Desert Companion

DEALicious meals

DEALicious Mealers: Jim Begley, Chris Bitonti, Scott Dickensheets, Jarret Keene, Andrew Kiraly, Heidi Kyser, Debbie Lee, Molly O’Donnell, James P. Reza, Lissa Townsend Rodgers

This marks the fifth year that we’ve herded our collective gastronomic adventures into an annual flavorpedia of deliciositude. Whew! Five years. At an average of 79.3 meal deals per yearly feature, that comes to [kachunka kachunka, punching buttons on calculator, kachunka kachunka] … 396.5 DEALicious Meals served up in these pages — which translates into, geez, who knows how many moments of utterly transcendent foodie bliss. But it’s not like we’re counting or anything.

Once again, forks in hand, we’ve scoured this tasty valley for great dining deals, hidden treasures and forgotten pleasures for palates of every persuasion. Eat forth!



Taco Tuesdays

$2 street tacos at Park on Fremont

Taco Tuesdays are a perfectly popular promotion at cantinas across the country, but we don’t think anyone in Vegas picked up on the trend until Park snatched it up. Or maybe they did, but we didn’t care until these triple-bite-sized nuggets of steak-and-yum found their way to this pleasant gastropub. Order two and a happy hour brew and you’re still under 10 bucks. Tuesdays only. JPR

Support comes from

506 Fremont St., 702-834-3160,


$5 rice and beans at Desnudo Tacos

Rice and beans are an afterthought in most Mexican restaurants, but at Desnudo Tacos, they’re the makings of a meal. The flavors rotate based upon what ingredients are available (garlic, verde, Spanish spices) at this surprisingly authentic Mexican joint run by two gringos, so you need to go early — and often — to get your favorites. Trust me on this. JB

3240 S. Arville St., 702-982-6435 


$4 hot dog at American Coney Island

Back home in Detroit, the ongoing battle between American
Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island for hot dog supremacy is fierce. However, only Detroit Coney Island has staked a claim in Vegas, carrying on the tradition of serving up classic dogs to the hungry (and possibly drunk) masses. The dogs themselves have the “snap” of a good tube meat and are awash in Coney sauce, a semi-chili concoction that tops it off just right. LTR

301 Fremont St., 702-388-2120,


90 cents glazed buttermilk donuts at Donut Tyme

What’s open 24 hours and offers Texas sugar donuts, hot coffee and free Wi-Fi? Find the answer at this family-run eastside O-ring shop, where you’ll be transported back in time. Old-timers congregate here in the morning to drink hot fresh joe and opine, discuss, kvetch and kibitz. Come for the casual atmosphere; stay for the perfect glazed buttermilks. JK

4268 E. Charleston Blvd., 702-459-2106,


$5 colita de pavo at Juarez Border Food

Juarez Border Food showcases the food of El Paso and Juarez, where, apparently, flocks of turkeys roam the streets all free-range — explaining the popular dish colita de pavo, or turkey tails. These morsels are diced, fried to crunchy, fatty perfection and served on an airy, mayo-slathered bun. No turkey chasing required. JB

412 N. Eastern Ave., 702-242-0055


$3.50-$4.95 fries at Sammy’s Pastrami

These tiny kiosks may seem austere but, oh, the excess of cheesy, fatty, meaty, bacony goodness contained therein. Along with its vast menu of sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs, Sammy’s offers several over-the-top renditions of the humble french fry. There are the bacon cheddar fries, awash in cheese sauce and bits of real bacon — not that synthetic nonsense. For a full-meal-of-fries experience, the deluxe chili cheese fries are smothered in chili and cheese as well as grilled onions and jalapeños. It’s a lunch in itself — and possibly dinner. LTR

2191 E. Tropicana Ave.,
4035 S. Decatur Blvd.,


$1.75 gourmet donuts at Pink Box

Contrary to bro code, there’s nothing wrong with putting the Pink Box on a pedestal. The dollar donuts at this local chain are delightful, but for three extra quarters you can upgrade to the “Date with a Nutty Pig,” flavored with maple, dates, bacon, blue cheese, almonds, and balsamic — a treat fit for a fine dining dessert menu. DL

