One of our most surprising discoveries about Las Vegas was the thriving local culinary scene beyond the famous Las Vegas Strip.
Known nationwide for the comprehensive collection of celebrity chefs and world-class restaurants, Las Vegas is a culinary powerhouse.
During our three month stay in Vegas, while housesitting, we focused on discovering the local, unique and affordable places to eat off the Strip. Many of them are in the less traveled part of the city, easily accessible via Uber or Lyft.
What we found was a rich and varied growing culinary scene. Local chefs are creating authentic “tastes of home” in the desert. They’re using remarkably high-quality ingredients and rich flavors. We also observed a high level of creativity where “everything is possible in Vegas”.
If you are looking to experience the best Vegas off-Strip dining and immerse yourself in the local food scene, this is your perfect Las Vegas food guide.
#1- Cheffini’s – The Cheffini Hot Dog
Container Park, an urban park, part of the downtown revitalization project, offers a mix of restaurants and bars, independently and locally owned.
Cheffini’s was one of the first businesses to open its doors in Container Park. The co-founders first started their business in 2010 with a hot dog cart in downtown Vegas.
Committed to putting a spotlight on this American food staple, everything they make is made from scratch. Famous for their unique sauces and toppings, Cheffini’s combines the classic hot dog with international flavors. Cheffini’s has become one of the local favorites in Container Park.
We sampled the classic Cheffini’s dog, which combines a nice bite from jalapeno peppers with a smooth finish from a tasty pineapple sauce. This is a great local spot when strolling around Container Park.
#2- Project BBQ Food Truck
In the center of the pedestrian walkway of Fremont Street, Experience you’ll find Project BBQ Las Vegas food truck.
This permanent food truck stands out in the middle of the flashy casinos, entertainment area and street performers.
Using high quality ingredients, this local spot started with the simple idea of offering “a great BBQ experience” in the Las Vegas desert.
The barbecue sandwiches are made with either beef brisket, pulled chicken or pork. They are served with a side of homemade potato chips and coleslaw. The meat is seasoned with a unique sauce made with beer and cheese.
This unique food truck is a great option for lunch or a snack on while checking out all the entertainment on Fremont Street.
The barbecue sandwiches are delicious and overflowing with tender and juicy meat. The chips served on the side are tasty and crispy and with the freshly made coleslaw, you’ll be in for a treat.
The name says it all. At this local breakfast and lunch spot, chef, Natalie Young has a simple philosophy. Eat is about local food and fresh ingredients. It is also about fostering communities and education through food.
Chef Natalie was one of original chefs involved in the DTLV revitalization project. Her success has landed her many awards including one of the best restaurants for “seriously good comfort food”.
On the menu you’ll find comfort American food with a creative twist. Eggs are served all days and locals rave about the delicious egg sandwiches and the crispy pancakes.
With her success, chef Natalie, recently opened up a second location in downtown Summerlin, a trendy local Vegas neighborhood.
While Eat caters mostly to breakfast and lunch eaters, we were interested in tasting her cuisine at dinner. We chose to go to Chow her other restaurant in DLTV.
Unfortunately, we were misinformed and found the restaurant closed. Chow is now a space dedicated to catering event only.
Running out of time in Vegas, we sadly didn’t have the chance to eat at Eat. Needless to say this restaurant is high on our list for our next Vegas stop, and it should be on your list as well.
Classic Casinos Downtown Vegas: A Unique Dining Experience Off the Strip
You can’t escape the casino experience in Las Vegas. However, if you are downtown and looking for a unique “old Las Vegas” dining experience, the following two restaurants in historic Las Vegas casinos offer wildly different experiences.
#4- Aloha Specialities Restaurant – California Hotel & Casino
California Hotel & Casino known as “The Cal” to locals, is home to the best Hawaiian food in Las Vegas. The restaurant, Aloha Specialties located on the second floor offers traditional Hawaiian cuisine.
Expect to find local Hawaiian fare like teriyaki plates, Chicken Tou Saimin, oxtail, rice bowls and more. This landmark hotel in downtown Las Vegas, just off Fremont Street, has a very loyal Hawaiian clientele. Las Vegas has a large Hawaiian population and it is often referred to as the 9th Hawaiian island.
