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Las Vegas BuffetsGambling, big-name entertainers, superior restaurants and over-the-top casinos have always lured visitors to Las Vegas. But for those with hearty appetites there is no bigger attraction than the buffets. They’re a Vegas tradition, the gustatory pillars of a “City That Never Sleeps” and apparently can never get enough to eat. Mountains of shrimp. Piles of golden fried chicken. Monster prime rib. Row after row of sushi rolls. An avalanche of crab legs. Desserts in every color of the rainbow. Just one meal at a Vegas buffet has the potential to put new stretch marks on your stomach, the ultimate souvenir for your upcoming vacation.

The father of the Vegas “all you can eat” affair was Herb McDonald, a casino publicist who reasoned that if you felt like you got a bargain meal, the more willing you’d be to part with money in the casino. The Strip’s first buffet was the El Rancho Vegas hotel’s Chuck Wagon. When it opened in 1946, dinner cost a dollar. Today there are more than 60 hotel buffets in the greater Vegas area, from perfunctory spreads to the new breed of super buffet. That’s a lot of bloated bellies.

There was a time when the low-priced buffet was the only game in town. Not today. Food quality has improved, the selection is wider, and of course prices have shot higher. You can still find dirt-cheap smorgasbords (mostly in the off-Strip casinos frequented by locals), but at the megaresorts dinner prices average around $35 per adult and climb as high as $55 for the gourmet chow at current hot spot, Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace. Keep in mind that breakfast (excluding Sunday brunches) and lunch prices at all buffets are always a few dollars cheaper.

Penny-pinchers looking to gorge themselves for under $20 will need to head off-Strip. Gold Coast, (702) 367-7111, has a decent supper spread, plus classic carving stations (prime rib and turkey) just like its pricier brethren. Downtown, try the Garden Court Buffet at Main Street Station, (702) 387-1896.

In the $25 to $30 range quality gets better, and at this price tier you’ll usually find all-you-can-eat shrimp. The buffet at the Westgate (formerly the LVH), (800) 732-7117, offers a made-to-order pasta station and beats most of the mid-range offerings over on the Strip.

North of $30 you find the good stuff. Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood, (702) 785-5555, has nine food stations (including an excellent Middle Eastern counter) that dish up grub a cut above your typical steam table fare. The Cravings buffet at Mirage, (702) 791-7111, lays out something for every taste, including bloat-worthy Mexican and Asian stations. The Cosmopolitan's Wicked Spoon buffet, (702) 698-7000, does a nice daily brunch. The Buffet at ARIA, (702) 590-7111, has a tandoor oven, meaty crab legs and an all-you-can-drink alcoholic beverage deal. Rio’s Carnival World & Seafood Buffet, (702) 777-7777, whips up a huge international feast that devotees swear is the best in town.

Bellagio, (702) 693-7111, and Caesars Palace, (702) 731-7110, are the top of the line both in taste and price. These are bounteous spreads with an array of quality meats, plenty of made-to-order stations and outrageous dessert selections.

Want to worship at multiple temples of gluttony for a single, discounted price? Look into the Buffet of Buffets deal. For a 24-hour period, a wristband grants you unlimited access to six buffets at Vegas hotels owned by Caesars Entertainment. If your stomach can handle it, phone (702) 862-3530 for details.

Vegas buffets are hugely popular and don’t accept reservations. For dinner, arrive before 6:00 or after 9:00 to avoid long lines.

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Las Vegas, NV

Top AAA Diamond Hotels

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Travel Information

City Population

583,756

Elevation

2,181 ft.

Sales Tax

Clark County's sales tax is 8.25 percent. The county also imposes a 12 percent tax on lodgings, with an additional 1 percent tax for properties within the city of Las Vegas boundaries.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

311, or (702) 828-3111 (also valid for TTY)

Fire (non-emergency)

(702) 383-2888

Hospitals

Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center, (702) 733-8800; MountainView Hospital, (702) 962-5000; Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center, (702) 853-3000; Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center, (702) 961-5000; University Medical Center, (702) 383-2000; Valley Hospital Medical Center, (702) 388-4000.

Visitor Information

3150 Paradise Rd. Las Vegas, NV 89109. Phone:(702)892-0711 or (877)847-4858

Air Travel

McCarran International Airport (LAS) is about 10 miles south of downtown Las Vegas via Las Vegas Boulevard and 3.5 miles south of the Las Vegas Convention Center via Paradise Road, just a few minutes' drive from the Strip's southern end. One of the nation's busiest airports, it serves most major airlines.

Rental Cars

Hertz offers discounts to AAA members; phone (702) 262-7700 for the airport, (800) 654-3131 for the Strip.

Buses

Greyhound Lines Inc., 200 S. Main St., is the major bus company serving Las Vegas; phone (702) 384-9561.

Taxis

Major cab companies include Ace, (702) 888-4888; Checker/Yellow Cab/Star, (702) 873-8012; and Whittlesea Blue Cab, (702) 384-6111. Base activation fee is $3.50 and $2.88 for each mile, plus 54 cents for every minute the cab is waiting or traveling under 8 to 12 mph. Trips to the airport incur a $2 surcharge. Payment by credit card incurs a fee of $3.

Public Transportation

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) provides bus service to most parts of the city. The most useful to visitors are the Deuce double-decker buses serving the Strip. The buses operate 24 hours daily, run every 7-10 minutes and stop at nearly every Strip hotel property.

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