Eat like a high roller in Las Vegas — and save money

No need to pull out the American Express Centurion (black) to eat at these popular Vegas hot spots

It’s easy to get distracted walking to Best Friend by Roy Choi at Park MGM in Las Vegas, especially if you cut through Eataly, a high-end food hall where you’ll find Italian-themed restaurants and counters serving everything from pasta to wine and charcuterie to pizza.

Best Friend
The DJ booth at Best Friend Las Vegas. Photo Sandra Thomas

But, once you make it through that gelato-laden gauntlet, it’s just steps to Best Friend — where you’ll be glad you kept your focus. Choi’s vision for Best Friend is L.A.’s Koreatown circa 1990s and he’s captured that scene well, right down to the Adidas track suits staff members were wearing during our visit and the hip hop tunes that played backdrop to dinner.

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When it comes to the menu, it’s a mix of Korean favourites, L.A. food truck scene and enough Vegas standards to keep the late-night crowd happy. Favourites on the menu include Kogi short rib tacos, bibimbop, kimchi, spicy octopus and Korean wings served with chili, citrus and lychee — you honestly can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

Best Friend
Nineties-inspired art at Best Friend Las Vegas. Photo Sandra Thomas

I can best describe dinner at Best Friend as a flashback to a time when denim on denim was THE look and 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G. were still alive — but with way better food.

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Spicy Korean wings at Best Friend Las Vegas. Photo Sandra Thomas

During a recent “value” themed press trip to Vegas I was able to check out several great eateries, including Best Friend, where I enjoyed some really good food at prices that didn’t immediately induce heart palpitations.

Check out some of my favourites here.

Eggslut at the Cosmopolitan

$5 to $15

Eggslut
The "Slut" at Eggslut Las Vegast. Photo Sandra Thomas

OK, it’s pretty much guaranteed you’re going to have to line up to get your breakfast at Eggslut, but it is so worth the wait. Plus, the people watching in the lineup is pretty spectacular — I’m pretty sure at least half of the hungry, well-dressed crowd in the lineup on the morning were making a pit stop before they headed to bed. But despite whatever bad decisions they might have made the night before, they were dead-on when it came to choosing a great breakfast spot.

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The colourful seating area for Eggslut at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. Photo Sandra Thomas

The menu is simple and without too many items on it, but what Eggslut does offer they do well, including the (OMG) house-made buttermilk biscuit ($5) served with honey butter — only available until supplies run out each morning. Besides egg breakfast sandwiches with either sausage or bacon, the menu includes a cheeseburger, wagyu tri-tip steak sandwich, egg salad and the Fairfax, made up of soft scrambled eggs and chives, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and Sriracha mayo in a warm brioche bun.

Eggslut
The "Slut" and biscuit with honey butter at Eggslut at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas is a must when searching for the perfect breakfast. Photo Sandra Thomas

But, I have to highly recommend the ($10) Slut, a cage-free coddled egg on top of a smooth potato purée, poached in a glass jar, topped with gray salt and chives and served with slices of toasted baguette. I was surprised at just how good the Slut was and word on the street has obviously spread, because there was a steady stream of them leaving Eggslut’s kitchen that morning. I paired mine with the biscuit and it was ridiculously good way to start the morning.

Block 16 Urban Food Hall, also at the Cosmopolitan

$10 to $30

Block 16
The back room of the Mexican-inspired Ghost Donkey at Block 16 at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. Photo Sandra Thomas

There was a time when eating at a food court would typically include a large order of New York Fries, a Diet Pepsi and greasy burger, but Vegas has upped its game when it comes to open space eating and seating. A great example is Block 16, where my group was treated to a tasting menu in the back room of Mexican-inspired Ghost Donkey that included bites and treats from the food hall, including the District’s famous bacon-topped donuts.

Block 16
The bacon donut from District at Block 16 at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. Photo Sandra Thomas

Even more famous are the Pok Pok chicken wings from James Beard award-winning chef Andy Ricker, which reached cult-like status after being featured on several Food Network programs and chefs Anthony Bourdain and Guy Fieri pledged their allegiance. Hand rolled sushi from Tekka Bar, pork sandwiches from Lardo and Hattie B’s spicy fried chicken round out the offerings at Block 16.

Beerhaus at the Park

$5 to $16

Beerhaus
The Beerhaus menu puts a modern twist on pub food, Photo Sandra Thomas

Grab a City Dog for $8 and a side of hand-cut fries for $6 in one of the most popular spaces to catch the game in Vegas — besides the T-Mobile Arena, which is just steps away.

Beerhaus
Catching the game at Beerhaus is almost like being there. Photo Sandra Thomas

Beerhaus can best be described as a sports bar/beer hall, but as always with anything in Vegas, it’s sports bar 2.0 with multiple TVs and a carefully curated list of craft beers on tap. The menu includes pub food favourites, but also vegan and vegetarian items so there are options for the entire gang, including two vegan hotdogs and fried pickles. You’ll want to top your meal off with a “Bye Felicia” vanilla sprinkle ice cream sugar cookie.

Bacchanal brunch at Caesars Palace

$70 to $80 for a weekend 24-hour buffet pass and $60 to $70 for 24-hour weekday pass. (See the website for complete pricing options.)

