Surviving as a Vegetarian in Las Vegas

Las Vegas airport ranks dead last for healthy food options

McCarran International ranked dead last in a study of healthy food options at the nation's airports in a 2004 survey conducted by the Physicians Commitee for Responsible Medicine. Neither the Phoenix nor Vegas airports offered a single healthy option in half their eateries. Miami and Detroit received the highest scores. The good news is that healthy options are increasing at airports in general with 75% of airports improving their scores over last year. (see the rankings...)

The message from Las Vegas casinos is loud and clear:  They don't care about vegetarians.  All other metro areas in the U.S. accommodate vegetarians readily, but for some reason most restaurant managers on the Vegas Strip remain clueless.  Maybe they think vegetarianism is a fringe interest, but the reality is that around 10% of Americans are vegetarian or nearly so, and the figure is even higher for many other countries (and we all know how many foreign tourists come to Vegas.)  And when notable figures like Mike Tyson, Bill Clinton, Paul McCartney, poker pro Daniel Negreanu, and even Steve Wynn going vegan, it's clear that this idea has definitely entered the mainstream. (see the BusinessWeek article)

So you're going to have to put a little more effort into getting fed here than you would in other places.  If you've traveled as a vegetarian before, you probably know some of the tricks, such as to look for ethnic restaurants.  Indian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and usually Italian restaurants all offer veggie options.  In a Chinese restaurant, they'll at least have one vegetarian dish called "Buddha's Delight", which is just vegetables and rice.  (Just ask the server to make sure there's no chicken or fish broth, or chicken powder.)  Middle Eastern fare for veggies includes hummus, tabouli, falafel (if not fried with meats), and dolmas, which are stuffed grape leaves.  For Italian food, there's always pasta, as long as the sauce doesn't have meat or fish.  In a pinch you can always order a pizza without meat (and without cheese, if you're vegan).  Just stay away from Mr. Gatti's, which uses meat in their tomato sauce.  Incidentally, no Strip casino buffet is especially good for vegetarians.  Be warned that the buffets typically put chicken powder in the Asian vegetables, lard or meat in the refried beans, and chicken stock in the Spanish rice -- and they never label it as such.

This page is divided into two sections:

  1. Truly veggie-friendly places with several choices, where you might actually want to go to eat.
  2. Places with only 1 or 2 veggie "options", useful only for avoiding starvation.

In each section, the places are listed roughly in order from North to South.  My Vegas Strip Map will help you get oriented.  I also made a special Google map of Indian lunch buffets.

Please let me know of any corrections or worthy additions to this list.  (e.g., If it's not on the Strip or downtown, then it should be way better or way more vegetarian than what you can get on the Strip or downtown.)

Truly veggie-friendly

(multiple and/or exceptional vegetarian offerings)

None of these is completely vegetarian (they serve meat as well), except Go Raw, Veggie Delight, and Rainbow's End.

Near the Strip
listed from North to South

Komol Restaurant (Thai)

953 E. Sahara Ave.(0.75 mi. E. of the Strip) • 702-731-6542, 11am-10pm x7, website

Komol has a generous vegetarian section on their menu. Vegetarians used to having to pick the one veggie item at a restaurant will be overwhelmed with the choices here.  The atmosphere is also nice and the food is satisfying.  A warning, I got one of the dinner sets (#3, I think) and it came with a soup that was mostly oil.  It looked like they used four parts oil and one part water.  The waiter noticed I didn't eat it and he graciously offered to bring me a normal soup, which I was happy to accept.  Note that Namaste Indian (below) is in the same shopping center.

Namaste India Cuisine

953 E. Sahara (0.75 mi. E. of the Strip), 702 892 9695, website
  11:30-2:30 daily, 5:30-10:00 Sun-Thu, 5:30-10:30 Fri/Sat

Thirteen vegetarian entreés on the menu, not counting the South Indian dosas.  The menu also reassuringly mentions that they can prepare dishes vegan.  And like all other Indian restaurants in town, this one has a lunch buffet.

Rainbow's End Natural Foods Cafe

1100 E. Sahara (1.5 mi. W. of the Strip), 702-737-7282, website
  Cafe: M-F 10-5, Sat 11-4, closed Sunday;
Store:
M-F 9-9, Sat 9-8, Sun 11-6

Not quite what you'd expect from a natural foods place -- there is no bicycle rack, and in the café your smoothie will be served in a styrofoam cup and your meal will come with plastic utensils. Although there's sit-down seating, you order at the counter. In some places of the store the shelves are only half-stocked, and the cooler doors list prices for products which aren't inside. I saw a staffer snap at a woman who asked for advice on what kind of supplements she should get. However, the café food is completely vegetarian, largely vegan, and delicious. My taro burger was everything you'd want in a taro burger. Do note the limited hours!

