Attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas? Preparation is the key to survival, and as in any harsh desert environment, food and water will be essential.
Vegas has become such a food town, especially off The Strip. Don’t settle for room service, or overpriced brand exercises masquerading as worthwhile dining experiences. It’s worth taking a cab to explore the city’s unique breakfast, lunch, and dinner options.
(Sort of) Near The LVCC and Sands
The LVCC is essentially an Imperial Star Destroyer, but with less personality and fewer amenities. One of life’s great mysteries is why the convention center doesn’t have a legit food court or food truck area. However, if you’re willing to take a brisk stroll there are a few options.
This symphony in ‘80s pink and blue is on the Strip, less than a mile from the LVCC’s front entrance. Huge menu, huge portions, lots of seating, and a lounge area with circular fire pit. It’s the kind of place you arrive at only to find DeNiro is already there waiting for you. 2985 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109
The oldest of the old-school, this Italian classic is pricey but close (it’s on Convention Center Drive). Scenes from Casino were filmed there, and the restaurant includes an entire room dedicated to former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian. Opens at 5:30pm. 355 Convention Center Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Food-truck-born Fat Choy is a decadent crowd-pleaser a few blocks north of the Westgate. The “elevated diner” offers up a shortrib grilled cheese, pork belly bao, the highly-recommended Fat Choy Burger (with fried egg and onion jam) and other down-home mashups. 595 E Sahara Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89104
Tacos El Gordo
The lines are long, but move very quickly, and the ambiance is challenging. However, for authentic Mexican at decent prices, this is the place. Sunday through Thursday: 10pm to 2am. 3049 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Is it a basic pizza joint chain? Yes. But here’s the thing about Grimaldi’s: it’s connected to the Sands (in the Grand Canal Shops of the Palazzo), it has a lot of seating, the service was pretty nice when we went, and the pricing isn’t outrageous. 3327 S Las Vegas Blvd #2710, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Hash House A Go Go
Find yourself on the Sands Expo/Venetian side of things, but not feeling The Grand Lux Cafe or Chipotle? The Strip location of Hash House in the LINQ hotel offers hearty, intriguing options such as the “Big O Sage Fried Chicken and Waffle Tower,” the “Tractor Driver Combo,” and the refreshingly honest “Old School Fried Mush.” 3535 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Staying on or visiting Fremont Street? Congratulations, in addition to being the world capital of yard-long margaritas, downtown is now home to some of Vegas’ most interesting dining options. It’s also a twelve-minute cab ride from the LVCC (without traffic).
Chef Natalie Young’s essential restaurant offers superlative comfort food and very nice portions. We recommend the corned beef hash, two poached eggs, and sourdough toast combo. Open for breakfast and lunch only. 707 Carson (at 7th) Las Vegas, NV 89101
Excellent service, excellent food. You have to make your reservation via Yelp at least 3 hours early, but don’t worry, there are plenty of places next door to have a cocktail while you wait. Open 11am to 11pm. 523 Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101
Gaucho’s Sacred Flavors
No longer a hidden gem, Gaucho’s backyard patio and walk-up service are worthwhile, especially if you want something no-frills and delicious before heading back to the casinos. Great sandwiches. Dinner only. Open late most nights. 124 S 11th St, Las Vegas, NV 89101
Very cool rooftop patio, great for small groups or friends and clients. Try the wild mushroom flatbread, killer shrimp, and of course the crispy chicken skins. 124 S 6th St #100, Las Vegas, NV 89101
Downtown Container Park
There’s always something going here, and the park’s retail offerings are paired with many nice food options, like Big Ern’s BBQ, Pinches Tacos, and the sit-down Downtown Terrace. Check hours for each place, they fluctuate depending on the day and season.
The new mixed-use development, crafted out of an old motel, is worth a look, especially on market days every third weekend of the month. Fergusons is also home to Hatsumi, featuring Japanese snacks and skewers. 1028 Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101-5402
Park on Fremont
The elevated comfort food is almost secondary to the beautifully-curated outdoor space. Open daily, but with varying hours for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and late night guests. Great beer menu, and reservations are recommended. 506 Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101
Breaking into the steakhouse scene in Vegas is a challenge, since there are so many entrenched players. But over the last decade, Detroit-based Andiamo quickly established itself as the go-to, especially for downtown visits. Great environment, service, and wine list. 301 Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101
A blessedly non-GMO, plant-forward alternative with the slogan “Good food for the good of all.” Try the portobello mushroom sliders w/ sriracha aioli, or the organic sweet potato quesadilla black beans w/chipotle crema. 616 Carson Ave #120, Las Vegas, NV 89101
We love Bin 702 wine bar in downtown’s Container Park, and the owners expanded that vision to 18bin in the Arts District (about a mile away). The Arts District is great if you’re looking to beat the crowds flooding downtown during a major show, and 18bin has a great, accessible menu, fun design, and plenty of outdoor seating. 107 E Charleston Blvd #150, Las Vegas, NV 89104
Casa Don Juan
Also in the Arts District. Want Mexican but don’t want to deal with the Strip crowds and chain restaurant sameness? Casa Don Juan is a locals-approved Vegas institution with a massive menu and plentiful seating. Plus the owners are huge Frida Kahlo fans, which you’ll see evidence of on the walls and on the drink menu. 1204 S Main St, Las Vegas, NV 89104
Near (Or On) The Strip
Not exactly walkable, but an easy car ride (5-10 minutes) from the conference and most hotels in the area.
