Vegas for two: Chow for the middle class
Husband and I will be visiting Vegas for 4 days in May for the first time together. We were looking for some chow and after reading the boards it looks like everything is really cheap (under $12) or too budget busting (over $40-50 an entree).
We are staying on the strip without a car, so I know this is an oxymoron to ask for reasonably priced good food, but I can't seem to find any options reading past posts.
We live on the coast, so seafood is not a must, but if a place is worth it.... Not really interested in steak. Don't mind buffets as long as they aren't gross. Any other cuisine is an option. We are adventurous, love good beer, good wine, great food. Any help would be appreciated.
Ahhh living the life of champagne taste on a bottled beer budget...
I lived in Las Vegas for four years. Don't turn your nose up at some of the bargain meals still left in Las Vegas. some of them are well worth trying.
Our favorite buffet is the one at Planet Hollywood (formerly known as Aladdin). Everything but the Mexican station is very good. Go there for lunch or dinner (dinner is more expensive but there's more choices, such as crab legs). Leave room for the elegant desserts.
I've tried the Bellagio buffet, and the food was too rich for my taste, but many people love it.
Best place to hang out and watch the tourists (and maybe the Bellagio's fountain) is the patio at Mon Ami Gabi (Paris casino). We ordered very good wine and a half dozen appetizers, and tipped our excellent waiter heavily. They supposedly have very good steaks, but the appetizers were enough for us.
If you're not from a city that has good Kosher style delis, try the Stage Deli at Caesar's Forum Shops. The delis with the same name in other casinos are not as good as this one.
Everybody here loves Lotus of Siam, but my wife doesn't like Thai, so I didn't get to visit that place.
Consider making a trip to Downtown, which is considered a low roller's place, for good reason: the odds on slots, video poker and table games are better than on the Strip.
Well, we were low rollers, but we really liked the food at Main Street Station--good buffet, 777 Brewpub (excellent beers brewed on site), and the Pullman Grille (upscale steakhouse and seafood). At the Golden Gate casino at Main and Fremont, try the Bay City Diner for a sit down meal (yes it's a coffee shop, but a very good one), or the San Francisco Shrimp Bar & Deli for amazingly good 99 cent and $3 shrimp cocktails, and deli sandwiches. Binion's downstairs coffee shop has had good food as well, though the place has recently changed hands and we haven't tried it in a long time.
The Fremont Casino has the elegant Second Street Grill; get reservations.
Golden Nugget has several nice restaurants, and a very good coffee shop with a broad menu. we often ate at the coffee shop there.
I forgot about Taqueria Canonita...we've been there a few times and found it to be another inexpensive option.
When we go up for Jimmy Buffet concerts we'll hit Margaritaville with other Parrotheads for the atmosphere but the food is really not so spectacular there...unless we're there for a concert we don't bother.
There's a Fatburger on the strip too if you want to experience one of the West Coast burger icons. In and Out isn't too far away though personally i wouldn't recommend walking.
The Mexican place at Mandalay is good too. I can't remember the name. Avoid the deli there(red white and blue i think?). Overpriced and not very good at all. We gave it two tries as we were there for a conference for a week and staying on the property.
We haven't been but I've seen several mentions here that the steakhouse at Circus is quite good and a good value?
I suggest going to this site...
If you click on the las vegas link, it has an extensive list of different types of cuisine that you can choose from. From that list you can choose a restaurant and view their menu. They update it every couple of months or so, it is a great site.
Tix4Tonight with 3 locations on the Strip (Fashion Show Mall, Peppermill parking lot and Hawaiian Marketplace) has a discount dining service. You pay a $3 per person reservation fee and receive a discount of up to 50% at a number of restaurants.
Also consider having your main meal at lunch. The Palm, for example, located in the Forum Shops at Ceaesars, offers a business lunch priced at $19.50 that includes choice of entree, choice of soup or salad, potato and coffee or tea.
I agree with the root beer and BBQ at Ellis Island -- I love the root beer -- I just hate how I smell after walking out of Ellis Island ( like a pack of cigarettes) and I also like Main street station for Beers and the Thai chili wings.
And Hennesy's has some good Burgers and fries if your downtown. Speaking about burgers.... a word on the Burger Bar that always gets mentioned-- got to say can't stand the burgers, I find them either tasteless or sort of gamey in a wierd way (maybe I am on crack but seriously I have tried all of the offerings) -- the fried zuchini and the sweet potato fries i like but if I am going for a burger close to the strip I prefer Gordon Biersch (and they have good beer) -- I know I know its a chain but I like their hamburgers sue me. Their Garlic Fries and their Artichoke Hearts aren't so bad either.
Husband and would be firmly entrenched in the middle class and when we're in Las Vegas eat mostly midrange chow. We usually stay at Bally's or Paris for location so we're in the middle and can access both ends of the strip fairly easily. Some places we like that haven't been mentioned(of what's been mentioned we usually have a dinner or late evening nosh at Mon Ami Gabi, have enjoyed the Burger Bar, breakfast at Bouchon is great and will keep you sated most of the day!)
