Build Your Own Breakfast
Breakfast is back with a vengeance at Violette’s Vegan. The menu has plenty of a la carte options for less than $10, but the crowd favorite is the Build Your Own Breakfast. Choose from three scrambled tofu selections (we like the Southwestern with local Virgin cheese), then mix and match two other options from plant proteins, grains, organic fruit and veggies, pancakes or breakfast potatoes. The bonus: Every breakfast comes with free coffee. $10 for three selections. 8560 W. Desert Inn Rd., 702-685-0466, ViolettesVegan.com.
Daily Soup Specials
The food menu at The Beat Coffeehouse is a relic. Save for a few additions such as a breakfast burrito, the offerings are largely unchanged since the café/record store opened in 2010. Owner Jennifer Cornthwaite likes to keep the menu the same for the regulars, but for some of those regulars, lunch is a love/hate relationship. That’s where part-time rocker and full-time culinary badass Eric Scott comes in. His compelling daily soup and sandwich specials rescue the Beat’s regulars from menu malaise without us having to say goodbye to the stalwart items that have been loved (maybe to death). Chief among our requests are Chef Eric’s silky cheesy potato soup, his chicken noodle and his spiked tomato bisque, all served with slices of baguette. Please, sir, may we have some more? $5, 520 Fremont St., 702-385-2328, TheBeatLV.com.
Street Pad Thai
That stuff called pad thai at your neighborhood Thai restaurant might taste good, but it likely lacks the nuance of what is actually served from a stall in Bangkok. Chada Street does it right, with thin rice noodles quickly tossed with pickled radish, dehydrated shrimp, bean sprouts, egg and onion (we also like to add chicken for an extra $2). Forget that sweet, clumpy version; this hits the cardinal notes of sour, salty, spicy and sweet, plus a little funk. Don’t be discouraged by the portion size—for this dish, less is definitely more. $7, 3839 Spring Mountain Rd., 702-579-0207, ChadaStreet.com.
Can a hot dog be sophisticated and maybe even somewhat light? The Rising Sun aims to prove it can be done with its standout Asian offering. The dish starts with a wagyu beef frank that’s brushed with teriyaki glaze, sprinkled with the Japanese spicy mixture nori furikake and topped with crispy yam, spicy mayo and a tempura-fried avocado. Arigato! $8, The Linq, 702-430-4435, HauteDoggeryLV.com.
Craft Your Own Entrée Salad
As tempting as pizza may be, sometimes you rightly have to choose the healthier option. The irony here is that one of the best and freshest pile o’ greens in town can be found at PizzaRev, a make-your-own-pizza shop, now with two locations in the Valley. Similar to Subway or Chipotle in that diners are able to customize their order via an assembly line of ingredients, PizzaRev offers nearly 30 complimentary toppings to dress that salad up just as fancy as a pie, but with considerably fewer carbs. $8, 1381 W. Sunset Rd., 702-776-7171; 7090 S. Rainbow Blvd., 702-463-1960, PizzaRev.com.
Stacked Hot Pastrami and Swiss
There aren’t many things you can tuck between two slices of rye that are better than hot pastrami and cheese. Now try sandwiching the fatty, marbled smoked beef inside a savory waffle and—voila!—you may have just one-upped perfection. So is the style at Bruxie, which eschews bread of all kinds for a light, 250-calorie container made of flour, butter, milk and eggs. While the chicken and waffle is the classic, the Boar’s Head pastrami, Swiss and cider slaw with spicy brown mustard and a half-sour pickle version is unforgettable. $10, The Park, 702-728-2981, Bruxie.com.
