at the Goodwich
The next big thing to occupy the kiosk outside of Dino’s Downtown, the Goodwich puts lots of heart and soul between two slices of bread. Although there are sandwiches at varying price points, from $3 to $9, our favorite is the Reuben-ish at $9. Marble rye is piled high with corned beef made by chef Joshua Clark, along with house-made sauerkraut scented with fennel, Swiss cheese and the Goodwich’s own Thousand Island dressing. 1516 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 910-8681 (text-message orders), The-Goodwich.com.
The Bird Fold
Yes, it’s on the kids menu here at this hidden hipster spot, but three tacos for $5 is a good deal no matter what your age. And yes, they’re even grown-up size: Three soft flour tortillas are topped with seasoned chicken, lettuce and tomato. It’s definitely nothing fancy, but hits the spot for the right price. 6261 Dean Martin Dr., 979-9797, SkinnyFats.com.
at Weeziana Gumbo
It’s hard to believe a dingy food court across the street from the community college offers such awesome Louisiana cooking, but it does. The star of this counter-service spot is the gumbo. The chicken version features a dark roux packed with on-the-bone chicken, beef sausage, smoked turkey and kielbasa. 6475 W. Charleston Blvd., 822-4626, WeezianaGumbo.com.
at Desnudo Tacos
With this two-handed burrito, native SoCal chef Christian Dolias pays homage to the food he grew up eating and cooking. A large flour tortilla is stuffed with grilled, red-chili-marinated skirt steak, pico de gallo, crema, cheese and french fries. Go big and get your burrito wet (a.k.a. enchilada-style): smothered with red or green salsa and melted cheese. 3240 S. Arville St., 982-6435.
NYC Donut Holes
at Press in Four Seasons
The croissant-doughnut hybrid has been taken to the next level in the Four Seasons’ lounge, which, instead of going for the holey version, gives us the NYC donut holes. Adding to the hype, the flaky, sugar-coated delicacies aren’t available all the time, making appearances only after 6 p.m., and occasionally as whole NYC donuts at the coffee bar. We always want the things we can’t readily have. 632-5000, FourSeasons.com.
Chile Verde Plate
at Chile Verde Express
Anytime a restaurant’s name is also a dish, it’s a good indicator of what you should order. Here, the namesake item is best experienced as a plate with refried beans, rice and fresh warm tortillas on the side. The chile verde itself is slow-simmered pork shoulder in a tomatillo sauce that has deep flavor and ample spice. Don’t be weirded out that Chile Verde Express is located in a gas station—such ambience was once referred to as “sketchy,” but is now considered “adventurous.” 8095 S. Rainbow Rd. (in Choice Gas Station), 260-7758.
Molinari Personal-Size Pizza
at Pizza Rock LV
Happy hour is made happier when there’s pizza, so from 3-6 p.m. weekdays and from 10 p.m. till close daily, Pizza Rock makes your night with individually sized pies. You can pick from the award-winning Cal Italia or the simple Frank’s True Italian, but our preference is the meat-laden Molinari, topped with salami, pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms and mozzarella. 201 N. Third St., 385-0838, PizzaRockLasVegas.com.
If you’re going to eat half-size hot dogs, you may as well make up for the calories by loading them up with toppings. Rockhouse’s No. 5 combines the finest of ballpark foods with nacho toppings of cheese, guacamole, jalapeño and pico de gallo, while the No. 2 channels a sandwich, topped with bacon, lettuce and tomato. And don’t forget: “Mini hot dogs” means you can eat two! Grand Canal Shops in the Venetian, 731-9683, TheRockhouseBar.com.
The Big Bone Soup
at District One
The best soups are made from simmering bones and aromatics for long periods of time. District One isn’t kidding around with this heady broth, even serving it with a good cross section of the shank so that there’s plenty of bone marrow to be scooped out. It may seem a bit austere to just have a large bowl of broth and a giant bone, but once you get hit with the fragrant scent, along with a slurp of some marrow, you’ll realize you don’t need much else. 3400 S. Jones Blvd., Suite 8, 413-6868.
at Café Berlin
The delicious pork cutlet is hammered out thinly, then coated, breaded and cooked till it has a crispy crust. The sandwich version of this German dish can be had at lunch (with the schnitzel hanging over the edge of the baguette), and it even seems sort of healthy as it’s topped with lettuce, tomato, onions and sliced cucumbers. 4850 W. Sunset Rd., 875-4605, CafeBerlinLV.com.
