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Desert Companion

Sixth Annual DEALicious Meals

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Pie oh my: Settebello’s $5 margherita mini-pie
Christopher Smith

Pie oh my: Settebello’s $5 margherita mini-pie

More DEALicious Meals:

DEALicious meals - Fusion dishes

DEALicious drive thrus

DEALicious table for two

 

Our DEALicious Mealers:

Jim Begley, John Coulter, Scott Dickensheets, Brent Holmes, Andrew Kiraly, Debbie Lee, Molly O’Donnell, James P. Reza, Greg Thilmont, Mitchell Wilburn
 

CENTRAL/STRIP

Izakaya Go

Uni shumai

The beauty of dumplings is that biting into one is like unwrapping a Christmas present — you never know what’s hidden underneath. And at Izakaya Go, the uni shumai swaddle melting dollops of sweet sea urchin in soft steamed wrappers for a surprise unlike any other. And it’s exactly what you wanted. JB

3775 Spring Mountain Road #301

702-247-1183

 

Forte European Tapas Bar & Bistro

Beef Stroganoff ragu

Forte, a colorful and extremely eclectic eatery, takes Russian pelmeni, or wild mushroom-filled dumplings, and coats them with a rich chipped beef sauce. It looks more like SOS-meets-potstickers than the archetypal noodly beef Stroganoff. Nevertheless, it’s an umami bomb of rich flavor. Four of these Slavic ravioli is all you’ll need. GT

Support comes from

4180 S. Rainbow Blvd.

702-220-3876

barforte.com

 

Herbs & Rye

Half-off happy hour

Rightly respected for its impressive craft cocktail menu, the speakeasy-styled Herbs & Rye also offers one of the best happy hour values in Vegas. Most steaks are half-price, served with one of 10 tasty sides (Brussels sprouts & bacon? Yes!). Translation? Order the flat iron and a well drink and your tab is $19. Share with a date and it comes to $12 a person for a light steak dinner and booze. JPR

3713 W. Sahara Ave.
702-982-8036
herbsandrye.com

 

El Menudazo

Pozole rojo

While this east Lake Mead joint may have extended their hours beyond just the weekend, their pozole rojo remains one of the valley’s best breakfast options. A complex, rich broth rife with hominy and pork short ribs, you’ll hardly need a meal for the rest of the day. JB

3100 E. Lake Mead Blvd., NLV

702-944-9706

menudazo.com

 

Rebel Republic

Reuben egg roll

How do you make the famous Reuben sandwich more beer-drinking- and sports TV-watching-friendly? Well, you bind pastrami and Swiss cheese in a wonton wrapper and deep fry it all up, of course. The bar serves their delicatessen-inspired egg rolls with delectable “Rebel Sauce,” a thin, spicy-sweet mayo mixture. You won’t miss Thousand Island dressing at all. GT

3540 West Sahara Ave.

702-538-9050

 

Izakaya Cocokala

Bakudan

With the proliferation of Japanese restaurants in the valley, it’s difficult to find a dish unique to a single menu. But that’s exactly what Izakaya Cocokala has in their bakudan — a bowl combining diced tuna, Japanese mountain potato, okra and funky natto (fermented soybeans). Whether or not you hit it with a dash of shoyu, you’ve got a nutritious and delicious dish. JB

4449 W. Flamingo Road

702-538-9556

 

Vila Algarve

Grilled halloumi cheese

Vila Algarve highlights Portuguese cuisine most Las Vegans — outside of those having had stints in Vegas’ Asian doppelganger of Macau — are unfamiliar with. But just because the food of Portugal is uncommon doesn’t mean the flavors and textures are unknowns. For instance, there is the grilled halloumi cheese where rectangular strips of the slightly salty cheese are endowed with a hint of smoke from the grill. Served alongside a peppery sauce tinged with heat, the cheese has the consistency of Wisconsin cheese curds and readily accepts the contrasting sauce’s flavor. And what’s more familiar than a Midwestern standby? JB

6120 W. Tropicana Ave. #A-11/12

702-666-3877

vilaalgarve.com

 

