There’s something about off-the-menu specials that gets people fired up—maybe it’s the sneaky pleasure of knowing a secret. Or maybe it’s just that they’re usually a good deal. There are surprisingly few ongoing “OTM” deals in Las Vegas, but those that are out there are worth trying:
• The king of OTMs comes from Ellis Island’s Café: the 24/7 filet-cut sirloin steak dinner. It comes with soup or salad, vegetable, choice of potato, roll, and a home-brewed Ellis Island beer (or soft drink) for $8.99. And if you play one dollar in any slot or video poker machine, you’ll get a voucher to get it for $7.99.
• A close second is the “Gambler’s Special” at Mr. Lucky’s in the Hard Rock: a sirloin steak and three grilled shrimp, plus mashed potatoes and a big side salad for $7.77 (with a players card). In reality, this (and the Ellis Island steak) are so well known that some of their OTM luster has worn off. But here’s one that most don’t know about: From 2 to 10 p.m. on Sundays only, Mr. Lucky’s offers an off-the-menu prime rib deal. The meal comes with a side potato only, but it’s all the prime rib you can eat for just $9.99.
• The other ongoing OTM special is at the Sourdough Cafés at Arizona Charlie’s Decatur and Boulder, where a 24/7 steak-and-shrimp comes with soup or salad, choice of potato, and veggies. It’s $10.99 with a players card or $11.99 without.
• Other casino off-the-menu specials show up for limited durations, such as a $9.99 T-bone dinner currently running at Station Casino’s Grand Cafés, but you can also find them at non-casino locations. The classic is the osso buco at Piero’s. There’s a little problem here, in that at $42, it’s the most expensive thing they serve. But this is a case where the coolness of knowing about it is the best part of the deal.
• Biaggio’s Pizzeria (4235 S. Fort Apache Rd.) boasts an off-the-menu BLT ($9.99) that uses “extra-thick cut bacon.” Its off-menu-ness is due in part to a house policy of not making it if they can’t get the right bacon. In addition, there’s what the chef describes as a “secret Italian-Irish Stromboli” ($15.99), which combines corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut.
• For something different, Mr Tofu Korean restaurant (3889 Spring Mountain Rd.) has a mushroom sundubu (hot and spicy stew made with uncurdled tofu) for $8.65.
• Even the chains have gotten into the OTM game. Las Vegas’ 13 Jamba Juice locations have four off-menu Gummie Bear smoothies (red, white, blue and sour). And after launching a secret menu of healthy “power” dishes in New York in 2012, Panera Bread rolled it out nationwide this year. Just tell your server you’re ordering off the “Hidden Menu.” And wink.