith know what holy deliciousness resides within. (AK)
Although you can’t go wrong with their carne asada or al pastor tacos ($2.25 each), the real low-priced gems on Fausto’s extensive menu are the breakfast burritos, served any time. These freshly made, tightly wrapped missiles of food are big as your forearm and packed with hearty goodness. The best is the chorizo and egg ($3.75). Whatever you order, be sure to stock up on limes, marinated carrots and sliced cucumbers at their complimentary salsa bar, turning your takeout into a full-fledged, multicourse meal. They even provide baggies! (JW)
The Lunch Box
4632 Maryland Pkwy. #20 (University District),
This hip little hangout dishes out tasty, creative hot dogs, but the real steal is dessert. For less than four bucks, you can splurge on the house-made cinnamon and chocolate chip waffle ice cream sandwich. It smells better than it sounds, and it tastes better than it smells. This might be the best thing about going to UNLV. (BR)
Osaka Japanese Bistro
4205 W. Sahara Ave.
10920 S. Eastern Ave.
Here’s what’ll happen: You’ll drop in after 10 p.m. and ask for the $5 ramen bowl (in three varieties), but in the meantime your eyes will roam over the late-night menu, and you’ll point and grunt in an ordering frenzy at octopus fritters ($4), salmon skin salad ($5), mugs of Kirin ($3), jalapeño-stuffed yum yum poppers ($5), Japanese lasagna rolls ($4) and Lisa Lisas ($5), to name a few. You’ll feast to your content — and then that big, steaming bowl of ramen will arrive. And you know what you’ll do? You’ll find room. (AK)
Amena Bakery and Mediterranean Café
2101 S. Decatur Blvd. #10
Good falafel has the blissy texture of junk food but the savor, satisfaction and nutrition of something Dr. Oz won’t punch you in the conscience for eating. Amena nails it: Their falafel is crisp and firm — right up to the point when it yields to warm, crunchewy softness. And they’re just 50 cents apiece. The kibbeh — imagine a lamb-filled Middle Eastern hush puppy — is $1.79, and the savory thyme bread is $1.99. Of course, if you want the friendly faces behind the counter to do the heavy lifting, there’s also a full menu of sandwiches, kabobs, dips, plates and specialties. (AK)
Pho Thanh Huong
1131 E. Tropicana Ave., Suite D (University District), 739-8703
Here’s another your-tongue-will-slap-your-brains-out lunch secret for under five clams: Family-owned Pho Thanh Huong, where the banh mi — Vietnamese sandwiches made with scrumptious French rolls —are excruciatingly yummy and each under three bucks. Start with the barbecue pork sandwich, which also boasts shredded daikon, cilantro, carrot and jalapeño peppers and makes for the perfect summer meal with just the right “kick.” (English isn’t the first language spoken here, so be patient and clear when ordering.) We could go on, but we’re too busy eating our way to nirvana right now. (JK)
16. Sloppi Jo’s
The Vegas food truck scene is expanding into uncharted taste territory, and Sloppi Jo’s is leading the way. The eponymous specialty is spicy, rich, red chili pork, a sunny side-up egg and pickled onions served with a warm flour tortilla. Also, it’s freakin’ six bucks. That’s a dollar more than the beloved green chili cheeseburger. Follow that truck. (BR)
It makes sense that eating from a truck should be affordable. But quality and creativity like this is a surprise. The Fuku crew is adamant that their burgers come out perfect every time, juicy and never overdone, and crowned with unique flavors like avocado cream, pickled ginger, wasabi mayo, and miso-glazed bacon. Fuku means lucky, and that would be you. (BR)
18. CheeseSteak Truck
A piping hot Philly cheesesteak sandwich may be the perfect mobile eats. It’s portable, it’s satisfying, and if it gets a little messy, you can always hold it out and let the excess Cheez Whiz hit the ground. The crew at Philly’s Famous Italian Ice truck knows this, which is why they expanded to become the first two-in-one food truck. (BR)
These Bunz are palm-of-your-hand-sized, stuffed dough pockets baked to golden perfection, and they’re only $2.50 each. Standouts include the McCheezy and the Hot Pig. Other under-$5 items include the Me Fries: a basket of fries sprinkled with bits of bacon, onion, and cheese, then drizzled with ranch and topped with a fried egg ($4.50). (JW)
A single $2.19 tres-leches portion feeds three, but I’ve consumed a fair share of these gargantuan slices on my own when no one is looking (or when my fiancée is looking, and is appalled). Regional variations abound, but what you’ll be eating is sheet cake doused in creamy, sweetened milk. Add a $1.99 horchata or an agua fresca (sugary rice or fruit drinks) and you’re guaranteed deliciousness. And possibly diabetes. (JM)
Various locations, macayo.com
Make a meal out of chips and salsa at Macayo’s. The secret is to order takeout, and stick to the dips. Bean dip ($3.49), spinach con queso ($3.89) or chili con queso ($3.99) are all rich and satisfying. For maximum value, get a big bag of warm, fresh, corn chips and an eight-ounce cup of salsa for $4.50. Take them home and add beer; dinner is served. Balanced nutrition is overrated. (JH)