Carnevino Taverna

Chicchetti

A special menu for the Taverna at Carnevino, it is the Venetian version of traditional tapas. Carnevino has plates at $9 each, with offerings like steak or tuna crudo on crispy potato, ricotta crustini with pepper jelly, or just a big delicious plate of “Galloni” prosciutto di Parma. MW

In the Palazzo

702-789-4141

carnevino.com

 

El Dorado

Paco’s Mole Sampler

At $26, this big plate of three moles — traditional Mexican sauces — isn’t inexpensive, but as a value proposition it’s edible gold. This surprisingly upscale kitchen delivers chicken slathered in rich blends of Oaxacan chocolate, pumpkin-chile poblano and Guajillo-chiptole chiles. Pork is available with a $5 upcharge. On the side comes refried or black beans, cilantro rice and tortillas. On the architectural side … yes, El Dorado is next to Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club — so very Vegas. GT

3025 S. Industrial Road

702-722-2289

eldoradovegas.com

 

Parma by Chef Marc

The Parma sandwich

For a city its size, Las Vegas is surprisingly shallow in the quality submarine-style sandwich department. So when a restaurateur assembles one as worthy as The Parma, it’s worth making a voyage for one. Created by owner Chef Marc Sgrizzi, it’s a torpedo bursting at the seams with salami, soppressata, ham, mortadella, pepperoni, provolone, lettuce, tomato, red onion, olive spread and red wine vinegar dressing. Mangia, indeed! GT

7591 W. Washington Ave.

702-233-6272

parmabychefmarc.com

 

Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill

Crispy Calamari & Bacon Crackle

Sports fans and aficionados of that burly, verbally vitriolic British master chef, the one and only Gordon Ramsay, should take a seat at the eponymous Pub & Grill in Caesars Palace. Order up a cold pint and dig into a prodigious bowl of Crispy Bacon Crackle. It’s a helluva great deal from one of Ramsay’s kitchens, filled with flash-fried sections of squid (including delectable tentacles) and ample bits of salty rasher. The mix comes with spicy pickled peppers and a tartar sauce that is definitely dill weed-forward. The “crackle” is one of those dishes that doles out more than one might guess at first look. Plus, Total Rewards members get a dollar off, making it a $17 good deal. GT

In Caesars Palace

3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
866-733-5827

caesars.com

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Uni Shumai
Christopher Smith

Uni shumai from Izakaya Go

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Reuben egg roll
Christopher Smith

Reuben egg roll from Rebel Republic

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Chicchetti from Carnevino Taverna
Christopher Smith

Chicchetti from Carnevino Taverna

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Crispy calamari and bacon crackle
Christopher Smith

Crispy calamari and bacon crackle from Gordon Ramsey Pub & Grill

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Venezuelan hot dog

Venezuelan hot dog by Street Dogs LV

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Charcuterie plate
Christopher Smith

Charcuterie plate at Divine Cafe

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Chicken with chili and mint leaves
Christopher Smith

Chicken with chili and mint leaves at Ocha Thai & Chinese Cuisine

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Garlic Fries
Christopher Smith

Garlic fries at Pop Up Pizza

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Forbidden black rice at Lucky Foo's Restaurant & Bar
Christopher Smith

Forbidden black rice at Lucky Foo's Restaurant & Bar

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Meatball sliders
Christopher Smith

Meatball sliders at Bootlegger

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Aunt Jackie's Belgian waffle
Christopher Smith

Aunt Jackie's Belgian waffle at Coo Coo's Gourmet Coffee Cafe

Cafe Mayakovsky

Vareniki

Homemade Ukrainian dumplings, stuffed with mashed potatoes or cottage cheese, are smothered in caramelized onions and sour cream for a hearty, ribsticking dish that will leave you feeling like a tranquilized brown bear. DL

1775 E. Tropicana Ave. #30

702-247-8766

cafemayakovsky.com

 

Bardot

Steak tartare on the happy hour menu

Quite possibly the best restaurant to have an actual happy hour menu, it’s also one of the truly cheapest for the quality you get. French tarte flambé for $5, escargot en croute for $6, but the greatest deal by far is a huge, delicious steak tartare with crispy garlic, basil oil, and capers, all for $6! MW

