In my continuing quest to find the greatest buffet in Las Vegas (and eventually the world!), I may have found one to stand toe to toe with Rio’s Carnival World Buffet. Situated in Planet Hollywood, the Spice Market Buffet doesn’t fit into the Hollywood theme, at least in name. It also doesn’t bear any resemblance to a Spice Market. Nonetheless, it does use spices and the walls are adorned with food-related movie posters like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (two very similar movies). The lunch buffet cost 25 bucks, but as soon as I looked around, I knew it was going to be well worth the price.
Once in every generation, a great new idea is unleashed upon the world. The steam engine. The printing press. Penicillin. All-you-can-eat Brazilian pizza. That’s right, that list of great ideas now has company and it comes in the form of Bella Vista, a somewhat new restaurant in Culver City. As if combining the awesomeness of Brazilian food with phenomenon of pizza wasn’t enough, Bella Vista took the combination one step further by offering it rodizio-style, which is basically the Brazilian version of a buffet, but with the added bonus that the food is brought to you, rather than forcing you to do actual work. Oh and all that only costs $12.99.
Before I begin, I first want to apologize for the poor quality pictures. For some reason, The Golden Nugget decided that their buffet needed a lot of yellowish lighting, and getting rid of that was no easy task. So even though the pictures are grainy as hell and jaundiced in color, at least they give some sort of idea of what the food looked like…not that looks could do anything to save this buffet.
Now, for some reason I have always loved Fremont Street in Las Vegas. Maybe it’s the guys trying to sell you coke in the middle of the street, the crazy light displays or the free beads at La Bayou. Whatever it is, it has some unvegan allure. And for a while now, I’ve been hearing that Fremont has some damn good buffets. With that in mind, my buddy and I headed to the nicest casino down there, The Golden Nugget, thinking their buffet would be the cream of Fremont’s crop.
Shakey’s Pizza and I have a long history, dating all the way back to when I lived in Japan. I discovered Shakey’s in Kyoto and found it to have the best pizza in Japan, at least at that time. They had a modestly priced buffet and although they still served crazy Japanese-style pizza with mayonnaise and corn, they also had good old fashioned pepperoni and cheese. Plus they had delicious fried potatoes and Melon Fanta. Needless to say, every trip to Kyoto came with a stop at Shakey’s. Little did I know at the time that Shakey’s was not just some Japanese anomaly, but had begun in the US. At one point it was a pretty big deal in the US, but now there are more of them in Asia than in the US. Yet, it wasn’t until I moved to LA that I realized I could enjoy the Shakey’s goodness without a plane trip to Asia. Although I knew of Shakey’s in LA for awhile, I finally got the chance to check it out myself and see if it could live up to my memories.
I think we can all agree that there are not enough places in the world that offer unlimited food. And the places that do are usually pretty bogged down by endless salad bars and other assorted vegetables. Manna Korean BBQ in Culver City is not one of those places. Instead of concentrating on veggies, they have decided to concentrate on meats. For only 16.99, you get all you can eat meats. And these aren’t just generic grade D meats, these are a collection of short rib, brisket, pork belly, pork, chicken, spicy chicken and beef.
EDIT: This Souplantation is no more, but if you’re into salad bars there are plenty others carrying on its name.
As a man who loves all-you-can-eat, I was very excited at the prospect of heading to Souplantation (also known as Sweet Tomatoes in some places). I knew that they had an 80-foot salad bar, which sounded terrible, but I had also been told they had some REAL food. When I walked in, I hadn’t totally comprehended what an 80-foot salad bar would look like, and it bothered me deeply. Tucked in the recesses of this foul bar, I found some pastas that seemed pretty decent. I decided to start with these and took them back to my table for some tasting.
To this little unvegan, few things are more incredible than a buffet. Where else can a man choose from such a vast collection of meat products? Whoa, are there vegetables in the general vicinity of this chicken dish? Too bad, I guess I’ll just move on to the next one. A buffet is a place of choice and almost literally a microcosm of the fulfillment of the American Dream.
As the dream goes, there is no greater collection of delicious buffets than in Las Vegas. It’s no stretch to think of Vegas as the buffet Mecca, and the Kaaba in this Mecca must surely be Rio’s Carnival World Buffet.
When I was seated, I didn’t even take the time to sit down, as I just threw my jacket on my seat to begin my feast.
Round 1: Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and a meatball.
There was no need to take it slowly. It is a fact that it takes twenty minutes for the mind to realize that the stomach is full, so I had to get as much food as I could before my crazy stomach decided it was full. Since I had been drinking all day, I went straight for the fried food. The fried chicken was a good heavy hitter to coat my stomach. The mashed potatoes were great as a side, featuring a healthy amount of butter and even some cheese. The single meatball stood strong for a loner, while the only disappointment was the mac and cheese, which needed a lot of salt and loving.