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Chow Down on the Down Low

It used to be easy as pie to get cheap food in Las Vegas, even pie. The casinos were desperate to get you in, and they happily lost a few bucks on dinner in hopes you'd be so full and happy you'd be willing to gamble away your savings. It's not so easy getting free grub anymore. The cheap eats are fewer and farther in between these days, but these tips will keep you and your wallet stuffed full.

The buffets in town are the most obvious place to start, but don't limit yourself. There are plenty of other options that don't include slimy scrambled eggs and corn beef hash unfit for dogs


Arizona Charlies Decatur and Boulder Highway - Both are cheap buffets, among the lowest prices in town, but trust us when we say you get what you pay for here. If all you want are some eggs and chewy bacon, it's probably a fair deal, but you'd have to be a real adventurer to try the dinner menu.

Boulder, Palace, Sunset and Texas Stations - Most Stations are away from the heavy action of the Strip and downtown. These places offer big buffets with some okay food. They're good for dinner, considering the price, but steer clear of their "special" nights where they hike the price up and serve steak or seafood. The added food usually isn't worth the increased price.

Fiesta Henderson and Rancho - A couple of the darn cheapest buffets in town, one on the west side and one on the east. They offer lots of meat and potatos, but you can stuff yourself for little dough. Make sure you have their slot club card to get the lowest price.

Green Valley and Red Rock - These two joints are a notch up from the other Station casinos, but have the same owner, and primarily serve the locals. The buffets cost a few bucks more, but man, oh, man are they good. These are among the best in Vegas, but with prices well below the fancypants Strip joints.

Main Street Station - Okay, so it's not the cheapest buffet, but it's good enough to prevent us from finding anything snarky to say, and it's the best in the downtown area. The weekend champagne brunch costs over $10 and dinner rings in around $15-$20, so try to go for weekday breakfasts and lunches.

Terrible's - The owners must have been thinking of this cheap buffet when they thought up the joint's name. Skip it, even though it's cheap.The desserts are, unfortunately, mediocre. No pie there is worth sneaking out in your pants. Trust us on this one. We ruined some perfectly good corduroys.

Deli Food 

The following casinos offer decent deals in their delis. Again, eating these meals is a "caveat emptor" experience. Keep your litigious notions to yourself.

Earl of Sandwich - The Earl is at Planet Hollywood and serves some fine sandwiches that are downright affordable. We're not talking $2 here, but you can get a juicy sandwich for about what you'd pay for a burger meal, and it's way better.

Sit Down 

Want to ask your girlfriend to marry you, but wasted too much money at the craps table to afford a fancy ring... or a nice dinner? Try some of these spots. Nothing says romance like a cheap meal. Look, when we say sit-down, we really mean coffee shop, not gourmet room.

Also, there are a ton of great graveyard deals in Vegas. This list ain't of those. It's of great deals you can get at normal times, which are harder to come by. The Graveyard deals are in the next section.

Arizona Charlie's Decatur and Boulder Highway - Unlike most places in town, which offer only late-night specials, the Sourdough Cafe will give you a plate of ham and eggs 24 hours a day for $3.99 (with your slot card). During graveyard, they have a ham and eggs, too.

California - The coffee shop has a steak and shrimp dinner for less than $10 that's well worth it. Take the folks on their annversary! We did. Dutch treat, of course. If you're really trying to impress someone, the unadvertised Porterhouse special in the fancy Redwood Grille restaurant might bust your budget at around $20. But, heck, if it's your last day before going to prison, live it up.

Ellis Island - This little casino east of Bally's has home-brewed root beer (yummy!) and a bang-up $7.95 steak special. It's not on the menu, so you have to ask for it. But, it's there and it's delightfully good, maybe the best steak dinner $8 can buy you in this town. Plus they throw in a micro-brew or root beer for gratis. Thursday nights, the pizza joint in here has two-for-one slices, and you can fill up for a couple bucks.

Four Queens - Prime rib, once again. For $9 this one is a pretty good meal at dinnertime. The coffee shop is nice and the slab is a fair cut.

Gold Rush - A few bucks will get you a steak and eggs any time of the day. The drawback is that this little joint is way the heck out in Henderson, where the middle-aged yuppies build their sacred stucco communities. The good news is the place is stinky and smokey enough that the yuppies keep out.

Rainbow Club - This place is the little sister of the famous Peppermill Coffee Shop on the Strip. It's got all the garish neon and flash with a ridiculously cheap coffee shop. You can always find a breakfast for under $5 and dinners for about $7.

Terribles - You can get a full breakfast any time of the day and night for about $3. And by full, we mean pancakes, eggs and bacon. it does not include a a full lobster tail, but we can't be choosy.

Graveyard Specials

We won't pretend to have a comprehensive list of graveyard deals. That's dang near impossible to keep up to date and keep complete. But, here are the most consistently available deals in town that we know about. Plus, we don't list the late night specials that actually aren't that special. Just the dirt cheapest ones are here.

El Cortez - For about five bucks after 11 p.m. you get a standard breakfast. No banana fritter, just eggs, hash browns, toast and bacon or sausage.

Ellis Island - Eggs, biscuits and gravy and bacon or sausage for under four bucks. We guess $4 must be the magic breaking point. Late night drunks won't travel for a meal that costs more.

Hard Rock - After midnight, you can enjoy a burger and fries or New York steak and eggs for under five bucks in the Mr. Lucky's coffee shop. The New York steak doesn't really come from new York. Or at least, not the city. Think about it: where the heck would the cow live?

Orleans - While Ellis Island has the Widowmaker, the Orleans simply offers the more modest Widow-enabler with their $2.49 biscuits and gravy. They also have a few other dishes for about $3-$5 like ham or steak and eggs. Heck, at these prices, why not get two? But only after midnight.

South Point - Late at night, after the children are tied to the bed, sneak away with a loved one and treat yourself to the ultimate in romantic indulgence: a range of dirt-cheap graveyard specials, including ham steak and eggs for two-and-a-half bucks and a half pound burger for three. Nothing says I love you more loudly or firmly. Well, except maybe a burp or fart.

Terrible's - As though the old photos of gas stations weren't reason enough to come out here late at night and while drunk. Late night you can get spaghetti, a steak or half a chicken for only about five bucks.


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