77°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Harrah’s Buffet of Buffets

Seven buffets in 24 hours. Sounds like a challenge to me.

And while that’s the window for Harrah’s Buffet of Buffets one-day pass, the reality is even shorter, since the buffets aren’t open from 10 or 11 p.m. to around 7 a.m. So for me it would be seven buffets in about 16 hours. This would require some planning.

I set out for Le Village Buffet at Paris Las Vegas at a strategic time that Monday morning. Checkout’s at 11, so by 10 a.m. most guests would be back in their rooms packing, or out getting on with their days. Right?

Wrong. Well, maybe right; maybe the wait’s even longer earlier in the morning. But my 10 a.m. arrival would keep me in line for 34 minutes.

And actually, that wait led to my second mistake. The Buffet of Buffets — which allows one passage at each of the company’s seven Las Vegas buffets within a 24-hour period — is $39.99 plus tax if you’re a member of the company’s Total Rewards club, $45.99 if you’re not. I figured I’d sign up and save the company six bucks. One problem: I forgot to stop by the card center and didn’t remember until I’d already been in line for 25 minutes. Not only was it $6 extra, I had to wear a wristband all day, instead of just showing player card and photo ID.

My plan was two breakfasts, two lunches and three dinners, since the dinner hour is widest. And thank heavens the Imperial Palace breakfast is really a brunch and available until 2 p.m., because the wait at Paris set me back a bit. I’d planned to return to the office between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner, but time is money. And since I was already on the Strip, I’d go ahead and do the two lunches right after the two breakfasts.

Am I crazy? No, I’m a restaurant critic of about 30 years or so. I know how to eat light, how to pace myself. And so I was able to stop by all seven buffets and eat at all of them, and the only thing that suffered was my tired feet. Here’s what I found:

Le Village Buffet, Paris Las Vegas: Standing in line for 34 minutes, you tend to notice a lot about your surroundings. It was surreal to hear native French speakers in line. Talk about coals to Newcastle.

I wonder if they were as disappointed in the buffet as I was. This has long been one of my favorites, but except for some decent pate, a passable chocolate croissant and the crepes that were drawing a long line, there wasn’t much that was French or even offbeat. The sausage bread pudding was overly dry, there were four kinds of scrambled eggs, bagels, fresh fruit, biscuits and gravy, grits (the latter two representing the South of France, I assume), and lots of desserts. But in looking for some butter for my hard roll that turned out to be way too soft, all I could find was "European-style margarine." What is "European-style margarine"? I’ll have to get back to you on that. Oh, and since I was given only a fork and knife and couldn’t find a spoon on the buffet, I ate my passable creme brulee with a fork. I noticed that lots of forks were being used to stir coffee. Grade: C

Emperor’s Buffet, Imperial Palace: No line here, in this old-fashioned space upstairs from the casino, where seating was in green leatherette booths. The scrambled eggs (one kind) were flavorless, but the corned-beef hash tasted pretty close to homemade and I liked the serve-yourself beverage option, since I’d had to order my beverage at Le Village Buffet when paying. Lots of shrimp, some sushi, a salad bar, lots of baked goods and typical breakfast and lunch offerings. And "European-style margarine." Grade: C

Garden Buffet, the Flamingo: This one gets the award for best view, as it overlooks the resort’s lovely gardens. There was no wait at about 11:45 but there was a short one by noon, and I did notice an express line for Buffet of Buffets holders, which is nice. I also liked the pretty respectable deli area with cold cuts, premade subs and prepared salads. The carved roast beef and ham both were pretty good, and I definitely appreciated being given a knife, fork, salad fork and spoon. There was fresh fruit, ambrosia, crab legs, mussels, shrimp, a salad bar, fried chicken, grilled chicken, pork loin and gravy, mussels and clams in broth, fried catfish, a bagels-and-lox bar and on and on — including real butter! Grade: B

Flavors, Harrah’s Las Vegas: This was the sleeper of the group. The decor is quite pleasant, with natural elements including woods and mosaics that make it feel like it’s not a buffet, and buffet stations marked by signs like "Fresh" (salad), "Splash" (seafood) and "Ciao" (Italian). Pork potstickers were pretty decent and I liked the salad selection. The linguine with clam sauce contained whole clams in the shell, and other selections included rodizio-cooked meats, black beans, carnitas, pizza, bananas foster and cotton candy. A definite Southern flavor came through in offerings of barbecued ribs, homemade cornbread, collards and fried okra. No wait; real butter. Grade: A

Lago Buffet at Caesars Palace: This one also has potential for nice views, since it’s adjacent to a pool/garden area, but the seating area is so large you may not realize that. The dining area is, in keeping with Caesars’ general ambiance, quite pleasant, with water walls, a waterfall, linen napkins and comfortable booths. The buffet itself is on the small side but this one has the best breads of the seven, including great pretzel rolls (and butter!) and crisp-crusted Italian bread. A pork chop with apple butter was moist and flavorful; other offerings included herb-roasted chicken, braised beef tips, shell-on shrimp, carne asada, sushi, edamame, crab legs, shrimp, Cornish hens, leg of lamb and on and on. Grade: B

Spice Market Buffet, Planet Hollywood: There was a wait here early in the dinner hour, but only about 10 minutes. It was noisy, with football playing on big video screens, and although there were servers standing around I was about finished eating before anyone asked me what I wanted to drink. There was lots of seafood, including both king and snow crab legs, seafood paella, sushi, shrimp, seafood gumbo and shrimp tempura. There’s a Middle Eastern station, a remnant of the resort’s previous life as the Aladdin, and the lamb shish kabobs and basmati rice with raisins and almonds were pretty good. Linen napkins. Grade: B

Carnival World Buffet at the Rio: This seems to be a locals’ favorite, judging from the crowd, and the line at around 7 p.m. was 22 minutes. There’s a full bar inside the buffet and a lot of Asian offerings, including a noodle station with four types of noodles and all of the accoutrements for soups, plus sushi (the spicy crab rolls were pretty good, but difficult to extract from their tray since they were all stuck together), a create-your-bowl teppanyaki station, steamed dumplings, gyoza, egg rolls, and steamed dumplings, plus the usual Mexican, American and Italian fare. Grade: B

Las Vegas Review-Journal reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at 383-0474 or e-mail her at hrinella@ reviewjournal.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST