Join Bob Sehlinger, author of The Unofficial Guide to Las Vegas, in the discovery of some of Las Vegas’ top buffets.
What used to be considered a cost-effective and valuable way to feed guests looking more for a filling meal than a dining experience has evolved into something that satisfies both those who care only about stuffing their bellies and food aficionados.
You could conceivably eat your three squares a day at the buffet of the same property where you rest your head (and wouldn’t your hotel love that!). Caesars Entertainment has even created a 24-hour pass, The Buffet of Buffets, that allows you to dine at each of its properties, including Harrah’s, Bally’s, Rio, Paris, and, of course, Caesars Palace.
Caesars Bacchanal Buffet
The Bacchanal Buffet features many made-to-order specialties and is located in a large sun-drenched room overlooking the Garden of the Gods pool complex; it’s a welcome balm in counterpoint to the constant clamor of the gaming floor. Bacchanal offers dishes in individual portions, such as servings of fried chicken or sweet potato fries in miniature paper-lined wire baskets. Even more interesting are the ever-evolving specials—almost unheard of when you’re cooking in bulk.
But Bacchanal’s back of the house—which, for a buffet operation, has a surprising number of toques from Michelin-starred kitchens—puts out around 15 daily, seasonal specials, such as chilled pea soup with crab and chicken Marsala. Desserts are legendary, if tiny, so that you can eat many of them, including cookies, cake pops, tarts, and cupcakes, plus a fun assortment of gelato. True bacchanalia—festivals in honor of the Greek god Bacchus, god of wine—never come cheap, and neither does this one: Breakfast has been discontinued and rolled into a brunch that costs $40 weekdays and $50 on weekends. Dinner will set you back $60 Monday–Thursday, $70 on weekends.
The Buffet at Aria is now one of the city’s more diverse offerings. With one of the few tandoor ovens on the Strip, this is an unsung spot for Indian food, and you can watch as fresh naan bread is baked for you in the oven, along with kabobs and other Indian fare.
Mediterranean cuisine goes beyond Greece, including bites from North Africa and the Middle East, while even the humble pizza enjoys multiple preparations: deep-dish, New York–style, and Stromboli. There’s even variety during breakfast, with made-to-order classics, snow crab, or salmon eggs Benedict.
While the pricing—$25 for breakfast, $29 for brunch on weekdays and $34 on weekends, $39 for dinner on weekdays and $44 on weekends—might make it seem like a middle-of-the-road buffet, Buffet at Aria excels in freshness and service and delivers lots of bang for the buck.
As one of the first true luxury resorts in Las Vegas, the Bellagio has always set a high standard for its Buffet Bellagio, with lots of seafood, unique salads, and fresh-baked bread. Gourmet dinner service on Fri- days and Saturdays breaks out the fish eggs, as in fine caviar with accoutrements, fresh-rolled sushi, and ahi tuna cones. And, to keep itself relevant, Bellagio’s all-you-can-eat has added a VIP experience that includes a chef’s table. VIP guests bypass the (usually) long line and are seated at a private table with a menu (created especially for the party by a team of chefs) that might include charcuterie, caviar, and table-side preparations of fresh salads or carvings of leg of lamb or prime rib. (And yes, you still get to graze the buffet as well.)
Breakfast is easy at $25, with lunch and dinner setting you back $28 and $39, respectively; weekend brunch is $34, or $49 with bottomless champagne. If you’re looking for more luxury on your plate, the gourmet dinner service is $44, while the chef’s table costs $69 per person.
The Cosmopolitan Wicked Spoon Buffet
Modeled after food courts in Asia, with food portioned for individual servings rather than served from giant trays in steam tables behind sneeze glass. In a nutshell, Cosmo classed up the buffet with grown-up dishes such as bone marrow, oysters Rockefeller, and short rib cavatelli. The single-serving pulled pork eggs Benedict are mandatory for breakfast, as are the chicken-apple sausages. At $36 for brunch and $49 for dinner, Wicked Spoon is reasonably priced for a dining experience of this caliber.
Top Off-Strip Buffet
Among other off-Strip options, the Feast Buffets at the Station Casinos, which include Red Rock Resort, Sunset Station, and Fiesta, are favorites among locals, not only because they’re located in locals-friendly casinos but also because there’s something that makes each of them special (even though they all share a name).
On Seafood Fridays at the Feast at Green Valley Ranch, for example, people line up with plates piled high with crab legs for the “Mama Sarah” treatment: The crab legs are tossed onto the flat top; coated with butter, herbs, and chiles; and then thwacked with a metal spatula to crack open the shells, allowing the seasonings to seep in—a preparation perfected by Louisiana-born line cook “Mama” Sarah Jamerson.
Feast at Texas Station is renowned for the tacos al pastor made to order at its Mexican station; they’re created from a nearly 90-year-old family recipe handed down to chef Jaime Montes.
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