#10: Garden Court Buffet at Main Street Station
“Mostly, the food is just above average, but there are some standouts.”
Easy on the eyes, easy on the wallet. What makes Main Street’s buffet one-of-a-kind is the fabulous room it’s housed in. This food destination is part dining room, part light show, with ornate wrought-iron ceiling curly-cues and columns studded with more lamps than sense and budget might dictate.
In short, it’s eye candy that you wouldn’t expect to find in a buffet room – particularly not one serving dinner for as little as $10.99. Mostly, the food is just above average, but there are some standouts. The rotisserie chicken was so moist and flavorful we were tempted to stuff a few pieces in our pockets to be eaten later at the blackjack tables. And on the night we ventured there, the buffet had made-to-order steak. Not prime rib that a guy wearing a funny hat slices way too thin – though they had that, too. We repeat, steak.
Now, if the beyond-grand room and the chance of scoring steak on a buffet leave you unimpressed, consider this: Just outside the dining room there is a men’s bathroom with urinals mounted on a piece of the Berlin wall. Yes, a real piece of the famous symbol of communism. You can write your name on it. Literally.
#9: Green Valley Ranch
“This one is at the upper end of midrange buffets, so we’ll call it an upper-middle-class eatery.”
Call it “GVR” if you want to be on the vanguard of Henderson cool. Actually, the buffet’s name is “Feast”, just like most of the other buffets in the Station Casinos family. This one is at the upper end of midrange buffets, so we’ll call it an upper-middle-class eatery. (Perfect for SUV-driving, family-oriented Green Valley, right?) It won’t wow you with culinary flair and derring-do, but it consistently delivers in terms of quality and quantity.
A lot of people seem to like the live-action cooking station where you can toss all your favorite Asian ingredients into a bowl, tell the cook which meat you’d like, and watch him or her make it for you on the spot. We appreciate the novelty of making a buffet worker our slave for a couple of minutes, but we prefer to bypass the live-action line and head straight for the Chinese spread.
There, GVR always has at least one fried chicken dish that is every bit as good as what you’d get at Panda Express or any other takeout Chinese place. Also strongly recommended are the fried chicken and fried cod – I think we have a “fried” trend here. Although it’s true that nuanced dishes aren’t the strong suit of GVR’s considerable spread, this buffet isn’t all about batter. The salad bar is one of the best in the biz, with fresh fruit, chicken salad and more soups than you can shake a ladle at. The decor is rustic Italian with tile galore and big arches, and the price comes in under $20 for dinner.
#8: Las Vegas Hilton
“…the quintessential Vegas buffet, with plenty of solid, pseudo-upscale offerings…”
We at VegasHotSpots.com can get behind a buffet with booze. The Hilton’s was the first to offer all the wine and draft beer you care to have with dinner, and it’s still one of the best places to get your drink on while you’re getting your nosh on. Polite society demands that you tip a dollar each time you visit the beer maid, but after the second or third round, who cares about polite society? Amazingly, the food gets tastier around the same time – not that it isn’t tasty to begin with.
This is, after all, the quintessential Vegas buffet, with plenty of solid, pseudo-upscale offerings such as a well-stocked carving station, daily chef’s specialties and grilled Pacific salmon. There’s also special attention paid to veggies and sugar-free desserts, which we appreciate because a trip to the Hilton buffet means one thing: We’re drinking our calories on this particular night. The scenery inside the buffet doesn’t add much to the experience, but outside there’s enough skin and sin to swivel the head of this Midwestern-bred buffet reviewer.
Let’s just say that where there are conventions, there are bound to be plenty of working women. And although we like to limit our indulgences to culinary and nightlife pursuits, the lookin’ is free.
#7: Golden Nugget Buffet
“…excels at dishes that are lighter, and healthier, than other buffets’ specialties.”
At this buffet, you might just leave without the feeling that you’ve just eaten at a buffet. That’s because it excels at dishes that are lighter, and healthier, than other buffets’ specialties. The Nugget’s strong suits include salad, fruit, soup and seafood. We still managed to blow our caloric quota here, but not through any fault of the casino’s. The crab legs at the Nugget bear mentioning because they appeared unusually fresh and were presented in visually appealing mounds. This buffet has been voted the best in Las Vegas, and we can see why.
“…this buffet is one of the priciest in Vegas, but also one of the best.”
The reputation of the Bellagio buffet precedes it. Big flavors, big raves, big wait times. This one, a mainstay of the Vegas food scene for years, falls into the high-end, gourmet category of buffets. On the night we attended – granted it was a special holiday buffet – the offerings included foie gras, Kobe beef and quail. A popular regular feature is the cold seafood spread, which includes smoked salmon, crab claws, scallops and oysters.
At about $30 for dinner, this buffet is one of the priciest in Vegas, but also one of the best. Although the desserts could be better, the meats and veggies are top-notch. To avoid the aforementioned lines, we recommend offering to sit at the bar, which allows you to bypass the line, sneaky Vegas insider that you are. In the dining area, the enormous space is divided into smaller rooms, so you won’t feel like you’re eating in a barnyard. And that’s fortunate when you’re eating like a domesticated animal but don’t want to feel like it.
#5: Cravings at Mirage
“This is the buffet that pioneered the “world tour” concept with dishes from all the major ethic cuisines…”
Upscale, but not too, too upscale. At about $25 per person for dinner, this buffet packs a culinary punch at a reasonable price. It obviously placed well in our buffet power rankings, but it would have fared well if we were ranking only value or only quality, rather than both. Like the Mirage itself, the first true mega-resort in Las Vegas, this buffet paved the way for a new breed of venue.
