Cheap eats in Vegas?
April 21, 2008 4:26 AM   Subscribe

Cheap, quality eats on the Vegas strip?

I don't know if that's an oxymoron, but I'm making my first trip to Vegas this week for a conference and I'm hoping not to spend a fortune on food. I realize that Vegas has some great linen-napkin experiences, and I'll regret missing those, but I'd regret more paying twice as much for an Applebee's-and-a-half meal dressed up as haute cuisine. Really I'd like to find out about the declasse grub that's not to be missed and within a short walk of Bally's. A real greasy spoon, or great ethnic joint, or whatever -- hit me!
posted by blueshammer to Travel & Transportation around Las Vegas, NV (23 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
there is a great little mexican place, right on the strip, but for the life of me i can't remeber the name. it's over by the pepsi bottle and rainforest cafe. Great food, VERY affordable, fun atmosphere

i will post the name if it comes to me....
posted by Mr_Chips at 4:41 AM on April 21, 2008

Ellis Island. Was recommended to me by a local, is about a 7-minute walk from Bally's off the strip. Full of locals and smoke (although the restaurant itself is less smokey). Make sure you leave enough time -- you will have to wait 20 minutes or more for a table. Note that there is a restaurant and there is a BBQ place; they have different spaces and different waiting lists. (Both are entered from within the casino.)

I won't say the food is great -- frankly, I didn't find any great food in Vegas -- but at least it's not overpriced. :-) There's a $10 steak dinner which is probably your best deal.
posted by wyzewoman at 4:45 AM on April 21, 2008

Fatburger is good
posted by matteo at 5:32 AM on April 21, 2008

if you want a true "experiance" check out a place called Hamburger Mary's. It's not on the strip, but across the street from the Hard Rock ( Hooters Casino now?).

Me and buddy walked in there, not knowing anything about it. Was full of guys in drag. We stayed and actually had a great meal ( burgers and beers, my burger was called The Queen Mary)

It was obvious we were "in the wrong place", but all the regulars were great and we had a lot of laughs with them
posted by Mr_Chips at 5:53 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

I haven't been to Las Vegas in a few years, but I really liked the Peppermill. Typical diner food type stuff (at diner prices though, yay.) Not sure what "walking distance" is to you, but it's a little bit above of the bulk of the strip (it's about 1/5 mile north of Wynn).

Also, the lounge has a "romantic flaming pool," so that alone is worth the walk, right?
posted by AlisonM at 6:23 AM on April 21, 2008

At Bally's, just go downstairs by the sportsbook.

There is a food court there with a Sbarro's and a Sushi restaurant that I love. Also there is a ice-cream shop and a sports-themed deli style place. Some other stuff too but I forget what all it is.
Obviously there is a bar there since it's next to the sportsbook.

Another hint, if you go to the Tequila bar at Bally's, they have a 3-pour special. Ask about it, it's alot cheaper than 3 shots at full price.
posted by whoda at 6:24 AM on April 21, 2008

In the mall between Mandalay and Luxor lives The Burger Bar. Reasonably priced (except for the Kobe) well prepared burgers. You could snag a sandwich at 'Whichcraft in MGM, although they may be a bit overpriced (usually around $10) -- it's a Vegas breakfast traditon for me. There is a brewpub in the Monte Carlo where you can get some reasonble chow. There is also a tasty Vietnamese spot in Treasure Island called, Pho.
posted by dzot at 6:28 AM on April 21, 2008

I second fatburger.

Also, in between Planet Hollywood Casino and MGM there's a Filipino 'fast food' restaurant. It's really cheap (like Chinese take-out prices). I didn't eat there, but I walked in and looked at the food.

The cheap food on the strip is mostly chains (there's a food court with panda express + wendy's. If you're from the east coast you might want to check out the west coast chains.
posted by sandmanwv at 6:32 AM on April 21, 2008

Also, the strip is long. I wouldn't personally consider MGM, Mandalay Bay, NYNY, Luxor or anything on the South Strip as 'within walking distance' for a meal from Bally's.
Yes, it's easily walkable distance-wise, but it's crowded, noisy, full of people pimping strip clubs and generally sucks and takes much much longer than it should.

Take a cab if you're going down there, or the monorail.
posted by whoda at 6:56 AM on April 21, 2008

Good guide at Cheap-O Vegas. Downt town is cheaper than the strip (at least, last time I was there) and still plenty acceptable food-wise. Most casinos have some type of ridiculously cheap food special to get people in the door.

Yeah, walking is a pain on the strip. Seconding the monorail. Pedi-cabs (bicycle rickshaws) are nice, too.

posted by GPF at 7:03 AM on April 21, 2008

I think you have a misapprehension about restauarant prices in Vegas. The hotel restaurants serve excellent food at very good prices, because they've long since learned that gouging people on the food is a good way to get them to go visit someone else's casino to do their gambling.