Various locations, 702-478-7465,

Deviled eggs

50 cents Deviled Eggs at Sporting Life

Sporting Life’s deviled eggs give you but a hint of what treasures await in one of the valley’s most intriguing — and unsung — menus. For the price of a payphone call (yes, those still exist), you get a meld of mustard and pickle topped with fried capers. So much better than a phone call. JB

7770 S. Jones, 702-331-4647,


Wafflewich$5 Break-The-Fast Wafflewich at Tiabi Coffee and Waffle Bar

Utensils are for the weak! Or at least that’s what I scream before every bite of Tiabi Coffee and Waffle Bar’s Break-the-Fast Wafflewich, a full breakfast in one handheld unit with eggs, cheese and bacon caressed between two crispy-yet-spongy thin waffles. Dunk in syrup and try to contain yourself. CB

3961 Maryland Parkway, 702-222-1722,


$1.95 revueltas pupusas at Las Pupusas

More than just fun to say, the pupusa is a pancake-sized Salvadoran corn tortilla that is stuffed and griddle-cooked. Inside Las Pupusas’ revueltas pupusa, you’ll find refried beans, melted cheese and finely ground pork. Top that with curtido, a mild cabbage slaw, drizzle on some thin tomato salsa and fold to eat like a taco. Repeat as necessary. CB

Multiple locations,


$3-$5 happy hour menu at McCormick & Schmick’s

Odd that this clubby seafood restaurant located in suit ’n’ tie central offers some of the best food deals in town. From 4-7 p.m., the restaurant’s dark-paneled bar offers a dozen options, from $2.99 garlic rosemary fries to a $3.99 burger to $5.99 tuna tartare. You have to buy a beverage of some kind to qualify — which is where their beer, wine and well drinks for under $5 come in. LTR

335 Hughes Center Drive, 702-836-9000,


$4.50 roasted pork butt arepa at Viva Las Arepas

You’ll never be so grateful you ordered something with the word "butt" in it. This arepa is a surprisingly filling, savory hunk of nirvana. Think the best sandwich you’ve ever eaten: roasted pork, juicy tomato and rich cheese between two corn cakes that could keep a gorilla going for days. MO

1616 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-366-9696,


$5 PBB&J at the Goodwich

With not a single sandwich over $9, this downtown eatery could easily dominate our list. My favorite is their riff on the childhood lunch classic combining housemade peanut butter, pepper jelly, rosemary and bacon. Heck, they’d be well-advised to rename themselves the Greatwich. JB

1516 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 702-910-8681,


$2 al pastor tacos at Taco Tijuana

This may be blasphemous, but there’s a better taco out there than Tacos El Gordo’s adobada. Also from just south of the border, Taco Tijuana’s al pastor tacos eclipse their TJ brethren. The secret is in the preparation: Each is finished with slices from the outer layer of the spit, guaranteeing you charred goodness with every bite. JB

2554 E. Tropicana Ave., 702-547-9163


Free griddlecakes at M&M Soul Food

Yes, the cornmeal griddlecakes that accompany entreés at M&M Soul Food are complimentary. But these sweet, almost ethereally light cakes glistening with a swipe of butter are such a treat that I’d gladly pay for them. JB

3923 W. Charleston Blvd., 702-453-7685,



Sushi$9.25 Salmon Loves Lemon Roll at Sushi Twister

I’d stack this Boulder Highway-hidden Japanese raw fish joint against any other in town. The Kill Samurai roll kills. The Dead Dragon will do in your hunger. But it’s the Salmon Loves Lemon that so many rave about, and for good reason. Likely the best off-Strip gem of a sushi restaurant you’ll find south of Chinatown. JK

