10 Ways to Make the Most of a Las Vegas Buffet

It used to be that Las Vegas buffets were the best value in Sin City. They were “loss leaders” used to attract gamblers.

In fact, the very first Las Vegas buffet, at the El Rancho, cost a mere one buck. Read more.

El Rancho buffet
In today’s Las Vegas buffet, it’s considered rude to hogtie your cold cuts.

Well, the Las Vegas buffet is still going strong, but prices have skyrocketed. Dinner on weekends at Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace cost a heart-stopping $53.99.

Bacchanal Buffet dessert
Bring it.

That means it’s more important than ever to figure out ways to get the most bang for your Las Vegas buffet buck. Here are 10 tips for giving it to The Man, buffetwise.

1. Have a Strategy

To own a Vegas buffet, you need to have a strategy. Is it most important to have a lot of your favorite dish or to try a wide variety of dishes? Don’t wait until you arrive before sorting this out. Time, and stomach capacity, are limited. Don’t just wing it!

M Resort buffets
The Studio B buffet at M Resort, just off The Strip, is one of our favorite Las Vegas buffets.

2. Don’t Starve Yourself Beforehand

Competitive eaters, also called “gurgitators,” know what they’re doing when it comes to consuming vast quantities of food, and they agree you shouldn’t starve yourself before a buffet visit. If you don’t eat, your stomach will contract, leaving less room for all the buffet goodness. Eat light in the morning before your buffet adventure, including food with sugar to get your metabolism ready for the challenge ahead.

3. Drink Water Instead

In the days before your buffet visit, drink lots of water to stretch your stomach. That way, you’ll be ready to get the most value for your buffet dollar.

Spice Market Buffet
Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood is another of our favorites. When it comes to Las Vegas buffets, we have a lot of favorites.

4. Chew Gum and Swallow Ice Cubes

Professional eaters use a couple of tricks to accomplish their goals. First, they chew gum to strengthen their jaws. They also swallow ice cubes to expand their esophagus. We could all benefit from some esophageal stretches, right? (Note: The Esophageal Stretches would make a great band name.) Sound extreme? Well, Las Vegas buffets are extreme!

5. Time Your Visit Carefully

One of the best tips for making the most of a Las Vegas buffet involves perfectly timing one’s visit. Costs vary depending upon which meal is being served. The idea is to pay for breakfast, but to arrive just before the lunch menu is served. The same goes for paying the lunch price, but getting the dinner dishes. Buffet Web sites are an invaluable source of information, so exploit them.

Aria buffet pizza
Take care with pizza. It’s a serious filler-upper. Which we’re not sure is a word.

6. Wear Loose-Fitting Clothing

Comfort is important as your body accommodates lots of food. Don’t let confining clothing thwart your buffet-conquering. Belts are the enemy of a winning buffet experience. Expandable waistbands are the buffet champ’s best friend.

7. Visit All the Buffet Stations, Without a Plate

It’s important that your first pass of the buffet be for surveying purposes only. Going empty-handed will help you avoid making impulsive selections. See what’s available, then formulate a plan of attack.

Las Vegas buffet dessert
A Las Vegas buffet can change your life. And your pant size.

8. Avoid Stomach-Fillers

There’s a reason buffets put stomach-filling dishes in the most visible places. They want you to fill up on salads, bread, rice and pastas (oh, and the aforementioned pizza) because they’re the least expensive to provide. Focus on the meat and seafood if you’re looking to get the most value from your buffet investment.

9. Eat Slowly and Deliberately

Avoid the temptation to gorge yourself quickly. Take your time. Buffets are a marathon, not a sprint. Take breaths between bites and breaks between plates.

buffet lobster
Well, at least that’s not creepy.

10. Don’t Screw Up Dessert

The single biggest mistake of novice buffet-goers is eating so much that they can’t enjoy dessert. While desserts aren’t the most high-cost items at a buffet, they’re some of the most pleasing, so save room.

Here’s a bonus tip from frequent Vital Vegas commenter, J.K. Grence: “I have a trick borrowed from fine dining. After a full plate of rich food, I’ll swing by the ice cream and gelato case and have a scoop of a tart sorbet (like lemon) before going for the next round. It helps keep your palate from feeling overwhelmed.”

ice cream and cookie
You don’t have to tell us twice. Oops, how’d that cookie get under there. Oh, well.

So, there you have it. Follow these simple steps, and you’re likely to leave a Vegas buffet full, happy and feeling like you got a bargain.

Our final thoughts: Remember to tip your server. They may not take your order or deliver your food, but they keep the beverages coming, and remove plates throughout your meal. Play nice.

Also, please, please don’t bring a Ziploc bag to try and sneak food out of the buffet. That’s not one of the ways to try and get more value from your meal! Keep it classy.

Have other Las Vegas buffet strategies? We’d love to hear them!

Now, eat up and have a blast!