Hawaiian Style Chicken Teriyaki
One of the popular Hawaiian dishes to try is the Hawaiian-style marinated chicken teriyaki. The chicken is cooked in chicken broth, ginger and green onions. Served with a special Hawaiian sauce, you’ll be left craving for more.
Where to Eat Hawaiian Cuisine in Vegas
Address: 12 E. Ogden Ave, Las Vegas, NV.
Hours: Sun – Thurs, 9:00 am – 9:00 pm; Fri – Sat, 9:00 am – 10:00 pm.
#5- El Cortez Hotel & Casino
Opened in 1941, the El Cortez bills itself as “the longest continuously-running hotel and casino in Vegas.” Located off the strip in the historic downtown area, El Cortez offers an authentic Vegas experience you just can’t get anywhere else.
Part of the notoriety of El Cortez comes from the infamous mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, who with three gangster partners owned the casino for a period of time in the 1940s. After the sale of El Cortez, Bugsy used the funds to build the Flamingo Hotel & Casino in 1947.
In addition to its Illustrious history, the food at the 24/7 restaurant named Siegel’s 1941 is another draw.
El Cortez Prime Rib Special – $10.95
While on a downtown Las Vegas Food Tour, we learned from our local guide that the Prime Rib special at El Cortez was pretty good. Attracted by the casino’s historical significance and tempted by Prime Rib Special, we stopped in for dinner one evening.
Seated in the dimly lit, updated restaurant, we ordered the $10.95 prime rib special and a bottle of wine, which was on special that day.
This was a really nice piece of 8 oz. prime rib cooked perfectly medium rare, with a side of gravy and sour cream. For sides, you have a choice of french fries, baked or mashed potatoes. The meal comes with vegetables of the day, and in our case, a mix of broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and peppers.
If you are in downtown Las Vegas and looking for a reputable place to eat on a budget in Las Vegas, don’t hesitate to have the Prime Rib Special at El Cortez. The beef was cooked to our liking and the vegetables fresh and crispy.
With the friendly and attentive staff, you’ll enjoy a slice of Las Vegas for what it was, and what it is today.
Authentic Asian Restaurants in Las Vegas
Food from Asia is one of the most vibrant and authentic food scenes to Las Vegas. Chinatown is at the epicenter of this booming culinary scene. There, you find a diverse Asian cuisine offering with some of the best Asian restaurants nationwide.
#6- Lotus of Siam: Long-Standing Thai Restaurant
Lotus of Siam has been serving authentic Thai food since 1999. The chef-owner Saipin Chutima brings the northern Thai style cuisine to Vegas.
After winning the James Beard award in 2011, her restaurant has been celebrated as one of the “best Thai restaurant in the United States”.
Khao Soi and Sai Oua are the highlights of the Northern Thai dishes on the menu.
The Khao Soi is a northern Thai soup with a rich and spicy coconut milk based curry. It is typically served with chicken or beef and two types of noodles.
While the Sai Oua, is a traditional Thai northern-style sausage infused with a blend of spices and herbs. The rich flavors from these northern Thai dishes transported us back to Chiang Mai. We were impressed by the taste and the quality of the ingredients of this restaurant in the desert, far away from the lush mountains of Chiang Mai.
#7- Hobak Korean BBQ
In Chinatown, Korean cuisine is gaining in popularity. At the moment, Korean barbecue is the most popular Korean food you’ll find in Las Vegas.
Hobak Korean BBQ is an authentic Korean restaurant, straight from South Korea where they operate several successful branches.
Hobak serves premium quality beef and pork cooked on charcoal grill at your table. With their combo offering, you get to taste different cut of meats prepared in their own special marinade.
Each combo menu comes with an assortment of side dishes also called banchan. Freshly cooked in front of you, the meat is incredibly tender and flavorful. The sides are well seasoned and make for the perfect accompaniment to the meats. This delightful Korean BBQ feast is an experience not to be missed.
#8- District One – Authentic Pho In Vegas
District One perfectly embodies the diverse and creative cuisine you’ll find in Chinatown.
While the menu is centered around Vietnamese cuisine, it also offers a mix of Southeast Asian inspired dishes.
Known for their Pho, District One offers traditional recipes like Pho Tai Nam and more inventive dishes such as the Whole Maine Lobster Pho.
