The Outlaw Burger at Rollin Smoke Barbeque
Bring a friend or a really big dog to help you devour this huge sandwich at our city’s newest—and perhaps best—barbecue joint, which uses two huge iron drums outside to smoke meats. The family running it is from Arkansas, and this sandwich tastes down-home Southern, with six ounces of chuck, four ounces of brisket and lots of trimmings. Don’t even think about trying to pick it up with one hand. $7.99, 3185 S. Highland Dr., 836-3621, RollinSmokeBarbeque.com.
Pulled Chicken Sandwich and Side of Baked Beans at Big Ern’s BBQ
Six bucks gets a smoky, tender, generously portioned sandwich at Ernie Loya’s, a Downtown establishment that also does great spare ribs and toothsome hot links. The extra two bucks is for the smoky beans shot through with shreds of pulled pork, arguably the best barbecue bean dish in this Valley. $8, 102 S. Seventh St., 834-7845, BigErnsBBQ.com.
Chakapuli at Bar Forte
There’s only one place in town to eat the exotic cuisine of Georgia—not the Southern state, but a small Caucasian republic chiefly known for being Stalin’s birthplace. Forte offers delicacies such as adjarski khachapuri (Georgian cheese-stuffed bread) and khinkali (steamed dumplings with a garlicky meat filling). Chef Stefan Manchev has branched out with chakapuli, tender pieces of slow-simmered lamb in green sauce redolent of tarragon and tkemali (a sour plum condiment). Quite unusual—and very filling! $9.95, 4180 S. Rainbow Blvd., 220-3876, BarForte.com.
Pizza Margherita at Novecento 900
Maybe you know Marc Sgrizzi, a.k.a. Marc Ritz, from Parma, a crackerjack north-side Italian restaurant. Now Sgrizzi is doing pizza, and it’s terrific. Sgrizzi’s new place does VPN, vera pizza Napoletana—real Neapolitan pizzas—beginning at $7.50 for a basic Margherita. Pizzas cook in 90 seconds in a wood-fired oven, are thin-crusted and have a distinctively smoky character. For the money, this pizza rivals any in the city. $7.99, 5705 Centennial Center Blvd., 685-4900.
Ham Steak and Egg Breakfast at Irene’s Cocktail Lounge
Get a delicious grilled ham steak the size of a plate at this 24/7 gaming lounge. It has to be one of the best deals in the city: two eggs cooked to order, toast of your choice and really good hash browns. The breakfast is intended for one, but you could easily get a meal for two out of this. $7.99, 5480 Spring Mountain Rd., 873-5758.
Lamb Noodle Soup at Shaanxi Gourmet
The soup is perfect for those of us who enjoy the gamy funk of slow-simmered lamb. Shaanxi is a province in northwestern China, noted for cooking that features lamb, cumin, garlic and cabbage. This hearty big bowl of soup is composed of a rich broth redolent of cumin, with pieces of thinly sliced lamb and cabbage bobbing to the surface. Handmade noodles underneath add an almost indulgent heft. $8.50, 3400 S. Jones Blvd., 586-3311.
Who says two can’t eat as cheaply as one? At this charming Taiwanese bistro, there are a number of dishes on a buy-one-get-one-free specials menu (dine-in only) that are too good to pass up. One is Taiwanese-style spicy beef noodle, another a classic Japanese chashu ramen. Grilled pork and rice noodles with egg roll, and sautéed beef noodle soup, are both Vietnamese. All these dishes are hearty, tasty and entrée portioned. It’s an almost unbeatable deal. $8.50, 2021 W. Sunset Rd., 567-3000, NoodleChaCha.com.
Meat Pie at Nour Deli and Bakery
This delicious flatbread, available mild or spicy, is a common snack in Lebanon. Armenians call it lahmajun, matzo-like unleavened bread completely blanketed with a thin layer of seasoned ground beef and lamb. This one is made fresh and served piping hot. While you’re at it, try one of the Valley’s best baklavas—or buy a tub of lebni, the addictive white cheese Lebanese love to devour. $3.50, 8676 S. Eastern Ave., 778-5252.