5566 Boulder Highway, 702-433-8892


Fat Choy$8 Sesame Noodles at Fat Choy

While practically all of Sheridan Su’s outstanding menu could be on this list and two of my favorites — the pot stickers and shrimp toast — were our 2013 DEALicious Meal of the Year, my latest go-to dish is his sesame noodles. The vegetarian dish delivers more than a hint of heat — and the generous amount of mushrooms means you won’t miss any protein. JB

Inside the Eureka Casino, 595 E. Sahara Ave., 702-794-3464,


Hot dog$7.29 Tijuana dog at Haute Doggery

A fondness for Tijuana rarely has anything to do with hot dogs, but this fancy fast-food creation is just as addictive as the city’s more questionable offerings. All you need to know are two key adjectives: bacon-wrapped and deep-fried. Jalapeños, onions and a squirt of mayo are just fodder. DL

3545 Las Vegas Blvd. S., #L-30, 702-430-4435,


$9.99 grilled vegetable wrap at Greens & Proteins

For more substantial fare at a place whose reputation is built on juices and smoothies, skip the caveman compulsion and go straight for the one that has the most flavor anyway: the grilled veggie wrap. Portobello mushrooms and bean purée give it heart, roasted red peppers and walnut cilantro pesto provide the zest, and an assortment of tasty produce will extend your post-workout self-satisfaction well into the afternoon. HK

9809 W. Flamingo Road, 
8975 S. Eastern Ave., 


$8 Best of Both Worlds at Windy City Beefs 'N Dogs

Chicago is famous for three foods: pizza, hot dogs and Italian beefs. Lucky for us, Windy City offers two of them together in a single order in the Best of Both Worlds, pairing a Chicago dog with a miniature 3-inch Italian beef with killer giardiniera. This duo transports me back to the Southside, even if it’s triple digits outside. JB

7500 W. Lake Mead Blvd. #10, 702-410-5016,


$6 Polish sausage at King’s Sausage

Not exactly a restaurant, but an unexpected miracle right beyond the barroom door. King’s serves up homemade sausage and pierogis outside Atomic Liquors Thursday through Saturday. There are several varieties, but I usually go with the Polish on a fresh pretzel bun with homemade sauerkraut — a perfect balance of spicy meat, soft bun and sweet, vinegary topping. Miraculous. I was not surprised when, as I took my first bite, “Like a Prayer” came on the radio. Neither was I surprised when I did not have a hangover the next day. LTR

917 Fremont St.


$7 Mick Sandwich at Southwest Diner

Thank god for Mick. A hardworking regular of Boulder City’s Southwest Diner, Mick was a vegetarian with exquisite taste; such taste, in fact, he earned an eponymous sandwich. Combining two eggs, avocado, Monterey Jack and mayo layered on wheat toast, it’s a simple combination that’s simply great. JB

761 Nevada Highway, Boulder City, 702-293-1537


$7-$10 lunch special at Chicago Joe’s

Chicago Joe’s location is suspended somewhere between Downtown and the Arts District, its vibe somewhere between retro-mafioso vibe and lawyers-who-lunch. The lunch special aims to please a wide array of palates and wallets — everything is under 10 bucks, be it spaghetti and meatballs awash in old-school red sauce, golden-breaded eggplant parmigiana, the heavy four-meat sub or a light chicken salad. LTR

820 S. Fourth St., 702-382-5637,


$8 Rainbow Burrito at Rainbow’s End

The original vegetarian/vegan health food store took its unspoken philosophy — all taste, no harm — rolled it into one savory log of goodness, and made it the namesake of its café. It’s all the rice, black beans, avocado, salsa and sour cream you want in a burrito, minus the dairy, hormones, lard and animal fat you’d rather avoid. HK

1100 E. Sahara Ave. #120,  702-737-1338,


$7 chicken and waffles at Fukuburger

Fukuburger is the valley’s most successful and storied food truck; while others have come and gone, the original Fukuburger remains. And unbeknownst to most, they still serve one of their periodic specials from the early days: chicken and waffles. A honey-and-sesame fried
chicken skewer served alongside cinnamon andagi (Okinawan donut holes), this special truly is. JB