In Aria

877-230-2742

 

Yusho

Chicken drummies

I’m not sure how authentic street food Japanese chicken wings are, but that’s immaterial at Yusho, where they make no excuses for their riffs on traditional Asian fare. Intensely flavored with garlic and served with a salty red miso paste hinting of funk, I’d eat these from a sketchy street vendor any day. Or from Yusho. JB

In the Monte Carlo

702-730-6700

yusholv.com

 

Street Dogs LV

Venezuelan hot dog

Venezuelan cuisine is not just about arepas, those little corn cakes so popular around town recently. A baseball-loving country, Venezuela fittingly has its own variety of hot dog. A traditional frank-in-a-bun is covered with shredded fresh cabbage, onion, ketchup, yellow mustard, garlic-parsley mayonnaise and crushed potato chips. If this sounds mostly North American in origin, all-pros can add on shredded beef, chicken or pork and a spicy pepper sauce for a more South American-style home run. Napkins are needed. Side one with a cup of papelón con limón, a chilled beverage of sugar cane and lime juices that has a nice grassy undertone. Try your first Venezuelan hot dog at Street Dogs LV, a brightly painted, shiny food cart operated by Eliana Celis and Luis Fernandez, a friendly young couple. GT

2101 S. Rainbow Blvd.

streetdogslv.com

 

Inyo Asian Variety Restaurant

Yari ika

While Inyo may represent itself as Asian variety, Executive Chef Gregg Fortunato is particularly adept at the Japanese cuisine he learned while at the helm of Blue Ribbon. And his lightly grilled yari ika — whole squid in an outrageous garlic soy butter sauce — is simply among the best valley’s dishes from the Land of the Rising Sun. Pretty fly for a white guy. JB

6000 W. Spring Mountain Road #1B

702-248-0588

inyolv.com

 

Divine Café

Charcuterie plate

Divine Café offers a gorgeous vista of the Sin City skyline and has great al fresco seating. Its bounteous charcuterie plate is piled with prosciutto, salami, cheddar, roasted tomatoes, dates, grapes, strawberries and Parmesan cracker bread. Springs Preserve members even get a discount. GT

333 S. Valley View Blvd.

702-822-7700

springspreserve.org

 

DOWNTOWN

Radio City Pizza

New pizza slice

Jake Leslie of Goodwich fame took over Radio City Pizza, and their slice got a substantial upgrade from passable drunk grub to gourmet. But don’t worry, you can get a white, pesto, or traditional slice for around $3 at the window, extra good garlickiness on the house. MO

508 Fremont St.

702-982-5055

radiocitypizza.com

 

Ocha Thai & Chinese Cuisine

Chicken with chili and mint leaves

Forget the crowds at Lotus
and grab some chicken with chili and mint leaves from Ocha. Although at $9.95, it just seems like an unassuming plate of ground chicken, one bite of this spicy and savory dish, with its hints of lime and mint, will have Thai lovers shouting, “Eat your heart out, Siam.” MO

1201 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

702-386-8631

ochathai.weebly.com

 

The Goodwich

Grilled cheese sandwich

The Goodwich gourmet kiosk makes the best griddled sammies in the Mojave, hands down. This is simply proven by their rock bottom-priced $3 grilled cheese job. Try one with marbled rye. Of course, melty American makes the middle. Ask them to add in some mostarda, a house-made, savory dried-fruit condiment with roots in medieval Italy. Superb! GT

1516 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

702-910-8681

the-goodwich.com

 

Bunkhouse Saloon

Fried chicken sandwich

Fried chicken cooked until golden on the outside and juicy on the inside isn’t just for Southerners, especially when served on soft brioche and topped it with crisp coleslaw. At $9, “yum” doesn’t really seem to cover it. MO

124 S. 11th St.

702-854-1414

bunkhousedowntown.com

 

Pop Up Pizza

Garlic fries

Pop Up Pizza has been a downtown purveyor of the staple slice for a while now, but who knew they sold something better than their delicious ’za? Their aromatic salty and satisfying $2.99 garlic fries are so good, you’ll have to pretend you’re training for a marathon and order a side with your slice. MO