Caesars
The Bacchanal Brunch Buffet at Caesars Palace includes a fresh seafood station. Photo Caesars Entertainment

This buffet pass is brilliant because you pay one price and have access to up to five buffets in 24 hours, so you can brunch at Caesars, enjoy a late lunch at Le Village Buffet at the Paris and top your evening off with late-night feast at the Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood.

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Chicken and waffles at the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace. Photo Sandra Thomas

And then, if you’re not sleeping off the night before, you can still fit in breakfast the next day at Paradise Garden Buffet at the Flamingo before your 24-hour pass runs out. (I’m sure there’s a way to fit that fifth buffet in the allotted 24 hours, but I’ll leave that up to you.)

Caesars
The carving station at the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace. Photo Caesars Entertainment

Other locations included in the pass are Carnival World Buffet at the Rio and Flavors Buffet at Harrah’s. Check out these bountiful buffets online to plan your 24-hour gastronomic journey.

Brooklyn Bowl

$6 to $30

Bowl
Besides bowling, Brooklyn Bowl is a live music venue. Photo Brooklyn Bowl.

Our visit to Brooklyn Bowl for dinner and bowling was probably one of most fun activities I’ve ever experienced in Vegas — and I’ve had some pretty epic times in the City of Lights — but you know the rule, what happens in Vegas…

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Eat dinner, bowl and hear live music at Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas. Photo Brooklyn Bowl

This being Vegas, of course the Brooklyn Bowl is attached to a large, live music venue and those performances are broadcast on screens placed above the pins of each alley. The VIP bowling experience also includes rental shoes brought to you by an attendant and bar service — but, back to the food.

Vegas
The roasted adobo corn at Brooklyn Bowl. Photo Sandra Thomas

The menu has been created to feed not only small parties, but also large groups — with the fried chicken platters a crowd favourite. Milkshakes, both boozy and non-alcoholic, are also popular as is the wedge salad with bacon, tomato and blue cheese. French bread pizzas, sliders (fried chicken, BBQ pork and cheeseburger) and the roasted adobo corn are also highlights of the casual menu with the most expensive item on the menu topping out at $28 for the chili rubbed ribeye. Go for the food, stay for the bowling and finish the night off dancing at this Vegas hot spot.

Evel Pie

$4 to $30

Evel Pie
You can buy pizza by the slice of the pie at Evel Pie on Fremont Street. Photo Evel Pie

Prior to this press trip, I’d already checked out Evel Pie with my husband during an earlier visit after reading a news article about its “Best Pizza in Las Vegas” award — and we weren’t disappointed. So, I was happy to return for more in-depth exploration. The inspiration behind the name and concept is legendary motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel. And just as Best Friend is set in the 1990s, Evel Pie is also a throwback, but this time to the 70s. The décor is a mix of vintage biker/dive bar, tattoo parlour, graffiti art, punk rock and Americana, while the pizza is New York style and served by the piece or pie. Evel Pie’s motto is, fittingly, “Life hard, ride fast, eat pizza.”

Evel Pie
The exterior of Evel Pie on Fremont Street in Las Vegas. Photo Sandra Thomas

The Evel team got creative when naming their menu items, so diners can chow down on an Evel Knievel Super Kick Ass Combo, Olivia Gluten-Free John, Cheesy Rider and, for dessert, a Led Zeppole. With slices starting at just $4, it’s possible to enjoy some of the best pizza in Vegas accompanied by, of course, a cheap beer or two and still get out for under $20 and that’s not even happy hour prices.

Chef Scott Conant’s Masso Osteria at Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa

Social Hour: 5 to 7 p.m. daily

$3.50 to $18

Red Rock
Masso Osteria at Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa serves up rustic, upscale Italian dishes, including killer pizzas. Photo Sandra Thomas

If you haven’t rented a car, you’ll have to grab an Uber or Lyft to get out to Red Rock Resort, which is about 25 minutes from the Strip. Or, alternatively, you could stay at this gorgeous property, which when I looked this week had specials for spring and summer starting at $57 a night, and enjoy its version of happy hour without the drive. The resort is set against the dramatic backdrop of Red Rock Canyon and has a pool scene that spreads over three acres. 

Our group was lucky enough to enjoy a tasting menu during our visit, which gave us an opportunity to try a little bit of a lot of dishes. The most expensive item on the social hour menu is the Masso burger for $18, but a small charcuterie board will run you $15, the short rib meatballs are $9 and the pizza of the week is $11 — the pizza was killer, by the way.

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Chef Scott Conant of Foodnetwork fame is the creative genius behind Masso Osteria at Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa. Photo Masso Osteria

Massa Osteria is the creative genius of chef Scott Conant (Food Network, Chopped) whose goal is to create unforgettable dining experiences rooted in soulful Italian cooking with an emphasis on house-made pastas, antipasti and wood-fired sides.

On the regular menu, guests can choose from signature items including creamy polenta boscaiola with bacon, truffles and mushrooms; pasta al Pomodoro; squid ink rigatoni with spicy crab, fresh squid, ragu and tomatoes); whole sea bass al forno; lamb shank with Sardinian couscous, puntarella and anchovy lemon vinaigrette; steak fiorentina; and house-made stromboli.

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If you're looking for value food and drinks in Vegas, check out happy hour everywhere. Photo Sandra Thomas

Tip: most Vegas restaurants offer great deals on food and drinks during happy hour, which is often scheduled for both early evening and late night crowds. For the best deals wherever you’re headed, check out the website for hours and deals before you go.

sthomas@vancourier.com

@sthomas10

 

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