5597 S. Rainbow Blvd.
(Spring Valley), 440-6490
Panzerottis are a junk food delicacy relatively unknown outside of Southern New Jersey and Chicago’s Little Italy. Thankfully, Papa Geo’s has brought them to Las Vegas. Think of them as inside-out pizzas: dough stuffed with sauce and mozzarella, then dipped in a deep fryer. OK, so it ain’t health food. But it’s delicious! And you can find out for yourself for just $2.95. (AM)
3400 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(inside the Mirage)
Any true Las Vegan knows that, aside from air conditioning, the two best ways to beat the summer heat are ice cream and cocktails. But why choose between the two? At Laurent Tourendel’s Mirage burger joint, you can get “grown up” milkshakes, spiked with booze, for $11. Most of the recipes stick to sweet liqueurs such as Kahlua, Bailey’s, schnapps or coconut rum. But if you want something a bit more hardcore, try “Grandma’s Treat”: a wonderful combination of vanilla ice cream, caramel and Maker’s Mark. (AM)
Coo Coo’s Gourmet Coffee and Café
19 W. Pacific Ave. (Henderson), 568-5069
Sip on soda shop treats like banana splits ($4.99), sundaes, root beer floats, blizzards, ($3.99) milkshakes and smoothies ($4.89) in this old-school café in downtown Henderson. Espresso yourself with one of the many specialty blended drinks ($4.49-$4.95), like the Funky Monkey, a mocha frappé with fresh banana. Add peanut butter and an extra espresso shot to get the Bouncing Brit — and a sweet buzz. (MA)
The Stake Out
4800 S. Maryland Pkwy., Suite A (University District)
The best-kept lunch secret in town is this: Every Tuesday at Stake Out, you can get two of the freshest, tastiest ground-beef-in-crisp-corn-tortilla-shell tacos you’re ever going to wolf down for just $1.49. These tacos are so exceptional they’ll give you mouthwatering dreams and an excuse to hang out with a friendly and varied cast of artists, professors, construction workers and (yikes!) politicians. (Dina Titus loves this joint.) Waitresses here rule, too. You’ll never run for the border again! (JK)
4632 Maryland Pkwy. #18 (University District), 262-0201 yayotaco.com
The desperado hideout décor is particularly apt in light of Yayo’s all-hours “Student Special”; scoring four lovingly crafted, smallish-but-stuffed tacos from their classic menu—featuring ingredients such as Yucatan-style marinated steak, cerveza-citrus roasted pork and grilled pineapple salsa —plus two sides (plantain chips, Aztecan Quinoa salad or one of seven other choices), plus a soft drink for only $5 does give one the sensation of having committed highway robbery, broad-daylit and brutal. (DS)
