Las Vegas may be known as the Entertainment Capital of the World, but someone should start a campaign to rename it the Food Capital of the World. Las Vegas' bountiful buffets are one of the main attractions of the city for foodies and gourmands, and there are enough different ones that you could pick a different buffet each day of the year without repeating. With so many choices, how do you find the best? Here your choices have been winnowed down to the top picks by category, so you can match the buffet to your personal food mood.
Not just the best gourmet buffet, but many locals' pick for the best of Las Vegas, Le Village goes the extra mile by featuring real French cooking that would please even the biggest food snobs. Located in Paris Las Vegas, the buffet features food stations from five different provinces of France, and each area has a gorgeous facade designed to replicate the look and architecture of the region as well. You can eat inside if you like, or outside in a charming Parisian town square.
But decor aside, the food is to die for. Each dish is prepared as it is ordered, so you have much fresher food than you get at the heat lamp buffets. Some of the best dishes are from the region of Brittany: Coq au Vin and Roast Duck with Honey Lavender Glaze. Made-to-order crepes are lushly filled with fruits or savory topping. Even the bread is baked right on the spot! Does it even need to be mentioned that at a French restaurant the pastries are excellent?
Location and Prices: 3655 Las Vegas Blvd South (702) 946-7000 $15 -$25 (Lunch/Dinner)
Located at the Rio Hotel, the Village Seafood Buffet flies in seafood every day and keeps it fresh in salt water, so you're guaranteed the best seafood possible. The seafood is served in smallish portions (to some), but that means you can easily have room to try every possible kind, and as it's all-you-can-eat, you can keep going back for the good stuff. Sushi, oysters, crab, lobster...where to start? The price tag is a little steeper than some, but if you're like a lot of Las Vegas travelers, you'll consume over forty dollars worth of lobster in about the first ten minutes.
The cooking styles are from around the world, but the best choices are the ones from coastal areas: the Mediterranean and the Pacific Rim. Try the Thai Barbecue Prawns for some spice, and the Marinated Calamari, which is a far cry from the rubbery stuff you get in chain restaurants. It melts in your mouth like butter. If you're taking along a non-seafood lover, they'll appreciate the carving station, but take note: it's the seafood you want.
Location and Prices: 3700 Flamingo Rd. (702) 252-7777 $38 (Dinner)
The Wild West Buffet at Arizona Charlie's Boulder doesn't have many surprises, and it's certainly not upscale gourmet, but that's what makes it so perfect for families with children. It has simple, consistent, family-friendly buffet food at a low price. Many of the buffets are a waste of the money for kid's palates, when they are faced with food selections they don't recognize or are too spicy and/or exotic for their taste. The Wild West Buffet is standard American fare, with meat, potatoes and sweet desserts as the focal point.
The atmosphere is also casual and laid back, so you can relax a bit and your kids can too. Most of the diners here will be families too, so you won't have to do as much "shushing". The decor has an Old West feel that the kids should appreciate. Show up for Prime Rib Night on Thursday ($12) and Dad will be happy too.
Location and Prices: 4575 Boulder Hwy (702) 951-5800 $6 (Breakfast) $8 (Lunch) $10 (Dinner)
Lots of buffets in town have foods from different cultures, but nobody does it as comprehensively (or as well) as Carnival World. Many tourist's choice for best buffet all around, the selections include a mind-boggling 1,000 recipes. Don't think it's all quantity, though. The quality is just as staggering. Foods from every conceivable culture are here: Asia, South America and Italy to name a few. The sushi is every bit as good as the tacos. You can even have fish and chips that a Brit would be proud of.
Carnival World also gets top marks for desserts (with Le Village close at its heels), and the place is extremely lucky to have one of the top ten pastry chefs in the nation on staff. It shows. The dessert station has about 70 kinds of pies and pastries. A lot of eaters don't normally don't save room for dessert at buffets, but here you'll be sorry if you don't. How often do you get to sample award-winning pastries? You can work out when you get home; splurge now.
Location and Prices: 3700 W. Flamingo Road (702) 777-7923 $15 (Breakfast) $17 (Lunch) $24 (Dinner)
This may be one of the most expensive buffets in Las Vegas, but no one on Earth would ever complain that they didn't get their money's worth. You'll feel like a character in a sumptuous 1920s movie, dining on caviar (no kidding) and having your champagne glass refilled endlessly. The setting is worthy of a movie set too, with perfect linens and silver table settings. This is the place to take someone you're trying to impress. It will pay off in spades.
For once the food should speak for itself because this place deserves it, and remember, you can have as much as you want. Items often seen on the menu (in addition to the caviar) include: Smoked Salmon in Puff Pastry, Prosciutto Mousse, Lobster Gazpacho, Thai-marinated Rack of Lamb, French Goat Cheese Tortellini. Just imagine going to the finest restaurant you know of and being allowed to try to some of everything on the menu. That's what it's like at the Sterling Brunch.
Location and Prices: 3645 Las Vegas Blvd South (702) 967-7999 $41-$80
Buffets in Las Vegas are decidedly the best in the world, and your only difficulty will be in pacing yourself. Go early for the best prices and to avoid long lines, and be prepared for some of the best tastes the city has to offer. You might come to Vegas for the casinos or the attractions, but when you get home, it's the food you'll be talking about.