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This Italian Vegas standby is consistently called one of the best Vegas has to offer. They offer much of the standard Italian fare, and the prices are reasonable. One thing that makes them stand out from the crowd is that they are open 24/7 all year. And, they have some very special graveyard specials that are served from late night into the early morning (10am to be exact). You won't find anything on this special menu over $9, and steak and eggs is even cheaper. Oh, and they offer complimentary limousine service from your hotel. Mama Mia! Casa di Amore is located at 2850 East Tropicana Avenue in east Vegas.
If you look hard enough, you can still find real, honest-to-goodness drugstore soda fountains, and Huntridge in Vegas is one of the few remaining. The Huntridge Drugstore is a companion to the Huntridge Theater across the street, and it's been in the same location for 50+years. What you'll find at the counter and in the restaurant is good, old-fashioned diner food like burgers, fries, shakes, and sodas, at low, low prices. Oh, and since the owners are Chinese, you'll also find an eclectic blend of Chinese food on the menu, too! The Huntridge Drugstore Restaurant is located at 1122 East Charleston Boulevard. The Huntridge Tavern is located right next door, too.
You can't get any more traditional than Pamplemousse (which means "grapefruit" in French). The food is superb, which is why locals have voted it the "best of Las Vegas" so many times (6 at last count). What really makes Pamplemousse special is not that it's been in the same location since 1976, but that the prices for this Continental fare are really quite reasonable. There are several different menus, from "Gourmet" to "Daily Fare," and none of them are printed. The waiter will recite what you need to know, and won't tell you a price unless you ask. Don't let that put you off. Entrees range anywhere from $18 to $32, which is a bargain compared to many of the Strip restaurants. You'll find this local jewel at 400 East Sahara Avenue.
This isn't a ritzy room at the Bellagio or the Wynn, but the food is decent, and it sure is cheap. The Klondike Restaurant is located inside the Klondike Casino way South on the Strip. The food's not fancy, but it is certainly reasonable. You can get a spaghetti dinner anytime for only $2.49, and enjoy a late-night breakfast for about $2. There are also many other items on the menu that are more than reasonable bargains in Vegas eats. The Klondike is a little gamy, but it sure does bring back memories of old, smoky Vegas casinos. Go for the food, not the atmosphere.
Never heard of the Ellis Island Casino? That's OK. The locals have, and they know a secret. It's not on the menu, but you can ask for the $4.95 steak special, and find one of the biggest meal bargains in Las Vegas. The meal comes with potato, vegetable, and salad. You can also find a giant serving of prime rib for only $7.95 all the time, and very reasonable daily specials. Oh, and Ellis Island brews their own root beer -- locals swear it's absolutely the best root beer you'll ever taste!
The Sunshine is a locals favorite because of the great food and excellent prices. Most locals swear by their omelets, which are large, yummy, and reasonably priced. This is the kind of place where the servers know their regular customers and call them by their first names. It's friendly service in a homey atmosphere. The decor isn't upscale, but the food is plentiful and cheap, and what more could you ask for? The cafe is located at 1581 Decatur Boulevard, and you may not spot it from the street at first. Keep trying. The Cafe is open Monday through Friday from 7am until 3pm, and Saturday from 7am until 2pm. They are closed Sunday.
A downtown locals hangout. Those in the know pass on the Mexican items and go straight for the Salvadorian items, like pupusas for the bargain basement price of $1.99. What are pupusas? Well, let's just say that once you try these meat and cheese gems, you'll never look a Krispy Kreme in the eye again. Many locals also swear by the chicken soup for early morning hangover relief. Esmeralda's is located at 1000 E. Charleston Boulevard at 10th Street.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|