1000 E. Charleston Blvd.
This killer Salvadoran joint specializes in the pupusa — a thick, handmade, pan-fried tortilla encasing cheese, pork, and refried beans (your choice whether to mix them all together or enjoy them separately) and served with curtido (pickled cabbage relish akin to sauerkraut). Since they’re priced at $1.50 each, you can enjoy three pupusas for under five bucks and return to the office stuffed and happy (and maybe a bit sleepy). Also a great chance to catch up on a telenovela or watch a soccer match. (JK)
The Pizza Place at THE Cosmopolitan
3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(inside The Cosmopolitan)
There’s no sign advertising the hippest late-night dining spot on the Strip. But on the third floor of The Cosmopolitan, between Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill and Jaleo, you’ll find an unmarked hallway, the walls of which are plastered with classic vinyl. Follow it down and around a corner, and you’ll suddenly be transported to Greenwich Village as you discover the most authentic New York Style pizza available outside of the five boroughs. Enjoy a slice for just $3 (plus 50 cents a topping), and then stick around for a game of pinball or Galaga. (AM)
2744 N. Green Valley Pkwy.
God whispered unto his holy people, saying, “Let there be Nova Scotia Florentine, with two eggs perfectly poached, atop baby spinach and lox, with the most delightful hollandaise sauce ($9.95). Also, let there be the best house-made hash in the valley ($8.50), challah bread French toast ($5.75) and other amazing breakfast offerings for less than $10.” He ordered coffee, and saw it, too, was good. (MA)
3225 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(inside the Palazzo), 607-6300
Wolfgang Puck doesn’t just broil beef at his Palazzo steakhouse CUT. Instead, he actually deconstructs the idea of what a steakhouse actually is. For an affordable sample of what that means, check out his knishes. For just $8 in the bar and lounge, you get five pillowy bites of potato, caramelized onions and parmigiano. The only problem is that once you know what CUT is all about, you’ll need to start saving up for a full meal. (AM)
4215 Spring Mountain Road #101 (Chinatown), 368-7628
Ignore the waiters before they can ignore you and get your Sam Woo to go. Sam Woo’s “express” inside Sam Woo BBQ sells barbecue and Chinese delicacies by the pound. You can find exotic fare like tripe or duck feet, but you and your gwailo pals are here for the flawless barbecue pork ($8.95 per pound). The spare ribs are the same price, but since you’re paying by the pound, go boneless. Add a large rice ($3.50) and you have dinner for four. (JH)
Quinn’s Irish Pub
2300 Paseo Verde Pkwy.
(inside Green Valley Ranch)
Beer pong in the front, Nickelback on the speakers, and the food emerges, mysteriously, from an Italian restaurant next door. Yeah, Quinn’s Irish Pub is all kinds of mixed up. The grub is, too — but in a good way. Perfect for soaking up a sesh of beer pong, alcohol-absorbent standouts on the menu include Scotch Eggs ($5) — yes, they put an egg inside a sausage and fried it! — crispy Irish egg rolls filled with corned beef and cabbage ($5), and fish and chips ($8). But not just any fish and chips. The cod chunks are big — bigger than Nickelback. (AK)
