Cheap Eats in Las Vegas

29 Jan 2024
Jonathan Raab 29 Jan 2024
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  • Tasty Cheap food spots in Las Vegas
  • Tacos El Gordo, In-N-Out Burger, Ondori
  • Las Vegas Cheap Sheet
In-N-Out Burger Las Vegas
In-N-Out Burger, Las Vegas
Staying at the Encore in sumptuous surroundings with lots of highly rated food options seems great on paper, but in reality its not always simple to get something to eat when you’re hungry. Most of the restaurants have long waiting lists (an hour or more) for a table and even the buffet had pretty long queues on most days, when I was there last month for the 2023 WPT World Championship.

If you do get lucky and don’t have to wait for long, you won’t always be satisfied that you got great value for money, as eating at the Wynn or the Encore is certainly not cheap (nice carpets though). It can be hit and miss and if price is a major consideration for you, the good news is that within a few minutes walk, there are plenty of alternative and certainly much cheaper dining options. Arguably much tastier too (well its not really arguable, but I have to balance the range).

Tacos El Gordo

Tacos El Gordo
Tacos El Gordo
When I arrived in Las Vegas, I met up with Irish pro Andy Black for a sandwich and a coffee at the Caffe Al Teatro in the Wynn. You don’t get any change from a twenty for an OK (but nothing special) egg mayo sandwich ($13.49) and a hot drink. Andy asked me if I liked Tacos and told me about a place nearby. It didn’t take long for me to seek it out. The very next day at dinner time, I started to feel peckish and tried to get a table in the Encore’s Wazuzu, only to be told of a one hour wait for a table. That decided it for me and I headed straight out of the hotel, crossed the freeway and within minutes found myself in cheap eats heaven.

There was not only one taco place here, but three: Taco El Pastor, 664 TJ Birrieria and Taco El Gordo. Taco El Gordo looked by far the biggest and busiest and a quick search on Tripadvisor confirmed that this popular location was indeed a very tasty spot for a bite to eat. Inside was a sight to be seen, with several lines of people waiting to be served at different kitchen stations, each with different menus above them.
Tacos El Gordo Inside
Inside Tacos El Gordo
It all seemed a bit confusing, but upon entering a staff member explained the process. You choose the line according to what you want to order and once you have been served your food you wait in another line to pay for it. One line was for carne asada (beef), one was for adobada (pork) and another was for tripe, beef broth and other exotic cuts of meat, most of which I was unfamiliar with. Surprisingly there was no chicken on the menu. There were also several different breads to have your food served in, including tacos, tostadas, quesadillas and something called a vampiro.

When you get the front of the line you tell the chef what you would like and they expertly prepare it and then pass it to you, dodging the flames of the roaring grill that separates you and the kitchen staff.

Two filling and super tasty tacos and a side of grilled veggies sets you back less than the price of a basic sandwich at the Wynn. I ended up eating here three times during my trip and I’ll certainly be dining here again next time I’m in Vegas.

In-N-Out Burger

In N Out Burger Menu
In-N-Out Burger Menu
Another tasty option for when you just can’t face another truffle infused offering at the higher end places, is In-N-Out Burger. There are several of these joints in the city, but the most conveniently located one is just off the strip, in the alley between the Linq and the Flamingo. It really is as simple as it says, you go In, immediately get in line, survey their basic but effective menu, order, wait a few minutes, pick up your food and Out you go. You can of course choose to sit in to eat, the going out as soon as you’ve got your food bit is optional. If you take a meal with a bottomless drink, sitting in has its benefits, as you can refill the soda again before you leave, having a nice cool beverage for the walk back to the Wynn.

