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Vegas black/red -- value husband vs. first time let's see

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OK, my wife has never been to Vegas and the sky's the limit -- she will be watched ;) -- versus me, the I've found most of the best meals of my life under $20/entree. We are staying at the MGM, so the strip/downtown are obvious, but a reasonable cab ride is open, too. Hounds, I could use some help. -- Thanks! g

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  1. i don't get it - are you asking for places to eat for under $20/person ? yes ? and you are up for a cab drive...heck the cab drive round trip ...just about anyplace ...$20+ !!! $20 on the strip...only one option...at least for dinner....BUFFET !! before i can give advice off strip...any cuisine likes/dislikes ?

    9 Replies
    1. re: kjs

      thank kjs -- I'll look into the buffet option.
      regarding the cab, I wouldn't mind getting off the strip and trying some of Vegas' other dining options at least once when I'm there even though I know the meal + round trip cab fare will get me well over my $20 limit. Don't really have any dislikes (ok, vegetarian is out) and love everything from pizza/burgers to vietamense/peruvian.

      1. re: chinomad

        the more time i spend on spring mountain ( the main street for "chinatown" in vegas...in reality...a more appropriate term is "asiatown " since most asian cuisines are represented on this street ) , the more i feel this is the gem of las vegas cuisine - i can assure you that $20 is sufficient for any of your meals...some of my favs on the street - the latest, ichiza ( japanese ). nhu lan ( vietnamese - banh mi ), pho so 1 - vietnamese pho, kung fu - thai / chinese ) but trust me..there are probably 20-30 places to eat at on this street that you will enjoy.

        you can get a burger and a beer for $20 at burger bar at mandalay - i love this place !!! i still need to try stripburger...my guess it is comparable...i felt the paris high-end burger place was a notch below burger bar....

        you might be able to get a meal for under $20 at bootlegger bistro ( on the strip but not that close to the casino's ...it's near the factory shops on the south side of the strip ) ...very good italian....near bootlegger is a bbq place - some have given it good ratings, but i have not been...yet...there is a fast food place...not sure of it's origin, but there are several here in the valley - it's also near the bootlegger...basically in the parking lot of the factory stores - ate there once...i kinda liked it - i believe it's called raisin' canes...it's a chicken fingers place...i believe that's all they serve !!

        for pizza - closest to strip...metro pizza - either at ellis island, but i suggest the trop location...decent pizza...the trop location has this huge "map of pizza" on the wall - it pays tribute to pizza mecca's in the us...my personal pizza fav right now is patsy grimaldi's ...on eastern in the henderson area...it's in my top 3 on the west coast ( bianco's in phoenix, bollini's in so cal and patsy's ) ....settebello's in henderson is also worth a visit since it meets some napoli code thing ...it's been awhile since i've been there...it is good...

        speaking of ellis island ...it's value food all the way...including the beer !!

        Enjoy !

        1. re: kjs

          kjs -

          if i'm pretty well versed with (or at least have easy access to) the monterey park/alhambra/SGV asian cuisine offerings, would it still be worth it for me to pursue Spring Mountain Rd. in Vegas? If so, which specific 2 or 3places do you think I should visit? We enjoy just about any Asian cuisines

          Thanks!

          1. re: Beignets

            hmmmm - as to vietnamese - you can't beat valley blvd ( i guess you could argue little saigon area of oc but i personally like the places on valley blvd..though i have some great personal memories of the OC ) as an example...one of the local favs - hue thai - a decent banh mi cost $4 !!!! come on ! as you probably know you can get a decent banh mi for $2 on valley blvd.

            as to dim sum, my SO ( chinese ) and i disagree about this - she likes SF then vegas and then SGV but i think i'm starting to convince her that sgv is better ( her 1st experience in sgv - 888 ...i like the place...but it wasn't one of their better days ...the last place i took her to...sea harbour...she loved it ! ) - we like orchids and PPP ( ping pang pong ) for dim sum ( neither on spring mtn ) ...many on the board love Cathay HOuse ( on SPring mtn ) ...we've tried twice...we don't get it ...

            Overall, as to chinese, you can't do better than SGV in vegas but if I was to recommend one place...probably joyful house - been there 2 times - the service was a little iffy but the food was very good and the menu is huge !!

            as to thai - on spring mtn - there is a chinese/thai place called kung fu - it's very good...true...it ain't lotus ( on sahara ) ...At times , i actually like Khrung ( i think that's the right spelling ) on decatur over LOS, ...

