I love me a good buffet. It allows me to do two of my favorite things: stuff my pie hole, and get the better of an amiable and willing adversary. In poker, they say that if you cannot recognize the sucker at the table then that sucker is you. In the buffet business, it is the management. They expect you to order expensive drinks and fill up on mashed potatoes and desserts. You, on the other hand, are going to dive straight into the cold station, load your plate with appealing salads and pickly things, then swing for the fences with a lean protein.
I mastered my buffet skills as a college student on a budget in Claremont, California, at Griswold’s Indian Hill Old Danish Smorgasbord. They didn’t open till 5 pm, so I’d starve myself all day and then gorge on pickled herring and cole slaw. I was good till the middle of the next day, easily. More recently I have specialized in sushi places. You do not want to know how many slices of saba (cured mackerel) I can eat.
This past week I have been in Las Vegas, covering CES for my day job. Vegas has always been a Mecca for buffet heads, but in recent years buffet going has been elevated to a fine art. Prices are often over $30 for dinner, requiring some truly inventive choices to game the management and eat past the cost of the ingredients. And lines are reported to be up to 3 hours at peak times.
To counteract the prices, the buffet hound now has a choice called the Buffet of Buffets. For $44.95 you are allowed to attend
five six buffets in 24 hours! Yelp is loaded with strategies for how to do this. A best practice is to plan for a late dinner one night, an early one the next so you get two of the most expensive meal. (Your receipt is typically stamped when you enter the buffet, then you can stay till bedtime if you like.) An early and a late breakfast and a 2 pm lunch and you are all setstill have to find a way to eat one more meal, keeping in mind your stay in Las Vegas will consist of nothing but eating and stand in line.
For the truly dedicated, there is also a deal where the Harrah’s chain offers you TWO FREE Buffet of Buffet passes, to be used on two subsequent days, when you stay for two nights at selected properties. Prices start at $49 per night at the Imperial Palace, a perfectly decent if older hotel right in the middle of the strip. So you will be able to eat yourself into oblivion and you don’t even have to rent a car. Just be sure to buy an extra seat for your return flight, because that you will need.