I have wanted to write a review of the Buffet of Buffets at Caesars for the past couple of years, but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat nothing but buffet food for 24 hours. So I want to thank The Vegas Solo regular guest blogger, Brian Tucker. for taking one for the team to bring you this review!
If you’ve visited Las Vegas within the last few years, you have probably seen ads for Caesars Entertainment’s Buffet of Buffets package. This All-You-Can-Gorge-Yourself-On package allows you entry to the buffets of Harrahs, Flamingo, Planet Hollywood, and the Rio (with an additional upcharge for each entry at Bacchanal at Caesars Palace and the Village Seafood Buffet at the Rio), all within a 24-hour period. I had thought of trying my hand–and stomach–at the offer a couple of years ago, but chickened out when I saw how long the buffet lines were. In fact, the only participating buffet without a long line–there was no line at all, for that matter–was the Emperor’s Buffet at Imperial Palace . . .which is unsurprisingly now shuttered at the rebranded Quad.
Fast-forward to last fall when I applied for the Total Rewards Visa card and received two free Buffet of Buffets passes credited to my Total Rewards account, good for six months. I was actually excited to use the passes, but found it difficult to find a willing friend or family member to take on the gastronomical challenge with me. The excuses ranged from, “I’m not a buffet person” to “You should go with someone who eats more than I do,” to an outright, “That sounds crazy. Thanks, but no thanks.”
With the passes on the verge of expiring, I picked a very slow Monday evening (during a slow week in town) and took a date to the Strip. The passes were activated at 8:21PM at the Total Rewards center in the Flamingo, using our Total Rewards cards as the actual passes (much preferred over the wristbands I had heard about in years past). One just presents their Total Rewards card and picture ID upon each use.
We set off for Planet Hollywood, figuring the walk there and back would do us good after such a feast. The first buffet I ever went to in Las Vegas was the Spice Market Buffet at the Aladdin 10 years ago; nothing is aesthetically the same about it these days except the escalators leading to the buffet. We waited in line less than five minutes and I noticed once we were shown to the table that the buffet receipt had been stamped “VIP.”
I told my dining companion I didn’t know what that was all about. Then I remembered while I was perusing all the food stations that being approved for the Total Rewards Visa had bumped me up to Platinum status (though I don’t gamble much at all). I returned to the table to share this tidbit, only to find we didn’t have any silverware. How’s that for VIP service?
The server brought some silverware quick enough, but it was still perplexing. Overall, the meal was just what the Spice Market has come to be known for: a great selection of dishes from around the world with plenty of comfort food thrown in for good measure. I had some especially good shrimp and walked out relishing the thought of 23 more hours of this.
The next morning, I had a late breakfast–around 9:30AM–at the Paradise Garden Buffet at the Flamingo. I purposely picked it because, while I’d never heard the best things about it, I had never been there, and I figured breakfast is a hard meal to screw up. As a Total Rewards member, the cashier told me I was entitled to a free glass of champagne, which I politely declined. There was no line, and I was seated immediately behind the cashier’s station at the front of the buffet. Normally I would’ve asked for a quieter booth, but I was dining alone since my date from the previous night had said no thanks to continuing the buffet hop.
I did my usual once-over of the entire spread before grabbing a plate. I couldn’t help but notice another guest using the soft serve ice cream machine at a fully stocked dessert station. The breakfast selections were adequate and I was starving since I’d not eaten for 12 hours. There was even a crepe station, which stood out among the otherwise uninventive food choices and ’80s decor.
As I enjoyed my biscuits and gravy and bacon and eggs, I noticed how many of the chairs in the buffet were badly scuffed. The view of the Flamingo Habitat looked appealing from a distance, but the hostess was not seating any guests over in that section. I thought about having a few shrimp, but decided to wait until lunch.
At 1:30PM, I headed over to the Carnival World Buffet at the Rio. This one was also a first for me. I’d heard good things about it, but it was usually in the context of: “But you should really pay the extra for the seafood buffet.” All the queue lines were empty leading into the buffet. I thought maybe they were closed for the afternoon. I walked right up and the cashier verbally recognized me as a VIP and told me I would be seated accordingly.
How exciting! I thought.
The smiling hostess began ushering me to a circular, other-worldly section with some flashing blue lights that seemed to be emanating from a blue sculpture in the middle of the room. The look on my face must’ve given me away, as she said, “You don’t have to sit in the section with the other Platinums and Diamonds…here’s a regular booth right here.” Relieved, I took the regular booth, away from the flashing blue lights. (Who thought that was an elegant lighting choice for a buffet?)
Trying my darnedest to be hungry, I could only stomach some steamed vegetables, a tiny bit of salmon, and a small cup of gelato. The buffet selection was novel, to say the least: hot dogs, corn dogs, churros, and a couple of other things I’d never seen on a buffet. I glanced at some shrimp and nearly felt sick; it was clear the dining adventure was over for me. I enjoyed my snack of a meal and left after about 20 minutes.
At around 7:45PM, I awoke from a nap (or food coma?), and I thought for a split second about hurriedly dressing and heading out for one last meal. Visions of shrimp danced in my head…some peel-and-eat, some fried, and some steamed and ready-to-eat like I’d had 23 hours earlier at the Spice Market. Instead of gorging myself one last time, I decided to end on a high note while I still had fond memories of the experience.
The bottom line is that very few people need to–or can–eat three or four buffets in 24 hours. Sure, I could have paced myself and eaten less at the first two, but that goes against the laws of buffet dining! Even though I hadn’t paid for the pass, I still wanted to get my money’s worth. I think I succeeded.
If you plan on trying the Buffet of Buffets Pass, just be forewarned that “buffet food fatigue” will set in quicker than you realize.
Brian Tucker is a former English major who has worked in hospitality for 13 years. He prefers traveling solo because he can see so much more and set his own schedule. You can read Brian’s philosophical musings on life at his blog, Southern Aristocracy.