VegasEats: The Rio Buffet
We Ate So Much They Had To Roll Us Out Of The Joint
Have you been to the buffet at the Rio?
How many times have you heard that question? I know that we here at VT have heard it several times. 'Awwww, man, you gotta check out the buffet at the Rio, man. They got crab legs, man.' Alright, alright, we give! Or gave, as it were.
On the last trip out, which was meant to be be a TrekCon/DefCon Weekend, ended up being all about The Vegas. Sorry, no review of the Cons this time around, but what we did return with was an intimate knowledge of the Carnival World Buffet at the Rio. And yes, we can confirm the title of best buffet in Las Vegas is well earned.
We rolled up to the Rio after noon sometime on a Saturday. The buffet is easy to find from the parking structure, made even easier by the incredibly long line. Imagine security check at LAX, only longer. After a wait of roughly half an hour, we finally find ourselves at the front of the line having to choose from an array of computer screen vestibules.
We begin by following the on screen instructions and answered all questioned when prompted. How many, method of payment, etc. The nicest part? We were allowed to scroll through images of all the drinks that were offered and select as many as we wanted, without the embarrassment of telling a human that we want 2 coffees, an oj, cranberry juice, apple juice, chocolate milk and a couple of waters just for the 2 of us. Plus, it was a fun and silly thing to do, and we love that here at VT. The total for the two of us came to about $50. We were also given the option of tipping in advance, choosing the 20% option, over the 15% or 'other' choice. It was a leap of faith that the service would be good, but give that the tip was printed on the reciept for the server to see we figured she would take care of us.
We were barely seated in our booth before we were up and at the buffet line. Needless to say, the place was packed. However, the folks at the Rio did a good job with keeping the flow moving on the buffet floor. With that many people dining there, it is not a small feat. There was no clear start/end to the buffet so the plan was to just jump right in.
There were plenty of clean plates all easily accesible. The food was not separated by meal, meaning all the breakfast dishes were not bunched on one table while the lunch offerings were at another. You could be helping yourself to scrambled egss and find tacos right next to you. Yes, not grouping helps disperse people. Nice touch. Plus, just when you thought you had found all the eggs, low and behold, right over there by the sushi is some Eggs Benedict. Yep. My kind of place.
The food was plentiful and overall, pretty good. We managed to heap our plates with the crab legs, which were small but acceptible for the cost. They weren't king crab legs by any means but at least it was fresh. Shrimp cocktail, Cajun Shrimp, salmon, prime rib, roast turkey, nachos, tacos, sushi, mini waffles, french toast, cereal, soups, a variety of salads, teriyaki chicken, pizza, and pasta are just some of the items we noticed. Everything was pretty fresh given that we were in the middle of the desert.
Desert..desert..dessert...Dessert! Oooooh lawd, I think I have arrived at the gates of Heaven. OK, to be honest with you here, all that stuff I said above about the food? Well, they are all partial guesses. Honestly, once I stumbled upon the dessert island, everything else sort of faded into a faint memory, that lived in the shadow of the deserrt island. See, I love my desserts and more often than not, the desserts that I have come across at your average buffet have been just that, average. You have your eclairs, that lack that certain freshness, slices of pie and cakes slapped on to a plate. They do the job, but are not necessarily memorable. The Carnival World Buffet happens to have hands down, without a doubt the best dessert bar I have ever encountered. The reason is clear: 2003 National Pastry Championship winner Pastry Chef Randy Sebastian, one of the top 10 pastry chefs in the United States runs it. And it shows.
According to the website, the dessert bar boasts more than 70 choices of homemade pies, cakes and pastries, and nine homemade gelato flavors. I tried to taste them all, in some cases, twice. Not only did they taste great, but the presentation was there as well. Instead of slabs cut from a bigger whole slapped onto a plate, each selection is a miniature version. A mini lemon merengue pie, a mini chocolate mousse tart, mini cannolis were all incredibly fresh and I appreciated the artistry that went into each piece. I really felt the love. The only regret I have is not trying the gelato. By the time I finished with all the pastries, I simply could not get another thing in me. As it were, we could barely roll our asses out of the booth. We hung out for a while enjoying our coffee and pondered our next move. The waitress checked in on us as much as she could through out the meal and pretty much kept us stocked on drinks.
We eventually made our way out of there with smiles on our faces.
So, have you been to the buffet at the Rio yet?