Hot and hearty fare
Hot and hearty fare

Save Your Bucks For Blackjack: Three Affordable, Delicious Eats in Sin City

Everyone makes the pilgrimage sooner or later. Take the 15 North beyond Barstow, Zzyzx and Primm, and you can just make out the tractor-beam pull from Luxor that is Las Vegas. To power through that bachelor party or milestone celebration, liquid nourishment can only take sinners so for. 

Everyone has their dining secrets for the city, and here are three. You won't see keno screens and buffets in the following selections, though: just some reasonable dining options that don't involve Slots A Fun foot-long hot dogs for a buck or deep-fried Twinkies off Fremont Street. That's another post.

We gotta begin with brekkie.

With three locations in Vegas, the twisted farm food from Hash House a go go is a winner. It's Cheesecake Factory portions meets Side Street Cafe home cookin' in an industrial space. For those of you who don't prefer brekkie, casino locations serve the entire menu all day.

I went for Hash House's Tippecanoe Scramble: smoked chicken, sundried tomato pesto, spinach and goat cheese, served with a choice of potato, fresh fruit, and a buttermilk biscuit. All your food groups on one platter, and it's pretty damn filling and worth the non-buffet price of $13.95. The punch of pesto takes the eggs to a better place. Throw in the creamy change-of-pace from cheddar, and this chicken might as well be brunch. They suggest adding a Bud for three bucks, but why bother when casinos pour for free?

If you're in town for a convention, or weary for a snack after driving in on Friday, one of the better weeknight happy hours is Prime Time at the bar inside Palm Restaurant. Not to be confused with the casino, Palm's Bar Bites menu is handsomely priced at $4.50. Steak, chicken parmigiana and BLT lobster sliders dominate. However, charcuterie and crab cakes offer alternatives. 

With ample seating, this is a relaxed stopover before or after dinner. Jumbo shrimp cocktails and oysters on the half shell are available for $2.50 and $1.50, respectively. Thick-cut chips accompanying steakburger sliders, fried in-house, are a crunchy touch. There's even dual Prime Times; 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Bonus: You're within earshot of Caesar's gaming tables.
Unidentified sliding objects
Unidentified sliding objects

When you're surrounded by fussy eaters, the way to go is topless tapas. A local favorite, Firefly* on Paradise (off the Strip) lights up for lunch and dinner crowds with small plates ranging from $3.50-$10. Options for vegetarians, carnivores, and seafood fans are in abundance. Throw in a pitcher of sangria or mojitos, and you'll be glad you taxied the extra couple of blocks.

Cool chicken salad and crispy duck rolls are just a taste of what Firefly* (their asterisk, not ours) has to offer. Their meatless dishes of sauteed veggies & French lentils or an unassuming tortilla a la espanola, topped with chile vinaigrette, can round out any meal. They're both under five bucks, too.

Sharing a bite...
Sharing a bite...

Visitors don't have to spend a small fortune to satiate themselves. Oversized brekkies, bar bites and Spanish cuisine fill your tank with minimal dents to your wallet. Yeah, there's fancier options, but avoid paying more if you don't have to. Take a breather between those AYCE meals and try a meal elsewhere.

Find a Hash House a go go location at Prime Time at the Palm, 3500 Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas (702) 732-7256; Firefly* on Paradise, 3900 Paradise Rd., #A Las Vegas, (702) 369-3971;

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