Various locations,


$8 thali at Rani’s World Foods

You may not expect to find fresh Indian cooking inside a supermarket, but that’s exactly what’s happening at Rani’s. This cafeteria-style spread is best sampled with a thali, an Indian mixed plate consisting of a pair of vegetarian dishes from a rotating selection, dal (lentils), roti (Indian flatbread), basmati rice and pickles. Inspired to try it in your own kitchen? Fresh produce, spices and even cookware are just a few aisles away. JB

4505 W. Sahara Ave., 702-522-7744,


$5.99 chicken fajitas at Eggcetera Café

Located at Eastern and Charleston, this just-opened breakfast-and-lunch nook nullifies appetite pangs with kickass breakfast omelets and exceptional (and exceptionally sizzling) chicken fajitas. A more blue-collar and affordable — and far less pretentious — coffee house to treat the family before a visit to Downtown Container Park. JK

2000 E. Charleston Blvd., 702-388-9998


$6 happy hour Prime Burger at Fleming’s

Fleming’s Prime Burger, with a patty combining ground trim from their steaks topped with peppered bacon and cheddar, is an absolute steal during happy hour at $6 — the catch is it’s only available at the bar. If you want proper elbow room for some quality burger time, note that the Town Square location’s bar is much more spacious than the original on Charleston. JB

8721 W. Charleston Blvd.,
702-838-4774; 6515 Las
Vegas Blvd. S., 702-407-0019,


$6.50 torta ahogada at El Birotazo

Torta ahogada means “drowned sandwich,” named after, I assume, the first Guadalajaran who tried to swim after eating this dense pork bundle. El Birotazo makes an authentic version of the regional entrée with a semi-hard French roll stuffed with pierna, then doused in a red chile de arbol salsa, lime and onion, served gliding in a pool of excess sauce. Life jacket not included. CB

4262 E. Charleston Blvd, 702-888-0858,


$6-$10 kimchi ahi poke at Poke Express

Poke Express is what every grocery store deli counter should aspire to, offering authentic and fresh fare at affordable prices by the pound. And they should all aspire to dishes like this: cubed bites of raw ahi tuna tossed with mild kimchi, green onions and sesame oil. Pair with a sweet fruit drink and shrimp chips, or feast on it over rice. CB

655 W. Craig Road #118, 702-639-0500


$6.99 Fried catfish meal at The Hamburger Hut ’N’ Market

The Hamburger Hut won’t win any restaurant decor awards, but its entire menu can be on this list, especially the fried catfish meal. The chow-pack comes with two catfish pieces coated in a Southern-style cornmeal batter and fried to a crispy-moist brilliance, then served on a bed of fries with homemade tartar and house hot sauce. CB

2512 E. Cheyenne Ave., 702-657-9202


$8.95 loco moco at Kauai Cafe

For an island-style take on Salisbury steak, head to this mom-and-pop Hawaiian cafe in the Southwest. A traditional bowl of white rice topped with gravy-smothered beef patties and fried eggs will immediately stick to your ribs, leaving you to wonder how anyone manages to surf after eating it. DL

10140 W. Tropicana Ave. #122, 702-754-3559


$6 two mini burgers & fries at Kona Grill

Known more for its sushi and its scene, this Boca Park patio party also slings something special: two gorgeous mini-burgers with a side of fries. Don’t call these babies sliders; while diminutive in diameter, they are thick, grilled to order and stacked with fixin’s. Chow ’em down in the bar during happy hour only, which thankfully includes all day Saturday and Sunday. Add a cold draft and you have a mouthwatering meal under $10. JPR

750 S. Rampart Blvd., 702-547-5552,  


$6.75 Tim’s Fabulous Reuben at Great Harvest Bread

This cool, cozy, family-owned bakery offers awesome made-to-order grilled sandwiches, and Tim’s Fabulous Reuben is the one to choose from the signature list. The pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing are taste bud-banging, but the fresh pumpernickel bread is what really astonishes. Take some white chocolate chip cranberry scones back to your office co-workers. JK

