The Las Vegas buffet is a gastronomic icon—no style of dining so perfectly captures the city's blend of optimism and indulgence. This has been the case ever since El Rancho Vegas, the first casino hotel, opened in 1941 and introduced a chuck wagon-style spread of meats and cheeses and other hearty snacks to keep late-night gamblers going. By the 1950s, every hotel had a buffet offering lots of food for not much money, and over the years the help-yourself genre became a canvas for culinary trends that reverberated across the country: sliced-to-order prime rib, towering piles of crab legs, make-your-own sundaes, omelette bars, pasta stations, the works.
But if you ask me, the best thing to happen to the city's most popular way of eating is Wicked Spoon in the Cosmopolitan Hotel, which opened just over a year ago and functions like no other buffet we know. It's not just the globe-trotting array of options: fried rice, creme brulee, chicken potpie—whatever you're craving. It's that, unlike the upscale cafeteria model that most buffets ascribe to, nearly every dish is served in its own little vessel, whether it's shrimp and grits in mini frying pans, pad thai in tiny take-out boxes, or homemade pappardelle with wild mushrooms in cast-iron cocottes. Rather than heaped on a single platter, these servings are artfully conceived and perfectly proportioned, which is why I always leave super satisfied but never stuffed.
Wicked Spoon Buffet
3708 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89109