Pan Con Lomo
El Pollo Inka Express
El Pollo Inka has been a cult favorite in L.A. County’s South Bay for nearly 30 years. The recently imported location at the corner of Sahara Boulevard and Maryland Parkway is exposing a whole new region to its delectable sandwich creation known as pan con lomo. Two puffy pieces of toasted bread cradle beef—stir-fried with red onion, tomatoes and french fries—are served with cilantro soup. There’s also an accompaniment you won’t want to miss: Every order comes with aji verde, or Peruvian green chili sauce, known by devotees as “green crack” because of its addictive qualities. It looks radioactive, but tastes incredible. $7, 2440 S. Maryland Pkwy., 702-522-7871, PolloInkaExpress.com.
Thai Shrimp Curry Bowl
The Rice Shop
Even the simple rice that serves as the base of this dish—a beautifully sticky California variety called Calrose mixed with basil, fried onions and cilantro—is amazing. But it can be easily overshadowed by the fusion of mildly spicy black bean gumbo and Thai-spiced shrimp with celery and pickled chilis. There are more flavors in this one simple dish than some tasting menus. $10, 3655 S. Durango Dr., 702-889-0468, RiceShopVegas.com.
Now that Las Vegas’ top sandwich shop has finally found a traditional brick-and-mortar home on the ground floor of the SoHo Lofts, they’ve added a few new combos to the menu in celebration. This one—a combination of pulled turkey that’s been seasoned and brined overnight, house bacon, tomato, Gruyère fondue and paprika—was inspired by the open-face, baked hot brown sandwich that was invented in Louisville, Kentucky’s Brown Hotel in the roaring ’20s. Chef Josh Clark was a big fan of the American classic, but wanted something a bit lighter. Thus, his close face cold sandwich (with toasted bread) was born. Enjoy it indoors under a mural by Jerry Misko or al fresco on the sidewalk café. $9, 900 Las Vegas Blvd. South., 702-910-8681, TheGoodwich.com.
Smoked Salmon Toast
PublicUs is Downtown’s undisputed hangout for urban dwellers and a millennial workforce too antsy to stay in their cubicles. It also serves some of the best coffee in the city, but the food here is just as refined. Skip the drive-thru breakfast and opt for the smoked salmon toast, which sits atop sourdough bread with a dill spread, scallions, onions, olives and a sliced boiled egg. This configuration changes slightly, depending on what the chef has on hand, but it’ll power you through lunch—guaranteed. $7.50, 1126 Fremont St., 702-331-5500, PublicusLV.com.
Jaburrito, which wowed Las Vegas with sushi burritos at its original location near Palace Station, is now operating under that same flag on Rainbow Boulevard. There are plenty of good Japanese-meets-Mexican combos. But we love the Huntington: Cajun albacore, spicy tuna mix, jalapeños, cucumber, romaine lettuce, crunchy tortilla strips and sweet chili. Opt for the nori wrapper and it moves much closer to the Far East than south of the border, but the Mexican touches make it stand out from basic sushi fare. $7.75, 6090 S. Rainbow Blvd., 702-586-4433, Jaburrito.net.
Sloppy Joe Fries
Buddha Belly Deli
We suburbanites know how to find those hidden gems in nondescript strip malls. One such spot is Henderson’s Buddha Belly Deli, which boasts an eclectic Asian fusion menu full of surprising flavors. Take the sloppy Joe fries, for instance, which catapult the humble spud to new heights when topped with braised short rib, red curry coconut sauce and a blend of mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano and provolone cheeses. Top with a runny egg and what you have is a decadent meal, not just a side. $8 ($1.50 extra for the egg), 50 N. Valle Verde Dr., Suite 110, 702-545-0840, TheBuddhaBellyDeli.com.
Ferraro’s has a strong local following thanks to more than 30 years in Las Vegas. And many of them like to congregate here for an after-work drink. To keep those bellies full, the family Ferraro has created a special Ora Sociale (happy hour) menu featuring a selection of appetizers, pizzas and small portions of some of its famed house-made pastas for less than $10 apiece. The agnolotti—two large square, ravioli-like pockets stuffed with three cheeses and topped with a light teardrop tomato sauce—is basic, but it hits the spot. $7 during Ora Sociale (4-7 p.m.), 4480 Paradise Rd., 702-364-5300, FerrarosLasVegas.com.
