Some Off-the-Radar Bargains for the Value-Conscious Diner


In the spirit of this issue’s cheap-eats theme, here’s a rundown of good dining plays you probably won’t find listed in traditional places.

The Hard Rock Hotel is running a $17.99 lobster special in Mr. Lucky’s on Fridays only. A one-pound whole lobster comes with boiled potatoes, corn on the cob and coleslaw. It’s the best lobster special going in the casinos right now, but if you want it, be sure to get there early—the deal is supposed to run from 2 to 10 p.m., but was sold out at 8:30 the first time I tried. Mr. Lucky’s also serves its off-the-menu Gambler’s Special around the clock, which includes a sirloin steak, three small shrimp on a stick, garlic string beans and a big helping of mashed potatoes for $7.77. This one’s always been good, but you now have to purchase a beverage to get it. Which beverage is best? A draft beer is $4, but the bargain move is milk for just $1.99.

Las Vegas’ most famous off-the-menu deal is the 24/7 steak special in the Ellis Island Café. It’s a filet-cut sirloin that comes with a big salad, choice of potato, vegetable, rolls and an EI draft beer. Everyone thinks it’s $8.99, but there’s a trick that drops the price by a buck. If you play just $1 through any machine, you can print out a voucher to get the special for $7.99. You might lose the dollar, but then the meal still costs $8.99, so you’re getting a complete free roll on that dollar bet.

Home Plate Grill & Bar (4785 Blue Diamond Rd.) runs a free pizza buffet every morning from 3 to 6 a.m. It’s presented as an “Industry Night,” but anyone who plays at least $1 in a machine gets the deal, and there’s a $500 bonus on royal flushes during those hours.

Gamblers can also take advantage of Silverton’s $20-dining-comp deal for earning 500 points on Thursdays. The 500 points equates with $500 played though a machine, which is about 45 minutes of quarter video poker. That’s a nice play-and-eat parlay that will cost you about $1.50 in losses on average. Note that I said this one’s for gamblers—despite the low expected loss, 45 minutes of play can result in a much higher real loss when things don’t go well.

If you find yourself at Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile shops, try Lobster ME for a roll and a shot. The lobster rolls are excellent ($17/$23), and a large feeds two. But the deal here is the lobster shooter—sort of a Bloody Mary mix with lobster pieces and a shot of vodka—for just $5.

MGM Grand offers free juice in its registration lobby. You can tell the flavor by the big pieces of fruit in the dispensers. It’s tough to beat free.

Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor and