It’s always good to have a strategy when approaching a buffet, any buffet; in Las Vegas, where prices have skyrocketed of late, even more so. Going in? Prepare yourself. Read on. (If you’re just looking for our opinionated guide to the best Las Vegas buffets in 2017, go here.)
#1 Start low, aim high
All buffets – even the best ones—have their share of detractors. That’s more than fair; everyone comes to Vegas with different expectations. It often seems that the loudest complaints, however, come from diners who feel ripped off after spending $40 (or more, in some cases) for a dinner visit. When first trying a buffet, it can be a good idea to start with breakfast, just as a test drive. You can also ask to go have a look before bothering to wait in line. Better to do your research than be disappointed once you’ve already paid up. If you’ve only got one shot, make it weekend brunch—that’s when even the average buffets tend to really push the boat out.
#2 Buy the pass
For many fans, the best buffet in Las Vegas isn’t a buffet at all—it’s many buffets. Caesars sells a popular, if pricey pass to its Las Vegas feeding troughs. Called the Buffet of Buffets (BOB, if you like), you buy the pass for as little as $59.99 plus tax per person at any one of the stops; this grants you license to stuff your face at buffets located at Paris, Harrah’s, Planet Hollywood and the Flamingo at any time during the next 24 hours. For a per-visit upcharge, starting at $15, you can also include Bacchanal at Caesars and Rio’s popular Carnival World & Seafood Buffet. Note: Prices go up on weekends and even higher over holiday weekends.
#3 Join the club
Not that you need to be reminded, but it makes zero sense to spend even a penny inside a Vegas resort without being a member of the house rewards program. Just being a member can mean points on your card for dining, or discounts at restaurants, including the buffet. (Check each program for details when you sign up.) Some programs might even give you a comp to the buffet just for joining the club. Before you eat: Sign up.
#4 Don’t fill up on the wrong things.
We shouldn’t have to say this, but it’s amazing how many people walk into Vegas buffets and go, “Oh, wow, they have California rolls, how cool!” Not really. With a few key exceptions, you will be served supermarket-level sadness that ends up being mostly rice. Which, of course, fills you up way too fast. Heck, you might as well go eat a pile of pastry. At least pastry is fun. Seriously, though—for best results, wherever you go, eat as much raw bar and red meat as humanly possible. If that’s not a thing that you typically do, probably don’t go to a Las Vegas buffet.
#5 Let’s talk about tipping.
We hear many complaints about buffet service, but wonder how many people doing the complaining actually bother to tip. Yes, they don’t do as much for you as servers in a regular restaurant, but they do bring drinks and clear tables—try to leave anywhere from $1 to $3 per person in your party. Not to wholeheartedly endorse this method of ensuring good service and not to say that it works all of the time, but leaving a slightly more generous tip on the credit card as you walk in (you pay upfront) isn’t the worst idea in the world, particularly if you’ve purchased one of those booze packages that will require your server to make multiple trips to the table. (As you might imagine, they love those.)
Booking a trip?
If you’re looking for the lowest airfares to Las Vegas, start by noodling around on CheapFlights or BookingBuddy—both will compare multiple sites at once, saving you a lot of running around. When you’re ready to book, we recommend Orbitz or Expedia—both offer 24-hour cancellation policies, allowing you to lock in the lowest fare while you finalize your plans. (As always, read the fine print first.) Just on here looking for the best Las Vegas hotel deals? Start by searching TripAdvisor, or Hotels.com, but don’t book anything without a stop at Priceline, where you can save up to 60% on any given night by taking advantage of their Express Deals feature. (This simple tool has probably saved us—no joke—thousands of dollars, over the years.). Finally, if you need a rental car, begin your search by swinging wide to get a sense of the market—BookingBuddy lets you check pretty much every site worth knowing, with just a couple of clicks.