I have lived in Las Vegas since 2005, and one of the things me and my wife have been able to do a great deal is eat out. Living in Las Vegas grants us an unusual subsidy that I did not expect when I moved out here 6 years ago. The Las Vegas casinos love to subsidize the locals dining experience in return for you going to their casino with the hopes of you getting the itch to sit at a slot machine or play the games. Although we both have done that many times usually to our detriment, during our escapades over the last 6 years I can honestly say we have eaten at every single buffet in town countless times and even watched some of our favorites go down hill and some of the ones we didn’t enjoy at first go to the top of the list. Using our vast experience here is an honest review of the best and worst buffets in Las Vegas. I will go through the top three and the three worst ones that you could reasonably end up at. In other words I am not listing some obscure buffets that will clearly be horrible but the average traveler will have no chance of being at.
Studio B Buffet at the M Resort Spa and Casino
Pros: Everything in and on the buffet. The price is right.
Cons: The location, it is a little far. Never go on a Wednesday, the line stretched from here to Fort Lauderdale since it is Senior Day.
Might as well start with the best of the best in our opinion. The wait staff is acceptable and the environment is clean and if you sit in the back you will be eating with a great view of the strip. if you are into shows they even have a studio cooking show inside the buffet certain days, but I have never been to that myself so I can’t comment. However lets get to the buffet, if we have someone coming in from out of town and they want the best all around buffet for the price we take them to the M. Notice I said we take them there, not just send them there. That is because it is such a nice dining experience for a buffet and it has some great perks to going. The food is well prepared, and has a real nice variety of cuisine ranging from Hawaiian to Greek. A little something different for everyone’s taste and everything you would get on the buffet itself is fresh and tasty. The only downfall the buffet has is that it is 6 miles south of the strip, but if you are driving into town from Los Angeles you will go right passed it, so might as well not eat on the way into town and stop by. The driving distance from the heart of the strip is made up for ten fold by the fact that the buffet itself not only offers a massive variety of well made food, and a healthy sized dessert section with an attendant who makes you cappuccinos and lattes that are just as tasty as any Starbucks I had, but alcoholic drinks are included in the price. Let me say that again, the beer and wine also come with the buffet, that alone makes it worth the trip in my opinion (well as long as you have a designated driver). So how much does this herculean feast of wine, ale and food cost? Breakfast is $9.99 until 10:30 am, then lunch begins and the price goes to a measly $14.99 a person. Dinner is a little more pricey at $22.99 but still definitely cheaper than other comparable buffets that offer much less. On weekends and Friday nights they add crab legs and even more seafood and the price goes up to $29.99. At $14.99 though, it is a fabulous deal, and here is an added trick, go to the buffet right before they switch to lunch buy in at the breakfast price and you still get the lunch food. You can actually get all that for ten bucks a person, unbeatable and by far the best value and buffet in Las Vegas bar none.
The Wicked Spoon Buffet at the Cosmopolitan Tower at City Center
Pros: Variety and quality of food. Different feel and desserts. Location is great.
Cons: Cost and wait staff.
This is the newest buffet and one of my wife’s favorite buffets in town, but what makes it special is not the traditional reasons someone might say a buffet is worthy. Unique is the best word I can use to describe this buffet compared to the rest in town. Unique food, from pork belly sandwiches to gyros, udon noodle soups to a nice variety of cheeses and fruits. Their delivery of your water at your table and the portions are also completely foreign compared to other buffets. Every table gets their own bottled water on the table similar to what you would get eating at a fancy steakhouse, and the majority of the food choices have portions that are individually sized so for the majority of the dishes you don’t get that pigs at a trough feeling that you get at other buffets. Everything is so well made and high quality that the small portions you get per item actually encourages you to try the vast variety of cuisines from around the world they have on their buffet. If you feel like being a pig you can always take 10 portions of one thing if you like, but I find that as you go through the buffet you tend not to do that, and because of that I always leave there happy but never feel stuffed like a turkey as you do in other buffets. Their dessert section although not large has some really interesting and unique looking choices which include the new rave in desserts, the lollipop cheesecakes. Both me and my wife love fruit and one thing I noticed that is also very unique about them is that as a dessert option they also put out large bowls of different types of berries that are always the highest quality, and one thing that is hard to get in the desert is a high quality berry. We sometimes eat our weight in berries when we go to this buffet and skip all the wonderful cakes and concoctions you might see. I am sure if you are visiting from other places berries don’t interest you, but it is little things like making sure you have high quality fresh fruit out that gives an overall feel of excellence to the dining experience. The one thing that is also constant though is that the wait staff is slow and unresponsive, and when you are eating at a place that you make so many dirty plates due to the nature of the single serving dishes, it would be helpful if we didn’t have to stack our plates up to the ceiling before they come and take them. That being said, it is definitely an interesting find and a great experience for anyone local or visitor if they want to try something different than the ordinary. The cost is about $50 per two people, so not horrific, but a little higher than the M. However it does give you an excuse to check out our newest casino/hotel right in the middle of our new City Center. If you are going there to check it out anyway, why not stop by for an interesting dining experience.
The rest of the best consists of the following buffets:
The Red Rock or Green Valley Ranch buffet – good food, well priced. If you get a players card for free you get a discount on the buffet.
The Aria at City Center – I would have had it right after the Wicked Spoon six months ago, but they got rid of some of the best things on their buffet. Still it is one of the only buffets under $20 where you get all you can eat crab legs, good quality food, and giant already peeled shrimp if you are into that and don’t have seafood readily available to you where you come from.
Spice Market Buffet at the Planet Hollywood- Priced under $20 during the day, it also has a nice eclectic variety of food that is well made. The location is tough to get in and out of though and usually unbelievably crowded. I have not gone there ever since I had a run in with the staff there when a certain waiter was watching soccer on TV instead of refilling our drinks and taking our dirty plates. I have never gone back, but before that incident I used to tell people to go there before the City Center opened.
The rest of the strip buffets are really in the muddled middle of quality, price, crowds, and overall experience. They are lacking in multiple categories whether it be overpriced like the Bellagio and Wynn buffets, or extremely overcrowded and average like the Paris buffet or the Rio. None of the rest on the strip buffets are really worth the time and money it takes to get into them. However there are some that need to be avoided no matter what and I won’t go into great detail as I am a local and I don’t want to denigrate our local businesses, but if you can avoid them maybe they will take the time to fix them. I will just list them and say they are lacking in all categories that you would want a dining experience to be, quality, variety, cost. So here is a short list of the worst of the worst:
The Riviera, Harrahs, Sahara – on the strip.
The Golden Nugget, and the Plaza – on Fremont Street.
The Palace Station – Not all station casino buffets are equal, this one is one of the worst and it is close to the strip.
This last group were all great buffets if you want to lose weight either by not eating anything because nothing looked edible or getting food poisoning and losing 10 to 20 pounds because you will not be able to eat anything for a week or two afterward. I hope this helps you avoid some pitfalls in your dining experiences in Las Vegas whether you are a local or a visitor. If you don’t have time to try them all, it is alright, I am sure you will be back. Remember what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, except food poisoning, and especially your money so spend it wisely.