Things to Do Before a Vegas Trip: Plan Your Dining Options

Gone are the days of the $5 buffets on The Strip. However, with the increase in price, there has also been an increase in variety and quality, in most cases.

I find myself not wanting to waste a meal here. There are so many wonderful culinary avenues to explore. Most of them are expensive, so we try to treat ourselves to one fancy meal per trip. But to minimize having the “what do you want to eat?” “I don’t know, what do you want to eat?” exchange, I try to plan my dining options so I have a list of suggestions at the ready. 

My five favorite buffets:

(I wanted to put Bellagio on this list, but I haven’t been there in at least five years, so my memories have faded.)

  • The Buffet at Wynn: They have two kinds of bacon for breakfast. And these little hash brown balls that are crispy on the outside and are filled with love on the inside. And I discovered my love for muesli here. They have it all. A little more expensive than the others, and a bit of a hike if you’re staying mid-Strip, but worth it. 
  • Spice Market Buffet (Planet Hollywood): The breakfast quality has fallen off a bit (only three ingredients for omelettes?), but they still have a good variety of quality food. Also, the best option for vegetarians, as they feature a feast of hummus at their Middle Eastern station.
  • Le Village Buffet (Paris): It’s all about the crepe station at breakfast, although the lines can get pretty long. If they don’t have Nutella as one of the options on display, ask. They also have staples with a few fun French things thrown in (quiche, chicken a la reine).
  • Cravings (Mirage): The freshly tossed salads are a great way to start a meal here. (Get your mind out of the gutter– they have a station where you point to the ingredients, servers throw them into a bowl, and mix them up with dressing to cover everything evenly.) They have a wide variety, including a nod to Southern food along with fantastic pork dumplings and a gelato station for dessert. 
  • Bayside Buffet (Mandalay Bay): Best biscuits and gravy on The Strip (at least that I’ve found so far), though it is a bit of a hike if you’re not staying South Strip. (Paris is a reasonable equivalent.)


Five buffets to avoid at all costs:

  • Circus Circus: Really, do I have to explain this one? Anything with a clown theme is right out.
  • Excalibur: The equivalent of Old Country Buffet. It’s not horrible, just mediocre. And for about the same cost or slightly more, there are so many other interesting options nearby. I mean, give in to ESPNZone at New York New York if you have to.  
  • Flamingo: Or as we like to call it, House of Bland. Nothing has any flavor to it. The food is mostly beige. My mother-in-law got food poisoning here once. And it’s located suspiciously close to their exotic animal habitat.
  • Sahara: I have not personally eaten here, but I have heard horror stories. They can’t even get breakfast right, and how hard is it to screw up breakfast? 
  • Imperial Palace: I have not eaten here either, but this is also legendarily bad. However, breakfast is edible here. Barely. 


Five casual dining options:

  • Planet Dailies (the coffee shop in Planet Hollywood). They have a little bit of everything (burgers, Asian, Mexican, omelets), but put their own spin on it. The food is always fresh and tasty. And the drink menu is outstanding. 
  • Earl of Sandwich (Planet Hollywood): Toasted like Quizno’s, but so much better. My favorite is the All American, a blend of turkey, ranch, cranberries, lettuce, and tomato. It’s like Thanksgiving in your mouth all year long.
  • Victorian Room (Bill’s Rootin’ Tootin’ Saloon and Shootery): They have a fantastic Asian menu, served fresh and hot. They also have a decent selection of salads, sandwiches, and burgers, along with omelettes and egg concoctions for breakfast. Occasionally they have complimentary coffee cake at breakfast.
  • Payard Patisserie (Caesars): I’ve only been here for breakfast, but they make a fantastic sandwich out of pretzel bread, salmon, onions, capers, and cream cheese. They also have some amazing pastries that look like little delectable works of art. Beware the beverage prices, though– orange juice and bottled water can cost $5.
  • Augustus Cafe (Caesars): This coffee shop also serves many tasty things. While they don’t have the variety of Planet Dailies, they have consistency and quality, and they choose dishes where the flavors complement each other well. I’m thinking particularly of the bleu cheese and steak salad. 


Five fancy dining options:

  • Sterling Brunch (Bally’s): The most expensive buffet in Vegas, but they serve high-end items like lobster tails, filet mignon, escargot, and caviar, all washed down with unlimited Perrier Jouet champagne. (Note: Don’t be that guy who eats nothing but lobster and walks away after consuming five plates full. He’s the real reason the price has risen drastically, not the economy, so blame him.)
  • Michael’s (South Point): Like having the equivalent of an elegant pit crew at your table? This restaurant has attentive service, and the salmon makes me cry with joy. I haven’t dined at the South Point location yet, but they moved the entire staff and recreated the dining room with a few modern additions (like a bathroom), so I have high hopes.
  • Mon Ami Gabi (Paris): Speaking of things that make me cry with joy, I had a steak here with a merlot butter reduction that was out of this world. I cannot wait to ascend the steak summit at Delmonico someday to compare the two. This restaurant could also be listed under casual dining options, depending on what you order, but dinner can be fairly spendy. It earns huge points for atmosphere– dine on the patio with the Bellagio fountains in the background when the weather is bearable. Word of warning: Do not dine on the patio when it is ridiculously hot. 
  • Foundation Room (Mandalay Bay): You have to have a membership or know someone who does. We were lucky enough to meet someone who was generous enough to treat us to a meal here, and the experience was phenomenal. The view alone is worth it. You know all those travel shows that start with a view from the top of Mandalay Bay and gaze down the Strip? They all start here. 
  • Eiffel Tower Restaurant (Paris): In addition to providing outstanding views of the Bellagio fountains and the hotels in the center Strip, this restaurant also provides great service and excellent food. If you’re on a budget, try the bar menu or stop in for drinks, dessert, and a view. 


Five other restaurants I also highly recommend:

  • Mesa Grill (Caesars)
  • Daniel Boulud (Wynn)
  • Bradley Ogden (Caesars)
  • BLT Burger (Mirage)
  • Postrio (Venetian)

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2 Responses to “Things to Do Before a Vegas Trip: Plan Your Dining Options”

  1. joe sedita Says:

    Imperial Palace=hospital food

  2. Michele Says:

    I believe it! And will be avoiding the IP buffet accordingly… it just seems a little off.

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