October 21, 2010
Dining in Las Vegas can sometimes be an expensive business. With casinos possessing enough cash to round up the best chefs in the world, and more than a dozen Michelin-starred restaurants in the city, it can be surprisingly easy to rack up a four-digit bill for a meal for two.
The good news is it is still possible to find the venerable dollar hot dog and even a $3 steak and eggs special. After all this is a city that built its rep on “the deal.” Writer Lark Ellen Gould follows up her Vegas Cocktail guide with a look at eight top dining bargains to be had in Vegas for under $10.
This is one of Sin City’s primo segretos. Mr. Lucky’s is Hard Rock’s 24-hour café, with a walk-up counter, comfy booths and remnants from rock star lives hanging behind glass on the walls. Best of all, it has the Gambler’s Special.
It’s a bit of a wink-wink, low voice order. It comes with steak cooked to order, three shrimps, potato or veggie dish of the day, and a salad. The price is all about lucky sevens – at any hour of the day it costs $7.77.
Alongside his upmarket Craftsteak in the same hotel, Tom Colicchio created ‘wichcraft as a restaurant for the rest of us. It serves creative sandwiches and full plate meals with artisan breads, premium cheeses and meats, and fresh, seasonal veggies. Offerings include roasted pork loin with red cabbage, jalapenos and mustard on ciabatta roll, or sicilian tuna with fennel, black olives and lemon on baguette.
This mini version of the legendary Canter’s in Los Angeles brings copious cured meats and pickles to those with wide enough mouths and big enough appetites. The fare comes with LA prices – $13 for a pastrami or corned beef sandwich – but frankly they are meant to be shared. Add fries and a seltzer and feel full for the next four hours for under $10 a head.
If you want to find the best Mexican food in town, go where the locals go. Dona Maria is known for savoury and cheap tamales which come in four styles: red (pork in a mild sauce), green (chicken in a spicy sauce), cheese (Monterey jack and green chilis) and sweet (pineapple and raisins). They cost just a few dollars a piece and are served with complimentary chips and fresh salsa. The jalapenos are fresh, the tortillas are oven-warm, and the fajita dishes are much too large for one person. Order margaritas by the pitcher and stay a while.
This casino hole in the wall serves a pretty good meal for under $10, along with Gold Medal microbrews straight from the tap. The bar runs seven house brews with names like All Nighter and Ramblin’ Reck Amber Ale. Plus it has seasonal brews, and some pilsners and scotch ales. Sit in a row of cushioned banquettes or bar stools at the counter and try the trio of tenderloin fillet sliders ($9.25 including mushrooms and onions).
Downtown Las Vegas is cheap eats central. This 1940s hotel runs a 24-hour prime rib on its menu: 8-oz or the 12-oz cut for $7.95 and $9.95 respectively. You can also have pork chops for $9.95, fried or grilled chicken for $8.50 and catfish with hushpuppies (cornmeal dumplings) for $9.50. All come with soup or salad, plus potato and a veggie.
This may be the only establishment in Vegas more famous for its bathroom than its casino attractions: the men’s room near the Brewpub sports a handsome chunk of the Berlin Wall. The pub itself offers brewed micro-beers made on the premises and a variety of pizza and burger options on the side, all for under $10. Even a petite prime rib comes within your budget.
Sometimes if you want to find the deals, you may have to travel. In this case it would be to Koval Lane, parallel to the Strip one block east, where you will find a piece of Old Vegas in this 24-hour café. It serves teriyaki chicken or a pork chop dinner for $8.99, while a $3.99 breakfast special can be ordered between 11 pm and 6 am.”
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