There’s not much worse at a convention or conference than having to endure a poorly reheated frozen pizza for lunch. Luckily, those attending Winter Las Vegas Market aren’t relegated to such a fate, because downtown Las Vegas has a rich variety of restaurants, many of which serve boffo mid-day meals. Here are a few favorites:
The El Cortez has been around “since Bugsy owned the joint,” as the casino-hotel has said in its ads; hence the name of the restaurant. It has a throwback feel and a menu to match, with an array of deli sandwiches that include a Reuben, a Cuban and a French dip. There’s a Kentucky Hot Brown and a grilled cheese with tomato bisque if you’re chilly, and matzo ball soup is made daily and served with challah; you can even get it to go. The restaurant is open 24/7.
El Cortez, 702-385-5200, elcortezhotelcasino.com
If you’ve got a taste for Cuban, it doesn’t get more authentic than Florida Cafe, which has a tropical vibe, a history that dates back more than 20 years and an attached bakery that’s a great place to pick up a guava pastry. You can certainly snag a Cuban sandwich for lunch, or one with grilled steak or chicken breast, roasted pork leg, ham croquettes and sliced ham, or all veggies. Or start with tostones or empanadas and indulge in picadillo or ropa vieja. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
1401 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-385-3013, floridacafecuban.com
You might think of nachos as just a starter, but in this case you’d be mistaken, because Nacho Daddy — an open, high-energy spot — has elevated them to an art form. Sure, you can lunch on garden-variety nachos, but why would you when the choices include lobster and crab, Thai chicken or spicy shrimp? There’s even a variety dedicated to Las Vegas’ favorite hometown hockey team — the Golden Knights Nachos are layered with filet mignon, jack and cheddar cheeses, peppers, mushrooms and more. Open at 8 a.m. daily.
113 N. Fourth St., 702-778-7800, nachodaddy.com
Big Ern’s BBQ
If you haven’t been to Downtown Container Park, the funky shopping plaza crafted of shipping containers with a fire-breathing praying mantis out front and a sprawling, towering play structure at its center is worth a stop. There’s a number of restaurants where you can get food and then dine at the park’s tables. One of the originals is Big Ern’s, a reliable place for barbecue — brisket, pulled pork, spareribs, rib tips, hot links and chicken are on the menu, with sides and salads. Lunch starts at 11 a.m. daily.
Downtown Container Park, 707 Fremont St., 702-834-7845, bigernsbbqlv.com
By lunchtime at a crowded convention, you may feel ready for therapy, so stop by Therapy, with its high ceilings, subdued lighting and comfy seating. Chicken sliders are served on red velvet waffles, mac and cheese is deep-fried into croquettes, tofu is marinated in IPA and served with blistered peppers, Brussels sprouts are charred, and truffle fries are flavored with Parmesan. If you’re looking for something sweet, you can indulge in cast-iron s’mores or crumbled carrot cake. Lunch starts at 11:30 daily.
518 E. Fremont St., 702-912-1622, therapylv.com
These spots don’t serve lunch on Sundays, but they’re a good bet on weekdays.
Lola’s A Louisiana Kitchen
Lola’s is in what may seem like an unlikely place — a former bread factory on the edge of an industrial district — but it’s been going strong for nearly 10 years on the strength of the Cajun and Creole cuisine put forth by founder and Louisiana native Lola Pokorny. Those would include a variety of po-boys including the Roast Beef D’Brees; softshell crab, shrimp, catfish and oyster platters; and regional specialties including red beans and rice, jambalaya, etoufee and gumbo. It’s closed on Sundays, but weekday lunch starts at 11 a.m.
241 W. Charleston Blvd., 702-227-5652, lolaslasvegas.com
Triple George Grill
Loosely based on the old San Francisco seafood houses, Triple George has a gentle, old-timey vibe, with mosaic tiles on the floor of the entry, a big central bar and lots of dark wood, including the full-length walls that separate some of the booths. The sourdough is as spectacular as you might hope, but save room for the crab-stuffed Shrimp George, bacon-topped George Burger or lobster club, or homey choices like chicken pot pie, pot roast or meat loaf. There’s a full vegan menu as well. Lunch service runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
201 N. Third St., 702-384-2761, triplegeorgegrill.com