While self-serve restaurants are slowly returning to business as usual, it’s still painfully slim pickins at buffets in Southern California. If you want a good food orgy, it’s still Vegas baby.
According to Anthony Curtis’ Las Vegas Advisor, the El Rancho Vegas launched the first buffet in Las Vegas. In an effort to keep patrons in the casino after the late headliner show, in 1946 owner Beldon Katleman inaugurated the “chuck wagon,” calling it the Buckaroo Buffet. It featured cold cuts and a few hot dishes, as the flyer advertised, “to appease the howling coyote in your innards.” The rock-bottom loss-leader price? One dollar. The rest is culinary history.
Here are three of our favorites that have recently reopened and are worth kicking up your spurs for.
A nod to the original gourmet Bacchanal Room from the ‘60s at Caesar’s Palace, the Bacchanal dinner buffet is a royal feast for the gods. There are more than 220 menu items and 90 percent of the food is prepared right in front of you and plated in single portions to help cut waste. There are 36 desserts, plus 11 all-natural gelato and sorbet flavors, more than 100 plant-based, vegan and vegetarian options and roaming carts offering wagyu hot dogs, dim sum and lobster bisque in the 25,000 square foot space. The Bacchanal currently goes through more than 1,000 pounds of crab legs and about 20 whole prime rib roasts a night. Price: $74.99
The Wicked Spoon in the Cosmopolitan celebrates its 10 year anniversary this year. Over the last decade, more than 6 million guests have bellied up to the buffet. Dishes that have stood the test of time from the beginning include their Angry Mac & Cheese, Wicked Fried Chicken, bone marrow with pear and kimchi glaze, duck wings with soy caramel glaze, kale salad with ginger citrus dressing, apple pie cinnamon French toast with toasted oats, Oreo chocolate-covered strawberries, salted peanut gelato, Zenith Mousse Cake with edible gold and carnitas taco with cilantro onion relish. They’ve also got beverage packages like mimosas, champagne, Bloody Marys or Bud Light Draft packages for up to two hours. Prices: Breakfast: $38 adults, $19 children ages 5 – 10; Lunch: $45 adults, $22.50 kids ages 5 – 10. Saturday and Sunday brunch: $48 for adults and $24 for kids 5 – 10.
Open for brunch seven days a week, the Bellagio buffet returned last month with a variety of live-action stations like Omelet Station as well as traditional breakfast items, pasta and pizza as well as extensive eggs benedict options, fried chicken and waffles and a toast bar. The seafood selection includes Alaskan king crab, poached shrimp, smoked salmon and scallop ceviche alongside far east options like Hong Kong BBQ buns and shrimp shu mai. The carving station is slicing up marinated flank steak, rotisserie chicken and St. Louis style ribs. In addition to fresh-baked pastries, there’s also a personalized gelato stand.
The Buffet at Bellagio is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. Pricing:
- Monday-Thursday: $39.99
- Friday-Saturday: $45.99
- Children 5 years of age and under eat complimentarily
- Children 6-11 years of age eat for 50 percent off