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Mrs. Rapid Traveler is in Las Vegas on business this week and, in the spirit of the season, The Rapid Traveler is tagging along. Las Vegas is a great destination for many people, but The Rapid Traveler is not well-suited for it since he does not gamble, does not drink, does not go to bars/clubs, will not pay $95 to see the current members of Guns N’ Roses, will not wait in line for a buffet, etc. The people watching, however, is beyond compare: in addition to a widely diverse foreign tourist base, this is the closest Americans come to looking like Europeans, with jackets, and pants that fit, on men, and curvy clothes on women, though many totter on heels.
Over this and a prior trip, The Rapid Traveler has walked nearly all of the strip, off-strip, and downtown casinos, and since Mrs. Rapid Traveler loves fresh, raw seafood, he has paid special attention to the buffets. He is more of a $5.99 prime rib dinner with the locals in a faded downtown casino kind of guy, but for the sake of domestic harmony, he surveys the upscale.
Some opinions and then a favorites list:
- None of the buffets, except possibly Rio’s Village Seafood Buffet are worth waiting in line for more than 15 minutes.
- Always insist on taking a look before committing, no matter how brusque the staff are, especially during holidays. Based at Aria this week with a breakfast room credit to cover part of the stay, The and Mrs. have seen the price of breakfast double and then increase further in the lead-up to New Year’s. The first big increase was justified only by a platter of snow crab legs and absolutely nothing else different from the regular, subpar breakfast. The next was for adding some lobster.
- Bellagio Buffet is grossly overrated with huge lines. The ambiance is little different from Old Country Buffet.
- 80% or so of the food is the same across most casinos, especially for breakfast. Unless you want seafood, seek out affordable ones. A family can be fed pretty well with the Luxor/Excalibur $32 eat all day pass if staying out that way.
- Buffets can be expensive but ordering a la carte at casinos or strip restaurants is even more wallet damaging.
- Wait staff is tremendously overburdened at many of the buffets, so order all the drinks you need at the rare times you catch one.
- This comes courtesy of Mother-in-Law of Rapid Traveler: enter near the end of breakfast or lunch to lock in the low price, then sit and wait for the better items to come out with the new meal service. Staff typically do not care.
Three favorites, or at least ones that The Rapid Traveler is willing to cross the street for:
- Paris Las Vegas’ Le Village Buffet, perhaps the only one worth a trip for breakfast and good throughout the day. French cuisine and many items cooked to order at stations. Especially popular with seniors who wake early, the big downside is waiting time, both to get in and at popular stations. Fun, themed ambiance. Reasonable prices.
- The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas, the only one with ambiance fit for a romantic meal. Top quality food, especially desserts, which are terrible at many of the buffets. Not cheap.
- Rio’s Village Seafood Buffet, the choice for serious seafood lovers who can get the most out of the high prices. Since Todai is a disaster compared to its locations in Asia, and other casinos play footsie with purported seafood nights, this mainstay is the solid seafood option. In addition to the high cost, the downsides are long lines from open to close, limited options for non-seafood eaters in tow, and the off-strip location.
Readers, what are your Las Vegas buffet likes and loathes?