We opted for the more traditional Pho Tai Nam that we enjoyed in Vietnam. This clear broth soup combined slices of ribeye and flank steak served with rice noodles.
The fragrant flavors of the lemongrass, Vietnamese cilantro, ginger, and green onions reminded us of the Pho in Vietnam we enjoyed. With its generous portions, Pho at District One, certainly earns its recognition as the best Pho in Vegas.
Local Buffets Off the Strip in Las Vegas
The buffet concept was pioneered by El Rancho Vegas in 1945. What started as a “chuck wagon” evolved to become the “all-you-can-eat” buffets.
Today, the buffet tradition is still very much a part of the local Vegas food culture. Buffets have now gone gourmet with casino’s competing against each other for the best buffet in town.
Many of the popular buffets can be found on the Las Vegas Strip and most come with a hefty price tag. If you’re looking for a local and affordable buffet experience, wander off the Strip and go eat fat the following locations.
#9- Feast Buffet at Red Rock Casino & Resort
Located in the Summerlin neighborhood, about a 30 minute ride from the Las Vegas Strip is Red Rock Casino & Resort, an oasis in the desert.
Feast buffet, at Red Rock has been voted one of the best buffets by Las Vegas locals. The cuisine takes you on a culinary journey around the globe.
The Varied Stations at Feast Buffet
The wide range of selection of food stations at Feast buffet is impressive. From Italian, American, Sushi, Barbecue, Asian, Farmers Market, Wellbeing and Pastries & Desserts, you have everything you could possibly want.
With a personalized touch at each station, you can get your meal however you want it. At the carving area within the American Station, your meat can be cooked to your liking.
The Farmers Market station goes beyond salads and toppings. One of our favorites was thinly cut slices of smoked salmon, of which we had several helpings.
Find sugar-free options, and homemade gelato at the Pastries & Desserts station and you can also create your own perfect dessert.
For a leisurely experience go for the Weekend Brunch and get champagne or mimosas included in the price.
Where to Eat the Best Affordable Buffet in Vegas
Address: 11011 W. Charleston Blvd, Summerlin, Las Vegas, NV.
Hours: Champagne brunch Sat & Sun from 8:00 am – 3:00 pm.
#10- Mint Indian Bistro Buffet
Since 2008, Mint Indian Bistro has been bringing authentic Indian flavors to Las Vegas. Even though Mint Bistro is not attached to a casino, it offers daily lunch buffets. With two locations, Mint is very popular amongst locals and not widely known among visitors to Las Vegas.
Catering to carnivores, vegetarians and vegans, this is the perfect place to sample simple, colorful, and flavorful Indian food that appeals to all senses.
Fresh and Unique Flavors at Mint Indian Bistro
From the delightful start with freshly baked naan or Indian flatbread, you’ll be in for a sensorial journey.
Stations with a wide variety of Indian flavors are found alongside the back of the restaurant. From favorites like the paneer tikka masala, a fresh goat cheese cooked in the creamy tikka masala sauce to classics like tandoori chicken, you will eagerly savor the rich flavors.
The food at Mint Indian Bistro is surprisingly fresh and very flavorful. The diversity of dishes from India will appeal to all tastes. Don’t forgo this unique buffet experience which is only about a 15 minute ride away from the Las Vegas Strip.
The food scene in Las Vegas is going through a transformation. While you’ll find restaurants from celebrity chefs like Joël Robuchon, Guy Savoy, Jose Andres, Gordon Ramsay, Thomas Keller and more, there is a quiet revolution taking place.
A new restaurant scene is burgeoning right off the Las Vegas Strip. You’ll find many of the best moderately priced restaurants in downtown Las Vegas, Chinatown and on the westside in neighborhoods like Summerlin.
For unique dining experiences, taste the flavors at any of the places to eat off the Strip in Vegas. For a glimpse as to what to expect, play the video below and whet your appetite for the best Las Vegas restaurants off the strip.
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Rosemary is a writer and culinary explorer. Together with her partner, Claire, they created Authentic Food Quest to inspire people to travel deeper through authentic food. Through food, they believe, people can have more meaningful connections on their travels. Prior to creating Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary worked as a director of strategy in advertising for over 15 years. Take the quiz and find out your Food Traveler Profile.