2245 N. Las Vegas Blvd.
(North Las Vegas), 444-4227
Looking for a smokin’ time? Ditch the Strip and head north on the boulevard — past the Golden Nugget, past the Silver Nugget, even past Jerry’s Nugget. There, in a parking lot across from North Las Vegas City Hall, you’ll find the best rack in town. H&H Barbecue dispenses well-endowed ribs and down-home delights out of a drive-up joint barely bigger than the huge smokers that pump a cloud of meaty goodness over the city. If you get lucky, you might spot (and smell) its roving red cooker somewhere around town. (JL)
in the Box
2555 S. Jones Blvd. #3
Well-Being’s kitchen must be tucked away in some extra-dimensional wormhole, because the all-purpose array of Asian standbys they offer — sushi, sashimi, Korean tray lunches, barbecue bowls and tempuras — is otherwise impossible to account for. Go for the specialties: The house-made mandu (Korean dumplings) and California roll combo ($7.95), or the regulars’ fave, the spicy sashimi bibimbap ($9.95), a bowl of fish and fresh vegetables you stir into the bed of warm rice beneath. (AK)
Rincon de Buenos Aires
5300 W. Spring Mountain Road (Chinatown), 257-3331
Rincon de Buenos Aires’ version of the lomito completo — the classic steak sandwich of Argentina — is what would happen if you made a regular sandwich angry and it turned into The Hulk. A barely contained riot of filet mignon, ham, fried egg and provolone, this $10.99 monster (and the spill of fries) can easily feed, and possibly house, two hungry people. After you digest that, return for their menu of other iconic Argentine plates such as matambre (steak roll stuffed with veggies and eggs, $7.49) and choripan (sausage sandwich, $6.49). (AK)
720 N. Main St. (Downtown)
This restaurant in the parking lot of a seedy motel is the place to load up on a tasty selection of pupusas ($1.75; chicken, shrimp and ayote: $2.50), topped with yummy curtido, fermented slaw. It’s so easy to fill up for less than $4 it feels like cheating, so over-order and add a side of platanos ($1.75). Still feeling mingy?
The usual imported beers are $3. Cheapskate-guilt assuaged. (MA)
Satay Asian Bistro & Bar
3900 Paradise Road
(University District), 360-8788 sataylasvegas.com
Nightclub meets Asian small plates meets in-my-mouth during happy hour — 4:30-8 p.m. weekdays; noon-6 p.m. weekends — for $3 appetizers, wine and beer and $5 specialty drinks. Try roti canai, a flatbread with curry, or lumpia, a Filipino egg roll filled with minced pork, beef, shrimp and shiitake mushrooms. Not special offers, but still special: the Buddha fresh roll, steamed dumplings and small soups (all $5). (MA)
605 Mall Ring Circle (Henderson), 458-4777,
Why? Because we can. Also: It’s delicious. Ice cream (neutron, $3.99; super nova $4.99) is frozen instantly with space-age, nitrogen-oozing technology, customized with bases and sweeteners (add 40 cents) of your choice, making it easy to create a treat with raw, vegan or organic milks and toppings (37 to 77 cents). Their “out of this world” combos are innovative — try salted butter caramel or spicy chocolate mole — and just 30 to 40 cents extra. (MA)
4321 W. Flamingo Road
(inside the Palms),
Perched atop the Palms Fantasy Tower, just below the Playboy Club and Moon nightclub, Nove is known for one of the best views in town, as well as some of the city’s best Italian cuisine. And on Thursdays from 6-8 p.m., it’s also known for some of the most amazing bargains available. Ten different appetizers are offered during those hours for just $9 a pop. They include beef carpaccio with Fuji apple & pea shoot salad, rock shrimp polpette with seafood marinara, calamari with banana peppers, and prosciutto di parma sliders. If you’re thirsty, you can
get cocktails for just $7 or beer
for $5. (AM)
