Las Vegas Coffee Shops

Cohen & Kelly's Pub & Restaurant menu.

Next to the buffet, Las Vegas coffee shops provided some of the most enticing and reasonably-priced dining in the hotels during these early years, with their vast menus and 24/7 availability. A wide array of choices from soups and salads, to sandwiches and ethnic specialties, to hearty meat and potatoes fare, made them a popular choice for thousands of visitors.

El Cortez Hotel Coffee Shop, menu, Monday, November 11, 1957 El Cortez Hotel Coffee Shop menu, 1957

Interestingly, a look at coffee shop offerings in the 1940s-1950s can demonstrate the changing nature of some cuisine; at the time, Eastern European Jewish staples such as borscht, potato pancakes, and matzo ball soup—items that would be more common at a Jewish deli today—were typical offerings on many coffee shop menus. On the other hand, dishes such as ox tongue and chopped chicken livers were Las Vegas coffee shop (and buffet) staples that might be anathema to the modern palate.

Like the buffet, coffee shops provided some of the least expensive dining options on the Strip. A perusal of Las Vegas menus from the 1940s-1960s in this collection provides an opportunity to marvel at prices that were bargains even for that time period. One should always remember, however, that these food prices served to a large extent as loss-leaders for the hotels, and acted as a means to lure people into the casino, where they would be likely to shell out far more money than the pittance they paid for a hamburger and soda in the coffee shop.