Deals on Meals

Vegas Seven food critic Max Jacobson searches the Valley to find the 25 best food bargains

The high-end restaurants get all the national press, but we locals know the real score. You can eat very well and experience all types of cuisine for less than $10 in Las Vegas, as I hope this diverse list proves.[img]/sites/all/modules/wysiwyg/plugins/break/images/spacer.gif[/img]
[b]The Shrimp Pita at Crazy Pita[/b]
Mehdi Zarhloul would love to franchise his popular concept, which sells lamb, beef, spiced ground beef, shrimp and veggie sandwiches wrapped up in hot pita bread. He does wonderful specialties from his native Morocco, including poulet m’chermel (rotisserie chicken rubbed in preserved lemon) and couscous (cooked semolina wheat with gravy). $8.95, in the District at Green Valley Ranch, 2225 Village Walk Dr., 896-7482.
[b]Taco al Pastor at Tacos Mexico[/b]
Tacos for 60 cents? Believe it. Those are practically Mexico City prices, and they only apply to certain tacos on certain days, but the regular price of many is less than $1, so who cares? The tacos, which are completely authentic, come in varieties such as pastor, lengua (tongue) and sesos (brains), as well as the more familiar chicken, beef and pork. 3820 W. Sahara Ave., 444-1171, and 1800 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 444-2288 (Only on Wednesdays).
[b]Juicy Pork Dumplings at China MaMa[/b]
No one comes to this Taiwanese restaurant near Chinatown without ordering the steamed dumplings, which are so juicy they spurt when cut open. The Szechuan dishes are also good here, as are cold dishes such as wine chicken, jellyfish and spicy cucumbers. There are many delicious noodle preparations as well. $7.95 (8 pieces), 3420 S. Jones Blvd., 873-1977.
[b]The Half-Pound Burger at Smashburger[/b]
This chain just breezed in from Denver and is already taking the north side by storm. Burgers are “smashed” on the grill, meaty and loose, served on terrific egg buns with all the trimmings. The salads are a great meal deal, too, such as the All Nighter, which comes with two fried eggs, bacon, avocado, onion rings and ranch dressing. Pass on the fried pickles, but make sure to try one of the chain’s thick, creamy malts. $5.99, 7541 W. Lake Mead Blvd., 982-0009.
[b]Cake Chocolate Doughnut at Real Donuts[/b]
Yes, this place is a dive and the service is spotty, but the doughnuts are the best in the city. The glazed cake chocolate melts in your mouth, the raised doughnuts are as light as a feather, and the churros and Mexican sweet breads are things of beauty. 90 cents, 1811 W. Charleston Blvd., 388-9958.
[b]Chicken-Fried Steak and Eggs at Village Pub[/b]
The hearty breakfasts served at this 24/7 chain are killer—possibly in more ways than one if you order the amazing chicken-fried steak with cream gravy. You get two eggs, country potatoes and bread of your choice along with it. I always get the rye, a nice, crusty version as good as you’d get in an authentic Jewish deli. $6.99, multiple locations, [url=][/url].
[b]The Grilled Italian Sub at Capriotti’s[/b]
Everyone is always talking about the Bobbie—a sub roll with roast turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce—at Las Vegas’ best sub chain, which began life in Delaware and has stretched to 11 states. I prefer the Grilled Italian, with Italian cold cuts and cheese finished on flat, hot metal. Capriotti’s meatball sub is reliable as well. $8 (medium), multiple locations, [url=][/url].
[b]Green Chile Verde Burrito at Super-Mex[/b]
If you like Cal-Mex fare, such as fat burritos with too much rice and lots of cheese, this Bud’s for you. The house specialty is the stuffed burrito, the best one being a green chile verde. They’ll do it with light, medium or heavy cheese; I recommend the light, so you can save room for their made-to-order guacamole. $7.95, 3460 E. Sunset Road, 436-5200, and 6450 S. Durango Road, 312-8000.
[b]The Lunch Buffet at Buffet@Asia[/b]
Quantity trumps quality at this mind-boggling, 150-item buffet, which has not only Chinese fare but abundant sushi, Korean beef, Thai soup and just about anything else you can think of. The best time to go is at 11:30 a.m., when the food is fresh, not yet picked over and still glistening with corn starch, sugar, salt and grease—the essential food groups. $8.29, three locations including 2380 S. Rainbow Blvd., 307-8800; 4090 S. Eastern Ave., 650-0290; and 9901 S. Eastern Ave., 407-1166.
[b]The Banana cream pie at Emeril’s[/b]
Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant normally wouldn’t qualify to be on a “cheap eats” list, but the best thing on the menu is go good it should be patented. It’s banana-laced custard on a rich crust topped with a two-inch layer of whipped cream, more bananas, chocolate shavings and caramel sauce. Yes, it’s $8, but who could eat anything after a wedge? In MGM Grand, 891-7374.
[b]Fun Gor Dumplings at Ping Pang Pong[/b]
Dim sum, those sweet and savory tea pastries that are a way of life in Cantonese fine society, are delicious here, in this elegant restaurant. Pork noodle wrappers, sesame shrimp rolls and spare ribs with black bean sauce all go perfectly with a cup of steamy Chinese tea, usually Jasmine or Oolong. $2.88, in Gold Coast, 367-7111.