It's all about the gambling. That's where they make their money. Everything else runs pretty close to break-even in the big casinos, and that includes most of the restaurants. Sure, there are a few big-name restaurants in some of the resorts where the prices are ridiculous, but the no-name restaurants will surprise -- and please -- you.
posted by Class Goat at 7:25 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Take a cab. A short distance up Las Vegas Boulevard to E. Sahara Ave. If you have a car, it takes about 5 minutes.

Lotus of Siam
953 E Sahara Ave, Las Vegas, NV
(702) 735-3033

I hate Vegas, but my wife likes to gamble. This restaurant is the one reason (beside Red Rock SP) that I would return to that desert hole. It is generally considered to be the best Thai restaurant in this country and makes it to the top 10 restaurants I think) in Gourmet magazine. All this while still being a strip mall Thai place in a dingy building with a well-priced menu. I was skeptical of the hype, but the place delivered (as in "quality and flavor", not "the food to my door").

They have three different menus: The standard "Thai" menu, the Chiang Mai menu and the Isan menu. The owner and the head chef come from different regions and the difference between cuisines is amazing. (And that only covers the North and the Northeast regions)
They also have a spectacular wine list and can make great suggestions.

Make reservations. Arrive early. They will give your table away.

Is anyone out there as stupid as me and wish they could eat at a restaurant called Son of Siam?
posted by Seamus at 7:33 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Peppermill - it's the only reason I'd ever go back to Vegas. Note that the portions are amply oversized, to the point where two people can easily split one entree. And the decor is fantastic - it's a time machine to the '70's.

As mentioned above, Lotus of Siam is a fantastic value, and I also enjoy Viva Mercado (3553 S Rainbow Blvd), although both of these are a not insignificant cab ride away from the strip.
posted by Gortuk at 8:09 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hands down the best breakfast in Vegas is at the Hilton just off the strip.

They have a huge buffet with a lot of options. They are usually not that busy because they are off the strip.

Plus if you are a Treky, it has a sick Stark Trek museum.

posted by birdlips at 8:30 AM on April 21, 2008

Meh on the Burger Bar - there quality is in the sauces, not the meat. And Fatburger always makes me sick.

I will second Ellis Island - the $7.99 (if still running) Prime Rib and Microbrew special is good. Stick with the prime rib or burgers there.

The Prime Rib Loft at the Orleans isn't on the strip, but it's at a casino, so getting a taxi to/from is easy. The prices are decent and the food is good.

We just ate at Noodles at the Bellagio. The food was good, prices weren't too bad, but the service was extremely hit or miss.

Too bad you don't have a car - I could recommend some really good places within driving distance.
posted by krisak at 9:19 AM on April 21, 2008

Bad grammar above. What I mean about the Burger Bar is that their meat is kind of so-so, dry and flavorless. What everyone seems to really like is the sauces and extra stuff that they want you to put on it. So you're not really enjoying the burger, you're enjoying everything around it.

The burgers at Ellis Island actually have spices rolled into the meat (or did when we went there - but it's been a while) so the whole thing is really good.
posted by krisak at 9:21 AM on April 21, 2008

JJ's Boulangerie @ the Paris is a deli/bakery hybrid and great for breakfast or a sandwich for lunch and is next door to Bally's.

NY Stage Deli inside the Forum Shops @ Caesars is also pretty good for a quick bite.

THE Cafe @ THE Hotel is also a personal fave, but is at the southern end of LV Boulevard.
posted by Psionic_Tim at 9:50 AM on April 21, 2008

Enoteca San Marco, Mario Batali's casual place in the Venetian, is not expensive. Get the gnocco fritto and a plate of prosciutto, wrap the prosciutto around the fried dough and grated pecorino = happy tummy.
posted by nicwolff at 11:46 AM on April 21, 2008

In-N-Out is right off the strip
posted by metacort at 9:45 PM on April 21, 2008

the diner in Circus Circus is great, and open 24hr
posted by swbarrett at 10:11 PM on April 21, 2008

I second Lotus of Siam. If you go early, there are more tables.

They gave me a spicy mushroom vegetable dip that was so hot I couldn't finish it. It was so delicious I still think about those two dipsworths that vanished back into the kitchen.
posted by Sallyfur at 11:02 PM on April 21, 2008

I love Rincon Crillo (Cuban) up near the Stratosphere. Long walk from the main part of the strip, but I'm into long walks. Great prices, awesome food. I eat there every time I'm in Vegas.
posted by DawnSimulator at 11:41 AM on April 22, 2008

dzot has it above, the Burger Bar is great and affordable. Also they serve until late at night which is surprisingly difficult to find inside casinos.
posted by vito90 at 3:20 PM on April 22, 2008

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