I am putting together a Las Vegas with Kids webpage, containing all my reviews for Las Vegas. Some of those reviews never made it to my blog, so I’m adding them now. This one is rather old, from July 2012.
We stopped for dinner at Magnolia’s Veranda after checking out the Fremont Street Experience and we were pretty happy with the food. Both of my girls ordered pancakes for dinner and they were pretty good, in particular the blueberry pancakes. They are huge, the size of a regular dinner plate, so of course none of them could finish their portion (I had anticipated this, so I dined on their leftovers).
My husband had the ribeye dinner ($14, I think) and he enjoyed the soup (a liquidy jambalaya) that came with it. The ribeye wasn’t as thick I’d like it, but it was perfectly cooked medium rare and it had a great flavor. The mashed potatoes were also good. Service was very friendly and efficient.
In all, it was a great dining experience – made better by the fact that we got a coupon for $10 of bonus play when signing up for a players’ card and we won $24 on the poker machines – which paid for most of the dinner.
The only minus was the fact that the restaurant is open to the casino floor below and therefore the smoke flows right in. Still, I’d go again. Make sure to get a players’ card first, as there are many specials for cardholders.
Four Queens Hotel & Casino
202 Fremont Street
Las Vegas, NV
I am putting together a Las Vegas with Kids webpage, containing all my reviews for Las Vegas. Some of those reviews never made it to my blog, so I’m adding them now. This one is rather old, from July 2012.
If you are looking for a cheap buffet and/or want an introduction to classic American home cooking, then the Garden Court Buffet at the Main Street Station casino is for you. The buffet is only $11 for dinner ($10 if you join their player’s club) and offers a whole array of American classics, from fried chicken to roast beef and manicotti, to pork shoulder and make-your-own-tacos. There are also pasta salads, mashed and baked potatoes, green beans, steamed carrots, etc. The only thing really missing are ribs. The casino seems attract Filipino/Hawaiians, so there were a few Chinese/Filipino/Hawaiian offerings as well.
We weren’t too hungry so we didn’t taste that many dishes, but the manapua (Hawaiian steamed pork buns) were the best I’ve tasted. The pork had the perfect combination of acid and sweetness and they kept very well in the steam table. I wholeheartedly recommend this. The other winner are the mashed potatoes. They are perfectly seasoned and taste just of what they are. The kalua pork was also pretty good, but as the main flavor in this dish is liquid smoke, it’s hard to get it wrong.
Other dishes weren’t as great. My daughters enjoyed the “make your own tacos” station and I liked the tortilla chips, but the guacamole needed more avocado. The fried chicken was crispy, but it tasted like the microwavable kind. The lumpia and chow mein both needed more seasoning. My husband liked the pasta salad (or was it potato salad?), but it wasn’t cold enough.
The biggest loser of the day was the mac & cheese I didn’t taste it, but my daughter could barely stomach one bite – and this is not a picky child. The other loser was the melon, which was unripe and not sweet.
Desserts were the best part. Their banana cream pie was particularly tasty, but their key lime pie wasn’t bad – though too sour. The cheesecake was great, if a bit sweet. Everyone’s favorite, of course, was the soft-serve station. There are many other choices, however: from pies to pastries to puddings.
Service was great, our waiter refilled our glasses often.
In all, it was a very pleasant experience.
Garden Court Buffet
Main Street Station Casino
200 N Main St
Las Vegas, NV
The Buffet of Buffets is a deal offered by Ceasar’s line of hotels which allows you to make as many visits of the participating buffets as you’d like, within 24 hours. If you want to spend a day doing nothing but eating – and what is Las Vegas about, if not excess – then it’s not a bad deal. We’ve done it twice and might consider doing it again, but given our last experiences with the quality of the participating buffets (see below), we probably won’t do it again.
How Much Does it Cost?
The Buffet of Buffets is $60 for weekdays and $75 for weekends. You get $5 off that price with a Total Rewards card. Children’s prices are the same as adults, but you can get the discounted Total Rewards price if a parent buys it for them.
Weekend prices apply 11 AM Friday to 11 AM Sunday.
