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Where do the locals eat in Vegas?

I'm going to be in Las Vegas for a few nights next month. There are two types of places I've found so far: the fancy restaurants in the casinos, which are too expensive for me; and the buffets, which require a 45-minute wait on line. (That's how long we had to wait at the Bellagio last year.) I'd love to know about other options--the type of places tourists don't know about. We'll have a car and we like all kinds of food. Casual is fine; our main requirements are that the food is good and we won't go broke (meaning entrees that are mostly under $25).

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  1. Two things come to mind immediately:

    1.) Grape Street Cafe. Lake Mead & Buffalo. Fantastic atmosphere, large selection of wines by the glass, and they do a pretty good job with their food.

    2.) Rosemary's. W. Sahara & Cimmaron. Great wine list, phenomenal food, and attentive service. $45, 3-course prix fixe menu and 1/2 off on all bottles of wine on Sunday nights.

    I eat at both places fairly regularly.

    1. Rosemary's gets tons of praise from everyone, they're 20-30 mins off the Strip.

      I feel the same as you about buffet lines-I'm on vacation, I am not waiting in line for 45 minutes.

      Diego at MGM might be an option, they're reasonable and very cool looking for sure.

      Daniel Boulud at the Wynn does a nightly 3 course meny from 5-7 for $48. Not bad for ap, entree and dessert at a very high end kind of place.

      1. Here's some thoughts: consider one night in LV's chinatown; there's terrific malaysian food (satay, banana leaf), vietnamese (pho vietnam and others), chinese (joyful house, and others); your whole dinner will come at a very reasonable price. Todd's on Sunset is very good and the entrees are about in the range you mention and it's about fifteen/twenty minutes off the strip. If you like Italian and want a nice view, Ventano's in Henderson is pretty solid. There are a number of good sushi options throughout the valley as well.

        1. Disclaimer! I'm not a local, but I'm in Vegas many times a year on business and let me say up front, that I don't particularly like the place. You won't find me staying at the big Casino hotels unless there's no other option. I much prefer the Marriott Suites!

          That being said, there's an abundance of great food in Vegas, off the strip. The usual suspects like Rosemary's (fabulous) and Lotus of Siam have been mentioned. A few of my other favorites are:

          The Pasta Shop and Ristorante on East Tropicana. Sounds hokey and it's pretty small, but the food is excellent. Usually a dyanmite special or two depending on the night. Service can be infuriatingly bad because there's usually a single server who I'm convinced also helps in the kitchen.

          Komol. LOS' red headed step child. This Thai place located in the same bizarre shopping center is terrific. Lots of traditional Thai executed well, but also some surprises.

          Florida Cafe. This low key Cuban restaurant in a seedy neighborhood is always delightful. Since I've never understood the attraction of a Cuban Sandwich, I've never had one there. What's the big deal about a slice of pork & ham slapped on white bread anyway? But I digress. They're fish dishes and pork are outstanding and I love a side of fried plantains.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Mutt

            Florida cafe - i frequently drive by this place ( and you are right - crappy location ! ) is there a specific ork dish that stands out ? i'm not familar with cuban food - do they have something comparable to carnitas ?

            1. re: kjs

              Check out their menu at: http://www.floridacafecuban.com/

              They have a Masitas de Puerco appetizer which is sort of similar to carnitas. The roasted leg of pork is one of my favorites.

              1. re: kjs

                Never eaten there, but I really like the tamales at the cuban place about a mile east of the strip on flamingo. Any comments?

                  1. re: chrisinroch

                    Don't know it. But I would say FC is definitely worth a visit for comparison's sake so you can let us know.

                    The location is indeed horrible, but the space is absolutely lovely. They remodeled a couple of years ago, and it is a dark, cool oasis...great place to hang if you have nothing to do after lunch. Their chicken dishes are right up their with the pork. I'm not a fan, but I took a couple of associates there for lunch their first day in town and they went back two more times, and not just because of the lovely waitresses.

                1. re: Mutt

                  Good call on Florida Cafe...what a great hang.

                  As for the Cuban sandwich, it is more than the sum of its parts. For starters, it's not just "slapped" on white bread, but rather is grilled in a sandwich press. It makes for a wonderful melding of flavors (ham, pork, cheese, pickle) and textures with the bread crusty from the press.

                  I've never had anything at FC that wasn't molto tasty. The croqetas, papas rellenas and tostones (the fried plantains) are all excellent.

                2. Check this recent thread for some useful tips:


                  While in it, you will see a post from me which contains a link to the annual restaurant ratings of the local paper, with selections both by the editors and the local readers. Most of the picks are local places.

