Monday, September 24, 2012

Eat Your Heart Out: The Best Buffets in Las Vegas

When writing about Las Vegas for an extended period of time, one must eventually confront the city's most prominent yet somewhat embarrassingly unsophisticated mode of dining: the buffet.

While foodies may turn their noses at the notion of all you can eat feeding troughs piled high with low to medium quality Mexican food, Pizza, Shrimp, Fried Chicken, Pasta, and Chinese dishes kept lukewarm for hours under heat lamps, the fact is that as said foodies affected the entire city's culinary scene and brought great restaurants opened by prominent chefs to open shop in what was once a food desert in the middle of a literal desert city, buffets have been forced to step up their game to compete. That means you can actually get some quality with your quantity at a few Las Vegas buffets. And below I will list my favorites, before this intro grows ever-more long-winded or faux-David Foster Wallaceian (the release of your favorite author's biography will do that you, I suppose).

Still one of the best. The Rio is off The Strip but it's worth the extra effort to enjoy Penn and Teller and the spectacular selection at their buffet. The Carnival World Buffet reliably has one of the of the longest lines in town on Saturday and Sunday mornings/ afternoons, and for a good reason. There is just a whole lot of there there, with different stations serving international cuisines of more surprisingly high quality and freshness. I always seem to return to their Mexican section as well as their succulent Prime Rib. Plus the place has a full bar with hourly drink specials and one of the most loaded dessert stations in Las Vegas (featuring fresh Gelato!)

Steve Wynn doesn't do half measures, not even in his buffets. The creator of The Bellagio seemed to be out of the Vegas game when he sold his iconic property (as well as The Mirage and Treasure Island) to MGM in the early 2000's, but then he came back with a resort baring his name that redefined the city again. The mogul micromanaged the quality of everything in his upscale boutique resort, which meant that the food in his buffet as of the highest quality. Featuring fine dining quality food with the type of quantity you'd expect from a buffet, Wynn upped the ante on all you can eat. Also, with its constantly changing display of seasonally appropriate and colorful flower arrangements, the place is just pretty to look at. The Buffet at Wynn is spectacular, but be warned: it's one of the most expensive all you can eat options in town. 

The Cosmo branded itself as the hippest hotel in Las Vegas when it opened a couple years back, and they backed up their claims by trying unique and unexpected things in every aspect of the resort, including the buffet. Instead of the usual design where patrons pile their plates high, most of the options at The Wicked Spoon are presented on small plates. While this might extra work for dishwashers at The Cosmo, it probably means less food is wasted because people aren't absentmindedly serving themselves more than they will ever actually eat. Plus, all of the food is top quality for a buffet, with unique options like Bone Marrow, Chocolate Covered Strawberries, and Thai Tea Gelato, all presented in a dimly lit and ultra-hip space. This really is the buffet for people who normally avoid buffets.

The Paris Resort has a half charming and half super-cheesy Disneyworld feel to it, and that vibe is very apparent in their buffet. Modeled after a provincial village in France, you can sample delicious pastries and cheeses out of fake country homes, complete with chimneys and a ceiling mural that makes it feel like the middle of the day 24/7. The salads and Eggs Benedict are strong at the buffet, but the true highlights are the made to order Crepes, a feature ripped off at other buffets but which is most appropriate at an all you can eat restaurant with a French twist. 

Caesars Palace helped launch the foodie invasion in Las Vegas when Wolfgang Puck's legendary Spago opened there in the 90's, and the owners of the classic resort have recently begun to rebuild their reputation as the go to destination in Las Vegas for good eats. The multimillion dollar renovation of their buffet is one of their most impressive feats of fevered foodiedom. Skilled chefs man live cooking stations where almost every of the 500 available items available are prepared in front of your drooling face. The dazzling variety of upscale and unique cuisines from all over the world include including homemade tortillas, fresh Enchiladas, Sliders, Carnitas, wood-smoked meats, wood-fired Pizzas, Sushi Cones, Chicken and Waffle baskets, and made to order selections like Ramen, Omelets, Crepes, and Souffles (yeah, you read that right... Souffles). Plus for a small fee you can enjoy all you can drink Beer and Wine. The beautifully designed space doesn't feel like a buffet at all, with mutliple smaller dining rooms that allow for a more intimate and romantic meal, even if you're intimate and romantic meal involves multiple plate-piling trips to the cooking stations. Truly indulgent.

No comments:

Post a Comment