            The latest star on spring mountain ? for me it's Ichiza ...japanese ...there is something about this place...it's very casual, must eat there at night, the selections are "taped" to the wall...written in japanese with most , but not all, having translation scribbled below, it's best with a group so you can try....everything !!

            the star for my SO on spring mtn - it's not even asian ( but it brings back fond memories for her of similar places in china ) it's called hot n juicy crawfish - you buy either crawfish, shrimp, crab, by the pound - they serve it in a plastic bag with optional seasonings and optional heat levels...she gets the hottest you roll up your sleeves and go to town...very, very casual. sorry...too much work for me...but the house special sauce...delish !!!!

            In summary, i think you are better off in sgv for asian cuisine and you should focus on the strip places to get a taste of chefs you cannot enjoy in so cal ( but remember to bring a boatload of $$$$ ) but don't get me wrong, ther are alot of good places to enjoy in vegas...on and off the strip

            happy eating

            1. re: kjs

              wow... what a review, thanks!!!

              the crawfish place sounds interesting but i think i'll pass - we'll be mostly in suits during this Vegas round.

              I've always thought SGV is it but I never cease to look around to see maybe there's something more. NYC was good but a different. SF is also very good but different, but not better in my opinion.

              I think it makes a lot of sense to stick with the on-strip places, thanks again :)

              1. re: Beignets

                if in suits - yeah...i would stick to the strip ...hope you'll share your experiences with the board....there are at least 10 places on the strip i've yet to try that are on my "list" ...my goal is to complete by june especially since there are several new resorts opening up in the next year or so which means ...more places to try !!!

                happy eating !

                1. re: kjs

                  Only 10 or so places remaining? I'm impressed!

                  With your resume, allow me to ask, I've never had Sweetbread (I know.. and I call myself a chowhound?) and am thinking of trying it -- is there a good and reasonably priced place to go? I could go to Postrio for a light dinner as they have it as appetizer.

                  I'm horrible at remembering ingredients and names of dishes so don't expect detailed reviews but I'll attempt one - I know it's appreciated especially when people go out of their way to help out and share their knowledge. I could do a detailed review on Jean Phillipe in Bellagio - I consumed their offerings daily for the duration of my stay last year since it was on the way to my room.

                  1. re: Beignets

                    it's funny - i've been to jean phillipe 3 times but i've never eaten there - once a month i bring "treats" to the ladies at the 2 banks i frequent ( one in vegas, one in california ) i try to mix it up - yet, when i get the treats, i do not buy any for me...the cupcakery, freeds, mad hatter, jeanphillipe, chocolate swan and the most recent payard to name the main places i go to....

                    as to sweetbreads...hmmm...that's a tough one...last time i had them it was at nob hill ....it was on their tasting menu...they were very good but what really stood out for me ...the serving size....for a tasting menu ...you expect a huge plate and a cutsy one bite serving in the middle....no...i don't think so...the serving was entree size...surprisingly, the last time i was at fleur de lys, they didn't have sweetbreads...thankfully they had foie gras ( i think it would be a sin if a french restaurant didn't have at least one of these dishes !! )

                    funny you mention details - i've been very entertained by the detail of LONGislandchef's taste of vegas ...have you read his recent reviews ?

                    1. re: kjs

                      Went to FDL last year as well and thought it was a very pretty restaurant with good food. Didn't have the sweetbread, it wasn't something I was interested in until recently.

                      Yes I've been reading LIChef's reviews, I so appreciate them especially because he doesn't sound like he's biased for or against a particular establishments. But to be fair, he is a chef so remembering details and ingredients might come easier. Although some of the blogs I read, I wonder if these people actually steal a copy of the menu or have some sort of a recorder with them. I've seen food bloggers bring in notebook a la reporter style, it's fun to see that.

    2. Based upon another post, you seem to be on a quest for under $20 entrees! Worthy objective. But tough on the Vegas strip unless you want to settle for coffee shop or QSR type places. The appetizers at most of the celebrity chef/hotel joints hover around $20 so you might want to try sitting in the bars and doing starters rather than main courses. The other option is to head off strip to the Thai and other Asian places that have been reviewed here.

      7 Replies
      1. re: dogbreath

        db,
        thanks for the reply and recs. btw, what is QSR? I'll take your advice and look into some of the Asian places. what's your take on Lotus of Siam?

        1. re: chinomad

          QSR=Quick Serve Restaurant. That's the euphemism of how franchises/chains such as Quiznos, Qdoba, Pei Wei, etc. like to refer to themselves these days rather than "fast food." Gives them the illusion that they are somehow superior to McDonald's & Burger King. They are all crap as far as I'm concerned.