Caesar properties often offer deals that include 2 Buffet of Buffet passes with a 2-day reservation.
Buffet of Buffets prices are for food only. They don’t include drinks (unless already included in the buffet price), nor VIP access to the buffet, which allows you to cut in line.
How Much Do you Save?
The Buffet of Buffet can save you money, but with some caveats. The pass costs about as much as a lunch and dinner buffet combined – so to get more than the pass value, you should use it for at least 3 meals – but don’t count on using it for more than that, it’s pretty much impossible to consume more than 3 buffet meals in 24 hours. There are no discount passes for children, so if you have children in your party, you may not save much money at all by using the pass. To get the best value out of your pass, consider buying it for a late dinner, and using it again for an earlier dinner the following day. The weekday pass is a better deal than the weekend pass – and the buffet offerings are not that different on weekends.
Individual Buffet Prices & Comments (Adult/children & under, substract $1 for Total Rewards members)
Flamingo’s Paradise Garden Buffet: Open for Brunch, 7 AM – 2 PM. Weekday: $22/11 Weekend: $25/11, and weekend dinner, $30
Small buffet with mostly inedible food, but great view of flamingos. Groupon deal often available. Children price = 4 – 9 yo
Harrah’s Flavors: Weekday Breakfast $21/12, Weekend Breakfast $23/12, Weekday Lunch $23/16, Weekend Brunch $28/16, Weekday Dinner $28/16, Weekend dinner $30/16. Groupon deal often available. Children price = 4 – 10 yo
The dinner buffet has gone downhill and it has mostly overpriced generic food.
Paris’ Le Village Buffet: Weekday Breakfast $22/13, Weekend Breakfast $24/15, Weekday Lunch $25/15, Weekend Brunch $31/16, Weekday Dinner $31/16, Weekend Dinner $31/20. Groupon deal often available. Children price = 4 – 10 yo
Quality has gone down as have flavors. Crepes are still great but long line!
Planet Hollywood’s Spice Market: Breakfast $20/13, Weekday lunch $23/$15, Sa/Su Brunch $28/$20, Dinner $31/$20 – $5 off coupon often available, Groupon deal often available. Children price = 4 – 10 yo
NOTE: the Spice Market had a flood and it’s now only partially open. Prices have also been halved from those above. It wasn’t great before, I doubt it’s good now.
Rio’s Carnival World Buffet: Weekday breakfast $21/13, Weekend breakfast $24/15, Weekday lunch $23/15, Weekend Brunch $24/15, Weekday Dinner $31/18, Weekend dinner $36/20. Groupon deal often available. Children price = 4 – 8 yo
Extensive array of mediocre food. Not worth the price.
Available for a supplement:
Caesar’s Palace Bacchanal: Breakfast $26/11, Weekday Lunch $36/14, Weekend Brunch $45/20, Weekday Dinner $51/22, Weekend Dinner $54/22, Buffet of Buffet Supplement: $15/Breakfast, $25/Lunch/Brunch, $30/Dinner. Groupon deal very occasionally available. Children price = 2 – 10 yo
Rio’s Village Seafood Buffet: Dinner only $45/25, Total Rewards members: $36. Buffet of Buffet Supplement: $15. Children price 4-10 yo.
I am putting together a Las Vegas with Kids webpage, containing all my reviews for Las Vegas. Some of those reviews never made it to my blog, so I’m adding them now. This one is rather old, from July 2012, but as I’m not planning to return to the Carnival buffet, it will have to do.
We were not impressed with the Carnival World dinner buffet at the Rio. The buffet offered tons of choices, I don’t think we tried even a fourth of what was available, but none were dishes worth going for a second helping. The only exception to that was the steak with mushroom sauce. It was thin, but tender and had a great beef flavor.
My daughters were not impressed with any of the child friendly items and ended up eating a lot of shrimp. Hey, they have protein, but not worth the price of admission. The crab legs, which they’ve enjoyed in the past, were very small and not worth the trouble of eating.
