Ah, old Vegas. “It was so much better back then!” I hear this sentiment an awful lot. And while I don’t necessarily agree, I certainly understand it. The reality is, old-time Las Vegas isn’t gone, you just have to go out and find it.
One place still offering old-school deals is the Longhorn Casino & Hotel, located on Boulder Highway across from Eastside Cannery. Want a cheap beer? All brews in the bottle are $1.50 around the clock, including Corona and Heineken. There’s a good paycheck-cashing promotion, some of the best blackjack rules in town and daily blackjack tournaments with a $10 entry fee and 100 percent of the money returned in cash prizes. It’s all solid old Vegas fare, but where this place really shines is its food deals.
The Chuckwagon Restaurant is anything but fancy, but it’s one of the great throwbacks to old Vegas bargain dining, packed with tasty food at low prices. It would take you a couple months to work through this menu, but the highlights include several steak and prime rib specials, starting with the good 24-hour $6.99-er and topping out at $17.99 for a 20-ounce porterhouse—plus liver and onions for $9.99, fried chicken for $8.99, huevos rancheros for $5.99 and the only ongoing creamed (chipped) beef on toast in town, served from midnight to noon for $3.99 (just 20 cents more than it was a decade ago).
Great pricing for sure, but that’s not the whole of it. If you ask at the register when paying, each member of your dining party will be given a first-card-ace coupon for a $5 bet at blackjack. Starting your hand with an ace is worth 52 percent of the amount bet, so each ace represents $2.60 in expected return ($5 x .52).
Recently, a friend and I gave this deal a whirl. We ordered the 1-pound “monster” burger ($10.99) and the 24-hour ham and eggs ($4.99). The total for both meals, plus a Heineken, came to $17.48 before tax. Our two ace coupons had a combined expected value of $5.20, which dropped the theoretical cost of our meal to only $12.28. Of course, theoretical and actual are two different things—we had to play our aces off (oof!) to determine the real bottom line. On the first hand, my ace was paired with a 9 for 20, a $5 winner. On the second, a ten was dealt for a snapper and a $7.50 win (they still pay 3–2 on naturals at Longhorn). The $12.50 win reduced the actual price paid for lunch for two (including leftovers) to $4.98! Yep, that’s the way they used to do it in old Vegas.
By the way, for the past several years the Longhorn has run one of the better free NFL contests, where you can win up to $1,000 every week. I’ll check it out and let you know next time.
Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor and lasvegasadvisor.com.