Sure, you can stop in any taco spot along Charleston Boulevard for a bargain meal, but the burritos at Los Tacos may give you the biggest bang for your buck. These hefty burritos come packed with your choice of carne asada, carnitas, chorizo, chicken, marinated pork, lengua, buche (pork stomach) or veggie with whole pinto beans, tomato, sour cream, cheese and pico de gallo all wrapped up in a soft tortilla with a side of red or green sauce. $4.25, 1710 E. Charleston Blvd., 702-471-7447, LosTacosLV.com.
Build Your Own Pizza
Stoned ’N’ Baked
With designer pizzas becoming more commonplace, a simple slice can cost more than what most are willing to spend on a whole pie. At Stoned ’N’ Baked in Container Park, diners can build their own 12-inch personal pizza with their choice of red, white, barbecue or pine-nut-free pesto sauce, topped with traditional meats and veggies, for $10 or less. $10 for unlimited toppings, 707 E. Fremont St. 702-480-0007, StonedNBaked.com.
Chashu Pork Bowl
You go to a ramen shop for the ramen, clearly, but you shouldn’t overlook the side menu. At Ramen Sora, the chashu pork bowl comes in two sizes: mini and regular. So you can still get your ramen fill while trying something new. But one taste of the braised pork belly in a tangy teriyaki sauce on a bed of white rice, and we bet the next time you go back, you’ll want to upgrade to the larger bowl. For the price, it’s one of the best bargains you’ll find. $6.50 regular, 4490 Spring Mountain Rd., 702-685-1011, RamenSoraLV.com.
Few places are as chill as French café Rosallie, where the baskets of freshly made croissants and bread evoke a time before carbs became the bogeyman of food groups. But if you must have protein, you can’t go wrong with the Tartine Angelique: organic hard-boiled eggs and a bed of spring mix greens on toasted sourdough bread with house-made aioli spread and vinaigrette. It’s the perfect meal for breakfast or lunch, but go ahead and take that chocolate almond croissant to go—we won’t judge. $8.90, 6090 S. Rainbow Blvd., 702-998-4121, Rosallie.com.
For a hot dog that’s simultaneously over the top and down ’n’ dirty, head for Dog Haus, across the street from the Hard Rock, which kicks things off by wrapping the wiener in bacon. From there, hefty doses of sweet roasted peppers and caramelized onions, and a condiment triumvirate of mayo, mustard and ketchup are piled on. Grab some extra napkins, because this will get messy. $7, 4480 Paradise Rd., 702-435-4287, DogHaus.com.
It says Le Pho on the door of Downtown’s newest dining hot spot, but the banh mi sandwiches are where it’s at. Owner Khai Vu traveled to Vietnam to learn the ways of banh mi-making, all the way down to how to bake the perfect baguette. The classic version, which also happens to be the special of the house, comes loaded with layers of sliced cold cuts, pork pâté, mayo, pickled daikon and carrots, jalapeños and cilantro. But it all starts with that good, crusty baguette. $9, 353 E. Bonne-ville St., 702-382-0209, LePhoDTLV.com.
Yellow Duck Noodle Soup
Family-owned and operated since 1989, Laos Market provides Downtown with fresh produce, imported goods and—much to the surprise of many—delicious food. At first glance it looks like your standard market, but just around Aisle 3 you’ll find two tables and a small kitchen where you can order soups including pho and curry noodle soup. But our favorite by far is the yellow duck noodle soup: boneless chunks of roasted duck with toothsome egg noodles and fresh Thai basil in a rich broth. $6.50. 629 Las Vegas Blvd. North, 702-366-0881.