Grab a sandwich at Craftwich at MGM. The breakfast sandwiches here are also tasty. Quick and easy stop for lunch or later in the evening if you've had a big lunch. It's an expensive sandwich but by Las Vegas standards an inexpensive meal.
The Crepe stand at Paris. Again a quick, tasty and inexpensive place to grab a bite.
We've had the prix fix lunch a few times at Zefferino at the Venetian. Haven't been tehre in some time but ws $29 for a three course meal. We've always found the food to be pretty good considering the cost. Have never eaten off the full menu.
Also have eaten at Canaletto and enjoyed our meal there as well(also at Venetian). I don't remember it being very spendy but I think we just had either pizza or some pasta, other items may be on the spendier side.
We avoid buffets normally as a rule but do stop in for breakfast at the Paris buffet if the lines aren't too long. It was $12 may have gone up. You can't have a sit down breakfast for that anywhere so we go in have some eggs, toast, sausage, coffee and really bypass most of the buffet experience. There was a recent thread about this buffet with mixed reviews so things may have changed(we ahven't been up there since this time last year).
We also like to grab coffee and a breakfast pastry at the boulangerie in the lobby at the Paris in the morning if we're not having a hot breakfast.
Across the street at Bellagio you can also have coffee, a pastry or a crepe at the Jean Phillipe chocolate shop.
Our normal strategy is one full more expensive meal a day and then some of these less expensive options as hunger dictates. Helps our budget goes farther and allows us to fit in at least one high end meal while we're there(we usually only go for three nights at time).
Justjenn- thank you so much for broadening the pool of applicants. I have poured over the post and do indeed find the same 7 or so fine establishments mentioned. I have made notes on them but wanted suggestions for exactly what you offered. I know that there will be excellent options that are not accesable to me b/c of the limitations of my requests but sincerlely appreciate you suggestion the "best of the rest" that fit into the catagory I framed. You gave me exactly what I was looking for....I'll look into them, especially the Planet Hollywood buffet, peppermill and firefly.
Of course, other recs are welcomed as well.
TDQ - thank you for your insight as well. You are right on the nature of the beast recommdation wise but it is good to hear that when a place gets mentioned over and over again- it may be worth my extra dollar. I've read your post extensively - what great info. I felt like I was there, especially with the pictures.
We do plan to go to Downtown one day so I will check out Main Street Station.
I should also mention that we are willing to walk and explore for good eats. Since our stay is sort of brief at 5 days, we aren't renting a car, but will walk or take the deuce, etc. to hike for some food.
Thank you both so much for the insight!
this is what i find to be comical about the "normal" vegas request - people want value yet i read they are staying at places like the bellagio, venetian, etc, i reside in vegas part-time ( off-strip condo ) so i'm a little out of touch on hotel prices, but i was under the impression that weekend rates at places like bellagio/venetian/caesar's / mandalay are at least $ 200 / night. that seems like alot of $$$ to me ... i'd rather stay at a place under $100/night ( like an orleans gold coast palace station, etc ) and spend my $$$ on the food ....heck...it's vegas...the rooms are merely a place to sleep ....yes ? no ? maybe so ?
Funny you mention that kjs....i totally agree with you. most the the vegas requests are for cheap chow from people staying at high end hotels. I also would rather stay at a cheaper option and spend more money on food because really, how much time are you going to spend lounging in your hotel room when you are in vegas? We are actually considering staying at Bill's Gamling Saloon (formerly Barbary Coast) because of it's good reviews on Tripadvisor.
By the way, you mention you like good beer. There's a brewpub/sports bar in the Monte Carlo (can't remember the name of it) that has good beer, but pretty average food. It's very moderately priced. Our favorite place for beer in Las Vegas so far is at the brewpub at Main Street Station downtown. It's not the on the strip, alas.
We also keep reading about the good BBQ, micro brew and housemade rootbeer at Ellis Island (on Koval Lane behind Bally's, I think--not on the strip as per your request, but depending on where you stay might be possible if you want the beer...) but have never made over there for that. We have tried their steak special and thought it was fine for the price. But, that special is one of the "rock bottom" prices, which is not really in the range you're looking in either. Here's an older post of mine describing my visits to Ellis Island, Main Street Station and the brewpub at the Monte Carlo and (again) the Terrace Pointe Cafe (ignore my post that says they shrunk the pancakes at the TPC. They've since unshrunk them.) http://www.chowhound.com/topics/34507...
re: The Dairy Queen
The brewpub at the Mote Carlo was no longer a brewpub (that is, no brewery on site) by Fall of 2005. However, the MSS 777 Brewpub is still in business, and the Blackchip Porter was still wonderful as of summer of last year. Hint: if you're gambling at MSS you can have comped glasses of their microbrews to stave off thirst while you try to hit a Blackjack or a Royal. Just tip the nice lady a dollar when she brings your drink.
I got to say sometimes I find it frustrating that the same 7 restaurants are always mentioned here (which i got to say I usually agree with) but I have lived in Vegas for 17 years and although I will fork over the cash from time to time I have had some really good, decent meals in the price range you are talking about on, close and off the strip. SO for close to the strip try this and please don't beat me up people -- I am just saying I have liked them and have gone back and have had pleaseant experiences.
