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The Newbie's Guide to Casino Buffets

Casino desserts

Dessert first? Why not? Photo by Greg Hahn

There are not as many casino buffets in the Tahoe area as there are in the Reno area, but the Forest Buffet at Harrah's, the buffet at Montbleu and the Town Square Buffet at the Horizon in Stateline do offer some of the best food deals in the Lake Tahoe area.

Don't be turned off by the casino part of the word: many casino buffets these days offer some excellent selections of meat and seafood, massive salad bars, specialty salad and soup bars, pizza, Asian, Thai, Vietnamese and Mexican food, and of course, tons of desserts.

If you've turned your nose up at casino buffets, but are down to your last $15.95. It's time to head to a buffet. If it's your first time going to a casino buffet, there are a few things to keep in mind. Some people, when faced with the wide range of choices for one price tend to go crazy and fill up their plates to quickly with fried chicken, mashed potatoes and that big chunk of chocolate cake. Before visiting your first casino buffet, you must have a plan of attack:

1. Look at the layout and get the lowdown

Before you even grab your first plate, walk around the entire buffet and get the lowdown. Is there a Vietnamese noodle bar? Does the salad look fresh? What cuts of meat is the chef cutting? Then take a plate and start to add small portions of each thing you want to try. Even if you don't eat salad, try visiting the salad bar for interesting lettuce mixes, Asian sprouts and homemade dressings.

2. Get the better deal: Go for breakfast, stay for lunch

Some buffets offer a breakfast price that is lower than the lunch or dinner price. If you head to the buffet later in the morning, you could still pay the breakfast price, but get brunch or lunch items as well.

3. Visit on the weekdays for price, weekends for variety


Friday night and the weekends usually feature seafood and steak buffets as well as all the other choices and the costs go up. Weekdays usually feature the usual fare for a lower cost.

4. You can still order beer and wine

Most drinks like water, soda, iced tea and coffee are free with a casino buffet. However, you can still order a beer, cocktail or glass of wine with dinner for an extra price. Most Sunday buffet brunches offer mimosas or Bloody Mary's.

5. Tip your server


They don’t serve your food, so you may be tempted not to tip, but casino servers do clean up your plates and refill your water and iced tea. Most of them work their butts off and do an excellent job. If you receive good service, leave a note for their manager on a comment card.