Las Famosas de Jose
2635 E. Tropicana Ave.
(University District), 450-2444
Man enough for a meal that weighs more than a baby chihuahua? La Paquita is four pounds of smoky, spicy meat-filled torta that defies translation. Saner small ($6) and large ($7.50) tortas are filled with the same gringa-busting flavors — still enormous and shareable. La Paquita is $17.30 with tax, but considering its economy (enough for lunch and dinner — for two days), a must-try. (MA)
The Beat Coffeehouse
520 Fremont St. (Downtown), 409-5563, thebeatlv.com
Forget about its hip Emergency Arts environs, or its significant location in the surging East Fremont District. There are outstanding sandwiches here, and they are dirt cheap. The slow roasted brisket is a gem, with its pickled red onions on a baguette, and it’s $7. Last time I grabbed the daily special, it was a peppery turkey pastrami on a perfect ciabatta from Bon Breads. (BR)
Kobe Sushi Bistro
6375 S. Rainbow Blvd. # 102 (Spring Valley), 898-9998
Craving delicious fishes at a bargain price, but not up for the crippling gut distension that cost-effective all-you-can-eat-ism demands? Kobe’s 5 p.m.-midnight Monday-to-Wednesday happy hour (and all day Saturday and Sunday) means even most of the specialty rolls are half-price, while all beer and hot sake selections are three-for-two. Added bonus: Two of Kobe’s most transcendent menu items are the “Suck My Roll” ($6.50) and the “Me So Horny Roll” ($7), but pencil-and-paper ordering means you don’t have to say them out loud. (DS)
3500 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(inside the Forum Shops at Caesars)
If your good sense is easily overcome by romance, prepare for surrender. From chic decor to evocative menus, the bald man’s every move is seduction, calculated to induce non-stop chocolate consumption. The seemingly limitless, elaborate desserts are as uplifting as they are intense — from banana split waffles ($13.95) to the melting chocolate truffle heart cake and shake ($13.25) — and a delicate balance is negotiated, right up to the last, breathless bite. (MA)
4215 Spring Mountain Road #B108 (Chinatown), 838-2888
After serving up our favorite banh mi in town, Hue Thai restaurant in Chinatown expanded recently with Mr. Sandwich, located in the original Chinatown Plaza and focused completely on these crusty, spicy, salty, French-Vietnamese sandwiches. The fresh baguettes are worth the price all by themselves. (BR)
2400 N. Buffalo Drive #145
This is the newest of several Summerlin area breakfast spots, and one of the most popular. Why? Crazy pancakes. How about honey whole wheat or banana? Maybe you’ve seen those before, so how about carrot cake, lemon ricotta or red velvet? A full stack is probably too sweet and too fluffy for you to finish, but your wallet can handle it. (BR)
1524 S. Main St. (Downtown),
Expect a tiny language barrier as you navigate the limited menu of street food and cafeteria-style hot plates in this corner of an El Salvadoran center. If no habla Español, short of miming, “And this?” at each item, it’s hard to know what you’re getting. Pupusas are $1.65, empanadas less than $2. Some hot foods creep past $5 (chicken and rice, $6.99); it just takes asking — but everyone understands Visa. (MA)
Pho So 1
4745 Spring Mountain Road
Pho, spicy-savory Vietnamese soup with rice noodles, various cuts of beef and fragrant herbs and vegetables, is typically very inexpensive. So choosing
a top pho parlor among the many local options can be tricky. Pho So 1 is huge, quick, and always full of smiling, slurping faces. That’s quite the hint. (BR)
Harry O’s Five Star BBQ
1616 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Looking for a snack after some liquor-fueled karaoke at Dino’s Lounge? Drop by Harry O’s. A ten-spot here will buy you four delicious pork ribs, four large pieces of succulent fried catfish or five chicken wings. While the ribs get most of the attention, the cornmeal-breaded fish is the oft-overlooked star of the menu. (AM)
2600 W. Sahara Ave. #101 (West), 868-9020, mauirose2.com
When your hunger sounds like cannon fire and coworkers are ducking for cover, the rut-defying menu at this small Hawaiian shop will bring a speedy end to WWIII. Everything on the large menu is under $10 and combos — like No. 42, with kalbi, chicken katsu and crunch roll ($9.50; smaller portions, $6.50) — come with miso soup, salad, rice and macaroni. Teriyaki bowls are less than $6. So, call a truce already. (MA)
5030 Spring Mountain Road #6 (Chinatown), 367-4600
You can’t find a more artfully prepared, authentic, resoundingly delicious dish
for less than ten dollars anywhere in Las Vegas. Tonkotsu ramen — fresh,
perfect noodles in a bowl of broth made from cooking pork bones for days — at Monta Noodle House in Chinatown takes the cheap eats prize, chopsticks down. (BR)
Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers
Yes, it’s a chain. True, it’s technically fast food. But this bird has proven to be addictive, and you have to admire how the simplicity of the Cane’s menu leads to consistent tastiness. A plate full of crunchy, tender, well-seasoned fried chicken, crinkle-cut fries and guilty-pleasure dipping sauce just hits the spot. Don’t feel bad
about it. (BR)
501 S. Decatur Blvd. (Central), 878-6444, popscheesesteaks.com
It’s not Pop’s as in your dad’s, it’s POP’S and it stands for “Pride of Philly ’Steaks.” Obviously, it’s the best cheesesteak in Vegas, and for 10 bucks or under you can customize it your way. It’s always coming on a big, soft Amoroso roll shipped from Philly, and it’s always a pile of ultra-thin sliced marinated sirloin. Choose your cheese and veggies, and munch accordingly. (BR)
3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(inside the Cosmopolitan)
In the cozy dining room cousin to upscale Scarpetta, half the menu is devoted to tastings and noshes. After cheeses and salume ($5), try light pairings of assaggini ($11 for three), like fennel and orange, or the house-made sausage pizza ($15). But don’t leave without tasting the grilled filone ($7): ciabbata dipped into melted fontina, black truffles, truffle oil and poached duck egg — so heavenly you won’t share. (MA)
6593 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(in Town Square), 734-9273;
