Las Vegas Buffets
Past and Present
Back in the good old days, Las Vegas buffets were cheap, cheap, cheap. When we started our regular treks to Las Vegas, I can recall $1.99 breakfast buffets at the Tropicana. Lunch was $2.49 and dinner $2.99. If you joined the slot club, you got a two-for-one coupon to boot. Mind you, if you calculated the value of your time spent standing in lineups that snaked half way around the casino, the prices would have not have seemed such a good deal! And compared to today’s Las Vegas buffets, the pickings in those days reflected the low price. Quantity was prime consideration with little attention to quality.
If you weren’t inclined to join the mass feedings offered at Las Vegas style buffets, you could eat your way up and down the strip “on the cheap”. There were lots of tasty treats for under a buck. You could fill up on a hobo’s lunch for 99¢. This consisted of stew served in a bowl carved out of a round loaf of bread. Lots of places offered 99¢ shrimp cocktails. Not surprising, they were not enticing – shredded lettuce in the bottom followed by tiny pink shrimp, fresh from the freezer and topped with red cocktail sauce. Foot-long hot dogs served with a can of soda pop rang in at under a dollar as well.
Today’s buffet buffs will discover that Las Vegas buffets are not cheap, but they remain a good deal and quality is top of mind. There may still be lineups, but you can fix that by eating earlier or later than the hordes. We follow our internal clock, which is set three hours ahead of Vegas time. That means, we’re hungry for dinner at 4 pm, not 7 pm and breakfast pangs hit at 6 am, not 9 am. We usually find Las Vegas buffets sparsely populated on our time schedule.
If you are a frequent guest of a hotel that offers a buffet rstaurant, and you play for a few hours a day in its casino, you can apply for a line pass, or get a special player’s club card that lets you stand in a reserved line that rates first dibs on seating.
We’ve read that a good tip handed to the hostess who seats people at Las Vegas buffets can bribe her to shuttle you to a table ahead of those standing in front of you. Honestly, we have never done this, nor seen it done and can only imagine the indignant cries from those ahead of you were you to try it. Not recommended!
In most of the buffets, once you are seated, a waiter welcomes you and asks what you would like to drink. Many offer wine and other mixed drinks, but these are seldom included in the price of the buffet. Feel free to ask for fill-ups of iced tea, soft drinks, coffee or tea and of course, make as many trips to the buffet tables as your stomach can handle.
Before you head out to indulge in one of the Las Vegas buffets, the following are generally accepted as good buffet manners:
* Do not touch any of the food including breads and buns with your hands.
* Resist the temptation to snack as you pass through the food line. The food on your plate should be eaten at your table.
* Never take a soiled plate back for a refill. Start fresh each time.
* If you are slowly picking out the biggest split King crab legs, holding up the line behind you, let others pass by.
* When you see grossly overweight people making multiple trips to the buffet tables, do not stare or gossip about them. Keep in mind if you frequent the Las Vegas buffets too often, you’ll be joining them at an upcoming fat bum convention.
* Doggie bags are not permitted – please don’t ask for one and please don’t embarrass yourself by stuffing leftovers in your tote or handbag.
* Do leave a tip on the table for the hard workers who speedily whisk dirty plates out of sight before you return with your next helping. We recommend as little as $2 per person in your party up to $5 depending on the level of service you experienced.
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