Hello foodies out there. I get accused everyday of being a complete snob in the Las Vegas restaurants I am willing to eat at from my business partner. And, for all the hoopla surrounding the plethora of fine eateries in the city, surprisingly, I am very particular where and what I will eat.
I have come to discover, though, that there are 5 to 6 places I eat lunch at pretty regularly, and rarely do I venture outside my circle of love. My office is in Southern Highlands, so for the most part, I choose to eat in and around the Eastern and 215 corridor, but will venture further for the right lunch spot.
Despite the vast array of choices, ethnic selections and areas of town you are in, the quality of the meal has near no tie to price or fanfare. Now don’t get me wrong, just because I survived on Top Ramen in college, it doesn’t mean that every meal has to be inexpensive. I just feel that when you eat, there is a need to feel that you are paying for food that is equitable to the cost. And, for damn sure, I need to feel that I couldn’t have made it better myself.
My favorite Las Vegas restaurants
I wanted to list my favorite lunch places, as that is the meal I most dine out for. Being in a sales environment, I do get afforded the great opportunity to dine out daily, sometimes on my dime, sometimes on someone else’s. My choices are never based on who pays, but rather worth it for who ever picks up the check.
Best Sushi in Las Vegas: Island Sushi
For sushi, there are over 300 choices here in Vegas, and, of course, we have the Nobu’s, Kumi at The Mandalay Bay, Shibuya at the MGM Grand, but for my money, Island Sushi on Eastern, between Serene & Richmar, brings something unique and affordable that no other place has. They have an all-you-can-eat menu, as well as ala carte, but the thing that makes them so tasty is that they bring a Hawaiian umami to the table. Their specialty rolls are well conceived and the choices and appeal of their hot appetizers are second to none.
For my money the Kilauea Roll is the best bite in all of Nevada, and their garlic chicken is absolute money. Sure, you can get a $35 order of Maguro tuna at Nobu that melts on the plate, but unless you plan on sacrificing your mortgage payment to eat a meal, how good could it be. For a mere $20 to $25, lunch is served and you will not eat again later in the day.
Best Mexican Food: Cafe Rio
Having grown up in Southern California, I was exposed to some of the most authentic and ridiculously good Mexican food around. Ironically, the best in Mexican, is never the best in atmosphere, and cost is never a factor when dining on “south of the border” cuisine. I have come to discover that here in the Vegas valley, the most authentic places, while good, honest presentations, are either too greasy or worse, Tex Mex’ed.
For me, Cafe Rio, any location in town, has the freshest ingredients, coupled with the best prices for well crafted Mexican-style food. I am not so bold as to have you believe that this is the real deal, bring your abuela type of fare, but I am so inclined as to say, you will not be disappointed. Besides the regular menu that is unchanging, they have a daily offering that is worth noting the day of the week before you go.
Once a week, they feature tamales, rellenos, and on Friday, a Mexican pasta, that, while not found on any menu elsewhere ever, makes for a nice meal. They have salads for those who are calorie conscious, and several selections of meats to choose from, that are cooked fresh constantly. They additionally make their tortillas fresh on the spot, and while standing in line, most days gives you the opportunity in watching them hand make them right in front of you.
Best Carnivore’s Lunch: Lawry’s
If you enjoy a nice piece of meat at lunch, there is a Lawry’s on Flamingo, just west of Paradise, that features a daily lunch prime rib that is out of this world. Now normally, I shy away from the huge piece of cow that takes away the afternoon, with meat sweats and nappy time, but this is one special cut of prime rib.
First and foremost, you have the option to select the size of cut and doneness you want, and the hand carver in front of you loads your plate with the choice of creamed spinach or corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, as well as their famous Yorkshire pudding. The atmosphere here is one of fine dining, but again, as lunch fare goes, it is quite casual. Again, with price always being a variable, $20 to $25 per person will get you completely satisfied and no friend of PETA.
Best Las Vegas Sub Shop: Firehouse Subs
When I am looking to get a quick bite to eat and the choice of sandwich, hero, sub or grinder comes up, it is a no brainer for me, where I will go. Everyone of course has their favorites, however, mine is Firehouse Subs.
There are several locations in town, all of which serve the same level of quality and taste. I find that their combination of toasted roll, and fresh ingredients are just that much better than the whole host of other places out there. While I understand they are very supportive to fire fighters in the community and, in fact, owned by fire fighters, I would never consider an owner’s philanthropy in my dining selections. That being said, each and every time I go, I leave with complete satisfaction.
Because I love so many different subs they offer, most times I talk who I am dining with to give me half of their sub, while I present them with half of mine, therefore, getting two varied selections to enjoy. Some of my favorites include the New York Steamer, the Italian, the Firehouse Hero and the Engineer, to name a few. But to be honest, I have never had a bad sandwich. To boot, they have those really cool soda fountains that can accommodate over 120 different combinations.
Best Thai Food in Las Vegas: Pin Kaow
For Thai, I have to choose Pin Kaow on Eastern. Like sushi, family style dining is preferred, and when we eat there, it is paramount that we start with the Tom-Ka-Kai hot pot of soup. A ridiculously good, lemongrass base, with mushrooms, galangal root and coconut milk. We will then order pad thai, yellow curry and their beef panang. I have never left hungry and feel completely satisfied and content each and every time.
What says you?
Now I know, you may feel that your favorite was glaringly omitted, but I am willing to listen. If you feel so inclined, tell me what I am missing, and I will gratefully give your choice a shot. I am pretty rigid for sure, and with the 1000’s of choices here in Vegas, and I mean 1000’s, there are a great deal of substitute teachers out there claiming to be the real deal that fall way short.
The big names don’t matter to me either, as I had a $15 burger at Gordon Ramsey’s “Burgr” Restaurant at Planet Hollywood last week, that didn’t even hold a candle to a $4 Double-Double from In-N-Out, so be advised, substance over glitz is what I am looking for. Let me hear what you got.