Upscale buffets give everyone an invitation to indulge
By Jack Houston & Brock Radke
The buffet is a Las Vegas tradition that never seems to lose its mojo. Even as the city asserts itself as a dining destination with celebrity chefs and high-end restaurants, lines still form out the door every night at the buffet. Their appeal is simple—nowhere else can you get this much food and still end up looking like a lightweight after only two rounds of desserts. But just what is it about this dining institution that makes us lose all sense of moderation and propriety? The answer is in the crab legs. At high-end buffets, no food item draws more attention or gets piled higher. So pass the drawn butter and grab your tiny fork as we explore the wide—and widening—world of the city’s gourmet buffets.
Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace
For decades, the Bacchanal Room at Caesars Palace defined the over-the-top gourmet experience that could be had in Las Vegas. Diners engaged in an hourslong, multicourse feast complete with wine goddesses in ceremonial togas serving opulent fare. That classic restaurant closed 12 years ago, but the spirit of the Bacchanal Room is reborn at the lavish Bacchanal Buffet inside Caesars Palace. It specializes in producing a huge amount of food—more than 500 different dishes daily. The Bacchanal Buffet is actually nine mini-restaurants under one roof; each area has its own kitchen. There’s an enormous seafood bar, where chefs will steam those treasured crab legs while you wait; Mexican, Italian, Chinese and Japanese food stations; a decadent dessert depot; and an all-American carving station serving classic barbecue from a wood-burning smoker.
Village Seafood Buffet at Rio
Crab legs have never been stacked higher than at Village Seafood Buffet, where guests can indulge in what’s billed as the city’s only all-seafood buffet. Of course, not everything comes from the sea (we’d hate to see a dessert station that did), but for the most part, it’s truth in advertising with everything from sushi to fish and chips. Beyond the coveted opilio crab legs are crawfish, oysters, black mussels and clams, and seafood prepared in nearly every way imaginable: mustard-crusted mahi mahi, shrimp and grits, fried scallops and salmon sashimi. There’s even a section devoted to South American cuisine and even a full gelato bar.
Leave it to Bellagio to set the standard for buffets on the Strip. Their weekend gourmet dinner is home to delicacies such as Kobe top sirloin, beef Wellington and roasted duck, plus handcrafted cocktails such as the Perfect Pear or Bella Peach. But it’s not all about the marquee dishes here. Sides and salads are given the same amount of care as the entrées, which is why we’re still craving their cous cous, whipped sweet potatoes, creamy polenta and spinach salad with walnuts and dried cranberries weeks after the fact. If crab legs have a dessert equivalent, it’s chocolate-covered strawberries, and guests pile their plates high for that sweet, satisfying final touch.