Veggie Delight

Spring Mountain & Wynn Road (1.5 miles W. of the Strip; get on the #203 bus at Sands/Spring Mountain next to the Fashion Show Mall or the Wynn) • 702-310-6565 • 11am-9pm

A little-known, tiny Vietnamese/Chinese café, specializing in faux meats. Everything on the menu is at least vegetarian, and can be made vegan for $1.00 to $1.50 extra. The menu is extensive and the food is good, and brown rice is an option. Vegans should note that the smoothies are made with milk unless you specifically request otherwise.  Also note that this place is just a block away from Ronald's Donuts (see below).

Ronald's Donuts

4600 Spring Mountain Road (1.5 miles West of the Strip, near Arville St.), 702-873-1032

If you're not a veg*n for health reasons, you'll love this place, since you can't get more junk food than white flour, sugar, and oil.  Most of the donuts and pastries here are vegan, and are on two completely separate shelves from the non-vegan stuff. Also note that Veggie Delight is only a block away from Ronald's, so if you're already making a trip out for one of these places, the other one is close.  Note that they tend to close EARLY, like around 4pm.


India Palace

505 E. Twain Ave (1 mile E. of the Strip; on Spring Mtn./Sands/Twain, which is all the same street. Get on the #203 bus on Spring Mtn. or Sands. It runs about every 30 mins. and gets there in 5 mins.) • 702-796-4177, website

The Vegetarian section of their menu boasts a whopping 17 vegetarian entrees, not even counting the veggie options on the South Indian part of their menu like dosas.

Mint Indian Bistro ★★★

730 E. Flamingo (1.5 miles E. of the Strip; cach the #202 bus on Flamingo) 702-894-9334, website

Editor's pick!  Their menu explicitly lists seven vegan entrees, as well as an additional two more vegetarian entrees.  They also have vegan naan (!), and explicitly list which appetizers and breads are vegan.  Wow!  Why can't all restaurants be like this?  But I'm not done yet -- their $10.99 lunch buffet is almost entirely vegetarian and has several explicitly-labeled vegan items.  Eighteen thumbs up.

Gandhi India's Cuisine

4080 Paradise Rd. (1 mile E. of the Strip along Flamingo; catch the #202 bus on Flamingo)
702-734-0094, 11am-2:30, 5-10:30 x7

A whoping 19 vegetarian choices are listed explicitly on their menu.  And like just about every Indian restaurant in town, they have a lunch buffet.

Paymon's Mediterranean Café

4147 S. Maryland Parkway (just S. of Flamingo; 2 mi. E. of the Strip), 702-731-6030, website

Offering Greek, Italian, Persian, Middle Eastern, and Indian fare, much of it vegetarian, and much of that vegan.  The vegan & vegetarian items are clearly identified on the menu, leaving out the guesswork.  A 26-time "Best of Las Vegas Winner" from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Gaylord's India Restaurant

3700 W. Flamingo (in the Rio, 1 mile W. of the Strip) • 702-777-7923 • 777-2277, website

Elegant dining, with entrees at around $16. Dinner 5-11pm nightly, brunch buffet Fri/Sat/Sun 11:30-2:30pm.  A staffer came to our table to take our picture to try to sell it to us.

P.F. Chang's

4165 S. Paradise Rd. (1.5 miles E. of the Strip along Flamingo), 702-792-2207, website

Menu has a vegetarian section with five separate entrees. Also has five veggie sides and four appetizers. Everything on the menu that's vegetarian is denoted with a special mark. And brown rice is available instead of white!

Origin India

4480 Paradise Rd. (1.5 miles E. of the Strip, across from the Hard Rock, next to CVS) • 702-73-INDIA • website

Elegant Indian dining. Voted Best of Las Vegas in the local paper. The atmosphere is impressive in every way -- the lighting, the furniture, the tableware, everything. There are eight vegetarian entrees (avg. $14) though I expect a bit more than that in an Indian restaurant. Still, the food was good, and if you want a lovely dining experience, this is it.