In The Plaza, 1 S. Main St.
702-366-0049

popuppizzalv.com

 

Chicago Joe’s

Pasta lunch special

Chicago Joe’s just screams Old Vegas. It’s a venerable Downtown monument to the Italian-American cuisine of yore, as well as the Rat Pack. The weekday lunch special brings bread, a salad, a plate of pasta and a soft drink to your red- and white-checkered tablecloth for less than $10. Linguine with marinara and a $2 meatball add-on is a good bet. Some things should just stay the same. GT

820 S. Fourth St.

702-382-5637

chicagojoesrestaurant.com

 

Makers & Finders

Chicken tinga empanadas

One of the darlings of New Downtown, Makers & Finders features stylish but approachable South American-inspired cuisine. The chicken tinga empanadas are savory turnovers filled with chipotle-tinged shredded meat. Their smoky flavor is brightened with a creamy lime-avocado drizzle. They’re pretty, to boot. GT

1120 S. Main St.

702-586-8255

makersandfinderslv.com

 

Mariscos Playa Escondida

Ceviche mixto

Hidden away in a strip mall on the corner of Charleston and Maryland Parkway might be the valley’s best Mexican seafood at Mariscos Playa Escondida. And among the seafood specialties is a sharp ceviche mixto brimming with whitefish, octopus, shrimp and scallops. If it dwells under the sea, you’re bound to find it in this dish. JB

1203 E. Charleston Blvd.

702-906-1124

 

SUMMERLIN/WEST/ NORTHWEST

The Bagel Café

Bialy with nova cream cheese

Push away that blueberry bagel and grab its traditional Polish cousin, the bialy. The Bagel Café serves them crusty and wide; they look like small tires of bready goodness. Get one sliced and schmeared with nova (smoked salmon) cream cheese for some decadent noshing. GT

301 N. Buffalo Drive

702-255-3444

thebagelcafelv.com

 

Shuck’s Tavern

Dollar oysters

Seafood lovers and the bivalve-curious would be wise to visit this neighborhood tavern on Thursdays for platters of Gulf Coast oysters on the half shell — they’re a bargain at a buck per piece. (For fifty cents extra, you can try them fried, steamed or baked.) DL

9338 W. Flamingo Rd.

702-255-4890

shuckstavern.com

 

Echo & Rig

Happy hour trio

Why not sample before you buy the whole cow? The happy hour (3-6p daily, 10p-close Mon-Sat) at this praised butchery and steakhouse plates two sublime Vegas throwbacks for $1.99 each: steak & eggs and shrimp cocktail. Add a grilled Hebrew National hot dog ($1), and you have a divine protein plate under five bucks. Quaff a beer ($3), well drink ($4) or wine ($5), and this is serious bang for 10 bucks or less. JPR

Tivoli Village, 440 S. Rampart Blvd.
702-489-3525
echoandrig.com

 

Settebello

$5 Mini Pies

If you like authentic Italian pizza, you likely already know and love our city’s only certified Vera Pizza Napoletana. Less known is Settebello’s happy hour (8p-close, in the bar), which tantalizes with smoking deals on many of Settebello’s best menu items, often in more personal sizes. But while all happy hours feature food and/or drink specials, no others offer a $5 “mini” version of the Diavola, a diabolically delicious pie featuring Finnochiona, roasted red peppers, garlic, tomatoes and more. We usually order one with a Peroni. And then another. And, occasionally, another. It happens. JPR

9350 W. Sahara Ave.
702-901-4877
settebello.net

 

John Cutter

Philly Fries

Screw the roll and get right to the meat of things with this messy bar food masterpiece. Steak fries are smothered in a mountain of shaved ribeye, onions and mushrooms, and then drowned in glorious liquid gold, aka cheese sauce. At happy hour, you can get a generous half order (it can feed a small country) for $6. DB

11770 W. Charleston
Blvd. # 110

702-309-6300

johncutterlv.com

 

Angel’s Fried Rice

House fried rice

This new strip mall eatery is tiny, as in two-tables-teensy. But its off-menu special, the house fried rice, is big on chunks of ham and chicken. It’s strewn with shrimp and has almost an omelet’s worth of scrambled eggs, too. So get those chopsticks working! GT

