Las Vegas dining: Battle of the buffets

Las Vegas buffets mark the quintessential culinary come-on for visitors seeking the best meal deals. Photo: Paris Hotel Casino: Le Village Buffet

LAS VEGAS, Nev., June 19, 2013 - Living it up in the land of plenty — Las Vegas style — means plenty to eat. In Las Vegas they even have a name for it: “Eatertainment” – right up there with shopping, gaming and checking out the latest design on disappearing doves and headdresses on topless dancers.

Las Vegas buffets are their own culture created around themes and attractions and out-doing the smorgasbord down the street with dishes to die for and, like all things Vegas, there is a science to it. 

Las Vegas boasts at least 66 buffets, some 26 of those located within the three to four mile stretch of concrete and neon called the Las Vegas Strip. Most of those buffets are attached to hotels and were at one time considered a “loss-leader” or the come on that would bring people in and make them stay and play. In fact, the whole concept of the Las Vegas buffet got its start during the 1950s and 1960s when casino operators would wheel chuck wagon carts into the casinos at all hours, doling out free sandwiches to keep gamblers at the tables for as long as possible.

Eventually the Las Vegas buffet became its own phenomenon – an icon of Sin City as famous as Cirque du Soleil, Elvis impersonators and Frank Sinatra-synced fountains. The choice ranges today from bottom-priced all-the-pasta-and-pizza-you-can eat family events to all the caviar you can eat extravagances.

Doing the “Las Vegas buffet scene” means knowing which buffet has the best crab legs on Friday night or lox on Sunday morning. It means knowing when to get on line, knowing when to get off the line and knowing how to avoid lines entirely. Like hotels and shows, not all buffets are created equal. The following is a tip sheet on how and where your clients can get all they can eat in Las Vegas without really trying.

Beating the Las Vegas Buffet Line

Most buffets run their dinner hours from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. If you want to walk right in, guilt-free, and get the freshest take on the food, save your appetite all day and head for the feed lines between 4:30 and 6 p.m. You can sit there until your coffee turns cold without watching the pained faces of folks who have been standing in line for an hour or more staring at your table and waiting for you to leave. Naturally, mid-week is less busy than the weekend and if the early bird thing just can’t be done, try the line at 9 p.m. You may still have to wait but it will likely be less than a half hour.

Vegas Buffet Jackpots at Las Vegas Players Clubs

You can save on both price and waiting if you join the slot club at the resort that has your favorite buffet. Most slot clubs give out complimentary buffet coupons to members who play a minimal amount – usually about $50. As points accrue they can be redeemed for free buffet vouchers in nearly any casino slot club. Points mount up quickly because they are tallied per coin, win or lose. If you play a lot in a casino but have neglected to join the club, the slot manager will usually oblige you with a coupon or two (and this counts for all machines, not just slot games). The best thing about receiving complimentary buffet vouchers is the line pass they contain. Not only do you get a free all-you-can-eat meal, you get to slip into a “VIP” or “Players” line and by-pass the building line crowds. The only caveat is that you might not be the only one who has figured this out and often the VIP line can snake around as well.

Best Las Vegas Dine-Around in Town

If you are an eater and want to challenge yourself to a Las Vegas buffet marathon, Caesars Entertainment has your ticket. Purchase the 24-hour “Buffet of Buffets” pass for $49.99 and eat your heart out at:

 • Le Village Buffet (Paris)

• Spice Market Buffet (Planet Hollywood)

• Paradise Garden Buffet (Flamingo)

• Flavors (Harrah’s)

• Emperor’s Buffet (The Quad Las Vegas)

• Carnival World Buffet (Rio)

Check for the Web for Las Vegas Room/Buffet packages that start at $52 per night (two-night minimum) for a room and buffet passes for two and upgrade options to include the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars and the Village Seafood Buffet at Rio.

Best Deal in Las Vegas: Upscale Buffets

Some buffets bring out more than the usual beef, ham and turkey surrounded by unimaginative variations on Italian, Chinese and Mexican fare. There are focused seafood buffets, gourmet buffets, Bloody Mary brunches, star chef dessert presentations and sizzling steak buffets to meet every foodie’s innermost gastro fantasy. These buffets cost a bit more and tend to be found at the finer Las Vegas hotels, but the price still beats the bill at even a middling restaurant and the service and ambiance can be quite elegant. Top spots: buffets at Bellagio, Aria, Cosmopolitan, Paris, Wynn, Village Seafood Buffet at Rio, Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars, Sterling Champaign Brunch at Bally’s.

Las Vegas Buffet Deals: Where to Find Them

Finally, Las Vegas is the land of deals and those offerings come and go as quickly as the tourists. Check the drop publications for discounts and two-fers at concierge desks, or at visitor booths in the airport and shopping malls. These publications also abound in taxicabs, liquor stores, sidewalk vending machines and souvenir shops, and often serve as the battlefield where the buffet price wars are fought. 

The Las Vegas Buffet Guide

For an At-A-Glance guide for buffets with nearly up to date pricing (this can be a losing battle), visit LasVegasAdvisor.com. Vegas Guru Anthony Curtis, who publishes this monthly insider on Vegas, has spent years honing his review chops at Las Vegas’ top restaurants and buffets and is none the fatter for it.


Lark Gould is an author of eight books and a journalist who has been covering the travel indiustry for more than two decades. Join Lark Gould’s circle on Google+
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Lark Gould

 

Lark Ellen Gould is an award-winning journalist who has spent the last few decades reporting on news, trends and nuances in the travel industry for top travel publications with a focus on Las Vegas, California, Africa, Asia, Pacific and the Middle East.
As a veteran news reporter covering hot spots (and cool spots) around the world, Lark knows where to go – and where not to go. Follow her findings in the Communities Digital News, LLC at The Washington Times where she is an associate editor for Food & Travel; also Larkslist and Travel-Intel, a weekly news publication that goes out to the travel industry.

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