          I like Lotus of Siam but I'm not part of the cult following that gets orgasmic over the place. Consistently good and the Northern menu is not your usual Thai selection.

          1. re: dogbreath

            I'm with you on LOS. I've been twice and enjoyed it both times. Probably had about 10 or 11 of their menu items and I thought most everything were good to great but I generally wasn't completely wow-ed or felt like it absolutely should be a must-do destination in Vegas.

            I also didn't think they did the thai iced tea or coffee well... it wasn't messed up but wasn't good, who messes up thai iced tea?. it was too sweet and overwhelmed the tea flavor. ditto the coffee.

            1. re: Beignets

              otoh, I have never been to a Thai restaurant with a more interesting wine list, nor one as well matched to the food, so to me, no matter if the thai ice tea is sweet or not, it isn't my drink of choice at LOS.

              1. re: susancinsf

                It's all about preference, isn't it? I think that's what we're saying all along.

                1. re: susancinsf

                  You're right about the wine, but honestly, I never go to a Thai restaurant thinking about the wine list! Singha is my drink of choice.

                  1. re: dogbreath

                    You should try it, since it is so exceptional. Which was part of my point: it might very well change the way you think about wine and Thai food, which in turn might change the way you think about the restaurant overall.

        2. For under 20 bucks, the Burger Bar at Mandalay not too far down from your hotel is one of the first to pop into my mind. The burger I had was, pure and simple, the best burger I've ever had. Customization options are myriad (foie gras?), and side dishes are much more than afterthoughts. Make sure that no two people get the same side, they are easy to share and you'll want to try different things.

          Someone mentioned buffets for a Strip possibility... I wouldn't do them for dinner. The price is jacked up from lunch, and while some improved stuff is added from the lunch buffet to dinner, it's not worth the extra cost most of the time. The buffets you *really* want to hit (Bellagio and Wynn) are both around 20 bucks at lunch, closer to 30 at dinner.

          Oh- snack option I got to hit this time- Red Mango, off the strip, across the street from the Hard Rock, the NE corner of Paradise and Harmon. Best frozen yogurt *ever*. On my first bite, I wasn't thinking about how much it will be for another cup, I was thinking about how much it would be for local franchise rights. If the day has been a bit much and you find you're feeling overextended, go have some yogurt there. My friend and I were both very nicely perked up in the afternoon by yogurt and fresh fruit (or in her case, chocolate bits).

          And one that I have to recommend pretty much every time Vegas comes up... the Peppermill. It's a Vegas institution. Just a simple little coffee shop with more neon than you've ever seen. The food is things you'd expect to find at a coffee shop, all prepared with care. They make what they can from scratch, and it shows. The "Fresh Fruit" must be experienced at least once; what comes from the kitchen appears that they stole Carmen Miranda's hat and put it on your table, along with sides of cottage cheese (or ice cream) and a small loaf of banana nut bread with marshmallow sauce. It's one of those things I get just to remind myself I'm in Vegas. Every time I'm in Vegas, I take the 215 to the Las Vegas Boulevard exit, then drive up the Strip to the Peppermill. It's a truly fabulous welcome to Las Vegas.

          Oh, and the bar at the Peppermill is quite possibly my favorite bar anywhere. Low-slung couch type seating everywhere, a flaming fountain centering the room, a Scorpion drink in a glass about as big as your head... life is good.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

            Tix4tonight is a 1/2 priced same day show ticket outlet, but it now also offers discounted dining. The closest location to the MGM is in the Hawaiian Marketplace. There is a service fee of $3 for restaurants and $2 for buffets. Typical discounts are 33%-50% for restaurants, somewhat less for buffets. The list of participating restaurants/buffet changes daily - arrive at 11AM for the best selection.

            Another option is to purchase a restaurant.com certificate. These $25 certificates sell for $10, but are on sale for 40-60% off every month. Just google restaurant.com code for the applicable code. Some participating restaurants include Border Grill @ Mandalay Bay, Giorgio Cafe @ Mandalay Place, Andre's @ Monte Carlo, Cafe Ba Ba Reeba @ Fashion Show Mall, Ocean Bar & Grill @ Miracle Mile Shops @ Planet Hollywood, R Bar Cafe @ Mandalay Bay and Tacone Flavor Grill @ Miracle Mile Shops. McCormick & Schmicks on Hughes Center Drive is also offered but it is probably a mile off the Strip, as is Origin India on Paradise. Casa di Amour also participates and they will send out a complimentary limo to pick you up and drop you off @ your hotel.