I can’t quite remember what I tried (which tells you something). I know the prime rib was OK while the chicken parmigiana tasted like chicken nuggets (yuck!). The pork ribs were tough, the beef ribs were better and had a nice BBQ sauce. I can’t remember anything else.
The desserts we tried, OTOH, were uniformly good. The kids loved the gelato, and I enjoyed the cheesecake and flan (though dig in for the caramel as otherwise it’s not sweet enough). The one disappointment were the eclairs, as tends to be the case in most buffets.
In all, I wouldn’t go back to this buffet. In particular given the wait – 45 minutes on a Tuesday night in July. People who are paying full price (not using coupons or the Buffet of Buffets deal) do get in much faster as they have an express line for them.
We returned to the Palm’s Buffet in 2016 and found the prices higher (or rather, fewer good deals) and the food more tired.
Last August, 2013, we stayed at the Palm’s Place in Vegas, and had the opportunity to eat at the Bistro Buffet thrice. We hit it for brunch, lunch and dinner on three different days. In all, I can give the Bistro Buffet thumbs up, though my experience was as uneven as the actual price of the buffet.
The Bistro Buffet looks deceptively small, but it must have close to a hundred offerings. In addition to basic American food, they have some ethnic offerings. They also offer some ethnic specialties, mainly Mexican and Asian.
Indeed, my favorite dish was the kalbi short ribs available in the Hawaiian section. The Thai curries were also very good. Another plus goes to the Delmonico potatoes in a blue-cheese sauce. These were worthy of their namesake restaurant. How good the carved meats were depended on how long they’d been sitting. The tri-tip, marinated in a chimichurri style sauce, was delicious.
The desserts were less impressive than they could be, but the warm, moist and perfect bread pudding was always a winner. Don’t bother with the overly sweet sauces, however.
The Sunday brunch includes a variety of seafood. My daughter was less than impressed by the crab legs, but other people seemed to be enjoying them.
Service was always good. I particularly enjoyed all the free champagne with the Sunday brunch, I was happy to have a nearby hotel room to sleep it off 🙂 Note, even though this buffet opens to the casino, the air was perfectly breathable and our meal felt relaxing.
The one somewhat frustrating part about this buffet was getting the best deal. The regular price, if I’m not mistaken, is $8 for breakfast, $13 for dinner and $20 for dinner. With a player’s card, you get the meals for approximately $5/$8/$13. However, you need a players’ card per discount. Children’s prices are a couple of dollars lower than regular prices, which means that, given that children cannot have players’ cards, they are actually higher than for adults. So, for example, I paid $8 for lunch, but had to pay $10 each for each of my daughters. Now, $10 doesn’t seem like much for a buffet this big, but I have a child that eats a few grains of rice and considers herself done.
Palms Casino Resort
4321 W Flamingo Rd
Las Vegas, NV
We were staying at the Palms Place, so having lunch at Simon was a no brainer. Not only was the restaurant conveniently located in the 6th floor of our building, but restaurant.com offers $25 vouchers for the restaurant (minimum purchase of $37.50). The food was good, the ambiance was relaxing (all that light from the wall to wall windows works its magic towards lunch time), and the service was top-notch.
The menu is pretty short, emphasizing sushi for lunch, but also including some salads, pizzas and sandwiches. My husband and oldest daughter, Mika, had the California rolls. Mika got the regular kind ($12) and while she liked it, she felt it had too much rice. Mike had the baked roll ($15), which came with salmon and a sauce; he was much more pleased. The sauce, in particular, added the extra yuminess the dish needed. Neither was a large portion, but they weren’t expecting them to be.
My youngest and I had the pizzas. Her Margherita ($12) was OK, though the basil could have been fresher. It tasted more like a regular cheese pizza, than a fresh and bright Margherita.
My smoked chicken pizza ($14), on the other hand, was absolutely delicious. It had a great tangy flavor from the goat cheese that contrasted nicely with the bitterness of the arugula, the smokiness of the chicken and the sweetness of the walnuts. I’d highly recommend it.
The zucchini bread served with lunch was also a winner. The regular white bread was just OK. Both were served with butter.
