Deals on Meals 2012

Our restaurant experts share their favorite restaurant values, from $2 crab to $9 lamb chops

$2 Crab Tuesdays

Crab Corner

In the great Maryland tradition, Crab Corner features trays piled high with steamed blue crabs that are fresh from the Chesapeake Bay and seasoned with J.O. Spice, the Old Line State’s very own blend of seafood seasoning. On Tuesdays, crabs and beers are only $2 a pop. Get there early, as low prices like these can draw a crowd, which makes for a fun, communal atmosphere. $2, 4161 S. Eastern Ave., 489-4646, NVSeafood – G.B.

Two Mini Cheeseburgers

Kona Grill

This Summerlin bar and grill miniaturizes its larger, 12-ounce burger into two sliders, which at happy hour becomes an unbeatable bargain. Fluffy, eggy brioche buns serve as a foundation for each of the juicy 4-ounce burgers, which stand tall, topped with melted cheddar cheese, tomato, lettuce and nicely tart pickles. A handful of crisp french fries make this one of the best post-work deals in town. $6, 750 S. Rampart Blvd., 547-5552, KonaGrill – G.B.


Phat Phranks

Nachos, in their most basic form, are cheese melted on tortilla chips. Phat Phrank’s version is topped simply with warm chili verde and cheese. That’s it. No vegetables or sour cream or guacamole, because that would be unnecessary. The homemade chili verde sports nice big hunks of pork and a gentle spice that creeps up—and makes you want to eat more. The tortilla chip serves as a vehicle to get the cheese and chili to your mouth—finger food at its finest. $5.49, 4850 W. Sunset Road, 247-6528. – G.B.

Chicken Wings & Waffle

M&M Soul Food

Fried chicken and waffles is like a greatest hits of tastes and textures: crunchy, soft, savory, buttery and sweet, and, with a little hot sauce, it’s spicy, too. M&M’s side portion is the perfect size to enjoy all those flavors without making you feel like you’ve overdone it. Three chicken wings are fried to a golden-brown with special seasoning and served with a fluffy, also golden-brown waffle. Smear butter, pour syrup, take one big bite. $7.99, 3923 W. Charleston Blvd., 453-7685. – G.B.


Naked City Pizza Shop

The French-Canadians invented poutine, but it took a guy from Buffalo, N.Y., to make it properly in Las Vegas. Cheese curds and warm, savory gravy made in-house combine to create a really rich topping over a plate of crisp french fries. It’s not fancy, but it is comforting, homey and decadent. $5, in Moon Doggies, 3240 S. Arville St., 243-6277, NakedCityLV – G.B.

Bulgarian Mixed Grill

Forte European Tapas Bar & Bistro

Like us, you can skip the flat, patty-like sausage, kiufte, in favor of a second, link-style kebabche or karnache. Either way, this dish is meat, meat and more meat. The kickers, however, are not: the house-made tomato paste, liuteniza, and the chewy pita-like bread that puffs on the grill, which leaves deep char marks on the crust. If you have a few more bucks to spare, spring for a foreign beer to wash it all down—the more unpronounceable the better. $9.95, 4180 Rainbow Blvd., Suite 806, 220-3876, BarForte – X.W.

Video: Bulgarian kiufte, kebabche and karmache at Forte
Loading the player …

Pork Belly

Great Bao

The braised pork belly is prepared according to chef Sheridan Su’s mother’s recipe, making it luscious and gently spiced with Asian flavors. A few choice slices are nestled into the warm, soft, freshly steamed bao (an Asian bun) before it is dressed with mustard greens and peanuts, which contrast the succulent pork with bitterness and crunch. In two bites, you can devour this bao, but at this price, you can certainly order seconds. $3.25 each (or three and a beverage for $10), in Touch Salon & Spa, 4965 W. Tropicana Ave., 900-2168, GreatBao – G.B.

Beef Brisket Sandwich

The Beat Coffeehouse

As original to The Beat as some of its denizens, the brisket sandwich is one of the most popular items on the hip coffeehouse’s menu. Tender brisket is roasted in an herb and spice rub for more than seven hours before the juicy, fraying slices are served on your choice of fresh baguette or pretzel roll with whole-grain mustard, mixed greens and house-brined onions and jalapeños. And you shall know its devotees by the trail of meat juice running down their arms onto their laptops … $6.99, 520 E. Fremont St., 409-5563, TheBeatLV – X.W.


Spaghetti and Meatball Bites

Mob Bar

Chef Rogelio “Ro” Fernandez makes his home-style meatballs just like Mama did, with ground beef, ground pork, tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, garlic, herbs, bread crumbs and eggs. Then they are partially roasted in the oven and finished off in the house tomato sauce. He’ll even twirl a perfectly sized bite of spaghetti around a fork and top if off with one of those meatballs. Just like Mama did. Now, here comes the choo-choo! Four forks for $5, 201 N. Third St., 384-2764, MobBarLV – X.W.