Shrimp Wonton at Big Wong
If you want to eat authentic Brooklyn Chinese, Big Wong—in the same strip mall that’s home to the heralded Japanese restaurants Raku and Monta—is the place. Picture 10 deftly fried golden puffs generously filled with shrimp forcemeat, accompanied by sticky-sweet red dipping sauce. Another option not to miss: salt-and-pepper chicken wings. $4.95, 5040 W. Spring Mountain Rd., 368-6808.
Cassoulet at Manon Bakery
Many locals crowd this homey French bakery for classic pastries such as éclairs, cream puffs and macaroons, but there are hearty main dishes here as well, served from huge kettles. Perhaps the best one is this cassoulet, an authentic, slow-cooked white-bean stew with bacon, pork loin, sausage and tomato. It comes in a 26-ounce container and will easily feed two. $9.95, 8751 W. Charleston Blvd., 586-2666, PatisserieManon.com.
Zhangal at Manan Bakery
This Russian/Armenian bakery does exotic pastries such as the Ant’s Nest, made from shredded dough and cream, and an irresistible syrup-soaked bread called gata. But the hidden gem here is the vegan option called zhangal, an Armenian word for which no English translation exists. It’s a boat-shaped, ultra-thin flatbread filled with Chinese green vegetables that have been soaked, minced and spiced. It’s a great snack or light lunch. $3, 6620 W. Flamingo Rd., 733-4000, MananBakery.com.
Comme Ça Three-Course Lunch
It’s not every day that one gets to eat a three-course lunch at a top-drawer French restaurant on the Strip—and indeed, this deal is only offered Friday through Sunday. But it’s well worth marking your calendar. One can start with a tarte flambé or a terrific endive-and-pear salad (among many choices), then progress to a French dip or an excellent fried-chicken salad, again on a long list of entrées. Finish with dessert—say, a silken pot de crème, or the more substantial crème brûlée Yes, we know it’s more than 10 bucks, but it’s still one of the best Cheap Eats in the city. $19.50, noon-5 p.m., in the Cosmopolitan, 698-7910.
Duck Rice Bowl at Fat Choy
Sheridan Su’s filling duck rice bowl, served with a side salad, is impressive. The duck leg and thigh resemble French-style confit—no surprise, really, since Su did a turn as a sous-chef at Comme Ça, David Myers’ French outpost in the Cosmopolitan—but the dish manages to evoke China. The rice is perfumed with soy, and chopped green onion adds soul. Put this alongside Le Thai’s pad thai and Eat’s pork-based posole in the pantheon of great Downtown eats. $12, in the Eureka Casino, 595 E. Sahara Ave., 794-3464, FatChoyLV.com.
Triple Steakburger and Fries at Steak ’n Shake
Walk to the extreme southwest corner of the South Point Hotel & Casino any day of the week, and odds are you’ll run into a line—a long line, often dozens deep—formed outside the lone Steak ’n Shake west of Denver. What are they waiting for? A dining dinosaur: a juicy (read: greasy) burger with all the fixings … for less than $4—and that includes a side of fries. The most toothsome bang for your couple of bucks is the Triple Steakburger, three stacked patties that weigh in at more than a third of a pound (and dwarf the bun). Slap some American cheese on this bad boy, and you’re still out the door for less than a fin. Throw in one of their hand-dipped milkshakes, and your final tab—tax and tip included—is about 10 bucks. $3.99 (50 cents extra for cheese), in the South Point, 796.7111.
Bacon and Egg Breakfast Burrito at Del Taco
A basic breakfast burrito stuffed with egg and cheese is 79 cents, and 20 cents more gets you crumbled bacon, which makes it a complete meal. And it’s pretty darn good for a fast-food restaurant. If you want a heartier version, you can always add a scoop of refried beans. 99 cents, multiple locations.
Smoked Salmon Quiche at Sambalatte
It’s not enough for Luiz Oliveira to serve the best coffee in the city (single-estate grown coffees from his native Brazil, in siphon, filter or Chemex pots). He also sources terrific products such as chocolates by Jean-Marie Auboine, a killer muffin batter that’s baked on premises, and this wonderful quiche—a buttery, eggy suspension on a melt-in-your-mouth crust. Do not plan on lunch if you have this for breakfast. $8, 750 S. Rampart Blvd., 272-2333, Sambalatte.com.
