Eat Cheap, But Good In Las Vegas

One of the most dramatic changes to the Las Vegas landscape in the last decade has been its emergence as a destination for fine dining. Food fare previously was intended to dilute alcohol consumed and fuel more time at the slots and tables. Today, however, visitors come for the food and stay for the dice, and celebrity chefs from all over the world are rushing to open signature restaurants to feed them.

So where do you go to find the wickedly sinful cheap meal deals? Are there any places left where you can still get the outrageous plateful of grub for a $5 chip? We sent our late night foodies out to find them and here are some great deals they found for cheap eats in Las Vegas. The first rule of thumb for dining on the cheap in Las Vegas is no alcohol from the restaurant. You can get that at the slots or tables when you’re chasing your dream of that one quit-your-job-sized bet

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Everyone wants to know a Las Vegas secret, and here’s one to try the next time you go to the Hard Rock Hotel (4455 Paradise Road). Make sure you visit Mr. Lucky’s Cafe and ask for the Gambler’s Special. This unadvertised selection includes an 8-ounce flatiron steak, three jumbo shrimp, salad, and garlic mashed potatoes all for $7.77. Just make sure you ask your server specifically for this item because it’s not listed on the menu. And it’s available 24 hours a day.

What would a trip to Vegas be without a little cocktail? We suggest the one at the San Francisco Shrimp Bar & Deli in the Golden Gate Casino (One Fremont Street) in downtown Vegas. They still serve a $1.99 shrimp cocktail in a glass as if it were the sixties, and they’ve got the same red-walled, smoky decor as when the joint opened in 1906. If you want to see vintage Vegas, this is the place. If you want a taste of the way Vegas used to be, head to the bar & deli inside the casino. Remember to ask for the lemon wedge.

Who doesn’t love happy hours. But they don’t have to just mean drink specials anymore. One of the more sophisticated restaurants in town, and a popular local’s power lunch/dinner spot, is McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant (335 Hughes Center Drive). They have a famous happy hour menu that is available twice a day Monday through Friday when you buy a drink. From 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., and 9:30 to 11:00 p.m., you can fill up on affordable meal items such as a high-quality half-pound cheeseburger and fries for $2.95, blackened fish tacos or Asian popcorn chicken for $3.95, and Hood Canal oysters or Bay shrimp shooters for $4.95.

For warm-your-belly food, we recommend Oyster Bar at Penazzi at Harrah’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino (3475 Las Vegas Blvd., South). Have a bowl of chowder and the bread and crackers that come with your meal. For $10 you’ll have a quality meal and we like eating at the bar because you’ve got a better chance of chatting up a working girl who’s killing time waiting for an call.

For something you probably won’t find anywhere outside of the 808 area code, try the Loco Moco, a bowl of rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg and drenched in brown gravy at Aloha Specialties at California Hotel and Casino (12 East Ogden Avenue) in downtown Las Vegas. A true Las Vegas bargain at only $4,75, it’s available Sunday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

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