Cottage Café - Ethiopian Cuisine

4647 Paradise Rd. (1.5 miles E. of the Strip between Harmon & Tropicana, 1 block S. of Hard Rock), 702-650-3395

Menu is about 1/3 vegetarian, but what you really want is the Vegetarian Combo, a generous serving of all the other dishes. The food is superb and it's my favorite of all the many Ethiopian restaurants I've been to.  (It's also my favorite restaurant of any kind in Vegas.)  This place is way laid back, so if exceptional wait service is important to you, be forewarned.  Come for the food, not to be attended to.  Open until 10pm or midnight (it varies).

Abyssinia Ethiopian

4780 W. Tropicana, next to Orleans casino; take the #201 Tropicana bus
702-220-5304 • Open 11am-4am daily • website

One of the better Ethiopian restaurants, with a large vegetarian section.  Most dishes are $5, and the veggie combo is $10.

Miko's Izakaya (Japanese)

500 E. Windmill (5 miles from Mandalay Bay) • 702-823-2779 • website

They have a separate vegetarian menu (which you have to ask for), unusual for a Japanese restaurant, so if you've always wanted Japanese vegetarian, here's your rare opportunity.  Here's the full PDF menu; scroll down to the last two pages for the vegetarian section.  I'm still suspicious that some of the items might be made with fish stock, because it's hard to separate Japanese from fish, and since when I inquired about that for the sukiyaki, even the proprietor had to ask the cook to make sure there was no fish stock.  They don't bother to list their hours on their website.  They boast about being owned by a traditional Japanese family but at least one of the proprietors is American-born, and speaks less Japanese than I do.  He also bad-mouthed Koreans who open Japanese restaurants.


South

Go Raw Café

2381 Windmill Lane,• 702-450-9007, 8am-8pm Mon-Sat, 8-5 Sun, website

(See the description for their other location above, under WEST.)

Whole Foods Market

6689 Las Vegas Blvd. S, in Town Square Shopping Center
Take the Deuce or Strip Xpress bus.  702-589-7711, 8am-10pm every day

Large organic / natural foods grocery store. 


On the Strip
listed from North to South

Stratosphere

India Oven
2218 Paradise Rd.
702-366-0222
11:30-2:00 & 5-10pm daily

India Oven around the corner from the Stratosphere is your only option this for north, and it's a good one. The vegetarian entrées are the first thing on the menu, and there are 15 of them, all priced at $14.

At the Stratosphere itself, the veggie options are nearly non-existent. So once I skipped their restaurants and went to their indoor mall, ordering a veggie burrito with no cheese from the Mexican fast food place there. The cashier even put "No Cheese" on the ticket, but when I finally got it, a good 15 minutes later, I found the cook had smothered it with cheese anyway.

Riveria

Meskerem
252 Convention Ctr. Dr.
702-732-4250
11am-4am daily

Meskerem (an Ethiopian restauarant at 252 Convention Center Drive, just South of the Riveria) On the downside, the there's only one vegetarian dish on the menu, the Veggie Combo. The plus side: One's all you need, and it's awesome. Two or more people can share the one big plate of spinach, spicy lentils, and potatoes served over a big pancake called injera. You rip a piece of injera, pinch the veggies, and eat with your hands.

India Masala is a fast-food place inside the Riviera, though it's priced like a sit-down restaurant.

Fashion Show Mall
3200 Las Vegas Blvd. S.;
near Nordstrom & Bloomingdales

Red Velvet Café.  Lots of entreés are marked "Vegan option available."  They have lots of vegan desserts, too.

California Pizza Kitchen.  Four veggie pizzas and several veggie pastas, including portobello mushroom-stuffed ravioli(!) (unfortunately for vegans, it's also stuffed with cheese).

The mall's Food Court also offers wraps, subway sandwiches, and Asian food.

Wynn/Encore
In the shopping center just north of Encore
702-240-6363

Bombay Indian Cuisine.  The North Strip got a lot more veggie friendly when Bombay opened in Nov. 2010.  They have a large veg. section on their menu, vegan roti, and a lunch buffet with about 8 of the 20 items being vegetarian.

Mirage
3400 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

California Pizza Kitchen. (see review above)

Caeser's Palace
3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Cheesecake Factory. Despite the name, it's a full-service restaurant. PETA says: "This savvy purveyor of fine fare offers no fewer than 16 vegetarian entrées on its menu. Included in the animal-friendly lineup: roasted artichokes served with a vinaigrette, grilled vegetable pizza, portobello mushroom burgers, Asian vegetable stir-fries, roasted vegetable pasta dishes, and grilled eggplant sandwiches!"