11011 W. Charleston Blvd.
(inside the Red Rock Resort),
In the upscale climes of Town Square or Red Rock Resort, the Yard House Happy Hour is a beery oasis of economy. Weekdays from 3-6 p.m. and Sundays to Wednesdays from 10 p.m. to close, domestic pints are just $3.50. Pair your pint with one of 16 half-priced appetizers like the giant California roll ($5.90) or the heaping Tower of Onion Rings ($4.30). The grilled artichoke ($4.85) comes with home-fried potato chips, in case you were trying to be healthy. Half priced pizzas ($5.65 - $6.35) and sliders ($6.75) round out the selection. (JH)
Luv-It Frozen Custard
505 E Oakey Blvd. (Downtown), 384-6452, luvitfrozencustard.com
Frozen custard is eggy, wholesome and Midwestern, all of which are categorically opposite to the faded glamour of North Las Vegas Boulevard. This small food stand looks like something from Wisconsin, but with a great view of the Stratosphere and of the pink Vegas sunsets. Custard is made fresh daily with a rotation of flavors. A regular scoop with chocolate jimmies is $3.46 and tastes like summer in a small town. (SK)
Soyo Korean Barstaurant
7775 S. Rainbow Blvd. #105 (Southwest), 897-7696
“The fire chicken is very … challenging,” our server told us. “Bring it!” I said — or, rather, the Sapporo said. Fire indeed — but one with character and complexity, judiciously calmed a bit by the melted mozzarella that coated the grilled chunks. It’s just one of the inventive Asian tapas at Soyo, a Korean gastropub with décor that can only be described as minimalist cutesy rustic Lego chic — you drink cold tea from tin cups and eat from stone bowls and eat pretty incredible small plates of grilled squid and garlic and chicken gizzards from unwrapped foil for under $10. Challenging? Maybe. Intriguing? Definitely. (AK)
Best Western Hotel, 1000 N. Main St., (Downtown), 382-6487
I never thought I’d find a cornhole league-hosting sports bar in all of Vegas. It’s a slice of the Midwest as saucy as its 14-inch Chicago-style pizza ($10.95). Pile on fresh toppings (50 cents to $1.25, depending on pie size) while you watch or play a game — shuffleboard, anyone? Also try one of the 16-inch specialty pizzas ($14.99) and the house-made family recipe lasagna ($9.95). (MA)
1217 E. Sahara Ave. (Central),
This California-based chain sells Filipino comfort food, with an emphasis on pig. Served cafeteria-style with no labels, you might need a guide to get past the dinuguan (pig blood stew) and sisig (pig’s head scrapple) to what you really want: lechon (deep fried pork belly) and inihaw (grilled pork belly). Lots of delicious beef, chicken and seafood are available if you don’t dig on swine. The menu rotates daily, combo plates start at $4.50 and $11 buys a ginormous to-go container of whatever you like. Big balls of sticky rice on the side are only 50 cents. (JH)
