The Moveable Feast: Best Las Vegas Buffets

If there is one catch line beyond "the whatever plays in Vegas, stays in Vegas" tag, it might be that "not all buffets in Vegas were created equal."

Las Vegas buffets run the gamut of pleasures and prices, from $10 meat and potato extravaganzas to $85 Champagne and caviar affairs. But whatever the preference in food or format, Las Vegas buffets offer some of the best Las Vegas deals on the table.

The Harrah's Challenge

Serious foodaholics can fixate on the Harrah's $39.99 Buffet of Buffets travel deal where a penny under $40 gets a buy into seven Harrah's Entertainment buffets as many times and as often as desired within a 24 hour period. On the menu are some of the city's finest with dinner tags averaging $25. Participating Buffet of Buffets include: Lago Buffet at Caesars, the Flamingo Paradise Garden Buffet, Flavors at Harrah's, Emperor's Buffet at Imperial Palace, Le Village Buffet at Paris, Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood and Rio's Carnival World Buffet.

As in many elements of the Las Vegas Stripscape, Las Vegas buffets compete for whatever buzz they can get to separate from the pack. That leaves a lot of room for playing upon public tastes, whether in settings, sweets or presentation styles.

Brain Food Buffet

Health food fanatics are not left out of the mix surprisingly. M Buffet, located a few miles south of the Strip at the M Resort on Las Vegas Boulevard, offers the Studio B option. Take an entertaining class with food chemist, nutritionist, chef and all all-around culinary expert Tina Martini, at the buffet's built-in cooking demo theater and get a complimentary lunch buffet in the ticket. Shows run Thursday through Sunday at noon and 4 p.m. Tickets cost $39.95 and you will learn things, such as the word "pith," and how it can be your key to survival.

Exotic Eats and Designer Sweets

When Aria Resort opened last December it was not without a buffet suitable enough to be included in a hotel bearing the latest oeuvres from Michael Mina, Masayoshi Takayama, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Shawn McClain and Julian Serrano. The Buffet at Aria ($36.99) puts the handy work of Mirage Executive chef Bernard Ybarra on display with a mélange of exotic plays – from Korean bimbebops and Japanese sashimi to Indian curries and tandoories. Jean Phillip's famed patisserie is a prominent feature found in the Aria lobby and also a focus for the buffet, which frames the French confectionary artist's sweets within the dessert section of the buffet.

The Spice Market Buffet, a long-time favorite of the Las Vegas buffet lines – first with the Aladdin Hotel & Casino and then as a not-to-be-sacrificed mainstay of Planet Hollywood Resort – upped the ante on mid-priced buffets when it opened in 2000 by featuring stations of Indian dishes, Middle Eastern mezas and New Orleans-style faves for dessert. The buffet still gets the attention of travelers and locals alike in search of that je ne c'est quoi food craving and presents this fare in a spacious and bright, mid-century moderne decor dining arena. Dinners run $27.99.

For items, such as Kobe beef, Bellagio and Wynn win the honors. The Buffet at Wynn costs $37.95 for dinner and brings on such specialty preferences as octopus, Kobe meatballs and rack of lamb in a sprawl that by-passes the usual noisy and chaotic buffet scene for quiet alcoves and refined service and settings. The Bellagio Buffet runs $29.95-$36.95 for dinner most nights and also brings on the Kobe beef slices and other rarified treats for a true top-of-the-heap Las Vegas buffet experience.;

King of Seafood Buffets

The king of the buffets in Las Vegas, however, is undoubtedly the most expensive: the Rio's Village Seafood Buffet. And at $39 (dinners only, here) it's possibly the best deal around. The nightly extravaganza features, without fail, endless lobster tail, crab legs three ways, shrimp a half-dozen ways including peel and eat, chilled for dunking in warm butter or cocktail sauce, plus an army's supply of soft crab sushi, shrimp tempura fried and fresh clams, oysters, fish tacos, cioppino and chowder and four types of ceviche. The room is a spread off the hourly Masquerade Village show so it does tend to get noisy and crowded. A VIP area for members of the Harrah's players' club provides the quieter and more spacious appeal. End the evening with a dessert fit for "The King." Elvis's favorite peanut butter, banana and jelly ice cream (in this case it's gelato) flies out by the tubful at the dessert bar. The recipe was scored by the chef in a complicated someone who knew someone scenario. It's the only place you'll find the stuff on or off the Strip.

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