Linda Johnson Tells You Where the Locals Eat in Las Vegas

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Many of you will be coming to Las Vegas soon to play in the World Series of Poker (WSOP). For some of you, all you want to do while you are here is gamble. For others, you may want to take some time off from the casinos and enjoy dining where the locals eat. In this blog is a list of some of my favorite eating establishments in Las Vegas.

When it comes to breakfast, I have three great recommendations for hearty meals that will get you jump started for a long day of poker. If you like great food at great prices and don’t care about the ambiance, then you should try White Cross Drugs at 1700 Las Vegas Blvd. South. I started going there 30 years ago. Patrons eat at the counter and breakfast is served 24/7.

Another great spot for breakfast is the Omelet House (four locations). Their six-egg omelets with multiple ingredients are a steal at less than $10 and be sure to try the homemade pumpkin bread. My other breakfast spot is Hash House a Go Go (several locations). The blueberry pecan pancakes are so large that two people can easily share them. For a real treat, try the griddled French toast, served on their signature Amish-style bread dipped in a banana cinnamon cream with pecan maple syrup.

When it comes to lunch, my favorite spot to take guests is to Kilowat, located on the fifth floor of the Platinum Hotel at 255 East Flamingo. The restaurant overlooks the pool area and is never crowded or noisy. Another of Las Vegas’ best-kept secret lunch spots is Top of the World located in the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino. This restaurant is 800 feet above ground level and revolves a full 360 degrees while you dine. The best part is that if you make a reservation, you can take a private elevator at no charge directly to the restaurant, thus saving the $15.95 regular charge just to go up to the observation deck.

If you are a thrill seeker, you can go upstairs after lunch (and risk losing your lunch) on one of four scary rides: the Sky Jump (a controlled fall), Big Shot (shoots passengers up 160 feet at more than 45 miles per hour until they are more than 1,000 feet above the Strip), X-Scream (a giant teeter-totter 866 feet above the ground that propels riders 27 feet over the edge of the tower), and Insanity (a mechanical arm that extends 64 feet over the edge of the tower).

If you are at the Rio and don’t have a car, be sure to eat at the All American Bar and Grille. It has great burgers and an amazing steak Caesar salad. For a great view of the Strip and gourmet cuisine, try the Voodoo Steakhouse and Lounge, located on the 50th and 51st floors.

If you want to experience the lifestyle of the rich and famous, I highly recommended two places to enjoy the English custom of high tea. From 3:00 to 4:00pm Monday to Thursday, the Verandah at the Four Seasons at the south end of the Strip will serve you a variety of teas, scones, pastries, and sandwiches for $30 per person. Service is limited, so be sure to make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance.

If you prefer to get out of town for a memorable afternoon, you can have high tea on the patio of the Ritz-Carlton at Lake Las Vegas. The prices and the menu are similar to the Four Seasons.

Hungry for dinner? Some of my personal favorites for various types of cuisine are as follows:

Italian: Strings (2222 East Tropicana) isn’t fancy, but the food is consistently good and all dinners come with all-you-can-eat salad and garlic bread. Carluccio’s is another favorite and is a great place to host a party in one of its many private rooms. Try the chicken livers! If you really want to splurge, dine at Panevino. It has great food, great service, and a great view. Note: Dinner at Panevino is quite pricey, but Panevino serves lunch with the same tasty food, great view, and reasonable prices.

Sushi: Las Vegas is famous for its reasonably priced all-you-can-eat sushi bars. Yama Sushi (1350 East Flamingo) is my #1 rated sushi pick!

Barbeque: Lucille’s Smokehouse Barbeque at the District at Green Valley Ranch is my favorite, followed closely by Famous Dave’s (four locations) and TC’s Rib Crib (8470 W. Desert Inn). Go to TC’s when you want good food, but not much atmosphere.

Buffet: The best buffets in town can be found at Bellagio, Wynn, and Paris. If you love crab, try the Green Valley Ranch Buffet. It’s the only place in town that will stir fry crab with tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, garlic, chili, and their “secret sauce.”

