Easy on the Wallet: Las Vegas' 10 Best Restaurants for Budget-Friendly Eats

Photo courtesy of The Cracked Egg Las Vegas
Photo courtesy of Hash House A Go Go
By Terrisa Meeks, Las Vegas Local Expert

Las Vegas may be well-known for its many high-end celebrity chef restaurants, but plenty of affordable dining options can be found. Going off the Strip is the best way to lower your food bill, but there are a few places on the Strip with wallet-friendly prices.

You don’t have to stick to food courts and buffets to search for deals. At the Village Pub and Cafe inside Ellis Island, for instance, diners can enjoy some of the best prime rib deals in town, plus sample beer from the Ellis Island Brewery. The prices here will leave you with some extra money to spend at the tables later.

Look for happy hours at any restaurant, and you’re likely to find a host of small plates and specials, along with great deals on drinks. Lunch specials are another smart way to have a delicious meal at a reasonable cost. Le Thai in Downtown Las Vegas has a lunch menu full of specials for $9.95 that will keep you full for the rest of the day.

Venturing off the Strip is one of the most reliable ways to stretch your food budget, plus you’ll also find grocery stores, where you can get inexpensive snacks. On the Strip, you can find chain stores so you can grab chips or water to avoid buying those items at your hotel.

For food that will please both your bank account and your palate, here's our list of 10 of Las Vegas' best value restaurants.

10. Peppermill Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Peppermill Restaurant

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 d├ęcor 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 Peppermill has Happy Hours twice a day, and both feature half-price well drinks and appetizers for under $10.

9. El Dorado Cantina
Photo courtesy of El Dorado Cantina Las Vegas

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.

8. Monta Ramen
Photo courtesy of Monta Ramen

Located west of the Strip in Chinatown, Monta Ramen has a devoted following for its distinctive types of ramen. In addition to Shoyu Ramen, which comes with a chicken or vegetable-based broth, Monta serves "Kurume" style Tonkotsu ramen with a broth made from pork bones and imported soy sauce from Japan. This style of ramen is distinguished by its rich pork broth and thin noodles. Miso Ramen, a heartier soup, is prepared with miso and oily pork broth. Basic toppings are green onions, chashu, bamboo shoots and kikurage, and special toppings include roasted pork, nori, nitamago and mustard leaf. Other dishes include fried rice and rice bowls.

7. Burger Bar
Photo courtesy of nattokun

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 tapenade, roasted pineapple or fried egg. The American Classic is everything a burger lover could want--Angus beef, cheese, bacon, tomato and onion, plus skinny fries, for $15. The Hangover Burger with Angus beef, special hangover sauce, lettuce and fries is $13.75, and even the Surf and Turf (Angus and shrimp) is just under $20. Look for the typical sides like fries, onion rings, and pickles, and a tempting array of shakes (many spiked with alcohol) for dessert.

6. The Cracked Egg
Photo courtesy of The Cracked Egg Las Vegas

When you're off the Strip, any location of The Cracked Egg is a great place to stop for an old-fashioned breakfast or lunch served in a casual, family-friendly setting. Four locations in Las Vegas serve the population throughout the Valley. Judging from the restaurant's frequent listing on "best of" polls in the Las Vegas press, the locals find plenty to keep them coming back. As you might expect from the name, this is a restaurant dedicated to egg-based dishes. You'll find a full selection of basic combinations of eggs and meats, but the "Eggs With Attitude" section is full of scrambles that mix up eggs with all kinds of tasty foods into one big plate of food. You'll find a few varieties of Eggs Benedict here, as well as Huevos Rancheros, skillets (single-dish breakfast combinations), burritos, sandwiches and burgers.

5. Tacos El Gordo
Photo courtesy of Tacos el Gordo

When Tacos El Gordo location on the Strip re-opened, devoted fans of this restaurant were delighted. There's nothing fancy here--it's a walk-up counter where you order and pick up at the same place--but the tacos are worth it. Sure, you can order the usual carne asada, but you can also get tripe (tripa), brains (sesos), or beef and cactus on their handmade tortillas. Tacos El Gordo in Southern California earned a dedicated group of followers, and in Las Vegas, it's been the same. If you're off the Strip, the East Charleston location is also close to the Strip and Downtown, making it easy to find in case you're in need of tacos.

4. Le Thai
Photo courtesy of Le Thai

Downtown Las Vegas has been attracting some great local restaurants, and Le Thai was among the first to arrive. Its flavorful, reasonably priced food is served in an open, airy space that includes a loosely enclosed patio that feels like it could be at a friend's house. Servers are friendly and happy to give suggestions. Lunch specials are $9.95 and include several types of curry, vegetable stir fry or spicy eggplant, all with a choice of protein (chicken, beef, pork, tofu or shrimp for $1 extra) and a drink. The menu also offers soup, salad and noodle dishes. Take out is available. Appetizers are inexpensive and easy to share, like the tasty chicken satay or the ever-popular crispy spring rolls. Le Thai is located close to many of the downtown area's attractions, making it a good choice for a stop if you're sight-seeing in Downtown Las Vegas.

3. Village Pub and Cafe
Photo courtesy of Ellis Island Cafe

Village Pub and Cafe (formerly Ellis Island Cafe) has been a favorite of Las Vegas locals and visitors for decades. Located inside the unpretentious Ellis Island Casino Hotel Brewery, the cafe serves 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 24/7, it's a perfect place to stop for middle-of-the-night cravings. Ask about the Top Sirloin Steak Special, which might not be on the menu but is well-known as one of the best steak specials in town.

2. Hash House A Go Go at The LINQ
Photo courtesy of Hash House A Go Go

Come hungry if you decide to eat a meal at Hash House A Go Go. The restaurant has three locations in Las Vegas, but most visitors will be closest to The Linq location if they're staying on the Strip. "Twisted farm food" is what Hash House A Go Go specializes in, and that "twisted" food comes in very large portions. The House Hashes have potatoes and eggs to go along with combinations like smoked salmon, cream cheese and scallions. The Hash House Farm Benedicts completely transform the idea of Eggs Benedict, and the menu just keeps on going with its large selection of hearty food. Other locations in Las Vegas are found at the Plaza in downtown Las Vegas and on West Sahara, but the one at the Linq is the only one open 24/7. Be prepared for a wait at any of the locations on the weekend.

1. Secret Pizza at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Photo courtesy of Secret Pizza at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Secret Pizza at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is so secret that you won't find it on the hotel's restaurant website listings. Located on the third floor, this little pizza joint is unmarked. Walk down a hallway decorated with album covers, and you'll find it at the end of the hallway. Slices start at about $5 and whole pies start at around $25. While the prices might be a little higher than you'll find off the Strip, Secret Pizza offers a deal compared to most other dining options on the Strip. You won't find anything incredibly fancy here as far as flavors, but you will find a solid slice of pizza and as a bonus you can stop in for a post-evening-out slice of pizza until at least 4 a.m. Beer, wine, soda and dessert are also available.