Chicken Katsu Curry Over Rice
at Curry Zen
Japanese curry is a mildly spiced brown version of the dish. Takaya Zenbayashi makes his using a third-generation family recipe that includes 15 spices. You can enjoy it alone over white or brown rice, but for a heartier meal try it paired with a fried-chicken cutlet, or katsu. 5020 W. Spring Mountain Rd., 985-1192, CurryZen.com.
Beef Tartare and New England Lobster Roll
at American Fish Happy Hour
The Revive at Five happy-hour menu, available 5-7 p.m. daily, has eight Michael Mina creations for $5 each. Put together your own surf-and-turf by combining his tartare with crispy capers and whole-grain croutons with his spin on a lobster roll served on a parker house roll with Chesapeake Bay butter. In Aria, 590-8610.
Maxwell Street Polish
at Al’s Beef
Have you ever tried the Second City’s other encased-meat option? The Maxwell Street Polish, created in the late 1930s at a near-Southside spot now called Jim’s Grill, offers a grilled sausage (with great snap) topped with grilled onions instead of raw, along with mustard and tangy sport peppers, and it comes with fresh-cut, skin-on fries. 6840 W. Sahara Ave., 644-2333, AlsBeef.com.
at Cornish Pasty Company
Pasties are a dish from Cornwall, England—pockets of dough stuffed with a wide variety of ingredients traditionally consumed by tin miners. Cornish Pasty Company offers more than 30 varieties, some traditional, others very American. The bangers-and-mash version is as English as it gets, made with subtly spiced sage sausage, mashed potatoes and onions sautéed in red wine. 953 E. Sahara Ave., 862-4538, CornishPastyCo.com.
at Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House
Emeril Lagasse opened this place in 1995, and at his daily happy hour, the prices don’t seem to have changed that much. Belly up to the bar any day of the week from 2 to 6 p.m. and enjoy some oysters on the half shell. In the MGM Grand, 891-7374.
at Crepe Expectations
There are a handful of spots in town to get good dessert crepes, but Crepe Expectations ups the ante by also offering great savory crepes. The Sonora is stuffed with carne asada, salsa, guacamole and jack cheese, making for a delicious lunch or dinner feast. 500 S. Eastern Ave., 583-4939, CrepeExpectations.com.
The Original Tarantini Panzarotti
at Hank’s Philly Steaks
These fried pockets of dough stuffed with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese are a staple in South Jersey pizza places. They were introduced to the area by Pauline Tarantini in Camden in 1960. The family now wholesales them, and this Henderson spot is the place to get one. 467 E. Silverado Ranch Blvd., 778-8353, HanksPhillySteaks.com.
Two-Piece Rotisserie Chicken with Two Sides
at the Commissary
Mexican-born celebrity chef Richard Sandoval is known for his Latin-influenced cooking. But the best thing at his new Downtown Grand spot is the rotisserie chicken, which has a crispy seasoned skin and meat that falls off the bone. You get your choice of sides, but don’t miss the crispy potato wedges that are marinated in the chicken jus before frying. In the Downtown Grand, 719-5311, RichardSandoval.com/Commissary.
The Downtown Grand’s new rooftop pool will be opening to the public in the next few weeks. When you visit, make sure to order the edamame. Chef Todd Harrington and his staff offer the whole beans in a sweet sesame soy dressing, alongside fried pita bread and a beautifully light dip made by blending edamame, lemon juice, olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. In the Downtown Grand, 719-5100, DowntownGrand.com.
The Gold Standard
at Haute Doggery
Sure, there are less-expensive hot dogs in town, but nobody dresses their wieners like the Linq’s new gourmet hot dog restaurant. This one comes topped with smoked bacon, cheddar, roast tomato, arugula and garlic aioli. And if that’s not good enough, there are more than 20 other toppings you can add, while still keeping the price below a Hamilton. at the Linq, 430-4435, HauteDoggeryLV.com.
at Bronze Café
This humble sandwich counter at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada has become a Downtown hot spot thanks, in part, to its large vegan and vegetarian selection. But its signature sandwich, which consists of house-made bacon jam, maple-glazed bacon, mixed greens, tomato, basil aioli, lemon vinaigrette and q-cumber on ciabatta, is enough to tempt even the most hardcore PETA members. 401 S. Maryland Pkwy., 202-3100.
