Appetizers are the great equalizer when you’re looking to save money but eat quality food when dining in Las Vegas. A single appetizer can often be filling enough for one person. Likewise, appetizers are usually large enough to share. They’re the perfect size for flexible dining.
Many times these dishes are as filling as a main course that could cost two or three times as much money at the same restaurant. An average restaurant will list appetizers on the menu between $5 and $15. A fine dining restaurant will usually charge somewhere between $8 and $25.
Long live the appetizer!
Appetizers are so important in Las Vegas dining that they helped change the face of restaurants here. In the past 5 years or so, there has been a major influx of restaurants offering “sharable” dishes. These restaurants may offer traditional tapas or glorified appetizers known as “American style tapas.”
I will enjoy appetizers both as a shareable plate or as an entire meal. The choice depends on the type of food and how many people I’m with. I can happily enjoy 3 mini burgers as a meal. That’s not quite the case when it comes to some fried dishes. In fact, the best appetizer I’ve eaten in Las Vegas all year falls under this category.
Fried Mac and Cheese Croquettes (Therapy)
Fried mac and cheese is either a huge turn on or a huge turn off. I can fall on both sides of this fence with this dish. My opinion really depends on the restaurant. I knew that I had to order this appetizer when I saw it on the lunch menu at Therapy. This restaurant offers upscale modern American comfort food (at reasonable prices). Make note that the fried mac and cheese croquettes are only available for lunch.
The deep fried cheddar mac and cheese croquettes are topped with a unique red pepper aioli and served over bacon tomato jam. This dish is a bit much to eat by yourself but sharing the order of 3 is perfect. Beyond this great appetizer, Therapy is one of the best restaurants for a high quality lunch in downtown Las Vegas. The restaurant isn’t cheap but it’s not expensive. Most important, every dish I’ve had has been well worth the money.
“The Meatball” (Lavo at The Palazzo)
Meatballs were a trendy menu item a few years ago but their popularity has seemed to wane recently. Having said that, “The Meatball” at Lavo is one of the popular in Las Vegas. This isn’t just any meatball – it’s a massive sharable meatball that costs either $23 or $25. This meatball doesn’t fit inside of your hand, it’s probably large enough to cover your hand.
The Meatball is made using fresh ground imperial waygu, Italian sausage, veal, fresh herbs and imported cheeses. The entire meatball is much more than enough food to get dinner started for one or two people. However, this boxing glove sized meatball is best when a couple of bites are added to a few other appetizers. Lavo is a great restaurant if you’re looking for high-end Italian dining. You can the the menu with prices here.
Classic Sliders (Yard House at Linq and Red Rock Casino)
I often get lost when I visit restaurants with large menus. New York City diners and restaurants like Yard House are among the worst offenders. I almost always end up eating the same thing when the menu is so large. Sometimes too many choices can be confusing. I visit Yard House at The Linq often because it’s int the center of the Vegas Strip and has a great beer selection with good food.
Whether I’m dining alone or with someone, my default order at Yard House is the classic slider appetizer. The three mini burgers are about as filling as a full burger. They make a perfect meal when yourself. These small burgers taste good, are filling and easy to eat. It also doesn’t look strange if you don’t eat a third of your order like a normal burger might. This appetizer is a perfect meal for drinking beer at the bar.