The Black Bear Diner
6180 W. Tropicana Ave.
This charmingly decorated franchise out of northern California specializes in heroic portions of home cooking like the Bigfoot: a huge chicken-fried steak with gravy, three eggs, potatoes and two homemade biscuits ($11.99), or the Volcano; a mountain of fluffy pancakes paired with bacon strips, two sausages and two eggs ($8.99). Breakfast is served all day, but there are also lunches under $10 and $13.99 dinner combos. The staff is friendly, and nothing costs more than $15. (JH)
Ellis Island Casino & Brewery
4178 Koval Lane
(University District), 733-8901 ellisislandcasino.com
The locals line up early for the 4 p.m. barbecue, where $12.99 scores a rack of ribs on a platter full of sides. The 10-ounce sirloin with three sides and a beer is always $7.99. Come early for the $4.99 steak and egg breakfast or show up late for the nightly specials with dessert and a drink for $10.99. The on-site brewery produces assorted quality brews, and 20-ounce. drafts are a mere $1.75. Old school! (JH)
The Hush Puppy
7185 W. Charleston Blvd.
1820 N. Nellis Blvd.
(North Las Vegas), 438-0005,
Here are a few reasons The Hush Puppy has lasted for more than 35 years: Tuesdays (all you can eat boiled shrimp, $12.95), Wednesdays (all-you-can-eat barbecue ribs, $14.95) and Thursdays (all-you-can-eat seafood platter, $12.95). Every day features endless fried catfish ($12.50); crispy outside, hot and moist inside. The namesake hush puppies (free with dinner) are perfect torpedoes of corn meal, deep-fried until hot and golden, served with honey butter. You won’t want to leave room for dinner. (JH)
470 E. Windmill Lane #100 (Southeast), 242-2244
Bachi quickly defined itself as one of our truly unique neighborhood restaurants, a spot to share and sample Asian-inspired eats at small plate prices. Don’t miss the homemade pickles, chili fried chicken, banh mi burger, and steamed buns filled with Peking duck, braised short ribs or succulent pork belly. (BR)
237 N. Stephanie St.
The mild pomp of the name refers to the menu, not the ambience, because this deceptively bland video poker bar/restaurant hides some surprising virtues. Among them, an ambitious wine list and plates that reveal a chef’s love and hustle, like a pretty mondo prime rib sandwich swimming in cheese and roasted peppers ($10.80) and an $8.99 custom burger menu that hosts such triumphs of the human spirit as the nacho burger and bourbon barbecue burger. This place deserves the pomp and then some. (AK)
Chicago Brewing Company
2201 S. Fort Apache Ave.
Go ahead and feed the animals — feed ’em right into your gnashing mouth, that is. Chicago Brewing Company’s wild game slider menu takes creatures beautiful, untamed and free (awww!) and transforms them into Super Bowl party snacks (hurray!). For $16, you can sample a trio of one style of slider, from alligator (crispy and flaky, and then drenched in the egg yolk you just chomped into) to wild boar (whose jalapeño jelly gives the rich, dark meat some kick). For $30, you can nom on the entire zoo. Look at you, all on top of the food chain. (AK)
Multiple locations, buzzbbq.com
At Buzz, $20 gets you three meats, two sides and a roll. It’s a monster of a deal, because the meats are among the best barbecue in Vegas. I especially adore the smoky, thick-sliced brisket and the crispy-skinned, fall-from-the-drumstick chicken. With collard greens, black eyed peas and fried okra, the soulful side dishes are no joke, either. (BR)
3555 S. Town Center Drive #105 (Summerlin), 586-6500
Due Forni means “two ovens,” and the duo here bakes pizzas in Roman or Neapolitan style. Owner Alex Taylor was the food and beverage director at Encore before opening this pizza and wine spot in Summerlin — and his expertise shows. From atmosphere to food, Due Forni is exceptional. Try the mozzarella bar ($10.95) with the heavenly stracciatella; split a richly decadent Tartufo pizza with black truffle crema, fontina, crimini and a baked egg ($20) and add a glass of wine for just $5. That’s just for starters; you’ll want to come back to try everything on the menu. (JH)
3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(inside the Cosmopolitan)
