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Las Vegas Strip Buffets Disappear (But Something Better Has Replaced Them)
By Daniel Kline,
Las Vegas has always stood for excess. It's a city where you can visit and indulge in ways you maybe would never have considered during your regular life.
Gambling, of course, sits at the top of that pyramid, but food has always been a huge part of the Sin City experience. The covid pandemic, however, hastened a change in dining trends in Las Vegas and on the Las Vegas Strip.
Even before covid hit, dining trends had been changing in Las Vegas. As real estate become more valuable on the Las Vegas Strip, more restaurants moved to serve higher-end customers. That doesn't mean every eatery became an upscale sit-down restaurant, but even cheaper offerings became a bit more unique.
You still see fast-food chains on the Strip, but celebrity chefs including Bobby Flay and Gordon Ramsay added quick-serve options to their dining empires. The bar in Las Vegas has been rising and that has also impacted what for decades would have been considered an untouchable local tradition -- the low-cost buffet.
A Number of Las Vegas Strip Buffets Are Gone
A cheap buffet used to be a way for Las Vegas casinos to keep mid-tier gamblers happy and on their property. Caesars Entertainment ( CZR ) , for example, offered lower-end buffets at many of its properties and that was a pretty easy comp for gamblers to get.
If the casino gave you a free meal, you stuck around and gambled at that resort. Now, even though Las Vegas Strip resorts are as opulent as ever, operators have given up the idea that they can keep patrons in one venue for an extended time.
That has led to Caesars, MGM Resorts International ( MGM ) , and other operators looking to add destination dining. You might leave an MGM property to go eat at Bobby Flay's Amalfi in Caesars Palace or Gordon Ramsay Steakhouse in Paris Las Vegas, and the promise of a mediocre buffet would not change your mind.
This trend started before the pandemic as buffets were not a good use of space and they had been slowly disappearing. Covid, however, hastened that and now most of the buffets that remain are very high-end destination experiences.
"On the Las Vegas Strip, only eight buffets remain (the Bacchanal at Caesars Palace, The Buffet at Bellagio, Wicked Spoon at Cosmopolitan, The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas, the MGM Grand Buffet, the Buffet at Excalibur, the Circus Buffet at Circus Circus, and The Buffet at Luxor) where 18 once stood," Casino.org reported.
Here's What's Replacing Las Vegas Strip Buffets
Just because low-end buffets don't fit the Las Vegas Strip model anymore does not mean Vegas tourists don't want a buffet-like experience. In many cases, food halls -- which offer numerous higher-end restaurants in a sort of food court fashion have replaced the traditional buffet.
Food halls are essentially pay-as-you-go buffets. A group can grab a table and every member of the party can order from the eateries that entice them. Sharing tends to happen, but it's not required.
A number of food halls have opened on the Strip over the past few years including:
Proper Eats Food Hall (opened Dec 2022): Clique Hospitality brought together a collection of highly sought-after imports and only-in-Las Vegas destinations with Proper Eats Food Hall, now open on the promenade level of ARIA Resort & Casino. Offerings include Judy Joo’s Seoul Bird out of London, Wexler’s Deli out of Los Angeles, Portland’s Shalom Y’all and New York’s Egghead – each opening for the first time outside of their native cities. Additionally, several of Proper Eats’ concepts were created by Clique, including the company’s new sushi concept, Temaki, along with Easy Donuts, Proper Bar and Laughing Buddha.
Famous Foods Street Eats : Inspired by the energetic street markets of Southeast Asia, Famous Foods Street Eats at Resorts Worlds Las Vegas features a curated collection of pan-Asian eateries mixed with crave-able concepts by award-winning chefs from around the globe.
Block 16 Urban Food Hall : Block 16 showcases a curated selection of purveyors, scoured from the country’s most traversed city streets to bring the most crave-able, easy-to-love food & drink to The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Bold flavors, world-renowned chefs, and a lively atmosphere to draw you in and compel you to stay.
Eataly : The largest Italian marketplace with restaurants in the world has arrived in Las Vegas. Comprised of more than a dozen authentic Italian eateries and hundreds of high-quality products, Eataly Las Vegas at Park MGM offers visitors the opportunity to eat, shop, and learn their way through one of the greatest cuisines in the world under a single roof.
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