Steakhouse: There are many amazing steakhouses in Las Vegas. Austins (located in the Texas Casino) is a well-kept secret. You’ll love the wonderful atmosphere and great service at reasonable prices.

Middle Eastern: Habib’s Persian Cuisines at the corner of Sahara and Decatur is one of the locals’ favorites. Belly dancers will entertain you on Friday and Saturday nights.

Dim Sum: The Orchid Garden at 5485 West Sahara has the best dim sum in town.  If you’ve never had dim sum, it’s worth the experience. Ladies with pushcarts come by your table and you choose what you want off each cart.  The food comes in small portions, but don’t go overboard – you’ll be tempted to try everything.

Chinese: P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (several locations) is my #1 pick in this category. Lettuce wraps are the signature appetizer and don’t forget to order the honey chicken.

Brazilian: I’m torn between two restaurants in this category: Pampas Churrascaria located inside the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood and Yolie’s Brazilian Steakhouse at 3900 Paradise each serve a variety of meats marinated in exotic herbs and grilled over mesquite coals. Waiters carve the meats from skewers at your table until you say “uncle.”

Mexican: Ricardo’s Mexican Restaurant at 4930 West Flamingo is close to the Rio and has been serving Las Vegas since 1979. You’ll love the food and the atmosphere.

Pizza: I’ve recommended Boston Pizza since the mid-1970s. Located at 1507 South Las Vegas Boulevard, it’s a real find when you finish playing late at night since they are open until 4:00am.

Continental: Hugo’s Cellar in the Downtown Four Queens serves gourmet food in a romantic atmosphere. Their tradition of giving roses to women is a bonus. I particularly like their salad bar on wheels. The waiter lists all of the choices and you nod or shake your head while he dishes up your plate at the table.

Coffee shop: The food at the Orleans and Gold Coast coffee shops is excellent. Check out the late-night menu and the breakfast specials, as well as the 16-ounce T-bone steak special served 24/7. If you’re really hungry and are on a budget, be sure to try the Bougainvillea Cafe at Terrible’s Casino at Flamingo and Paradise.

Sunday brunch: The Sunday brunch at the Envy Steakhouse inside the Renaissance Hotel at 3400 Paradise Road can’t be beat. For $29.95, you can have unlimited Mimosas, Champagne, and Bloody Mary’s while listening to an incredible pianist. There are many stations serving delicious food in a great atmosphere.

I hope you enjoy your dining in Las Vegas. Thanks so much to members of my local poker discussion group for helping me with some ideas and suggestions for this list.

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Everyone should try Shabu Shabu Paradise – 1716 W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy Suite 110 Henderson, Nv 89012

My all time favorite restatuarant in town:

I’ve tried several shabu shabu restaurants in town but this one is the best for quality of food, service and atmosphere.


Hey Linda, The Ritz-Carlton closed in April. So you’ll be driving 30 minutes from the strip for nada… although, I think the Loews Hotel next to the Ritz serves high tea overlooking the fake-lake… plus Massa, the sushi restaurant out there is very good. And the little village has a nice wine bar or two (if they’re still in business come July)

Juli Sobka

Boy, with all those choices it’s a good thing that I’ll be in Las Vegas for a while to do a lot of sampling, but a 6 egg omelet? YIKES. Again Linda, thanks for all your tips

Linda Johnson

Thanks for letting me know about the Ritz Carlton. It wasn’t busy the last time I was there in February so I guess it’s another victim of the poor economy.
Linda Johnson


Great list Linda! I would like to add my new favorite – Firefly (two locations – Plaza downtown and on Paradise Rd). Tapas! Yum Yum!


Thank you for all the suggestions and addresses…I will have a car this time on my trip so I really appreciate it!


I’m gonna get fat!! Yummy yum yum


Great places, here’s a few more, for tapas try Firefly on Paradise or overlooking Fremont St. at the Plaza Hotel. Texas De Brazil at Town Square is probably my favorite Brazilian steakhouse too. Seafood is fresh and awesome at Buzio’s inside the Rio.


PF Changs for Chinese? Seriously? You might as well place McDonald’s in the hamburger category.


Pampas is horrible! Texas de Brazil is waay better. Much better salad bar and higher quality meats.

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