-Firefly -- Spanish Tapas -- Close to the strip, Great white sangria and food is decent.
-Noras on Flamingo -- Solid Italian just don't order the Lasagna -- even the servers will tell you its the worst thing on the menu (this is the only place that would be a big cab ride for you)
-Planet Hollywood Buffet - Has been my fave and not realy a buffet girl
-Lotus of Siam -- but I have also had really good thai experiences at Archie's and Thai Spice
-Border Grill -- and you can get a coupon on the place that can't be mentioned on here
-Peppermill -- good breakfasts -- funky drinks and a throwback from the 70s
-I had some good pasta at the Italian place at NY NY a few times and its cheap -- I always forget the name and mess it up with the really pricey italian place at MGM.
-I heard Simon's reopened at the new Palm's Tower which might be worth a try. I enjoyed it at the Hard Rock .The entree's can be pricey but I have always been filled up on 2 appetizers so you could technically order a few apps and share a main dish.
-Sensei for lunch won't break the bank either and I really enjoyed it and was full for hours so you could eat a late lunch and have a light dinner. For that matter a lot of the higher end places that serve lunch might be a good option as well on the strip (Mesa for one)
Part of the reason the same seven places get recommended (aside from the fact that they are good), is that people visit the places that are recommended to them, (presumably) have good experiences, and then, in turn, recommend them to others--it's circular. The more a place gets recommended, the more people visit it, and, in turn, recommend it--all of this, is of course, assuming the place stays good. (Though, I will say I don't recall a ton of posts on "Sugar and Ice" here's the only report I've seen on it http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49185... and that many of the Terrace Pointe Cafe recommendations on this board are in fact, from me...So it's not like these particular places are being beaten to death by everyone. Just by me.)
The only way to get other recommendations infused into the big pool o' recommendations, is to recommend other places. So, I'm not beating you up, Justjenn, just acknowledging the nature of the beast and thanking you for expanding the pool of recommendations.
That having been said, I've been to Peppermill for breakfast and though it is indeed "on" the strip, it may or may not be easily walkable from where dddhokie is staying. I will confess that I love it more for the kitschy atmosphere, than the chow itself, though their giganto fruit salad is quite impressive.
I enjoyed my visit to Mesa, for brunch, but didn't find it an especially great bargain (though it certainly wasn't in the $40-$50 "budget" busting range, either)--if you go, the pork sandwich is really delicious. I'm still trying to find a recipe for it (it's not in the Mesa cookbook as far as I can see...and, I couldn't find it anywhere online either).
Thanks for the recommendations!
After reading past reviews, I definately want to try Lotus of Siam. Looks fantastic.
I love on the NC coast, so I will look into Boulud's prix fixe. Considering Bouchon as well, probably for breakfast but I have eaten at their Yountville location years ago before I knew better so I don't really remember how fabulous it was.
Well, nearly everything I was going to recommend has already been recommended.
I thought $50/per person prix fixe dinner at Daniel Boulud at the Wynn was a terrific value, especially if you get an early reservation (ours was at 5:30...)and can get a "lakeside" table so you can watch the show at the lake of dreams. If you don't get the prix fixe, though, it's not an especially good value. (You don't say which coast you live on--if you live in NYC, you might as well skip DB...)
Also, I didn't eat there, but it looked cute and has its own little Wynn "lake and waterfall" was Sugar and Ice just off the Wynn's strip entrance. Just a little salad and sandwich shop. They had breakfasts, too.
I thought the breakfast combos at Bouchon were a terrific value, though not "cheap" at $22. But, it was enough to share, I thought, if the second person also ordered eggs or a pastry and coffee a la carte. I don't know if they'd split it for you; maybe someone else can chime in on that.
If you love pancakes, I really love the fluffy blueberry/buttermilk pancakes at the Terrace Pointe Cafe at Wynn. Giant, big as your head pancakes about 3/4's of an inch thick. Too much food for 1; so, ask them to split. The price is $14, but, you can share...plus, say, a side of ham to share ($5) ...you can have a decently priced breakfast. It's their 24 hour cafe,. but they start serving outside at 9am, so see if you can score a poolside table.
Saving the best for last: Lotus of Siam. Very affordable. You'll to take a cab, though.
Here's my recent post, with photos, about my recent visit to all of the above places. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/489870
Have you thought about Lotus of Siam? They have dishes that are more than $12, and I am pretty sure that everything there is under $40. The prepared whole fish is spectacular and runs between $20 and $30, iirc. You can have a really nice meal with excellently paired Reislings for a great "middle class" price. Maybe someone can chime in here with the cab fare to LOS.
Or how about going to more expensive places for lunch or breakfast? Hubby and I go to the Verndah at the Four Seasons for breakfast or brunch, and Bouchon at breakfast. Maybe one of the more "budget busters" would be appropriate for lunch?
I think others have posted about Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris for a great meal at a good price, especially for lunch. I haven't been personally, but it might be worth looking into.