It’s undeniable that a trip to Las Vegas means spending money. After all, there’s plenty of things to spend your cash on: casinos, epic concerts and thrilling zip lines. But Sin City is also home to places where you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have fun, starting with these 14 budget restaurants.
There’s nothing quite like ending an evening at Evel Pie – especially after a night out in the city. The Evel-Knievel-themed pizzeria in downtown slings New York-style slices: bubbling hot with tomato sauce and cheese for $4. Whole pies can also be made to order if you can’t be satiated with just one slice.
There’s beans and drinks aplenty at Frijoles & Frescas, a mini-chain with six locations in Las Vegas. Here, line your stomach with $4.49 tacos, $7.49 loaded nachos, and platters brimming with two soft tacos (with your choice of meat), beans, rice, tortillas, chips, salsa, guacamole, sour cream and cheese. Knock back a few fresh fruit drinks – made with strawberries, watermelon, pineapple, mango, chia, spinach and cucumber – while you’re at it.
Buffets in Las Vegas are often notoriously expensive and lavish. But at Garden Court Buffet, things operate a little differently. The all-you-can-eat downtown buffet housed in the Main Street Station Hotel offers a hard-to-pass-up deal: breakfast is $10.99, lunch is $11.99, and the prime rib dinner is a mere $17.99. The buffet is a confluence of cuisines – Latin, Asian, Southern and American – so you can chow down on a combo of Chinese noodles, chicken-fried steak and sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves.
This low-key sub shop has a loyal following for a simple reason: stuffed sandwiches and wraps overflowing with all the fixings for under $10. Soft sub rolls emerge piled high with Korean rib-eye beef, hot pastrami and cheese, chipotle turkey and avocado, and salami and provolone. There are soups and sandwiches as well, plus freshly squeezed juices, smoothies and cookies. You simply order at the counter and watch it all come together.
Archi’s Thai Cafe has long been a Thai staple in Vegas, cooking up curries, noodles and spring rolls across four locations. Portions are consistently large for the price (most dishes hover around $10), with dishes like massaman curry, spicy eggplant and bowls of comfortingly warm tom kha soup landing on every table.
It’s all about the tacos at this San Diego import. The kitchen slings tacos – and lots of them – on Las Vegas Boulevard, tossing spiced pork, grilled beef, pork stomach, tongue and beef guts on round corn tortillas. Each is showered with your choice of toppings (chopped white onions, guacamole, tomatoes and cilantro), and slipped onto a paper plate. Tacos are no more than $5, with some clocking in at $2 apiece, so you certainly won’t be breaking the bank. For those not keen on tacos, there are also crispy tostadas, sopes made from thick corn tortillas, and quesadillas: corn disks folded over into half-moons leaking melted cheese.
Perched in Chinatown, this noodle haven specializes in kurume-style tonkotsu ramen. The luxurious broth is crafted out of pork bones and a special soy sauce flown in from Japan. There are a number of other broths on the menu – swirled with miso and shoyu – bobbing with thin straight noodles, slabs of pork, bamboo shoots and green onions. Bowls are a maximum of $7.95, and if you’re still hungry, fill up on golden-brown gyoza and kimchi-fried rice.
The strip-mall vibes and simple digs at this counter-service operation hardly distract from this arepa heaven. Soft, yellow corn pucks – charred and warmed on a grill – are the bookends for the likes of wood-fired beef, sheaths of ham, roasted pork and black beans. The Venezuelan sandwiches are shimmied into white paper for easy, on-the-go eating, or simply tossed into yellow plastic baskets if you wish to stay. These overflowing sandwiches range from $5 to $7, which leaves room for a couple of sides, too: half-moon empanadas, smashed and fried plantains and pork rinds.
The menu is slim at Takopa, but no matter: you’re here for the crispy octopus balls, cooked on grills carved with small, rounded divots. The balls can be plain or spicy, slathered with dashi sauce, green onions and spicy roe and plated in bamboo boats – all for under $10. Takopa is an easy drive from a handful of casinos, so you can be there and back relatively quickly.
Thick ribbons of udon are the move at Cafe Sanuki, an unassuming hotspot a couple of minutes off the Strip. Slurp hot bowls of udon with shrimp tempura, beef curry, fresh clams and fish roe. The bowls are big, with the cheapest one ringing in at $5.80 and the most expensive at $9.80. Grab a few small plates to share at the beginning: rice rolls jammed with tuna or spam and pork belly bao. Plus, for $2.50, all non-alcoholic drinks are bottomless.
LA’s Dirt Dog now has a home in Vegas at The Grand Bazaar. The hot dogs are just as big and just as dirty, each one piled with funky ingredients. The buns are plush and warm, ready to be loaded with a grilled dog and a host of accoutrements: guacamole spread, melted cheddar fries and bacon thousand island dressing. Pair an under-$7 hot dog with a carton of the Filthy Fries: thick, crispy fries showered with guacamole, chipotle aioli, and cheddar and cotija cheese.
New York City’s halal guys are just as popular in Vegas as they are back home. At Caesar’s Palace, diners can walk away with the famed chicken and white sauce until 2am on weekends, poured into transportable tin foil containers. The rest of the menu boasts dishes like falafel, wraps, hummus and fries, along with flaky triangles of baklava.
There’s a bit of a secret at the Cosmopolitan Hotel: a hidden pizzeria, down an unmarked corridor, hawking slices to those in the know. The guys making the pizza hail from New York City – so you know it’s the real deal – and they toss coins of sausage, a smattering of cheese and meatballs on house-made dough. Simple slices start at $3, with toppings an additional 50 cents. Snag a few slices, a couple of beers and hobnob with everyone else who’s in on the secret.
Mix boba with sandwiches at this cute café off the Strip. Suck down milk teas strewn with buoyant boba balls, then craft a spread of munchies: garlic-parmesan tots, pastrami paninis and Vietnamese sandwiches teeming with grilled chicken. Sandwiches remain under $9, with drinks starting at $3.50.