There’s a lot going on at Jose Andres’ slightly experimental Chinese-Mexican fusion spot. I say stick to the tacos, which come in pairs and wrapped in fresh house-made mini-tortillas. Try juicy lobster with salsa and arbol chile sauce, Yucatan-style barbecue pork and marinated onions, pork belly with pineapple or exotically awesome duck tongue with rambutan fruit. (BR)
Look guys, I don’t wanna fight about it, but for my few dollars this is the best Thai restaurant in the city. No entree is over 20 bucks, and we’re talking about everything from deep fried whole pompano to crab fried rice. The simple stuff is sublime: supreme curry, spicy basil stir fry and lemongrass-laden coconut soups. (BR)
3131 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(inside the Wynn), 248-3463
Wynn chef Billy DeMarco has created an all-fun menu of appetizers and exquisite little bites to match the sexy wine bar atmosphere at La Cave, made even more enticing by the fact that it’s the most affordable grub in the whole resort. Try baked clams with pepperoncini and parmesan, salt-roasted beets with whipped goat cheese or the killer ham, egg and cheese flatbread. (BR)
3220 S. Durango Drive (West), 547-5556, sababarestaurant.com
Want a steal? Fifty cents for the best fried falafel ball you’ve ever tasted. Sababa has the best Israeli food in Vegas, and $20 will you get any of a variety of combo plates featuring that fantastic falafel, top notch hummus, tasty shawarma or kabobs with fresh vegetables and pillowy pita bread. (BR)
3655 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside Paris Las Vegas),
Dessert at this celeb-encrusted disco-eatery reads like lunch menus perverted by the enthusiasm of 5-year-olds without supervision. The soda pop cotton candy crepe ($11) — a day at the carnival crammed onto one plate — is a hallucinatory confection of cola gummies, ice cream, cotton candy, cherry sauce, toasted marshmallows and pop rocks. Peanut butter jelly and chocolate pizza ($14) is another tantalizing toe across the line between “too much” and “just enough.” (MA)
3950 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside Mandalay Bay), 632-7403, bordergrill.com
The $25 brunch at Border Grill is an all-you-can-eat tour of responsible decadence. While dishes such as Yucatan Eggs Benedict (with sweet, peppery roasted pork and pickled onions), coconut French toast (made with a sourdough baguette) and guava empanada (fruity but filling) strut out like showgirls, the small, share-ready plates and organic ingredients make you feel less like a gawky tourist and more like an adventurer. Of course, you can go all tourist, too: For $5 more, you get unlimited mimosas. (AK)
8125 W. Sahara Ave. (West),
Add to this fine establishment’s deal-icious offerings — happy hours, industry night, half-priced ladies’ night — a three-course, seasonal set menu, served Fridays. This white linen lunch ($25 with a coupon from the website) is rich and generously portioned — with dishes like scrambled local duck egg with artichokes and mushrooms in a Dijon butter sauce, and Meyer lemon cake with apricots and raspberry sorbet — an impressive mid-day meal. Reservations suggested. (MA)
3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(inside the Cosmopolitan),
The Cosmopolitan’s Estiatorio Milos is a top-tier seafood house, and undeniably the best Greek restaurant in town. And every Wednesday through Sunday, between noon and 2:30 pm, it’s one of Las Vegas’ best bargains, because the restaurant offers a three-course lunch special for just $20.11. Begin with oysters and mullet roe, shrimp saganaki, a delicious meze plate, or one of four other mouth-watering options. The five entrée choices include pristine seafood, lamb chops and chicken. And don’t miss the yogurt martini on the dessert menu. (AM)
3121 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
(inside the Wynn), 248-3463
Allow me to save you some trouble. You can go almost anywhere and drop a few bucks for an utterly unsatisfying dim sum lunch, or you can go to Wazuzu, spend a bit more, and experience the best versions of these Chinese classics Vegas has to offer. Chef Jet Tila’s got all your favorites: pork and shrimp shu mai, prawn-filled har gow and juicy pork stuffed potstickers and cha siu bao. (BR)