Simon offers a happy hour with cheap appetizers, but we didn’t take advantage of it. It would be worth trying, however.
UPDATE: Please check out my updated review of Le Village Buffet
My husband and I love French food and had been happy enough with our last experience at the Paris Buffet (back at the turn of the millennium), that we decided to give it a try again for dinner when we visited Las Vegas last month (July 2012). This despite the fact that the buffet now gets mixed reviews. In all, I have to say we were pretty happy and it was easily the best of the four other buffets we ate in Vegas using our Buffet of Buffets pass (Planet Hollywood, the Rio, Harrah’s and Main Street Station).
Three things make the Paris buffet special. One is the Disneyiske setting, in an open-air plaza, under a fake sky, surrounded by cute French-looking houses. My kids loved it, but so did I. A second is the fact that the food actually tries to be regional French, it doesn’t always succeed, but it’s a valiant effort. Finally, it’s the fact that the menu is limited enough to at least give you a chance to try everything you want to try (not everything there is, of course). I tried a lot of stuff.
The food stands are divided by French region, though there is a station dedicated to soup, salads and seafood and another to desserts. I tried the French Onion soup here and was underwhelmed. The onions had not been caramelized enough and the broth was too weak.
The first region I visited was Provence. Here I tasted some beef braised in a dark sauce. My husban liked it quiet a bit, but I felt the dish needed some sweetness, some wine in the sauce or caramelization on the beef. The saffron rice tasted like plain buttered rice, it was good but there were no hints of saffron. A dish of pasta in a cream sauce was quite satisfying, though I think it would have been helped by some grated cheese on top. A stewed chicken gave a hint of having been cooked in wine, but otherwise lacked seasoning.
My next region was Alsace, a region in the border with Germany that has gone back and forth between the two countries. I’ve both eaten and cooked Alsatian food before and I’m quite fond of it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t too fond of the chocroute garni, the meat was a tad too sweet and too spicy for me, while the pickled cabbage was too vinegary for my taste. The rest of the offerings were better, but not Alsatian. The cassoulet was nicely done and the meat was flavorful,the caramelized pearl onions were delicious, though a little underdone, and the scalloped potatoes were wonderful.
My venture into Savoie (a region I don’t know at all) was even more successful. Here I tried the grilled pita bread, lamb, tri-tip and chicken – apparently they like to grill in Savoie. They were all great, in particular the lamb and the tri-tip. Don’t bother with the chateubriand sauce, however, it wasn’t that good and would have ruined the meats.
This station also includes a sample of cheeses. The smoked gouda (or a cheese that tastes as such) was particularly delicious.
Normandy offered a stuffed sole which I loved. It had a beautiful crust and a delicious flavor, once you added a squeeze of lemon juice. Mike wasn’t as fond of it, and I can’t really understand why. The ham and cheese quiche was less successful, it tasted very much of Parmessan. There is also a small sushi section, but I didn’t try that at all.
Finally, I was surprised that there was neither beef bourguignon nor coq au vin in the Burgundy section but I then realized that this was actually the American station. Here you can find rotisserie chicken (I didn’t try it), prime rib (very good), roasted pork with apples (so salty as to make it inedible), roasted and mashed potatoes (good enough) and mac & cheese (lacked flavor).
For dessert, I first headed to the Breton section where you could try apple crisp and bread pudding (homey, but nothing to write home about) as well as made-to-order crepes. The crepes were the standard French variety, rather than Breton buckwheat galettes, but they were delicious. I had mine with strawberries and bananas covered with fudge and hazelnuts. The one problem is that the strawberries were already macerated and too sweet, so make sure you add some element to compensate for that. Still, it was sooo good.
We also visited the dessert station and here I tried several things. There was a chocolate mousse pastry on a hazelnut crust which was delicious and a lemon cookie sandwich that was out of this world. The other desserts impressed less. The cheesecake was less inspired that at other buffets and the creme brulet lacked umf. I liked the peanut butter cookie, but the sugar cookie was nothing special. The kids loved the soft custard (aka ice cream).
