Secret Steaks in Las Vegas

When it comes to food, Las Vegas is all about Steakhouses. But the prices (and the wait) at some of the celebrity chef spots, or even the big name chains, can be a little daunting. How are you going to save your cash for the cards? Fear not. Though they fly under the radar, there are several steakhouses without all the hype and hoopla that still serve with the same sizzle, but as much as a third less expensive. Here are a few favorites:

McCall’s (Stratosphere): If going to the Top of the World restaurant up in the tower seems like too much effort, McCall’s is a great, more relaxed alternative at Stratosphere. A combination of old school charm and new ideas play together here: each table gets a complimentary taste of wine while you peruse a menu with creative starters like PBBJ (peanut butter, bacon, bleu cheese and jalapeno bruscetta) and bacon wrapped jalapeno shrimp. That’s right, welcome to flavortown! All of the beef comes from California’s esteemed Harris Ranch. The deconstructed apple pie dessert is also lots of fun. Best of all, you’ll notice the prices are easy to digest.

Center Cut (Flamingo) A few years ago, Flamingo redesigned this room for an edgy concept that didn’t quite work. Reborn as Center Cut, the oval with private booths serves as a fantastic date-worthy tribute to the Midcentury Modern fantasy, and the food is everything the Mad Men would appreciate, too. The trio bacon satay appetizer is practically a must, but if you have a bigger table, the seafood tower is even more impressive, and even sides like the jalapeno bacon creamed corn and lemon sautéed spinach show attention to detail. Center Cut’s hormone-free beef comes from Colorado’s Aspen Ridge Farms, and it’s as good as any big name beef. Best of all the service will make you want to stick around a little longer if only to keep your conversations going.

Tender (Luxor): For people who like variety, Tender is a real find. Their all-natural beef selections come from a variety of sources ranging from New Zealand to North Dakota (and about five other states)—and if that isn’t enough choice, you can get a great tasting plate of antelope, venison and wild boar. Trio tastings of exotic grains (quinoa, faro and forbidden rice) and soups (wagyu chili, pumpkin squash apple, wild mushroom) are also available. And don’t miss the nice selection of cheeses. Find a spot up front and the casino action makes it lively, tuck yourself away in the back and romantic comes out in you.

R Steak & Seafood (Riviera): About as hidden as a gem can be, this intimate recently redecorated room in the rear of the classic Riviera is cheap in price, not in quality. The menu is relatively straightforward here (and entrées even come with sides, what a throwback!) but your taste buds won’t mind. They do a great dry aged rib eye and even a 24 ounce porterhouse for fewer than 40 dollars. Another recent addition to the menu is smoked duck breast, something I’m always eager to have. Even the wine list here has some of the best prices on the Strip (almost all bottles under $60).