10 Max Classics
Our Cheap Eats issue has always been driven by food critic Max Jacobson, a connoisseur of Las Vegas “meal deals.” Since he is unable to contribute to this year’s effort because of a serious accident suffered three months ago, we thought we’d present—as a tribute to Max and a service to you—a sampler platter of his favorites from our first four years:
Sardine Bánh Mì
at Lee’s Sandwiches
Toto, we’re not at Capriotti’s anymore. Bánh mì means essentially “submarine sandwich” in Vietnamese, and yes, it’s tempting to be wary of the pork roll and mystery pâte that’s popular at this chain, open here and in three Asian countries. But the sardine bành mí with tomato, onions and mayo is delicious. And the price is right. 3989 W. Spring Mountain Rd., 331-9999; 9530 S. Eastern Ave., Henderson, 586-1999.
Sirloin Steak Dinner
at Ellis Island Casino
I once wrote a history of the Vegas steakhouse 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, so you’ll have to ask for the steak dinner, which includes a good 10-ounce sirloin, baked potato, soup or salad, even a craft beer. Shhh! 4178 Koval Lane, 733-8901.
Pulled Chicken Sandwich and Side of Baked Beans
at Big Ern’s BBQ
Less than seven 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. An extra two bucks gets you the smoky beans shot through with shreds of pulled pork, the best barbecue bean dish in the Valley. 707 Fremont St. (Downtown Container Park), 834-7845, BigErnsBBQ.com.
Soft Tofu and Fish Lunch Special
at Tofu House
There are several stalls at this food court serving a combination of Korean, Chinese and Japanese dishes. But the best deal might be this iron kettle filled with soon du bu, a 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. In Greenland Supermarket, 6850 W. Spring Mountain Rd., 459-7878.
The Shrimp Pita
at Crazy Pita
Mehdi Zarhloul’s popular restaurant sells lamb, beef, spiced ground beef, veggie and—our favorite—shrimp pitas. While you’re there, check out the other wonderful specialties from his native Morocco, including poulet m’chermel (rotisserie chicken rubbed in preserved lemon) and couscous (cooked semolina wheat with gravy). In the District at Green Valley Ranch, 2225 Village Walk Dr., 896-7482, and Town Square, 6587 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 778-3310.
at Mint Indian Bistro
Our favorite Indian buffet in town is a bountiful spread with such all-star items as bone-in goat curry and chili chicken, a dish from Nepal. Don’t miss the chau chau noodles, a terrific vegetarian bean soup called kwati or the rice pudding. 730 E. Flamingo Rd., 894-9334.
at San Salvador
The quintessential Salvadoran snack, pupusas are little stuffed pockets of grilled masa served with curtido, a pickled coleslaw. San Salvador serves them revueltas—brimming with gooey melted cheese and pork rinds—or filled with loroco, an edible flower. 6651 Smoke Ranch Rd., 638-1509.
at the Cosmopolitan
Find a hidden corridor on the third floor by the east elevators to eat real New York-style pizzas, taken out of the ovens hot and sold by the slice or whole. The corridor is lined with ’50s album covers, mostly by Italian idols, and the base price is $4.50 for a slice of tomato and cheese. You’ll pay a little extra for toppings. 11 a.m.-4 a.m. Tue-Thu, till 5 a.m. Fri-Mon, 698-7860.
at the Great Greek Grill
The Goumroian family, formerly of the Fat Greek, runs this fast-food joint in Henderson, and the food is as good as ever. Son Jerry makes the best gyro in town, crisp-edged, thin-sliced, funky with the combined tastes of beef and lamb. The family’s tzatziki sauce smeared on the pita is alone worth a detour. 1275 W. Warm Springs Rd., 547-2377.
Fusion Bulgogi Nachos
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 is 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. 633 N. Decatur Blvd., 646-1612.