I had the unlimited mimosas/champagne/wine deal for dinner ($14, I think), and it’s a good deal if you’re planning to drink alcohol and are not too picky about quality. I enjoyed the mimosas and the champagne. The wine tasted like $2 chuck and I would definitely not have it again.
Probably the worst part of the evening was our waitress. She was efficient but seemed to be having a crappy night and there was never a hint of smile on her face. I’m sorry, but dining is an experience and unhappy waitresses bring it down a notch.
All in all this is a good buffet and I’d defintiely do it again.
Mika (my 9-yo daughter) had been asking me to take her to the Rainforest Cafe for months. We’ve been to the one in San Francisco a couple of times, and she loves it. However, the Rainforest Cafe is not just out of the way, all the way in SF, but it’s also ridiculously expensive – and the food isn’t even very good. However, I knew she was going to find out that there was a Rainforest Cafe in Vegas (as it was at one of the hotels we were staying at), and she’d demand we go there, so I made plans to do so. My plans basically consisted on going elsewhere for dinner, and just having dessert at RC. They sort of worked – Mike, Camila and I had burgers at In-n-out and then a dessert at RC, but Mika insisted in having dinner there as well.
The Rainforest Cafe in Vegas is located at the MGM Grand hotel. It’s a pretty small affair, in particularly in comparison to the one in San Francisco, and, IMHO, not nearly as cool. The fact that you can see the people walking in and out of the hotel from your table (or at least, from the table we were seated at), really detracts from the experience. There are relatively few animatronic animals, and they are static most of the time, but they’re pretty cool when they move. I did like the rain effect behind me. Mika liked it well enough.
Food at the Rainforest Cafe in Las Vegas is even more outrageously expensive than at other RCs. Most entrees are in the high 20’s, and even children’s meals are $10, and all they include is a drink (not dessert). You can get a coupon for a free appetizer with the purchase of one entree in several of the coupon books you find in Las Vegas, and when we went the first time there was a man downstairs (by the entrance from the self parking lot) handing out coupons for one free child’s meal with the purchase of an adult entree. Still, the food is super overpriced. On the plus side, the adult portions seem to be quite large and may be large enough to share.
Mika had the fettucini alfredo, and she was happy enough with her dish. No complains there, but really, she’s happy with the Budget Gourmet’s version of this dish, so she’s not picky.
We all shared the “volcano” ($15), a dessert consisting of three long brownie balls, surrounding two scoops of vanilla ice cream and covered with chocolate fudge. There is a glitter stick on top to suggest an explosion. I’ve had it before, but I had forgotten just how bad this very expensive dessert is. The brownies are way too dry, the fudge is way too sweet, and there isn’t enough vanilla ice cream for the amount of brownies available. There were four of us eating this dessert, but we couldn’t finish it. Actually, we didn’t want to either. I know I’ll have to return to the Rainforest Cafe (though hopefully not to the Las Vegas one), I hope to remember to order something other than the Volcano.
On the plus side, service was very good by our very cordial and cheerful waitress. She didn’t seem to mind at all that we were ordering so little food, and was very pleasant to us and the kids.
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
3799 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV
These are a few places we went to that don’t merit a post of their own.
–McDonalds. Pathetic, I know, but pretty much every hotel has one in their food court, and they charge regular McDonalds prices (including their dollar menu). Most other food court choices are overpriced and don’t seem much better. Some McDonalds have free refills on sodas – which is great when they’re otherwise $3-4 at the hotel.
–New York Pizza, on the mezzanine level (the one connecting you to the Excalibur and MGM) of the New York New York hotel. Pizza slices start at $5 for plain cheese. The slices are pretty large, though thin (like NY pizza). They are reheated in the oven, so they’re not particularly fresh. My daughter thought they tasted like Costco pizza. I thought they were OK.
-Gelato at Trevi, near the “fountain of the Gods” at the Caesars Palace. Mika had a cone of the chocolate mousse ($5.75) and it was absolutely delicious, easily the best gelato I’ve had in the States. It’s expensive, but it’s a generous scoop.
