Las Vegas has more celebrity-chef steakhouses than churches.
Okay, I made that statistic up for shock value, but the message holds true. Las Vegas is as much a meat-eating city as it is a gambler's paradise. The city currently holds the title of "city with the most burger joints per capita," with one for every 125 residents.
Do I even need to mention the prime rib and carving stations that are ubiquitous at Vegas buffets?
Have no fear. I've been a vegetarian for twelve years, and I've visited Vegas at least once every single one of those years. If you're vegan or vegetarian, you can survive a trip to Sin City without starving. In fact, you can eat pretty well, as long as you keep an open mind and have access to a car. Some of the locations on the list below are a bit outside the typical tourist stomping grounds, so having access to transportation is important.
Address: 3930 Las Vegas Blvd. South Las Vegas, NV
Phone: (702) 632-6470
To the uninitiated, the concept of "vegan pizza" sounds ridiculous. But trust me – Slice of Vegas inside Mandalay Bay is some of the best pizza being served in town, vegan or not.
So how do you make a vegan-friendly pizza? You start with vegan cheese, which is a dairy-free food that imitates the texture and stretchiness of real mozzarella. You put it a ton of meat-free toppings on a gluten-free crust and you've got vegetarian and vegan-friendly pizza heaven.
Here's the best part – if you're travelling with meat-eaters, Slice of Vegas has those options available, too.
When you look up the address, don't let Slice of Vegas' Mandalay Bay Place location put you off. Yes, it's in a mall, but this is legitimately-gourmet pizza made based on your specifications – and best of all, you can pile endless toppings onto your pie for no charge.
Address: 3131 S Las Vegas Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89109
Phone: (702) 770-3320
If you're looking for a fancy night out but don't want to go the usual steak-and-potatoes Vegas route, have no fear. The city is home to more than a few gourmet restaurants with vegetarian and vegan options. The reason I list Mizumi as the best – they have incorporated those menu items into their regular menu. No need to ask for a special meat-free menu – Mizumi has a massive section of meat-free dishes.
Of course, you're going to pay through the nose for them. To give you an idea of the cost, a single order of sushi (two pieces) sells for between $9 and $20, depending on the fish and market price. The steaks on the menu – not a concern for vegetarians, but interesting in terms of price – go for as much as $300. I don't even want to mention the prices on the wine list.
But we all need spoiling every now and again. The view at Mizumi is a big part of the draw. The fact that they have vegan-specific AND vegetarian-friendly menu items keeps me coming back when I'm looking for that five-star experience.
Address: 953 E Sahara Ave. A5 Las Vegas, NV 89104
Phone: (702) 735-3033
The chef-owner of Lotus of Siam is James Beard Award-winner Saipin Chutima. You've probably never had Thai food the way Chutima prepares it. This is Northern Thai cuisine, though traditional Southern Thai favorites like pad thai are also available.
I love Lotus of Siam because, as is typical for a veggie-friendly Vegas spot, it's mainly a meat-eater's restaurant that just happens to have some of the tastiest vegetarian (and even vegan) dishes on the West Coast. That's not just my opinion – Lotus of Siam is a local's favorite and has won numerous awards in the fifteen years it's been owned by the Chutima family.
The Spicy Young Jack Fruit Curry is almost indescribable – young jack fruit has the texture of artichokes but a more herbal or floral flavor, which goes well with the hot-as-fire preparation typical of Saipin Chutima. This is a coconut-less curry, unique to Northern Thailand, and you can have it made totally vegetarian, which I recommend, or served with various meats.
Best of all, you won't spend too much for your meal. Most appetizers are around $10. You can get out of Lotus of Siam for about $40 on a date - including a couple of glasses of wine to cool the fire of Chutima's cooking.
Address: 2381 Windmill Lane Las Vegas, NV
Phone: (702) 450-9007
This café and juice bar is actually in two locations – one on the West Side and one on the East Side. I can't vouch for the West Side location, but the one on Windmill Lane is one of my favorite places to grab a quick bite in all of Las Vegas.
The entire menu, as far as I can tell, is vegan. From the flax chips and house-made salsa, to an almond butter and jam sandwich on "living bread", it's not just healthy food, it's a well-curated food experience. Your meat-eating friends won't miss their grilled protein for a second – not with the massive and creative menu at Go Raw.
I want to point out that you're going to spend a bit more on lunch or dinner at Go Raw than you might at another sandwich shop or deli. My most-recent meal there was a plate of enchiladas, which I washed down with a raw juice and followed up with a desert of coconut kefir. Final price? $32 after I left a tip. Okay, so it's a bit pricey, but come on – this is Las Vegas, you're supposed to live a little.
Address: 9440 W. Sahara Ave. #165 Las Vegas, NV
Phone: (702) 454-8482
Yes, this place is a full four miles off the Strip, which is forever to a certain breed of gambler. But trust me – you've got to experience vegetarian Mexican food. You just don't find it much in the United States.
One thing impressed me as soon as I sat down for my first meal here – the menu says in big, bold type that all the soups and rice contain chicken broth. I'm not the type of vegetarian that ALWAYS shies away from chicken brother, but if you are, you can easily identify the "bad" dishes and move on. They fry their beans in canola oil – a rarity in Mexican food – and the menu even contains a vegetarian section. It's small – just even entrees at my last visit – but they're all amazing.
Fried zucchini enchiladas in tomatillo sauce is my go-to order. But I'm fond of both the guacamole tacos and "peasant tacos," which are essentially dressed-up bean and cheese tacos, but infinitely crave-able.
As for price – the veggie specials require a little extra work in the kitchen, so they cost a bit more. A pair of vegetarians could eat here (and have a couple of bottles of Mexican beer each) for under $40. The way I do it, I spend less than $20 per visit. It's all about what you order.
Address: 3641 W Sahara Ave. Las Vegas, NV 89102
Phone: (702) 892-0950
This is the epicenter of vegan and vegetarian food in Las Vegas, a family-operated Indian restaurant with a massive vegetarian menu. It's not just that they offer vegetarian options – I love this place because the food is perfectly-spiced, beautiful to the eyes and the nostrils, and it's never too busy. I can't say enough about Mount Everest. It's a must-visit restaurant, even if you're a fan of meat.
My three favorite dishes at Mount Everest (in no particular order):
Everything on the menu at Mount Everest is served with basmati rice, and it's really easy to share dishes family-style with a large group. And for your carnivore friends, the menu contains plenty of meat dishes. Honestly, this is my favorite restaurant in all of Las Vegas, a spot I never miss, even if I'm in town for a single day. You can't go wrong with anything on the menu here, and the prices are well below what you'd pay for a meal on the Strip.
The best estimates say that about 10% of Americans are vegetarian. We do it for different reasons – some give up meat as a spiritual practice, others for ethical or environmental reasons, still others because of health concerns. Whatever your reason, Las Vegas is not exactly a vegetarian-friendly town. That said, you can find amazing veggie-friendly and even vegan food in this meat-lover's town. Try any of the restaurants listed above and you'll be convinced that Vegas is (slowly but surely) becoming a veggie-lover's paradise.