Carnitas “Mi Pita” lunch special

Leticia’s Mexican Cocina

The slow-roasted pork shoulder called carnitas rivals any American ’cue for fall-apart tender goodness, and this one, served with piquant rice and beans, is just about the best in town. It comes with pico de gallo, guacamole, a pile of chicharrones—that’s pork rind to you, señor—and lime wedges. For only 99 cents more, add a cup of their albondigas or fideo soup. $7.79 (11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon-Fri), 7585 Norman Rockwell Lane, North Las Vegas. 445-7722. – M.J.

Curry Beef Brisket on Rice

Café Noodle and Chinese BBQ

Portions are humongous at this welcoming little café, which features an extensive menu of Chinese fare, including rice, noodles and shave ice. I love this dish as a hearty lunch on a cool day. The incredibly tender beef is coated with subtle spice in a rich, deep bronze sauce. If you’re not that hungry, bring a friend. $7.95, 4355 Spring Mountain Road, 220-3399. – M.J.

Ga Pow

Le Thai

If you’re someone who separates his peas from his carrots, the dinner portion of this quick stir-fry might be for you: veggies, basil and your choice of chicken or pork are served in a comforting, dark brown sauce and a side dish of white rice. Mix them, or don’t—it’s your dinner. However, if you prefer to watch all the colors run together, get the lunch portion, which comes in one bowl, the rice soaked entirely through with sauce. Either way you choose, go the extra mile and order yours with the over-easy fried egg on top, and, depending on your bent, either let the hot rice cook it through or pierce its sunny center and let the yolk join the sauce party. $8 lunch, $9 dinner (with egg $10), 523 E. Fremont St., 778-0888, LeThaiVegas – X.W.

Video: Ga Pow at Le Thai
Loading the player …

All-you-can-eat buffet

Kababayan Ko

If you’re not familiar with Filipino cuisine, this incredible spread provides a good overview at a nice price. Beginners will want to fill up on blackened, marinated chicken on wooden skewers, and on lumpia Shanghai, stogie-size, meat-filled crispy egg rolls. If you are a no-holds-barred eater, try dinuguan, an organ meat stew, or bangus, a bony milkfish, stewed with purple eggplant. $7.99 , 9560 S. Eastern Ave., 868-9154. – M.J.


Bread and Butter

Chris Herrin’s breakfast and lunch joint is slammed daily, and many of the patrons are lined up for his signature Muffaletta. It’s Italian cold cuts and cheese, giardiniere, and olive spread, built like a savory layer cake on Herrin’s own Sicilian whole wheat. $8.95, 10940 S. Eastern Ave., Henderson, 406-7078. – M.J.

Caterpillar Roll

I Love Sushi

I Love Sushi has a mind-blowing number of rolls, but ones with crab tend to use surimi, artificially colored pollock. That’s why I’d choose this delicious roll, made with tempura shrimp, eel and avocado dressed with eel sauce. It might be their tastiest roll under 10 bucks. $9, 11041 S. Eastern Ave., Henderson, 990-4055. – M.J.

Causa de Atun

Mi Peru

A causa is a conical stack of mashed potatoes in layers, with a meat or fish in between them, and sort of a religion in Peru. The potato has a yellowish glint from being mixed with ahi, one of Peru’s mildly hot peppers. I love the one with tuna, sheer kid stuff, crowned with a black olive. If you want more heat, they’ll bring more ahi on the side. $7.95, 1450 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, Henderson, 220-4652. – M.J.

Kimchi fries


I honestly can’t think of a more mammoth plate of food for the price than this fusion dish, something right out of a Los Angeles food truck. Picture a mountain of sweet-potato fries laced with barbecued pork, shredded cheese and Korea’s notoriously aromatic fermented cabbage. (Substitute regular spuds for the sweet potatoes, if you prefer.) 2291 S. Fort Apache Road, 570-7560. $4.95. – M.J.

Niku Jaga


Walls here are literally blotted with bilingual paper banners proclaiming the dozens of Japanese pub dishes in this antidote to the sushi bar. If you like sukiyaki, the one-pot supper, you’ll love niku jaga, a homestyle bowl full of shredded beef, carrot and potato, in a salty soy-based broth. $4.75, 4355 W. Spring Mountain Road, 367-3151. – M.J.

Navajo Taco

Carlito’s Burritos

Red or green—that is the question! I refer, of course, to terrific New Mexico-style carne adovado (red) or chile verde (green), perfect for slopping onto your Navajo taco, a giant fry bread embellished with lettuce and tomato. The dusky red is my pick, but I love the earthy, chunky green on this monster as well. $7.50, 3345 E. Patrick Lane, 547-3592. – M.J.

Sirloin Steak Dinner

Ellis Island Casino

I recently wrote a history of the Vegas steak house for Saveur magazine, and while researching, noticed a steak dinner at the Desert Inn on a menu for $6. That was 1950, when the per capita income in America was $3,250. So in proportion to that, this may be the best deal of all time. It isn’t on the Café menu, but the dinner includes a good 10-ounce sirloin, baked potato, soup or salad, even a beer. Shhh! $7.99, 4178 Koval Lane, 733-8901. – M.J.