Braised Lamb Pita
Crazy Pita has been part of the Valley’s fast-casual landscape for a decade now. With its consistent quality, the pitas and skewer plates are our Mediterranean go-to comfort foods. The chain recently introduced a braised leg of lamb plate on the menu, as well as a pita-wrapped version that comes with fries, which has become a new favorite. Tender lamb, marinated tomatoes, cucumbers, romaine and feta cheese all fit snugly into a pocket that fits snugly into our bellies. Comfort food, indeed. $10, multiple locations, CrazyPita.com.
Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar
Lazy Dog has become a Summerlin hot spot for locals, with or without a pooch in tow. The prodigious menu has many standouts, but believe us when we advise you to save room for dessert, because you’re going to want to stuff your face with butter cake, a warm shortbread cookie-like treat topped with minted strawberry compote and vanilla bean ice cream, garnished with sweet balsamic. It tastes like your best childhood memory that you’ll want to relive again and again. $5.50, in Downtown Summerlin, 1725 Festival Plaza Dr., 702-727-4784, LazyDogRestaurants.com.
Lamb Stir Fry Burrito
Drive-thru/walk-up Indian fast-food joint Desi Burrito combines the bold flavors of Indian cuisine with Mexican ingenuity and American expedition. It’s quick, convenient and unlike anything you’ve had wrapped in a tortilla. The standout here is the lamb stir-fry burrito. The meat is tender with a rich sauce and mild heat. The rice (your choice of lemon or masala flavor) is well-seasoned, with sautéed veggies, lettuce and kale providing a perfect complement. Skip the cheese, as that’s the only place the cultures clash. $7.50, 670 E. Flamingo Rd., 702-987-5310, DesiBurrito.com.
Cabernet Mushrooms Grilled Cheese
The charcuterie game has always been strong at Downtown wine bar Bin 702, but it has since evolved into a full-blown sandwich program that features seven varieties of grilled cheese, four of them for $10 or less. Of these, the must-try is the Cabernet Mushrooms ($10). Beneath a crispy outer layer of buttery griddled bread lies a layer of smoked Gouda that holds on tight to a generous portion of thinly sliced mushrooms sautéed in wine. Have commitment issues? Try a smaller version, served on a crusty mini baguette from the Montaditos menu—eight tiny gourmet sandwiches you can mix and match for just $2.50 each. $10, in Container Park, 707 Fremont St., Suite 1220, 702-826-2702, Bin702.com.
Steak Parsley Nachos
Tortilla chips aren’t the only way to nacho. Crunchy toasted pita chips serve as a perfectly good vehicle for toppings that won’t make you miss carne asada. A mound of flavorful, tender steak shawarma is set on a bed of house-made chips, and is then dressed with tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, tzatziki—a refreshing cucumber yogurt sauce—and feta cheese. It’s a creative combination hefty enough to make a good lunch but not so heavy that you’ll need a nap afterward. $8, 6420 S. Pecos Rd., 702-489-3189; 4985 W. Tropicana Ave., 702-871-1818, ParsleyMediterranean.com.
If lunch is on the west side, and preferably on the lighter and wallet-friendly side, Cantina Laredo has you covered with all of the above. Lunch specials include chicken tinga tacos and nachos or quesadillas al carbone. But if this is just lunch and no cause for indulgence, go for the ceviche of Chilean sea bass. The sweet-fleshed white fish is “cooked” in lime juice with poblano and jalapeño peppers, tomatoes and cilantro, and served with house-made tortilla chips for the scooping. $10, in Tivoli Village, 702-202-4511, CantinaLaredo.com.
Mario Batali’s enoteca has always been a good place to stop for a snack, especially for its killer in-house charcuterie program. But if you don’t need a groaning board of cured meats, check out the daily bruschetta specials. They come two to an order, but are amply dressed with combinations such as prosciutto and whipped burrata cheese (Tuesday); beets, gorgonzola and fennel pollen (Wednesday); and radish, buffalo mozzarella and herbs (Thursday). Pair them with a couple of glasses of wine from an impressive list for a light meal before heading off to a show or the clubs. $9, in the Venetian, 702-677-3390, LasVegas.OttoPizzeria.com.