Mini Yellowtail Sashimi at Miko’s Izakaya
The clientele are mostly regulars at this east-side haunt, which also does a mean donburi rice bowl and various Japanese pub dishes. Yellowtail is generally an expensive item, but the three pieces you get here are substantial, all cut fresh to order by an accomplished sushi man. Ginger and wasabi are provided, but your Kirin Ichiban will cost extra. $8.50, 500 E. Windmill Lane, 823-2779, MikoSushiLasVegas.com.
Tantan Men at Fukumimi
This Szechuan-style spicy soup—so heavily spiked with sesame sauce that it turns pale gray until a scoop of fire engine-red ground pork is added—isn’t Japanese at all, but Chinese. So it seems ironic that the best local interpretation of the dish is in a Japanese noodle house. These noodles are chewy, and the spices induce beads of sweat to drip down the front of your shirt, into the bowl. Proceed with caution. $8.95, 4860 S. Eastern Ave., 631-2933.
Fusion Bulgogi Nachos at Komex
Roy Choi started the Korean/Mexican fusion phenomenon in L.A. on a food truck before opening his own brick-and-mortar place, and that’s exactly what we have here: a small restaurant with a food-truck spirit. Tacos and tortas are popular items, served with Korean-style meats such as kalbi short ribs and Korean-style marinated pork. But the star item might be this glorious mountain of food: hot corn chips topped with meat, a flurry of mozzarella, pico de gallo, jalapeños and Korean hot sauce. Not for the faint of heart. $5.99-$7.99, 633 N. Decatur Blvd., 646-1612.
Smoked Pork Butt Arepa at Viva Las Arepas
Felix Arellano serves street dishes from his native Venezuela at his spacious Downtown spot just outside Dino’s bar. Try empanadas with exotic fillings (coconut and cheese being one), wood-fired chicken and of course, arepas, which are fat corn cakes halved and stuffed with savory fillings. The smoked pork butt arepa must be stuffed with eight ounces of tasty minced, spiced meat. You’ll need two strong hands to manage it. $4, 1516 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 366-9696, VivaLasArepas.com.
Bacon Garlic Takana Fried Rice at Shoku Ramen-ya
Lorin Watada, who owns Bachi Burger next door, makes one of the best side dishes in any of our now numerous ramen houses. This is a modestly sized mound, topped with a fried egg, with an alternating soft-and-crunchy texture thanks to nubs of bacon and bamboo shoots shot through it. Eaten alone, it’s the perfect light lunch, but you’ll want a plate of gyoza—Japanese pot stickers—to go with it. And a cold beer to wash them both down. $7, 470 E. Windmill Lane, 897-0978.
Vampiro at Taco Taco
Picture two fat tostadas thrown on a fire until blistered with black spots, wickedly crunchy discs perfect for melted cheese and the meat of your choice. The vampiro is ordered at its own station at this new concept joint, which serves the funkiest organ meats in creation, al pastor carved off a spit, and street-style corn on the cob with crema, chile and limon. Try your vampiro with carne asada or chorizo. Condiments, such as white and black beans, cucumber, radish and a giant salsa selection, are complimentary. $2, 3430 E. Tropicana Ave., 307-1571.
The Italian and the Gobbler at Spicy Pickle
This Colorado-based chain is down to one location in the Valley, a pity since their wraps, soups, signature sandwiches and salads are uniformly high in quality. Our favorite: their enormous grilled paninis, especially the Italian (with mortadella and other cold cuts) and the Gobbler, which is crammed with pepper-crusted turkey, feta cheese and a sun-dried tomato mayo. Both are grilled on the chain’s own rosemary focaccia. $7.59, 7271 Amigo St., 485-5907, SpicyPickle.com.