After it was remodeled earlier this decade, it opened with lavish interiors that created a new buffet “experience,” complete with live-action cooking stations and food presented in smaller quantities, refreshed more frequently. Since then, many other properties have emulated the Mirage model with varying degrees of success. Remember: This is the buffet that pioneered the “world tour” concept with dishes from all the major ethic cuisines, including Mexican, Japanese, Italian and on and on. Really, you can’t go wrong with this Strip stalwart.
#4: Seasons at Silverton
“…the Silverton is home to the area’s top mid-range buffet and perhaps the best food for the least money.”
Only a mile or two below the big resort corridor – we’ll call it south-south Strip – the Silverton is home to the area’s top mid-range buffet and perhaps the best food for the least money. The spread is a heavenly mix of the exotic and the usual buffet suspects, including prime rib, mac and cheese, and mashed potatoes. In the “exotic” category we were fortunate to find pineapple-battered shrimp in the buffet’s Asian section, and it may well have been the single best dish we savored at any Vegas-area buffet, if second and third helpings are any measure. But then again, you’d expect a property that wraps itself in a Western, outdoorsy (East Coasters might say upscale redneck) exterior to have good eats.
The Silverton has what must be the world’s largest Bass Pro Shop on-site, though that does not translate into better-than-average seafood offerings on its buffet (aside from the salty-sweet shrimp dish). That would be our only knock for this eater’s paradise, and it’s also the reason the buffet at Paris Las Vegas appears nowhere on our list.
A buffet at a French-themed joint with no recognizably French food? A souffle of shame on your house! If you do venture to the Silverton, be sure to linger awhile at the SeaWorld-size aquarium near the front. If you’re lucky, you might even peer inside the tank and spot a mermaid … er, fish feeder with a microphone inside her scuba suit. Best of all, a dinner buffet will set you back as little as $13.99 on weekdays.
#3: The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas
“The variety and quality of the food – especially the colorful and immaculate sushi – are spectacular.”
Hands down, the best buffet in Las Vegas if price is no object. You might ask: How can a buffet that weighs in at a hefty $35-plus per person receive such a prominent ranking on our value-minded list? It’s quite simple – this is still an amazing value. You will get a chance to taste food you’ve never seen on a menu and, even if you did, you wouldn’t take a chance on.
At the Wynn buffet, there’s no risk – it’s all reward. Expect dishes you know and love to be scaled up and done with a twist, making you wonder what the heck you had been eating before discovering The Buffet. For example, it won’t be merely T-bone they serve; it will be ginger lamb T-bone. It won’t be merely steak; it will be Beef Wellington. The variety and quality of the food – especially the colorful and immaculate sushi – are spectacular. That said, what speaks to Steve Wynn in terms of decor doesn’t necessarily speak to us. Think Victorian England meets rapper’s bachelor pad on “Cribs.”
#2: Spice Market at Planet Hollywood
“A veritable smorgasbord of world flavors, this buffet is a must-eat for the culinary adventurer.”
The Planet Ho’s aptly named Spice Market holds a special place in the VegasHotSpots.com heart. A veritable smorgasbord of world flavors, this buffet is a must-eat for the culinary adventurer. Sure, it has shaved prime rib and peas and carrots and all those other traditional feed-your-face buffet dishes, but the Planet Ho chefs aren’t content to stop there.
In fact, this buffet rejects and shatters the Vegas buffet mold. Falafel, hummus, tabboulleh and kefta from the Middle East, and tandoori chicken, naan and chicken makhani from India are just a few of the ever-changing ethnic specialties you might find here. If that isn’t enough, desert crepes made to order complete the experience. The first time we rode the escalator down to the otherworldly Spice World, we weren’t prepared for the kaleidoscope flavor festival that ensued. Remember to pack the Rolaids, and consider yourself warned.
#1: M Resort: Studio B
“The quality alone is worth the trip to the valley’s southern edge…”
The new kid on the Vegas block commands the top spot on our list. This is a sprawling parade of well-executed dishes with too many highlights to mention. We’ll start with the layout: This isn’t the usual buffet spread shoved up against one wall of a cavernous room. It’s a cavernous room with undulating colors and textures, with more than 100 flat-screen TVs and a broadcast-ready TV cooking studio, with gourmet food arrayed in concentric circles that begin in the center and ripple out in delicious rings.
You’re sure to burn a few calories just browsing all the offerings – including unlimited wine and beer, a dedicated Thai station with a half-dozen curries to choose from, and the best carving station in town – but who’s counting calories. On the day of our visit, the carving station had more than a few of our favorite meats, plus a few surprises, such as plank-cooked salmon and hand-carved pork belly (gourmet bacon!).The quality alone is worth the trip to the valley’s southern edge, and the modest pricetag (about $20 for dinner) is just an added bonus.
The One To Avoid: Terrible’s Buffet
The loser’s lineup of crap food on this modest buffet is, well, Terrible. Don’t be seduced by any two-for-one coupons or other special offers; it’s just not worth the risk. If we can say one nice thing about Terrible’s buffet, it’s that it did not land any of us in the hospital – although it did give us a good scare. One meat-adverse young woman in our party found nothing appetizing enough to put on her plate other than mashed potatoes. Instant mashed potatoes. Avoid, avoid, avoid.