3655 S. Durango Drive #9

702-889-0468
angelsfriedrice.com

 

HENDERSON/SOUTH VALLEY

Lucky Foo’s Restaurant & Bar

Forbidden black rice

Astute diners may have noticed forbidden rice sneaking onto local menus as the obscure, jet-black grain vies for the title of “2015’s kale” as the new It Ingredient. And during lunchtime at Lucky Foo’s, their forbidden black rice combines the eponymous grain with cotija cheese, avocado, haricots verts (green beans) and red onion jam. It may seem an incongruous group of ingredients, but the bowl brims with nuttiness, acidity and smoke with each forkful. Welcome 2015! JB

8955 S. Eastern Ave.

702-650-0669

luckyfoos.com

 

Bavarian Castle

Potato pancakes

Run by a family of German expats, Henderson’s Bavarian Castle exudes authenticity. Look no further than the crispy pan-fried, hand-formed potato pancakes, which look like they’re straight from a German grandmother’s kitchen. And that’s because they are. How much more authentic can you get? JB

10890 S. Eastern Ave.

702-778-2800

 

Kauai Cafe

Da surf rider

You will never convince me that Hawaiian cuisine is best in a refined form. Its greatness lies in the fact that it floats in a gray area between fast food and casual dining: affordable, no frills (and often fried) fare that will fill you up quickly. For the perfect example, head to this hidden hole in the wall and tuck into their island-style version of surf and turf. Deep-fried coconut shrimp and scallops encrusted in crushed macadamia nuts make up the surf; a heap of teriyaki beef works as the turf. Side dishes are equally unforgiving in their calorie count. Choose between fried rice or noodles and an obligatory scoop of mayo-heavy macaroni salad. DL

10140 W. Tropicana Ave. #122

702-754-3559

 

Bootlegger

Meatball sliders

For Las Vegans who arrived after 1972, The Bootlegger has been part of life since day one. That’s when Maria & Al Perry opened the restaurant and lounge, thus launching a long-lasting tradition in a city with far too few of them. After 19 years at Tropicana and Eastern, the family built a new location, far south on Las Vegas Boulevard. We’re happy that the joint’s ambiance (including a few old booths) made the move as well. In a city always reaching for what’s next, few things remain as Old Vegas as Mondays at the Bootlegger, when Kelly Clinton hosts an open-mic night that is something of a Who’s Who of Vegas entertainment. Also classic? The spot serves ’round the clock, and one of our favorite times to drop by is 11p-6a, when the Nite Owl menu plates an abbreviated dinner selection, plus breakfast, pizza, and (our favorite) Bootlegger Sliders. Just $8 gets you three tasty gut bombs (meatball, chicken, or eggplant Parmigiana) and almost too many fries — a delicious combo for soaking up the booze. JPR

7700 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
702-736-4939
bootleggerlasvegas.com

 

Serenade

Honey toast

Think of it as an Asian ice cream sandwich (or a bread bowl for future diabetics): a toasted brick of starch, slathered in butter, sprinkled with sugar and served à la mode. If the Sugar Plum Fairy had a palace, it’d be built with this stuff. DL

7920 S. Rainbow Blvd. #100

702-466-0616

 

The Sparklings Barstaurant

Crispy gnocchi

How do they get the gnocchi crispy? It’s the most delicious secret anyone’s ever kept. A gourmet combination of soft-dough dumplings, creamy pesto sauce, and candied walnuts, the crispy gnocchi is so delicious and cheap ($7.50), you won’t care how they do it, as long as they keep up the good work. MO

8310 S. Rainbow Blvd. #100

702-293-5003

 

Coo Coo’s Gourmet Coffee Café

Aunt Jackie’s Belgian Waffles

Something about the batter — they use only the freshest Belgians — results in thick waffles that are almost as light as the mounds of whipped cream on top. So you don’t get up feeling waffle-bloated. They come topped with fresh fruit (tip: strawberries rule) and syrup on the side, but you won’t want it. SD

19 Pacific Ave.

702-568-5069

coocooscafe.com

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