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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.