A Warren of Buffets: 8 Places to Fill Your Plate. And Fill It Again.

By John Deiner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 2, 2004

For the past few years, the world's top chefs have streamed into Las Vegas, opening restaurants that have put the city on the gastronomic map.

But none offers all-you-can-eat dessert. Indeed, many visitors can't leave Vegas without scarfing down dinner at one of the town's fabled buffets.

Some things to remember: Most buffets also offer breakfast, brunch (on weekends) and lunch, which can be considerably cheaper. Some are more expensive on Fridays and Saturdays, when they're most likely to be mobbed (going early is a good idea). And cheap buffets -- $10 or less for dinner -- are cheap for a reason.

Here are eight buffets we've sampled in the past six months. For more options, check www.a2zlasvegas.com.

Spice Market Buffet (Aladdin)

What we liked: Lots of variety; food stations include Italian, American, Asian and Middle Eastern. Food, including sushi, is prepared by chefs as you watch. Dining room features tall ceilings, good distance between the tables and excellent service. Grade-A desserts include chocolate-dipped strawberries and peach flambe.

What we didn't: The lines. Before we left, our server told us that there was a two-hour wait to get in.

Why we'd go back: It's one of the best buffets in town.

Details: 702-785-5555, www.aladdincasino.com. Dinner served from 4 to 9:30 p.m.; $22.99.

The Buffet (Bellagio)

What we liked: It's Vegas's most elegant buffet. Inventive food choices include barbecued wild boar ribs, chicken Wellington with sun-dried tomatoes, baby squid salad and pesto mashed potatoes. There's a homemade bread station, and food is prepared while you watch. Diners can choose from an extensive, expensive ($12) list of specialty cocktails.

What we didn't: Distance between buffet and farthest tables is mammoth. And the price is just too steep for a buffet.

Why we'd go back: Sometimes, even buffeteers want a touch of class.

Details: 702-693-7111, www.bellagio.com. Dinner served from 4 to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday and 4:30 to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; $24.95 (Sunday-Thursday) and $32.95 (Friday-Saturday).

Carnival World Buffet (Rio)

What we liked: Similar to Aladdin's buffet, though not as nice, or tasty. Easy-to-navigate food stations -- including American, Mexican, etc. -- line the dining room. Massive dessert bar is worth saving room for (especially the cannolis). Some of the best fish-and-chips we've tasted.

What we didn't: The noise -- the buffet sits off the casino floor, and the din can be deafening. The tables are too close together in some spots, and the line to get in abuts the smoky casino.

Why we'd go back: Those fish-and-chips and the dessert bar are worth the line, the crowd and the noise.

Details: 702-777-7777, www.harrahs.com. Dinner served from 3:30 to 10 p.m.; $22.99.

TI Buffet (Treasure Island)

What we liked: Asian noodle and burrito stations are a nice change from the norm, and service is excellent. The skimpy dessert bar proves that less is more, with excellent chocolate mousse and pastries. Despite faults, it's still a decent value.

What we didn't: The food (chicken wings, turkey, prime rib, ham) is lackluster. Food lines are in too-tight a space, causing large backups. Items are hard to reach under the sneeze guards, unless you're four feet tall. Drab Mediterranean-lite decor doesn't help.

Why we'd go back: Those desserts, and maybe a burrito.

Details: 702-894-7111, www.treasureisland.com. Dinner served from 4 to 10:30 p.m.; $17.99.

Le Village Buffet (Paris)

What we liked: The food is exceptional. Recent offerings included veal Marengo, seafood quiche, seared salmon with roasted almond sauce. Macaroons and creme caramel are on the dessert bar. Down them with Parisian-blend coffee.

What we didn't: The dining room is crowded and loud, and windows allow casino-goers to peek in and watch you eat. The price is steep, and the line to get in can last forever.

Why we'd go back: It's a class act in one of our favorite hotels.

Details: 702-946-7000, www.parislv.com. Dinner served from 5:30 to 10 p.m.; $24.95.

The Buffet (Las Vegas Hilton)

What we liked: It's newly renovated, with soothing earth tones. A recent brunch ($13.95) featured made-to-order omelets, fresh fruit and free champagne (but no toast or bagels). Service is outstanding.

What we didn't: With the exception of breakfast fare, other entrees (spaghetti, turkey, ham, prime rib) are merely acceptable, and bread options limited. During our visit, floor was littered with napkins and other detritus.

Why we'd go back: Free champagne is a nice touch, and wine/beer is included with dinner.

Details: 702-732-5111, www.lvhilton.com. Dinner served from 5 to 10 p.m.; $15.

Paradise Buffet (Fremont Hotel)

What we liked: While the nearby Golden Nugget gets most of the attention downtown, many people pass by this pleasant, relatively quiet haven. Specialty nights include Seafood Fantasy ($14.99) and cooked-to-order steaks ($11.99). Props to the pretty, tropical dining room and always-tidy buffet area.

What we didn't: Desserts are predictable. There's nothing extraordinary about the rest of the food, though it's always decent.

Why we'd go back: Parts of downtown can be pretty creepy, and this place is anything but.

Details: 702-385-3232, www.fremontcasino.com. Dinner served from 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; starts at $9.99.

Pharaoh's Pheast (Luxor)

What we liked: The sprawling dining room leaves plenty of room between tables. Nicely located away from casino floor.

What we didn't: Just about everything else. Service is spotty, food unmemorable and the subterranean setting made us think we were eating in an Egyptian tomb.

Why we'd go back: Only if the line was too long next door at Mandalay Bay's much-praised buffet.

Details: 702-262-4000, www.luxor.com. Dinner is served from 4 to 11 p.m.; $16.49.

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