At a Glance
What is it?
A full-service, upscale buffet offering lots of well-prepared but not terribly exceptional food.
Where is it?
At Aria Las Vegas on the South Strip.
What kind of food is served?
A little bit of everything with stations for Mexican/Latin, Italian, Middle Eastern, American comfort food, seafood, desserts, and more.
What is the atmosphere like?
A 2013 revamp cut down on the cafeteria vibe but it’s still basically just a big buffet room.
How is the service?
What are the prices like?
Expensive but no more so than most big buffets on The Strip these days.
What else do I need to know?
Try to get a seat away from the line of people who are waiting to get in.
What’s the bottom line?
A solidly dependable buffet that wants to be more than that.
It isn’t unusual for a buffet to get a makeover. Many of them have been upgraded to feature more modern layouts, designs, and food offerings including those at Caesars Palace and Wynn Las Vegas just to name a few. But the makeover of the Buffet at Aria Las Vegas is a bit unusual in that it happened to a buffet that was already considered “state of the art” when it opened just a few short years ago.
Many people, including myself, found the original buffet to be underwhelming, with a cold design that evoked a cafeteria and food that was decent but totally forgettable. Hence the makeover.
The room is certainly much warmer than it used to be. Rich earth tones of brown and orange, wood accents, and big windows letting in natural light make it a nice place in which to gorge yourself. I was a little uncomfortable with our table’s location in that it was about a foot from the very, very, very long line of people waiting to get inside, who were separated from us only by a railing and all of whom watched us eat with a mixture of jealousy and maybe a little hostility. The moral of this particular story is to request a table somewhere else.
One quibble on the design… instead of providing placards or signage right next to the food explaining what it was, each station had a small blackboard above it listing all of the food found on the station. This meant a confusing glance-up, glance-down process that caused some traffic jams as people tried to identify the more arcane items. Variations on “Ohhhh! It’s hummus!” were heard more than once.
We went for Sunday brunch so the breakfast type items dominated the offerings. Several different types of eggs, made-to-order-omelettes, pancakes, waffles, a pile of bacon as big as the pig from which it came, pastries, and more were featured but that was only the start. I also saw a full carving station with half a dozen selections from brisket to sausage; Mexican and Latin food; pizza; Middle Eastern selections including tzatziki and and the aforementioned hummus; American comfort food; a full salad and fruit bar; Italian; lots of fresh seafood; and much, much more. As usual with buffets the food selections change so I don’t want to go into too much detail other than to say there was a heck of a lot of food and if you can’t find something here to your liking, you are way too picky.
As far as the quality, it didn’t get quite the upgrade that the room did. Don’t get me wrong – most everything was well-prepared, flavorful, served hot and/or cold appropriately, and more than abundant. Yes, there were a few bum notes – the ham from the carving station was too dry and the breakfast sausage links were a bit on the greasy side, but those were exceptions rather than rules. The problem is that there was nothing exceptional – nothing that made me want to go back for seconds.
If the costs were lower I’d say exceptional was an unreasonable expectation, but at $25 for breakfast, $29 for brunch (plus $8 for brunch booze like mimosas), and between $39 and $44 for dinner then I should be able to apply superlatives more superlative than “well-prepared” and “flavorful.” Consider this: for an extra few bucks you can eat at the Wynn Buffet, which sends me clicking off to thesaurus.com to come up with new ways to describe how good the food is.
While the makeover has absolutely improved the Buffet at Aria, it ultimately feels incomplete.