Shanxi Sliced Noodle Soup
The best seat in the house at Noodle Man is at the bar, where you can watch cooks work their magic with noodles, whether it’s pulling them by hand, or, for this dish, quickly whittling them off a slab of wheat dough for each order. The soup itself—“B3” on the menu—starts with a rich, aromatic beef broth and is loaded up with tender beef brisket, wood-ear mushrooms, pickled cabbage, green onion and cilantro to make it pop. The rustic noodles have a great chew to them, standing up to the other bold ingredients in the bowl. $8, 6870 S. Rainbow Blvd., 702-823-3333.
Tina’s Filipino Cuisine
Stop in for lunch for Tina’s version of the bento box, Pinoy-style. It can be tricky to choose between the salmon, the specialty “TFC Fried Chicken,” lechon kawali (fried pork belly with crispy skin) or the tender, garlicky beef salpicao. We’re partial to the lechon kawali with accompaniments of pickled cucumber and radish, fried eggplant, corn, a potsticker or sometimes an eggroll and plenty of rice. For a lunch special, it might seem a bit heavy, but you can’t beat the price. $9, 7720 S. Jones Blvd., Suite 105, 702-998-5880, TinasFilipinoCuisi.Wix.com/Tinas-Filipino.
Black Bean Chili Stuffed Sweet Potato
It sounds simple enough: a piping-hot baked sweet potato sliced across the top and overflowing with a heap of savory, slightly spicy black-bean chili. On the menu, it’s just a side dish at VegeNation, Downtown’s premier destination for the plant-based dining set. But this humble side, with its blast of Vitamin A, potassium and iron, and zesty play of sweet and heat, is all together satisfying enough to be a lunch unto itself. $7, 616 E. Carson Ave., Suite 120, 702-366-8515, VegeNationLV.com.
The mighty Salvadoran pupusa revuelta—a ball of masa stuffed with cheese, chicharron and beans, flattened out like a thick tortilla then grilled crispy, served with cold cabbage slaw and tomato sauce. After about two (three if you’re a savage), you are usually full, and for less than $2 each, that’s a real deal. Vegetarian? Try them with just beans and cheese or the traditional queso con loroco (cheese with Central American flowers). Two for $3.50, 720 N. Main St., 702-385-3600.
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
For a deal that is both filling and thrifty, move right past the po’boys on Zydeco’s menu and go straight for the gumbo. The broth is thin-bodied but incredibly flavorful, with a medium-level spice that mounts incrementally as you make your way through the chunks of chicken and house-made sausage. Having scooped out and polished those off, you’ll want to move on to the firm white rice that sops up all the broth-y goodness. It’s available in two sizes, neither of which will break the bank, even if you opt to spring for the suggested side of house-made potato salad. $5.50 small, $8.50 large, $1.50 potato salad, 616 E. Carson Ave., Suite 140, 702-982-1889, ZydecoPo-Boys.com.
Soft-Serve Ice Cream Sundae
The Mirage’s sports bar The Still serves one of the cutest desserts on the Strip, and it comes with a free side of nostalgia. There is nothing that will take you back to childhood faster than soft-serve ice cream in a mini plastic baseball cap emblazoned with the logo of your favorite team. The serving vessel isn’t where the kitsch ends—it’s available in three variations that will take you back to childhood: Salted Caramel, with French toast sticks and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal; Churro de Leche Crunch, with mini churros and chocolate curls; and S’mores, with burnt marshmallow fluff and graham cracker dust. $8, 702-692-8455, TheStillVegas.com.
Tree of Life Pita
Bronze Café at The Market
Since taking over The Market grocery store on Fremont Street in April, Bronze Café chef Peter Bastian has added some new selections to the hot and cold bar menu. But that doesn’t mean Bastian has abandoned the Bronze classics at The Center. The Tree of Life Pita—made with roasted red peppers, avocado, greens, pickled onions and house-made vegan cashew crema topped with Brazil nut and mango cilantro vinaigrette—is a staple on Bronze’s vegan-friendly menu. It’s good for your health as well as your bank account, and is available at both Bronze locations. $10, 611 Fremont St, 702-586-3401; 401 S. Maryland Pkwy., 702-202-3100, TheMarketDTLV.com.
