My mind has still yet to grasp how expensive food is in Vegas. I always had this thing in my head where it was soooo cheap to eat at and you got massive steaks for $10 and it was a happy place for food lovers. It is a fantastic place for food lovers but I found out quickly that it'll cost you!
First I recommend that you read the first post and still listen to everything up to the places at MGM. I still find the best way to eat cheaply is to hit a grocery store and pick up some snacks or even hit a nearby convenience store (near M&M world) and pick up some snacks, water and soda to lighten the costs for when you just want a snack or something to drink. It's crazy how vastly the difference in cost is for a bag of chips at the MGM vs. a store! Make sure to take those snacks with you in a bag when over at the convention center so that you aren't tempted by their food carts. They may look good but they are NOT cheap. I think my husband is still recovering from the shock of those prices!
Cheap Eats at MGM Grand
Sadly, the card that was AMAZING that we got the first year at WPPI that got you buy one get one free at almost every place you went is now gone (restaurants AND bars). The card you get now is not nearly so awesome. Generally it makes you eligible for a few restaurants for a prixe fixe menu and a few bars for certain drinks. The only deal I found worth it last year was a cheaper rate for the buffet. Just thought I would make sure to let people know who knew about/read about the original discount card and were banking on that awesome deal. Diego also no longer does lunches and I'm VERY sad about this because that was my favorite place for lunch!
The food court within the MGM is the obvious place to start for a quick and relatively cheap bite to eat. The food court has changed a bit since 2009. Inside the food court you will find: Haagen-Dazs, Nathan's, McDonald's, Bonanno's Pizzeria, Starbucks and Asian Fresh. Everyone was swooning over Asian Fresh last year saying how amazing it was but keep in mind it is not crazy cheap and the food does take a bit of time to make. Avoid the "lunching hour" if you can (11:30-1:00) to avoid the lines and waits. There is also an Auntie Anne's
Also note, while not a deal if you want your morning Starbucks keep in mind EVERYONE does too. The one by the food court is generally the most busy with the one in The Signature picking up behind as staying there has became more popular. You MUST try a TopPot donut if they have them still, they are divine and featured on a ton of food shows. Yum. If you want the shortest line hit up the Starbucks at the "front" of the MGM near the Rainforest Cafe/West Wing. You may think it's a waste of time to walk that way but last year we saw that line, went to the other Starbucks and walked back and the people that would have been ahead of us were still waiting. Insane!
If you want a step above fast food but don't want to go as crazy as Craftsteak, hit up either the buffet (with the discount card it's not much more than McDonalds!), Studio Cafe, Stage Deli, Delights (located in The Signature - my personal favorite cheap-ish eat!), 'witchcraft, or Rainforest Cafe. Here's a tip - if you hit the buffet near the switch over time from one meal to the next (breakfast is best) you get in for a cheaper rate and can then enjoy both meals. Yes, I know this sounds horribly tacky but when you are pinching pennies every penny counts!
Cheap Eats Nearby
There are quite a few options within walking distance of the MGM that are also pretty tasty and on the cheaper side of things. My favorite is still the pizza over at NYNY but now it is called New York Pizzeria. I have tried it since they changed from Sirricos and it is still delicious and open late (1am on weeknights, 4am on weekends).
There is also nearby food courts. The one at Showcase Mall includes Wendy's, Subway, Del Taco, Noble Romans, Panda Express, Weinerschnitzel, Dreyer's Ice Cream and Duffy's Fish Fry. In the same building is a Hard Rock Cafe along with Denny's if you want something a tinge more formal but not expensive. Over at Excalibur you will find Auntie Anne's Pretzels, Krispy Kreme, Popcornopolis, Cold Stone Creamery, McDonald's, Quiznos, Pizza Hut Express and Manchu Wok. Also at Excalibur you will also find Baja Fresh outside of the food court.
Finally, there is the very well known Hooters across the street which I've heard is good but have yet to eat at. They are also open quite late - no end time is listed on their website so just buzz over and find out (directly across the street from the lobby of MGM). They also have a few cheap eats here as well including the Mad Onion which DOES have the mythical $10 steak (prime rib) as well as .25¢ wings after midnight. It's also open 24/7!
Do you have any tips on food for WPPI?
Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista (runs Clothes for Pros, clothing suggestions for photographers), travel guru, deal hound and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.