Yes, Las Vegas has tons of high-end restaurants, but the overall dedication to excellence in the local culinary community has manifested in lots of great spots suited to more modest budgets. You may have to venture off the Strip, but both the journey and the destination will be worth it.
A name like “Beer Park” doesn’t exactly bring to mind a quality restaurant, but this one comes from the same team behind Hexx downstairs at Paris Las Vegas, and they’ve got some serious culinary cred. The menu is fairly simple and mainly suited to beer (Budweiser is a sponsor, although they have plenty of craft beers, too) and with a stunning Strip-front view of the Bellagio fountains, big screens showing sports and outdoor games, this rooftop spot is a lot of fun.
Paris Las Vegas, 702-444-4500, caesars.com
Block 16 Urban Food Hall
Block 16 is The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ version of a food court, and what a food court it is. Most of the restaurants landed here because of their success in other cities, and their followings are … following. Look for District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew. from New Orleans; Hattie B’s Hot Chicken from Nashville, Tennessee; Lardo and Pok Pok Wing from Portland, Oregon; and Tekka Bar, the sole Las Vegas representative. Ghost Donkey Mezcal & Tequila Bar is hard to find behind its secret door but the Cosmo’s employees are helpful. And what’s not to like about a food court with the motto “Be Strange But Not a Stranger”?
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, 702-698-7000, cosmopolitanlasvegas.com
Flock & Fowl
Flock & Fowl is in the other tourism corridor — downtown Las Vegas — and the menu is somewhat limited. But most of us (well, us carnivores) like chicken, and their Hainaese-style bird is a tour de force, a glimpse of poultry perfection. That it’s $13.50 just sweetens the deal.
The Ogden, 150 Las Vegas Blvd. North, 702-272-2222, flockandfowl.com
Esther’s Kitchen is in the burgeoning Arts District, which keeps its prices relatively low — about half what you’d find on the Strip — even though the quality of this funky spot is high. They’ve got a way with bread, so don’t balk at paying $4 for sourdough with cultured butter and olive oil that will take you to heaven. In pastas, a sure bet is the chitarra cacio e pepe, which for $13 brings to life a lost art.
1130 S. Casino Center Blvd., 702-570-7864, estherslv.com
Lotus of Siam
OK, Lotus of Siam isn’t really a bargain restaurant, but it is both moderately priced and a legend, with national (probably international) fame, so remember that all things are relative. Its Thai food has earned it legendary status, and its Khao Soi — crispy duck on noodles in a curry sauce — will take you to a place you’ve never been before.
620 E. Flamingo Road, 702-735-3033, lotusofsiamlv.com