Planet Hollywood
 
(formerly Aladdin)

P. F. Chang's (Chinese). Menu has a vegetarian section with five separate entrees. Also has five veggie sides and four appetizers. Everything on the menu that's vegetarian is denoted with a special mark. And brown rice is available instead of white!

Spice Market Buffet.  No Strip casino buffet is particularly good for vegetarians, but Planet Hollywood's isn't as bad as most. It features Mediterranean station with falafel, hummus, dolmas, baba ganoush, and tabouleh.

Monte Carlo
In Hawaiian Marketplace,
3743 S. Las Vegas Blvd.

(702) 798-7889

Tamba, an Indian restaurant in the Hawaiian Marketplace across the street from the Monte Carlo.  About 10 of their 30 entrees are vegetarian, and they have a lunch buffet.  They also have one of the most annoying/frustrating websites on the planet.

Mandalay Bay

The Border Grill has Portabello Mushroom Mulitas ("grilled marinated mushrooms layered with black beans, roasted peppers, and pickled onions served with roasted tomato sauce braised greens, and guacamole"). Kind of pricey at $16, but on the South Strip your options are limited. They also have Chile Relleno ("roasted poblano peppers stuffed with manchego, panela, and cotija cheeses, served with roja and tomatillo salsas, rice, and black beans").


West

Mount Everest India Cuisine

3641 Sahara @ Rainbow (2 miles West of the Strip; take the #204 bus from Sahara Casino)
702-892-0950, hours not listed on their website; website

Offers a whopping 18 vegetarian items on their menu.

Viva Mercado

3553 S. Rainbow (4 miles West of the Strip)
702-871-8826, M-W 11-10, Th-Sat 11-11, Sun 11-10, website

A veggie-friendly Mexican restaurant. Their sopa and rice contain chicken broth, but at least they tell you that in large bold letters on the menu so you know what not to order. Their beans are fried in canola oil and they have a vegetarian section on their menu with six different entrees. The overwhelming majority of the menu is meat-laden, but it's still nice when a restaurant takes specific notice of vegetarian diners by printing a note about ingredients and offering a complete vegetarian section on its menu.

Red Velvet Café

7875 W. Sahara Ave. (6 miles W. of the Strip)
702-360-1972, they don't bother to post their hours on their website, website

Disapointingly, there's nearly nothing on the menu that's vegetarian or vegan by default, but several menu items are noted with "Vegan option available."  They do have lots of vegan desserts, which is rare.  And they have lots of good reviews on the veg site HappyCow.

Paymon's Mediterranean Café

8380 W. Sahara Ave. (6 miles W. of the Strip), 702-804-0293, website

Offering Greek, Italian, Persian, Middle Eastern, and Indian fare, much of it vegetarian, and much of that vegan.  The vegan & vegetarian items are clearly identified on the menu, leaving out the guesswork.  A 26-time "Best of Las Vegas Winner" from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Go Raw Café

2910 Lake East Drive (7.5 miles W. of the Strip)
702-254-5382, 9am-9pm Mon-Sat, closed Sun, website

A raw foods restaurant which appears to be all vegan as well. Their full menu is listed on their website, which is a nice touch. I've eaten at the West location (see below) several times and the food is always very impressive -- even my non-vegetarian, now-raw friend suggested we eat there more frequently. Prices are a tad higher than you might expect, but if you want gourmet vegan raw food, this is it.

Whole Foods Market

8855 W. Charleston (9 miles West of the Strip), 702-254-8655, 8am-10pm every day
AND 7250 W. Lake Mead. @ Tenaya (9 miles West of downtown; map),• 702-942-1500, 7am-10pm x7

Two West locations for this large organic/natural foods grocery store.


Out of Business

Long Life Vege Restaurant 4130 S. Sandhill; closed in 2011

Shalimar Fine Indian Cuisine 3900 Paradise Rd

Raw Truth Cafe   East

Erby's Vegetarian Cafe & Juice Bar 4596 W. Spring Mntn. (2 mi. W. of the Strip)

 

Survival only

(typically only one or two veg. options on the menu)

On the Strip
listed from North to South

Most Strip hotel restaurants now have at least one thing that's vegetarian. I'm not going to list the one or two vegetarian options for each the dozens of Strip restaurants out there, but instead I'll list (1) entrees that are a little more interesting than normal, (2) cheap eats, esp. familiar fast food.