Coney Island Hot Dog at American Coney Island
Chicago has its famous hot dog on a poppy-seed bun with celery salt and sport peppers. Detroit demands equal time with a lesser-known facsimile, a fat dog topped with a thick, meaty chili, chopped onions and an optional flurry of shredded yellow cheese for an additional 75 cents. This is a tasty 90/10 mix of beef and pork made expressly for the chain. Don’t pay extra for cheese, as the chili is substantial, and the onions add the perfect touch of sweetness. $3.75, in the D, 301 Fremont St., 488-2120.
Soft Tofu and Fish Lunch Special at Tofu House
This newly remodeled food court is now quite comfy, and there are several stalls serving a combination of Korean, Chinese and Japanese dishes. But the best deal might be this iron kettle filled with soon du bu, soft tofu in a spicy red broth chock-full of shrimp and clams. A server will offer to crack a fresh egg into your broth. Take the offer. Included in this deal are rice, a whole fried fish and ban’chan—Korean side dishes, one of which is the nefarious stinky fermented cabbage known as kimchi. $6.95, in Greenland Supermarket, 6850 W. Spring Mountain Rd., 450-7878.
Stromboli at Four Kegs
This bar’s signature menu item is like a pizza tucked into itself. A buttery, golden-brown shell has a great crunch you can hear when you bite into it, yet it’s thin enough so as to not be doughy in the middle. There are several variations—including beef and cheddar, and turkey and Swiss—but our vote is for the original incarnation: pepperoni, sausage, ham and salami, all spackled into the crust along with a tangy-but-sweet marinara sauce and gooey mozzarella. For an extra good deal, note that the Wednesday lunch special comes with fries and drink for just $8. $9.50 (small) 276 N. Jones Blvd., 870-0255.
The Japanese Tapas Lunch Combo at Kyara
Dinner and late-night offerings here run the more eclectic gamut of izakaya dining—cold tofu, braised beef tongue, grilled pork belly on skewers—but Kyara’s four-course lunch special can’t be beat. The traditional Japanese bento-box concept features essentially all the major food groups arranged in their own sections of a tray. Your lunch bento comes stacked with a fresh spring salad with sesame ginger dressing, miso soup, and shrimp and vegetable tempura, plus the entrée of your choosing, which is served over steamed rice in a bowl. There’s cooked options, such as beef teriyaki and katsu-don, or breaded pork cutlet, as well as raw, lighter choices, such as spicy tuna or spicy salmon. Even though it sounds like a lot of food, it’s just the right amount for the price—and to ensure you won’t want to fall asleep right after. $10, 6555 S. Jones Blvd., 434-8856.
Meatball Sliders at Meatball Spot
During happy hour, Meatball Spot serves its sliders three to an order, where you can mix and match everything that goes between two pieces of bread. Seven different types of meats, including turkey or the traditional Italian pork, veal and beef, can be dressed with an array of sauces, from mushroom gravy to pesto to Parmesan cream—and of course, your standard marinara. Cute brioche buns serve as the vehicles for your DIY creations. $3.99, in Town Square, 641-7768, MeatballSpot.com.
Braised Oxtail Gnocchi at Due Forni
This Summerlin pizzeria cranks out more than just pizzas from its two ovens, such as this hearty pasta dish for happy hour. Fluffy pillows of semolina gnocchi are light enough to take on the heavy nature of the shredded braised oxtail. Cremini mushrooms add earthy tones to the oxtail’s inherent meatiness. $5, 4:30-6:30 p.m. daily, 3555 S. Town Center Dr., 586-6500, DueForni.com.
Tacos al Pastor at Taqueria La Casa del Pastor
We’ve been known to affectionately refer to the goods that we eat from Taqueria La Casa del Pastor as “sketchy tacos”—because, really, any food sold in the parking lot of a car wash rarely isn’t. Well, this souped-up taco cart with the huge spit of pork al pastor rotating away serves as the exception to the rule. Sure, there’s carne asada and chicken, and even lengua for those more daring. But it does say La Casa del Pastor on the sign. Small corn tortillas are warmed on the flat-top, and the al pastor is sliced to order. When they ask if you want pineapple, say “Yes!”, as the grilled sweet fruit balances out the savory, almost spicy roasted pork. $2, 5-1 p.m. Thu-Sun, 5893 W. Tropicana Ave., 306-5910.