Las Vegas is known for its many high-end celebrity chef restaurants, but plenty of affordable dining options can be found--and that doesn't mean you have to stick to food courts and buffets. Getting the most food value for your dollars is about more than a bargain price--it's about getting good value. At a restaurant like Mon Ami Gabi, for instance, diners won't find cheap food, but they will find a menu full of French bistro dishes at more reasonable prices than at most of Las Vegas' French restaurants. As a bonus, the location and people watching can't be beat at any price.
Finding great deals on food in Las Vegas is easy if you know what to look for. Happy hours can turn up a host of small plates and appetizers, along with great deals on drinks. Lunch specials are another smart way to have a delicious meal at a reasonable cost. Even restaurants that don't offer specials for the mid-day meal usually have a lunch menu featuring a selection of affordable dishes.
Some off-the-Strip deals are well worth the short drive, like the all-you-can-eat fish & chips at Crown & Anchor on Mondays. Luckily, many of the areas closest to the Strip are full of hidden gems serving up cravings-worthy dishes at much better prices than commonly found on the Strip.
For food that will please both your bank account and your palate, here's our list of 10 of Las Vegas' best value restaurants.
This vintage Las Vegas bar and restaurant has been open since 1972, and this classic has retained its "Old Vegas" ambiance. Breakfast is served around the clock, but the menu doesn't stop there. Burgers, sandwiches and steaks are just a few of the selections. Generous portions almost guarantee that you won't be able to clean your plate. In addition to its extensive menu, the Peppermill also offers a selection of large and delicious adult drinks, like its signature 64 ounce Scorpion. The décor here feels virtually unchanged from a prior era in Las Vegas, which is part of the charm. Instead of feeling dated, it's retro in the best way, with reasonable prices that also seem to be a hold-over from a past age.
The El Dorado Cantina is a family-owned Mexican restaurant located just a few blocks west of the Strip. There's a large selection of street tacos--carne asada, carnitas, al pastor, cochinita, pulled chicken, and vegetarian corn rajas tacos--three to a platter with cilantro rice and refried or black beans. The extensive menu has plenty of other selections as well, including burgers made with grass-fed beef. Several gluten-free and vegan dishes are available. The restaurant uses food that's free from antibiotics, pesticides, and steroids, and lists its food suppliers on its website. It's a popular place for locals, including some of Las Vegas' resident celebrities.
A short distance from the Strip, the Studio B Show Kitchen Buffet delivers an exceptional food experience. Designed to be a buffet unlike any other, the selections vary slightly by day of week. Friday, Saturday and Sunday feature a seafood buffet. Come hungry as you'll want to sample the many types of seafood, like oysters, shrimp, crab legs, crawfish, and swordfish; but that's not all. You'll still be able to enjoy the popular prime rib, a wide variety of meats and sides, plus a selection of tasty desserts. Prices are higher when the seafood buffet ($40) is offered, but it's an amazing value for the type and variety of food.
The Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay was one of the first upscale burger restaurants in Las Vegas--and it continues to serve delicious burgers, fries, and shakes. Renown Chef Hubert Keller's take on burgers elevates the ordinary hamburger, with patties made from beef, buffalo and toppings like like tapenade, roasted pineapple or fried egg. The American Classic is everything a burger lover could want--Angus beef, cheese, bacon, tomato and onion–or you could splurge with the $60 Rossini: Kobe beef, sauteed foie gras, and shaved truffles. Look for the typical sides like fries, onion rings, and pickles, and a tempting array of shakes (many spiked with alcohol) for dessert.
With its striking Strip views and daily lunch specials, it's no wonder sushi fanatics love Sushi Roku. Guests can enjoy one of several lunch specials without breaking the bank, like the popular Sushi Six Assortment--six pieces of sushi and a spicy tuna roll or California roll for only $23. Diners can also build their own lunchtime combinations, choosing from chicken, beef or salmon teriyaki and pairing their selection with assorted tempura, sashimi or a California roll. Having attracted everyone from Usher to Kris Jenner to its tables, one bite and it's easy to see why Sushi Roku is a star in its own right.
While the people-watching at Mon Ami Gabi is unparalleled (there's nothing like a street-side view of the Strip), the food is also worth noting. There is always something new to try on the classic French bistro's ever-evolving menu. Traditional menu favorites include the Onion Soup au Gratin with bubbling baked Gruyere and the trademark Steak Frites. For those looking to indulge in a unique dish, the Wild Escargots de Bourgogne with garlic-herb butter is to die for. To complement the cuisine, an extensive selection of more than 80 boutique French wine varietals--handpicked by Gabino Sotelino himself--are served by the glass or bottle from the restaurant's signature rolling wine cart.
Grimaldi's is one of Las Vegas' most popular pizzerias. The world-famous Brooklyn pizzeria has garnered more awards than any other pizzeria in the country and is a favorite of both celebrities and critics. The chain has six locations in Las Vegas to choose from, including two on the Strip (inside Fashion Show and The Shoppes at The Palazzo), as well as in Henderson and Summerlin. To keep the integrity of the water used in the Brooklyn pizzeria's original location, Grimaldi's hired a chemist to analyze and recreate the mineral content and exact composition of the water to ensure the dough made in Las Vegas tastes just as it does in Brooklyn. That alongside its fresh ingredients, "secret recipe" pizza sauce and handmade mozzarella cheese and dough makes Grimaldi's pies some of the best in Las Vegas.
Ellis Island Cafe has been a favorite of Las Vegas locals and visitors for decades. Located inside the small, unpretentious Ellis Island Casino Hotel Brewery, the cafe is open 24/7, serving up breakfast dishes, steaks, sandwiches, burgers, pasta and a host of other dishes. The King Cut Prime Rib is one of the restaurant's most popular items, but the wide array of options gives diners a selection that can't be beat, and at some of the best prices in town. Since Ellis Island is also a brewery, as a bonus you can enjoy a hand-crafted beer with your meal. Since the cafe is open around the clock, it's a perfect place to stop for middle-of-the-night cravings, or after one of those late nights out on the Strip. Just be sure to come hungry because the portions are generous, even while the prices are low.
Although it doesn't look like much from the outside, this popular 24-hour pub (which also has a second location at 4755 Spring Mountain Road) serves some of the best food in town. Famous for its homemade chicken fingers, the restaurant is also known for serving some of the best fish & chips this side of London as well as one of Las Vegas' most savory burgers--the 1/2 pound Angus British Burger with bacon and Stilton cheese. Popular with soccer fans, guests can catch all the big games while drinking one of 30 beer selections on tap. Guests can even drink with their dog, as pets are welcome at the Tropicana location's fenced patio.
Enjoy the tastes of Tuscany without leaving the country at this popular Italian chain, which also has a location in Summerlin's Tivoli Village. Serving an array of pastas, flatbreads, steaks and grilled specialties, the restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner as well as for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Probably its busiest time of day, however, is during happy hour Monday through Friday from 3-6:30 p.m., when the bar menu is available. Dishes are all under $6 and include options like the BRIO Burger, Black Pepper Shrimp and Tomato Mozzarella Salad. No matter what the time of day, the appetizers, bruschettas and flatbreads offer consistently great value, with all the selections for those items coming in at under $14.