While it’s hard to call anything in The Cosmopolitan “cheap,” at least the hotel is making an attempt to offer halfway-affordable options to conference-goers. Taking a cue from the “food hall” trend, you’ll find elevated street food including sushi, sandwiches, tacos, and more. 3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Pok Pok Wing
The Brooklyn outpost of Portland’s Pok Pok closed in 2018, but the dream lives on at The Cosmopolitan. As you may have guessed, wings are the specialty on the pared-down menu, but don’t sleep on the Ju Pa Bao or the Pad Thai. 3708 Las Vegas Blvd S The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Level 2, The Boulevard Tower, Las Vegas, NV 89109
El Dorado Cantina
Yes, it’s adjacent to a strip club, in a location triangulated by the interstate, Circus Circus, and a haphazard casino construction site. Now the good news: it’s surprisingly upscale, relatively affordable, primarily organic, about five minutes by cab from the Strip, and open 24 hours. 3025 Sammy Davis Jr Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Lotus of Siam
The legend. The OG off-strip Vegas restaurant, and it’s worth every penny. Decadent without being crass, we recommend the garlic prawns, pad woon sen, and golden tofu. Reservations are a must in advance of the conference. 620 E Flamingo Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89119
Any Vegas food guide that doesn’t include Firefly cannot be taken seriously. Full stop. Tapas, great location, and the famed “reverse happy hour” Monday-Thursday from 11pm to 1am. 3824 Paradise Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89119
Now a full-blown food destination in Vegas, the neighborhood is well worth a cab ride for food and cocktails, especially to kick off an evening.
Myungrang Hot Dog
It’s a tight menu filled with “Korean street food,” which boils down to the fanciest battered hot dogs-on-sticks you will ever eat (and you can eat a few of them). Get something safe, load up on the tasty glazes, then go out and live: get the Squid-Ink & Mozzarella Hot Dog. 4284 Spring Mountain Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89102
Inventive, high-calorie fun in Vegas’ Chinatown. Try the Kinoko burger with “grilled shitake mushrooms, pickled red ginger, teriyaki, and finished with wasabi mayo.” Counter service only, open til 1am. Also check the schedule for their food truck. 3429 S Jones Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89146
The name says it all. Big menu, big appetizers (try the wontons), perfect for big groups. Big Wong regularly shows up on all the “cheap eats” lists, but the meals are excellent. Open 10am to 11pm. 5040 Spring Mountain Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89146
The Golden Tiki
As the name might suggest, Golden Tiki commits hard to the tiki lifestyle. The menu skews heavy appetizers versus full-on entrees, but the far-flung drink options summon the ghost of Trader Vic. Also shows up on our recommended Vegas bar list. 3939 Spring Mountain Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89102
Scruffy, Cheap, Pretty Good
These lo-fi, high-quality options off the Strip are perfect for quick bites and local color.
A true Vegas institution, Bagelmania’s strip-mall setting and scruffy surroundings may give pause to the first-time visitor, but it’s the real deal. (They're moving to a new location closer to the LVCC in 2020.) Open for breakfast and lunch only. Try the potato knish and the fried matzo with onions. 855 E Twain Ave # 120, Las Vegas, NV 89169
Fries N Pies
Eater Las Vegas loves this place, which offers a wild mashup of pizza and poutine options. Biggest surprise? The broccoli pizza crust (also available as a base for the poutine). Near UNLV, across from the Hard Rock. 4503 Paradise Rd #350, Las Vegas, NV 89169
A nice surprise in the Tuscany Hotel on Flamingo Road. Three-minute cab from the Sands Expo Center and open 24 hours. High value for the $ too. The “Las Vegas Winner,” for example, gives you 3 eggs scrambled with cheddar cheese, hash browns or grits, 2 sausage links, 2 bacon strips, and pancakes for $8.99. 255 E Flamingo Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89169
Sometimes you need to be free. Get out there! Vegas is a huge city with all kinds of interesting places beyond the Strip.
The Black Sheep
The Black Sheep is way out … like strip mall out … southwest of McCarran. The Asian-inspired menu has made it a destination for Vegas visitors (and locals) in an incredibly short time. Get reservations. And think about indulging in the Hot Chicken & Waffles for brunch: “honey butter scallion waffle, kim chi chicken karaage, japanese cucumber.” 8680 W Warm Springs Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89148
This Korean-Mexican mashup makes dishes that dreams are made of, such as the Stir Fried Veggie Burrito, the Fusion Bulgogi Cheesesteak, or the absolutely gonzo Fusion Tater Tots. The modest strip-mall location is about 10 minutes from downtown.Call for hours before going. 633 N Decatur Blvd h, Las Vegas, NV 89107
The Hush Puppy
“Vegas institution” is a term thrown around quite loosely, but The Hush Puppy has a legit claim. Low-key and down-home, it’s a southern food outpost with two locations. One’s on the east side at 1820 N Nellis Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89110, and the other is out towards Red Rocks at 7185 W Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89117. Dinner only.
Crab Corner Maryland Seafood House
Sometimes you just need seafood, doesn’t matter where you are. Crab Corner understands, offering a Chesapeake dining experience in an unassuming strip mall location about 15 minutes from McCarran via car. Affordable and good service. Perfect for lunch on your way in or out of Vegas. 6485 S Rainbow Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89118
The Boiling Crab
The Texas/California chain’s Vegas installation is a few blocks down from The Palms casino, and the cajun-friendly menu is unapologetically fried. Reasonably-priced and good for big groups, especially if you’re on the west side of the Strip. 4025 S Decatur Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89103
Prevention may be the best cure for hunger. It’s probably worth hitting the grocery store for supplies before the show starts, especially since there are no real grocery stores downtown or by the convention center. This location is 5 minutes from McCarran’s rental car center, and just two miles from Mandalay Bay. Plus, staples like water, power bars, bagels, etc. will be WAY cheaper than the hotel prices. 6689 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89119