The Ronin Burger

Bachi Burger

All good things come to those who wait, and do that you must at Bachi Burger, because Lorin Watada’s extra-thick patties take a long time to cook. However, the owner/chef, who is about to open Bachi Burgers in Summerlin and Los Angeles, makes my favorite burgers for over and under 10 bucks. They are similar. His hot-selling Ronin Burger, $9.50, gets the full treatment of Angus beef, caramelized onion, Japanese cole slaw, miso sesame-seed dressing, a fried egg and a yuzu citrus aioli. I’ll splurge, though, and have the Miyagi-san grass-fed Wagyu burger from Down Under, $13 with a fried egg, Duroc bacon and crispy onion rings, on a sweet egg bun from a Taiwanese bakery. 410 E. Windmill Lane, Suite 100, 242-2244. – M.J.

Lamb Chops

Crazy Pita

This may be the only restaurant in the Valley where you can get a lamb-chop dinner for less than $10, and owner Mehdi Zarhloul throws in couscous from his native Morocco, plus pita bread, salad and hummus. The chops are marinated in spices and char-grilled. It all adds up to a terrific meal deal. $8.95, at the District, 2225 Village Walk Drive, Henderson, 896-7482. – M.J.

Weekend Breakfasts

Memphis Championship BBQ

Weekends, this place may have my favorite breakfast on the east side. The kitchen smokes its own bacon, bakes great buttermilk biscuits and has johnnycakes, thin cornmeal pancakes that are incredible with butter and syrup. The pulled pork and eggs is so filling you won’t even think about lunch. $8.99, 2250 Warm Springs Road, 260-6909. – M.J.

Chicken Kubideh

The Flame Kabob

The Flame’s hot-from-the-oven flatbread is called taftoon, and it is included with every flame-broiled kabob here—reason enough for the order. Chicken kubideh is exquisitely seasoned ground chicken, paired with a delicate rice pilaf and salad. Make it lamb for a buck more. $6.99, 1405 E. Sunset Road, 868-9096. – M.J.


Anime Ramen

Comely female servers sport pink wigs, an added attraction at this funky little storefront, decorated with manga (Japanese comic-book pages) on the walls. Their ramen won’t make anyone forget Monta down the street, but these gyoza—tender Japanese-style pot stickers with delicate minced meat fillings—are addictive, and great with sake. $5, 4355 W. Spring Mountain Road, 252-5088. – M.J.

Grilled Shrimp Salad

Café Nordstrom

We stretch our budget a dollar to include one of the most delicious salads anywhere. It features five grilled shrimp, arugula and grilled sweet corn, mingled with tiny bits of crisp baked Parmesan and creamy vinaigrette. The café does a land-office business for lunch, so be prepared for a line at the cashier. $11.25, in the Fashion Show, 862-2525. – M.J.

Emigrant’s Corned Beef and Cabbage

Rí Rá Irish Pub

Normally, you’d pay $15.95 for a huge plate of this salty, brined corned beef, accompanied by a delicious steamed cabbage and potatoes. But Friday only, this rustic Irish pub offers a great discount for locals, 40 percent when you produce a Nevada ID. If you want a more authentic Irish lunch, try bacon and cabbage instead. $9 for lunch, Fridays only, in Mandalay Place, 632-7771, RiRa – M.J.

The Wednesday $5.99 Food Bar

Whole Foods Markets

Normally, the various food bars at Whole Foods, including a lavish salad bar, hot food bar, vegan bar and breakfast items, sell for $7.99. But on Wednesdays, you can eat things like falafel, stuffed grape leaves, turkey meatloaf, baked chicken and about three dozen other choices at a lower price. Put your dressings in little plastic cups on the side to save money. Various locations. – M.J.

Ash e Reshtesh

Zaytoon Market & Restaurant

Ash e reshtesh is one of my favorite soups on the planet, a meal in a bowl composed of beans, noodles, spinach, leek, cilantro, parsley and garlic with a shmear of kashk, thick whey, squirted on top. At Zaytoon, a tiny Middle Eastern grocery, they make the best one in Las Vegas. They do good kabobs here, too, if the soup doesn’t fill you up. $5.99, 3655 S. Durango Drive, 685-1875, ZaytoonLasVegas – M.J.

Suggested Next Read

Sneaky Hot


Sneaky Hot

By Max Jacobson

If Penn’s Thai House weren’t east of Sunset Station in an obscure suburban mini-mall, it would enjoy wide acclaim by now. Perhaps the comely Thai chef, Penn Amarapayark, prefers it this way. Penn, as she insists on being called, is a modest sort who comes to work in jeans, with her hair pulled back. She’s ill-equipped for big crowds, anyway, since she does all the cooking herself.