4800 E. Bonanza Road, 702-452-9622; 6475 N. Decatur Blvd.,


$7 pozole rojo at El Menudazo

Pozole is all about the broth, and El Menudazo’s is rich, hearty and robust. Powered by pork ribs, this offering is substantially more complex than you’d expect from a tiny, off-the-beaten-path joint only open on the weekends. And because they take their time cooking it, once it’s gone, you’re out of luck — until next weekend. JB

3100 E. Lake Mead Blvd., 702-336-3334,


$7.90 Italian beef sandwich at Big Al’s

It’s just sliced beef and white bread, and yet so much more. This Midwest creation is a manwich at its finest: exploding with flavor and free of vegetables. In fact, if you want to add something green (in the form of peppers), prepare for a supplementary charge. DL

6840 W. Sahara Ave., 702-644-2333,


$8.50 Oggie at the Cornish Pasty Co.

There’s a reason the Oggie is the first item on Cornish Pasty Co.’s menu. Sure, they have fancy salmon and even vegan pasties. But this crusty envelope is hard to top with faux or fancy anything. With perfect oniony steak and thin potatoes, it’s a classic that, until now, was the only reason to see Cornwall. MO

953 E. Sahara Ave. 702-862-4538,


$8 chile verde combination plate at Chile Verde Express

A cardinal rule of mine is that if a place is named after a dish, chances are that dish is pretty outstanding. You’re doubling down on goodness when said place is in a gas station — that’s just pure confidence. Chile Verde Express’ signature dish is robust and complex, fuel good enough to be served outside a gas station. JB

Inside Choice Gas Station, 8095 S. Rainbow Blvd., 702-260-7758


$7.50 tostones con queso at Doña Norma’s

You’ve probably never noticed the Nicaraguan joint across from the Huntridge, but you should. The valley’s only Nicaraguan restaurant, Doña Norma’s serves the undeniably addictive tostones con queso. Caramelized plantains accompany lightly fried cheese of curd-like consistency with a hint of salinity, making for a symphony of salty and sweet. JB

1122 S. Maryland Parkway, 702-385-7309


$6.99 tonkatsu (pork) curry at Oh! Curry

This anime-festooned Japanese curry house dishes up generous plates of crisply breaded pork cutlets, rice and pickled ginger with a lagoon of Asian-style curry. (It’s more gravy-like than Indian curry.) Order the tonkatsu with a side of fried chicken or an Orange Dream (citrus gelatin topped with whipped cream). JK

5051 Stewart Ave. #101, 702-531-5785



Raspberry shake$13 Coconut Raspberry Shake at Holsteins in the Cosmopolitan

Being a vegan should mean never saying no to a milkshake. Well, maybe that’s not what being a vegan means to everyone, but Holsteins makes sure that nobody has to skip dessert. Coconut sorbet and raspberry vodka topped with a square of toasted coconut marshmallow, it's like a piña colada if sickly sweet turned sassy tart. MO

3708 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-698-7940, holsteinslv.comStuffed pizza$13.50 stuffed pizza at Amore

This is not so much a pizza as it is a bread bowl full of melted cheese (with a splash of tomato sauce for color). Lactaid-dependents need not apply. Tip: Call the shop 30 minutes before coming in, since each gooey pie is baked to order. DL

3945 S. Durango Drive, 702-562-9000,


$13 Shrimp and Grits at Eat

Smoked bacon, eggs, and pico de gallo are part of what make the delicately stacked decadence of the tastiest shrimp and grits you’ll get outside of Louisiana so refined. Although this is a dish for the famished and not the peckish, anyone can appreciate something that’s this worth the calories. MO

707 Carson Ave., 702-534-1515,


$11.50 country nachos at Our Families Country Café

What happens when you layer the valley’s best chicken-fried steak atop nachos and smother the whole lot in sausage gravy and cheese? Welcome to country nachos, the ultimate comfort food. JB