Circus Circus (across the street from Circus Circus at 322 W. Sahara; cross Sahara to get to it)

Capriotti's Sandwich Shop offers a Soy Turkey Sandwich, a Veggie Burger, and a Veggie Dog.

Slots-A-Fun (between Circus Circus and Westward Ho)

Has a Subway sandwich shop.

Fashion Show Mall 3200 S. Las Vegas Blvd.

Has a Subway on the third level, and a place that serves veggie wraps.

Treasure Island / Venetian

Subway across the street from Treasure Island, next to the Venetian.

Beware of the Grand Lux Café which perverts things you'd expect to be vegetarian. (e.g., the Crispy Sesame Tofu has oyster sauce, that fact isn't disclosed on the menu, and not all of the staff are even aware of this and might give you the wrong answer if you ask about it).

Casino Royale

Subway inside the Casino Royale.

Harrah's

Chipotle (burritos) between Harrah's and Casino Royale

O'Sheas

Subway inside O'Sheas.

Bally's

Sidewalk Café has a portobello mushroom sandwich.

Planet Hollywood (formerly Aladdin)

No Vegas buffet is good for vegetarians, but the Spice Market Buffet has many Mediterranean options that the others don't. Yolo's restaurant has portobello mushroom fajitas. Cheeseburger in the Miracle Mile mall has Gardenburgers (with infused cheese) and portobello mushroom sandwiches.

Harley Davidson Café
3725 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Harley Davidson Café has an $11 Veggie Wrap with roasted carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, shredded lettuce, and portobello mushrooms, wrappend in a tomato basil tortilla with a cream cheese ranch spread, served with seasonal fruit. Also has a $9 veggie burger, grilled on the same grill as the meat.

New York New York
Food Court across the street from NY NY, 24 hours

In the food court across from NY NY, Del Taco offers 1/2-lb. bean & cheese burritos for only $1.61, including tax.  Veggie Works burritos are only $3.12.  (Just went up 10¢, damn!  Vegans should ask them to hold the cheese and sour cream.)  There's also a Subway here (and a Panda Express, which looks vegetarian, but has secret meat and fish ingredients).

In NY NY itself, their burger shop has veggie burgers on the menu.  And I found this on a messagebord: "Il Fornaio at New York NY has vegan minestrone and a vegan salad. Everything is made on site, and they are very good about answering questions."

MGM Grand

Subway Sandwiches in the Grand Canyon Shops next to the MGM Grand.


 

Other resources for vegetarians...

Vegetarian Guides for other cities:

Airport
listed from North to South

Subway Sandwiches

In Terminal C.


Downtown

The Beat Coffeehouse
(520 Fremont)
Roasted veggie sandwich and veggie pizza on the menu.

Walgreens

Has a Subway sandwich shop.

Four Queens
(Fremont & 3rd)

Has a Subway sandwich shop.

The Plaza (Fremont & Main)

Has a Subway sandwich shop.

East


Merkato & Axum Ethiopian Restaurants

855 & 8630 E. Twain (2 mi. E. of the Strip), 702-796-1231 & 640-9440

If you want Ethiopian, Cottage Café and Abyssinia (above) are much better choices. Merkato and Axum are right across the street from each other, in a not-so-great neighborhood, and the atmosphere and food are both below average.  At Merkato the cooked greens were quite rancid. (Leave a bag of frozen vegetables on the counter for a couple of days and then open it, and it's the same smell.)  Merkato's food was also super-greasy. I saw a roach scurry across the bar.  The vegetarian section of the menu was rather sparse, and the description for one of the items there was vegetables and beef!  At Axum, I've never had drier, nastier injera in my life.

 

Cheap fruit on the strip

For years I've had about five pieces of fruit for breakfast. That's a hard lifestyle to maintain in Vegas, at least at reasonable prices. The cheapest buffet is $10, and at the Wynn gift shop a single banana was $2.15 -- before they stopped selling them.

On the north strip just north of Convention Center Drive (and south of the Riviera), there's a Walgreens and a 7-11 with oranges and/or bananas.

There's also a Walgreens on the south strip next to the Monte Carlo, and there's one downtown, too.

By the way, the CVS next to the Monte Carlo has Odwalla Bars.

If you know of other good sources for cheap fruit on the Strip, let me know.


Related articles & Sites

The Vegas Vegan. Blog of a local resident, with restaurant reviews.

Las Vegas Vegan. A guide to local restaurants, much like the one you're reading now.

Limited options for vegans in Las VegasArticle from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, April 2007

Last update: September 2013