Las Vegas is a city of excess, and nothing defines our all-in philosophy as much as our buffets.
Almost every hotel and resort has one – some have more than one, although the Venetian has none – and the food options are seemingly endless.
For high rollers, there are fancy, expensive buffets that feature high-end fare such as caviar and champagne. For budget-conscious diners, older Strip resorts, such as the Luxor, Excalibur and Circus Circus, offer all-you-can-eat goodness at a bargain. Visitors looking to eat like a local can visit Las Vegas’ many neighbourhood casinos (the Station or Boyd chains are a great place to start) for a hearty meal at the best value in town.
And then, in a class all its own, there’s the Buffet of Buffets. An exercise in gluttony, it allows people to visit up to seven buffets as many times as they’d like in a 24-hour period. Talk about an eating challenge.
Diners can eat breakfast, lunch or dinner at Flavors at Harrah’s, Paradise Garden Buffet at the Flamingo, Le Village Buffet at Paris, Carnival World Buffet at the Rio and Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood. For an additional charge, you can feast at the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace(one of the newest and best on the Strip) or the Village Seafood Buffet at the Rio.
Starting at $54.99 (the price jumps to $69.99 on weekends), the deal certainly holds value. Each buffet individually costs $17 to $31.
The challenge lies in stretching your stomach enough to make the most out of the offer. Eating multiple buffets in the span of one day is no small feat.
Liz Michels and her husband Scott stood in line at the Carnival World Buffet on a recent Friday night, giggling and whispering to one another. Their demeanour stood out; would-be diners around them scowled and stared into space as they waited for more than an hour for their turn in the service line.
“Normally we’d be annoyed at having to wait so long,” Liz said. “But this actually worked out well.”
The couple had eaten lunch at Le Village Buffet just a few hours earlier. But they were back now for more. The tourists from Illinois bought Buffet of Buffets passes and wanted to make the most of them. “This buys us a little time so we can fit more in,” Scott joked. “We’ll see if we make it to breakfast tomorrow.”
Long queues can snag pass holders who don’t plan ahead. Caesars Entertainment, which runs the Buffet of Buffets deals, doesn’t include front-of-the-line passes in the base price of the offer, nor does it allow a grace period on the timing. When your 24 hours is up, the deal is done.
Admission to the Bacchanal Buffet and Village Seafood costs an extra $15 to $30, depending on timing, but the premium is worth it. Both spots top the list of must-visit buffets in Vegas – Bacchanal for its gourmet small plates cooked and crafted before diners’ eyes, Village Seafood for its plethora of fresh ocean goodies from around the world.
While Las Vegas is the worldwide hub for buffets, the genesis of all-you-can-eat haunts has been much debated. Without a doubt, though, Las Vegas played a role.
Some claim that a hotel manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, coined the term “all you can eat” in 1946 at his hotel’s eatery. Others argue the Midnight Chuck Wagon Buffet in Las Vegas came up with the concept several years earlier. The Chuck Wagon was a restaurant at the old El Rancho Vegas hotel-casino, the first on what today is the Strip. It burned down in 1960.
Owner Beldon Katleman reportedly introduced the buffet to keep gamblers in the casino after late-night shows. He dubbed his offering the Buckaroo Buffet and charged $1 for help-yourself cold cuts, cheeses and breads.
Buffets have come a long way since then. Despite its long history, the concept really took off in the ‘90s, when dining spots rose in stature to become tourist destinations, and began trending high-end in the 2000s with the proliferation of luxury resorts.
Today, the Strip’s most expensive buffet is the Sterling Brunch at Bally’s. Waiters in tuxedos pour endless glasses of Perrier-Jouët Champagne and dish out delicate spoonfuls of American sturgeon caviar. The self-serve line features Alaskan king crab legs, lamb, lobster tails, prime rib, sushi, oysters and more.
But living in the lap of luxury comes at a premium. The brunch, offered Saturdays and Sundays, costs $90 per person.