Where to Go on the Dinner Break?
Las Vegas offers many great restaurants.

However, for poker players the challenge isn't so much finding a decent place to eat, it's getting in and out within an hour's time.

There are several fast food options and easy options like the Poker Kitchen, but in this article we'll focus on real restaurants, with real food, and real service.  One rule:  No chains.

So, where can WSOP players go within a 5-10 minute commute and also get get fed in about 45 minutes?  Fortunately, there are quite a few possibilities within the immediate area of the Rio.

Before compiling this list, let's agree that just about anything on the Las Vegas Strip is out.  It' simply not possible to fight traffic, drive to another casino, park, walk to the restaurant, dine, and then be back to the tournament within 60 minutes.  This is especially true on weekends.  We'll also strike anything that's more than a few miles away.  This leaves a radius around the Rio from Sahara in the north, to Jones in the west, to Tropicana in the south, and Frank Sinatra to the east.

Listed in the order of how far away from the Rio Convention Center they are, here are ten restaurants worth trying:

Buzio's (Rio) – About a five minute walk down the hallway towards the casino.  Excellent seafood, but other options available too.  Very busy during player breaks, so reservations are mandatory.  Staff well aware of time limitations, so service should be quick if given notice.  Recommended – Rainbow trout (blackened).  For reservations, call (702) 777-7923

Rio Buffet (Carnival World Buffet) – Las Vegas is famous for buffets, and the Rio's is certainly one of the better options available.  Plenty of stations and variety.  Located at other end of the casino, about 6-7 minutes walk away.  Lines can be an issue, especially on weekends, so try to accompany someone with Diamond or Seven Stars status, if possible (shorter line).  

Thai Spice – Located across the street on Flamingo Road, about a half mile away in a strip mall (close to Pasta Mia).  Good Thai food with typically offerings.  Thai food tends to cook quickly, which makes this a natural off-property option.  Inexpensive – nothing over $20.  Recommended:  Just about anything.  Location:  4433 W. Flamingo Road

Bonito Michoacan Mexican – Located on southwest corner of Twain and Decatur, about a three minute drive from the Rio parking lot.  Excellent family style Mexican food with standard fare.  Never a disappointment.  Can get busy on weekends.  Efficient service, good food, convenient – an ideal dinner option away from the Rio.  Recommendation – Just about everything.  Reservations recommended for large parties – (702) 371-6810

Pasta Mia – Located across the street on Flamingo Road, about a half mile away (close to Thai Spice).  Excellent New York-style Italian eatery with excellent mix of traditional and Northern Italian fare.  Service quick and efficient.  Large portions.  Every Italian dish you could possibly want is on the menu.  Owner is WSOP-friendly and will accommodate any reasonable request.  Players may phone advance reservations (or even orders) by calling (702) 251-8871.  Recommended – Chicken Francese (custom made).  Location: 4455 W. Flamingo Road

Ricardo's Mexican Restaurant – Located on northwest corner of Flamingo Road and Decatur, making this a five-minute drive.  Good, not great Mexican food.  One perk is the restaurant is open 24 hours, which makes this an ideal late night option.  Quick service, decent food, rarely crowded.  Recommended – Take your pick.  Reservations not needed.

Chinatown (Multiple Restaurants) – There are close to 100 Asian restaurants on Spring Mountain Road, which is a 6-7 minute drive from the Rio.  Fortunately, Chinese food tends to be quick, so this is a viable option for WSOP players.  Restaurant district starts at Decatur and heading west goes all the way to Jones (2-3 miles away).  Recommended – Mother's Korean Grill, located in Main Chinatown Mall Complex at 4215 Spring Mountain Road

Archi's Thai Kitchen – Ten minute drive from the Rio straight west on Flamingo Road.  It's not Lotus of Siam, but still – good Thai food with quick service.  Small dining area, but usually not crowded.  Located at 6360 W. Flamingo Road.

Mount Everest India's Cuisine – Ten minute drive from Rio on northeast corner of Valley View and Sahara.  A little longer drive, but worth it.  Inexpensive but good Indian fare.  Owner is WSOP-freindly and will rush service.  Never crowded.  Excellent lunch buffet is also an option.  Located in a converted former Pizza Hut at 3641 W. Sahara.

The Final Recommendation – Unknown.  Perhaps you will find the perfect spot, that non one else knows about.  If so, please share it!

Bon apetit!