Tacos & Beer
Prime time in Las Vegas is usually also the priciest time, and lunch is your best bet for dining on a budget. But at the industry hangout Tacos & Beer on Paradise Road, tacos are half off from 10 p.m. till 3 a.m. on Techno Taco Tuesdays. So what’ll it be, the puerco verde, Baja fish or beef barbacoa? You can have all three and still have enough cash left over for a cold beer! Oh, and DJs spin a techno soundtrack for your taco-scarfing pleasure. $1.25-$2, 3900 Paradise Rd., 702-675-7572, TacosAndBeerLasVegas.com.
Hainanese Chicken Rice
Flock & Fowl
Sheridan Su has made a reputation for himself by offering simple affordable cuisine of the highest quality that’s unlike anything anyone else is offering in Las Vegas. His latest restaurant does that with a dish he and his wife Jenny discovered in China. Your choice of chicken (go with the cold, poached Mary’s Free Range) comes with rice that’s been cooked in chicken stock, marinated cucumbers, preserved mustard greens and a trio of house-made sauces: ginger-scallion, chili and thick soy. Considering the price point and the fact that the restaurant is still only open from 10:30 a.m. till 3:30 p.m., this makes for the ideal weekday lunch. $9.30, 380 W. Sahara Ave., FlockAndFowl.com.
Mini Bratwurst on Pretzel Buns
107 Sky Lounge
Any of the half-price appetizers here qualifies as a good cheap bite during the Lounge’s two daily happy hours. But brats are all the rage these days, and we especially like this trio of mini links on pretzel buns topped with caramelized onions and with servings of maple Creole mustard and jalapeño ketchup on the side. They’re better and more filling than a typical brat in most restaurants, and you can’t beat the view. $8.50 during happy hour (4-7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.-1 a.m.), Stratosphere, 702-380-7777, TopOfTheWorldLV.com/Level107.php.
Flippin’ Good Cheeseburger
The little burger joint in Fremont East serves up a quality specimen for the same price as any greasy drive-through. There are six burgers on the menu as well as veggie, chicken and turkey options that are all under $7, but we suggest you stick to the signature. The Flippin’ Good Cheeseburger is a single 4-ounce Angus beef patty topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle and Flippin’ Sauce, which is similar to Thousand Island. Add two more patties or a side of fries, chili-cheese fries or onion rings and you’re still coming in at leas than 10 bucks. $5, 505 Fremont St., 702-776-7991, FlippinGood.com.
Mundo Street Tacos
Mingo, a tapas restaurant in Art Square, has adopted the menu from Mundo, an upscale American and Latin comfort food restaurant in the World Market Center, when Mundo closed in December. The original Mundo prices dropped to fit in with the area, making the street tacos a true steal. Choose from chicken or steak with chili salsa, onion, cilantro, soft white cheese and avocado, or vegetarian tacos made with the same ingredients as the meat street tacos, but with black beans, poblano corn, rice and lettuce. $10, 107 S. First St., 702-685-0328, EatMixMingo.com.
El Cortez might seem the unlikeliest place to find authentic New York pies, but tucked in the back is Pizza Lotto, which ups Downtown’s pizza game considerably. While pizza gets top billing here, the rest of the menu deserves a closer look, particularly the antipasto salad. It’s a hearty plate of greens, Genoa salami, ham, provolone, marinated peppers, olives and tomatoes, with a dressing that’ll make you forget you came for pizza in the first place. Paired with the homemade garlic rolls, it’s the perfect summertime lunch. $9.50, in El Cortez, 702-474-3677, ElCortezCasinoHotel.com.