Las Vegas has a reputation for being a cheap place to eat. After all, the casinos want you to stick around and gamble, so why not help subsidize the food? Well, that may have been true at one point, but with breakfast for four at the Paris topping $100 and a Friday night buffet at the Bellagio a whopping $37 each, it is no longer true. But you can eat very good and very cheap if you are willing to get off the strip and know where to go.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and apparently some of the hotels on the strip believe this is true. But if $12 for a waffle by itself is outside your budget, head uptown just a bit and stop in at the Peppermill Restaurant. The Peppermill has been around for thirty years. When you walk into the lobby, you could expect to see Dean-O and Frankie sitting in the corner booth. Clog your arteries with the massive portion of country fried steak, eggs, hash browns and toast. This complete breakfast costs $14.95 and is plenty for two.
If something a little lighter (and sweeter) is your cup of tea, head west from the strip on Spring Mountain Road to Ronald’s Donuts. They open at 4 a.m. as soon as the first batch of gourmet treats come out of the kitchen. They try to stay open until 4 p.m., but they usually run out of donuts before then and close for the day. There is no such thing as day old donuts at Ronald’s. A non-advertised and little known fact of this bakery is everything except the buttermilk donuts are vegan. If you need to avoid sugar however, stay away.
For lunch, cruise down to the southeast corner of Rainbow and 215 (just west of the airport) and check out Eddie D’s. Either Eddie or Mrs. Eddie will greet you as you enter. If you admit it’s your first time, you are ordered to sit down while they bring you a sample of their delicious meatballs. Once you try them, you will have to order a meatball sub served on a French roll tough enough to hold up to the sauce. For the best cold sub this side of Philly, try the Pauly Walnuts (A lot of the menu items are named after characters from The Sopranos).
For dinner and dessert, you won’t have to drive all over town as both places are adjacent to each other. Head downtown to the California Hotel Casino just north of Fremont Street. Park in the deck and walk through the casino to the escalators in the back. (If you ask, I’ll let you in on another secret of this Casino.) Go upstairs and around the corner to Aloha Specialties. You will have noticed on the way that this casino is very popular with Asians and this restaurant may be one of the reasons. You will be hard pressed to spend more than a few bucks for the delicious entrees from Hawaii and points west. (And yes, they do have Spam.)
After dinner walk across the hall and into Lappert’s Ice Cream. This chain out of California serves very rich handmade ice creams in a variety of delicious flavors. The plain chocolate and vanilla bean flavors will be some of the best you’ve ever tasted and for the more adventurous, the Kauai Pie is sinful. Lappert’s also serves gourmet coffees and teas.
Well, you have just gained about five pounds, but you did it for less than the price of a single meal at one of the big strip hotels. Las Vegas isn’t the cheap place to eat it was at one time, but with a little effort, you can eat both very good and reasonably priced.
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