–Cafe Belle Madeleine, at the Paris hotel. The girls and I shared a chocolate mousse pastry ($5.50). It was very good, very chocolaty and very rich. It was more of an adult pastry, though. Other pastries looked just as sinful.
–Frozen strawberry daiquiris by the MGM Grand pool. Ridiculously expensive at $22 for a daiquiri in one of those souvenir yard cups ($11 for refills). It was a lot of fun drinking it while traveling through the Lazy River, however. I shared it with Mike and didn’t get in the least buzzed, which makes me suspect it had little if any alcohol. It tasted quite good, though. A virgin refill for the girls cost just as much, and tasted the same.
–Water & sodas. They were $2 on the hotel machines at the Luxor and $3 at the MGM grand. They’re more in the shops, but you can get them on the strip for just $1-$1.50.
–Cheap breakfast. We brought cereal and had it with milk we kept in the cooler. Neither the Luxor nor the MGM had fridges in their standard rooms, but they both had ice machines.
(Updated with 8/14 visit)
Las Vegas used to be the land of buffets. Every casino used to offer them as a way to draw in customers, who would then spend lots of money gambling. They used to be terribly cheap. That’s no longer the case. Every casino still has a buffet, but the majority of them are extremely expensive. Even a cheap buffet like the Luxor’s is $20 for dinner, with most of the better ones averaging around $30. I think the only reason why they can get away with those prices is that most of the restaurants on the strip are grossly overpriced, going off the strip requires a car, an expensive taxi drive or an uncomfortable bus ride. They have you.
All that said, I sort of wanted to go to a buffet during our 2011 trip to Vegas. I had gotten a 2-for-1 buffet offer with my MGM Grand room, but the MGM buffet gets such terrible reviews that I didn’t want to try it even at the reduced priced. I decided upon trying the Spice Market Buffet mostly because it was at the Planet Hollywood hotel, where I wanted to go to check the “rainstorm” attraction, and because at $23 after a $5 off coupon I found online, it wasn’t terribly priced. Plus it got decent reviews. In all, it wasn’t a bad choice. The food ranged from OK to good and given the prices in Las Vegas it wasn’t a bad value.
We returned to the buffet for dinner in August 2014, using the “buffet of buffets” pass (which gives you entry into 5 participating buffets for $50/$65 weekdays/weekends). The food then felt even more tired and less exciting than the first time around. I don’t think any of us were able to find anything that really excited us. The items I had liked during my first visit (Italian short ribs, American BBQ ribs and Chinese pork buns) were either missing or inedible this time around. As in other buffets, your best bet may be with the roasts – if you watch to make sure that the piece you get is from the center of a fresh roast.
The Spice Market Buffet portrays itself as an international buffet, and while the food stations are arranged by cuisine (“seafood”, “American”, “Italian”, “Asian”, “Mexican”, “Middle Eastern”, “bread & salads” and “desserts”), in reality all the “ethnic” food are American favorites from other cuisines. For example, Mexican food included fajitas, tortilla chips and guacamole – not a mole poblano or a pollo al pibil. Similarly, there was no chance you’d encounter a Persian stew or Syrian kibbeh at the Middle Eastern station: hummus, pita bread and a chicken curry was more like it. Still, there was a lot of food, much more than anyone could possibly sample on just one visit.
Among the things we sampled and failed in our visits were a linguini with a garlic butter sauce lacked flavor, though my 9-yo liked it. The meatballs were too dry and not worth the calories. The sauce on the chicken marsala was nice enough, but the chicken was so dry as to make it inedible. The beef on both an Asian stir fry and Mexican beef fajitas was also dry and tough, though the flavors were OK. The guacamole had been clearly mixed with some extender. The crab legs were very, very dry. A crab-stuffed-sole had been left for too long under the heat lamps and had become too tough.
Desserts were weak during our first visit, but had improved for our second -perhaps in comparison to the rest of the meal. We were able to get seated relatively quickly, but our service, which had been good the first time, was so-so the second time.
I’m definitely not looking forward to returning.
Spice Market Buffet
Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino
3667 Las Vegas Boulevard. South
Las Vegas, NV