10591 S. Rainbow Blvd., 702-270-8700,


$13 katsu curry at Tonkatsu Kiyoshi

Hungry Man meets Hokkaido on this massive plate of deep-fried pork with Japanese brown curry. Two juicy cutlets are crusted with panko crumbs — its crispy crags perfect for catching every last drop of spicy gravy — while a generous side of short-grain rice gives the palate a break between bites. DL

7780 S. Jones Blvd. #103, 702-837-7300,


$11 Cock-A-Waffle-Doo at Nosh & Swig

With a color-coded menu organized by meats — purple (pork), red (beef), blue (seafood), chicken (yellow) — this small-plate eatery does it right. From the mighty Monte Cristo (black forest ham, gruyere cheese, fried egg, wild berry compote) to the outstanding Cock-A-Waffle-Doo (cornflake-crusted chicken with Belgian waffle and blueberry-maple reduction), Nosh & Swig will nourish your deepest foodie cravings. JK

3620 E. Flamingo Road #5, 702-456-6674,


$12.90 grilled cheese at Echo & Rig

Sam Marvin’s gussied-up grilled cheese bears no resemblance to the after-school snacks of yore. There are no plastic-wrapped processed cheese slices here; instead, braised short ribs mingle with salty Parmesan, sharp white cheddar and nutty gruyere. Sandwiched between thick-cut toast and served with housemade chips, it’s a brown bag lunch gone glam. DL

440 S. Rampart Blvd., 702-489-3525,


$11 mulipipi at Hungry Islander

So apparently flocks of turkeys run free in Samoa, too. At the valley’s only Samoan restaurant, their version of turkey tails known as mulipipi is served from a small, protein-heavy buffet in the back of the retail space. Bathed in slightly sweet marinade, the meat falls off the bones with the touch of a fork. JB

3385 S. Decatur #33, 702-464-5100


$12.50 rock and roll fries at Brooklyn Bowl

Rock and roll fries are an East Coast institution, so where better to find the dish than Brooklyn Bowl? A riff on poutine from the Great White North, this messiness is as addictive a dish as you’ll find. Aged cheddar supplies a surprisingly nutty undertone, melding with gravy and provolone in gooey goodness. JB

The LINQ #22, 702-862-2695



$22.99 Saturday buffet at Cafe Berlin

German might not be music to the ear, but the crowd at Café Berlin proves their food is manna to the mouth. The curry wurst reimagines German cuisine in a divine way, and that’s before you touch the assortment of schnitzel, kraut and brats on the buffet. Es ein party! MO

4850 W. Sunset Road #100-105, 702-875-4605,


$18.99 Maharaja shrimp tikka masala at Mint Indian Bistro

You don’t have to know that “maharaja” means great king; you just have to try Mint’s shrimp tikka masala and you’ll feel statelier. All the saucy, sweet, spicy creaminess of an eminent tikka with the sophistication of shellfish, this meal is fit for … someone craving the best Indian in town. MO

730 E. Flamingo Road, 702-894-9334,


$24.99 all you can eat at Rollin Smoke

The eternal line at this ever-bustling barbecue joint would move a lot faster if everyone would just pony up for this all-you-can-eat offer. An ideal arrangement includes rib tips, smoked brisket and some shrimp, but you can choose anything on the menu at any time of the day — no catch. DL

3185 Highland Drive, 702-836-3621,


$21 lunch, $26 dinner all-you-can-eat sushi at Oyshi Sushi

All-you-can eat sometimes means not-the-best-you-can-eat. No one has bothered to tell the chefs at Oyshi Sushi this, though. Hyperbolic roll names are nothing new in sushi world, but this place actually lives up to their Fantasy roll reputation. With salmon, shrimp, avocado, asparagus and cream cheese, who misses the rice? MO

7775 S. Rainbow Blvd., 702-646-9744,

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