                  1. i, too, am not a local though i am in vegas about 75 days/year and i love food !! and i really try to frequesnt local places though i still hit the casino spots too.

                    although i feel the la chinese scene to be better, vegas definitely has a decent chinatown area ( isay chinatown, but there are a few thai and vietnamese places in the sahara/spring mountain corridor too )

                    for under $25 that are local, semi-local, i suggest capriotti's, metro pizza, black bear diner and hash house a go-go for breakfast, brunch and lunch

                    freeds bakery and cupcakery for a sweet tooth

                    i finally remember the name of the hot dog stand up the street from my house - sammy's - i personally did not give it a high rating, but it deserves a 2nd opinion from me and from others since i am not an expert with east coast hot dogs ...funny thing is the havge a sign out front that says "LA style pastrami" ...i'm not sure what that means...we have Langers in LA and i'm embarassed to say, i have not tried it yet even thoughmany claim it's the best in america. so east coast ( jersey ) dogs and la pastrami...you gotta love that !!

                    try mcmullan's across the street from orleans - again, i'm not an expert on irish food , i loved it, but i have not seen much written about the place.

                    places on my list to try that will fit the under $25 criteria...pops philly steaks...i believe on decatur near the 95 fwy, there's a burger place next to cold stone on i believe sahara near decatur...i need to try it. i've yet to try the 1 pound stuffed burger at hash house a gogo - i have a feeling i'll like it....doubt i can eat it all. also want to try the hawaiian food place out on lake mead in henderson - the local paper gave it a very good review.....btw...here's the other reviews worth looking at.....


                    anyways...will you promise to report on your food adventure ?!?!?

                    1. btw - the locals do speak every year in the newspaper survey for the "best of" ....


                      but be careful....best seafood.....red lobster !!!!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kjs

                        Yeah, ignore a lot of that since some of the locals have their heads up their collective, well.

                        "Best Tacos: Taco Bell"

                        'Nuff said.

                      2. Joyful House is excellent for Chinese. This is where the local Chinese community goes to. Rincon de Buenos Aires is a very good choice. Try one of their mixed grills of meat.

                        1. Thanks for the great suggestions; I didn't know LV had a Chinatown. And yes, I will definitely report back!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: ChelseaGirl

                            Well, "Chinatown" is the official name, but it's more like "ChinaBLOCK"

                            There's a new ChinaBlock like center that opened up just west of Decatur on Spring Mountain. Excellent bakery there: Provencal Bakery

                            It's connected to a sandwich shop that's well rated, too. Hue Thai, IIRC.

                            1. re: ChelseaGirl

                              btw, there is no need whatsoever to stand in line for buffets at any casino where you either are registered or play a while. Simply ask the check-in agent (if you're staying), your host or the players' club desk for a line pass, and it will almost invariably be given to you without demur. IMHO no buffet is worth a long (or any) wait - but to walk up to the front of the "invited guest" line and be seated within two or three minutes is a treat !

                            2. Lotus of Siam for great Thai

                              1. Isn't The Bootlegger a pretty locals only kind of place?

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: torta basilica

                                  The Bootlegger gets its share of tourists, especially on weekend nights, when there is a sort of open mike, but it's also a hangout for performers. Lots of musicians and singers come after their regular gigs on or off the strip.

                                  1. re: torta basilica

                                    The Bootlegger's on the Strip, so not really. However, it quite good and still has that "sit with your back to the door" vibe to it.

                                    When we dined there, it definitely had a gangster movie feel to it. It only helps the food taste better when it looks like a scene from a movie right before a snitch gets whacked.

                                  2. Not a local but have been taken to Lindo Michoacan for great Mexican food by locals.....so good!

                                    1. jbyoga is right about Lindo Michoacan. another place not too far from the strip I like is Strings Italian friendly folks, very good food and a good price (about the same price or less than you would pay say at Olive Garden except you get good food)

                                      1. Thanks Chowhounds! We were in Vegas over the weekend. Using your recommendations, we went to Rosemary's, Lotus of Siam and the Stage Deli. All were terrific, especially Rosemary's. We also went to the Peppermill one night. The food was adequate but the portions were humongous- the four of us could have shared one entree. The cocktails were potent, as well. I'll definately be back to your site for other rec's!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Spruchnicki

                                          It's time to report back...unfortunately, because of our work schedule we had time to go to only one "real" restaurant...we decided on Rosemary's and we absolutely loved it. I think the scallops were probably the best I've ever eaten. The service was wonderful too. We will definitely go back next time we're in town...Thanks Chowhounds for the recommendation.

                                        2. Glad you enjoyed Rosemary's. Was the scallop dish the one with the parsnips? That is indeed a KILLER preparation. You can never go wrong there...