Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stoner Cooking Special: The top five buffets in Las Vegas

Kitty Bean Yancey, USA TODAY July 2011

The question of which Las Vegas resort has the best all-you-can-eat is a perennial talker among fans of Sin City.

According to the smartdestinations.com blog, the No. 1 belly-busting fare is at the Bellagio, which also is high rated by many visitors, locals and food critics.
The blog calls Buffet Bellagio "top-of-the-line cuisine ... from choices like Chinese dim sum to foie gras to crab legs to pizza fresh out of the wood-fired oven. The atmosphere is classy, with opulent chandeliers and elegant artwork adorning the dining area." Only downside, the blog says, is desserts that "look better than they taste." You'll pay $19.95 at weekday lunch; $29.95, dinner. Weekend dinner is $36.95 and weekend Champagne Brunches are $24.95.

No. 2 is Rio Las Vegas's Carnival World Buffet for " kid-friendly menu and absolutely fabulous desserts."

Third: Le Village buffet at Paris Las Vegas, dishing up cute French-style decor and Gallic favorites. Rounding out the list is Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood, for a variety of international fare including "Middle Eastern specialties (a rarity in Buffetland)." And the Garden Court Buffet at Main Street Station, which attracts a lot of locals, is praised for its value and lack of long lines. Talk about value: $7.99 for weekday lunch; $10.99 for weekday dinner. Those prices are for members of the players' club, but as any Vegas regular knows, membership at any resort players' club is free and gets you lots of perks.

Now, for some other opinions. A recent "Best of Vegas" survey by USA TODAY, which polled eight local experts (from the mayor, to newspaper columnists, to local magazine editors) found the Bellagio ranking high, but it wasn't the winner. The Wicked Spoon at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, which bills itself as a "culinary food hall," gobbled up the competition, for the quality and variety and elegant presentation of its offerings, served in chic, modern surroundings. The dessert cases alone are mesmerizing, and the buffet served 18 kinds of gelato on a recent day. It's not cheap: Expect to pay $22 for lunch on weekdays, with nonalcoholic drinks included; $35 for dinner.

Anthony Curtis, founder of LasVegasAdvisor.com, thinks the buffet at the M Resort south of the Strip in Henderson, is a great deal, and the two of us had a great dinner at the Studio B spread there. That spread also won top honors from the Las Vegas Review-Journal for 2010. It offers live cooking demonstrations, more than 200 items, including all the (decent) wine and beer you care to down with lunch and dinner. Lunch currently is $14.99 weekdays; dinner 22.99. Prices go to $31.99 on weekends when premium seafood is added.

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