So what to order and how much does it cost? The go to burger at In-N-Out Burger is the famous Double-Double. You do indeed get two beef patties in a Double-Double and two slices of cheese. Its super tasty, the skin-on fries are also a great side to go with the main event and they have pink lemonade included in the bottomless drink option. The buy-in for all this, was just $11.43, including tax. Suffice to say, I doubled up and went back for another later in the trip.
Double-Double, Fries and Drink for $11.43

$3.49 Foot Long Hotdog at Casino Royale

This is not a recommendation, either for Casino Royale or the $3.49 foot long hotdog. I didn’t actually try it. If you’re thinking James Bond glamour and style when you hear the name Casino Royale, you will be sorely disappointed. Situated between the Venetian and Harrahs, Casino Royale is basically just a slots parlour and quite a rundown one at that. I’m afraid the dog didn’t look too great either, so I passed on it, but if you’re hungry and running out of cash, it certainly could be an option. Good luck if you do!

Ondori Asian Restaurant at the Orleans

But its not all about the Strip, Las Vegas is so much bigger these days and if you only spend your time on Las Vegas Boulevard, you are missing out on the full Las Vegas experience. Some of the ‘locals’ casinos (as they call them) are well worth a visit for their gaming halls, poker rooms and eateries. The Orleans Hotel and Casino has been one of my favourite off-strip locations and I’ve always managed to pay it a visit when I’ve been in town. It has a fabulous poker room with over 30 tables and at least two tournaments per day in the $100-$200 buy-in range. 

It also has an 18-screen cinema, a 52-lane bowling alley and several cheap and cheerful food options, including pretty decent burgers at Fuddruckers, a TGIs and an excellent Asian restaurant called Ondori. It serves both Japanese (sushi) and Chinese dishes, all very reasonably priced and as good, if not better than many of the more expensive oriental options in the centre of the city. The Hong Kong style dumpling noodle soup is a winner, as is the seafood crispy noodles!
Crispy Seafood Noodles, Ondori at Orleans, Las Vegas
Seafood Crispuy Noodles at Ondori

Little Caesars

Not to be confused with the casino, Little Caesars is one of the largest pizza chains in the USA. It is famous for its cartoon like Caesar character who’s catch phrase “Pizza Pizza” has somehow found its way into the consciousness of my 9 year-old son. In fact, he’s been obsessed with this brand for a couple of years now and cites it as the main reason he wants to go on holiday to America. He asked me to get a pizza box for him, so I took a trip to the nearest one I could find, which was about a 40 minute walk from the strip. I’d just filled up on In-N-Out Burger and needed to walk it off and the route took in a daytime view of the Sphere, so it wasn’t just a random wander into no-mans land.
Little Caesars Pizza
Little Caesars
Little Caesars sells a range of products called ‘Hot and Ready,’ although in the one I visited off the strip, it wasn’t clear just how long the pizzas had been hot and ready for, so I decided to pass on that option. They famously have a pizza available for $5, stuffed crust or no crust options and a bunch sides, including ‘Crazy Bread’ and Italian cheese bread. 

I asked for a pizza box, explaining that it was for my autistic son, who is a big fan of theirs. At first they said no, but when the manager was called, she was happy to oblige and my long late afternoon walk had been worth it after all. She did look a bit taken aback when she asked what i’d like to order and I replied with “nothing, i’m good, the box is all,’ and promptly did a 180 and left. I did actually want to try a $5 pizza, but the In-N-Out burger and fries were still occupying the majority of my stomach and I didn’t fancy eating cold pepperoni later.

Las Vegas Cheap Sheet

Las Vegas really does have a vast selection of food options and when I really can’t decide what to eat, I usually go for something cheap. I recently discovered that there’s a guy called Steve Gustafson who regularly compiles the Las Vegas Cheap Sheet, a list of the best cheap food options in Las Vegas and he has been doing so since 1991. Special thanks to Canadian poker enthusiast Buddy Viz for posting this list in the facebook group Global Poker Community. It was too good not to include in this article!
Steve Gustafson Las Vegas Cheap Sheet
Las Vegas Cheap Sheet, Steve Gustafson

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