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Tactical Question re Dining in Vegas

Family trip coming up with 2 kids - 7 and 11 (today - happy birthday!). Both are adventurous eaters but randomly picky. Neither eats large quantities of food at a time, almost ever. Actually, neither do my husband or I. He and I are also extremely light drinkers.

Buffet or not? I don't want to pay alot and feel like I could've dined elsewhere, better, for less $. This is a relative question rather than my budget is $x question. I read a blurb from another post that kids are charged same price, or may bring in outside food. If none of us are big big eaters, is it worth it just for the quality, variety, high end items, and experience? If we buffet, is there a best meal to go as btwn bfast lunch and dinner (in terms of bang for buck and wait times being not so terrible)?

What about the celebrity chef restaurant outposts? Any good deals out there in places that won't sneer at me when I bring my kids along?

Finally, the regular nonbuffet, non celebrity, regular old restaurants... tips for affordable good tasting meals? I know this is super broad - we are staying in the Stratosphere and walking up and down the strip. No car. Any cuisine will do, but we aren't big fans of greasy spoon diners.

Appreciate all the help! I will do some research on my own too.

ps - not food question. Someone told me that the nightly pirate show outside Treasure Island might not be appropriate for my 7 y.o. Thoughts?

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  1. Downtown the Fremont Street Experience is fun for kids. Also they have a Light show starts on the hour from 9:00 PM. "Du Pars" up scale Coffee shop open 24 Hours in the Golden Gate Hotel, also downtown.

    1. I wouldn't worry about the TI show unless you are REALLY offended by anything you would see on any beach for swimwear.

      1. That's some walk you've got planned. Your hotel is at the far north end of the strip. You really can't walk to downtown from there and, the strip, itself, is at least a mile long. There is a monorail along the strip but, I'm not sure where to catch it. I believe it stops at all the hotels.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mucho gordo

          The closest Monorail stop is behind the shell of the old Sahara. It goes behind the east side of the strip, stopping at Sahara, LVH (formerly the Hilton), the Las Vegas Convention Center, Harrah's and The Quad, Flamingo, Bally's and Paris, and finally MGM Grand. Note that it stops in the very back of each hotel property.

          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

            Friends and I have walked from Fremont to Charleston(not far from the Strat) a few times, and I have walked the Strip during Halloween in costume, so it isn't THAT bad. The Strip is 4.2 miles end to end.

          2. re: mucho gordo

            I've walked it. It's pretty entertaining (and a good way to wear out the kids)...

          3. For the buffet or not question: It depends. I feel like going to a buffet in Vegas is like going up the Eiffel Tower on a trip to Paris; you could skip it, but why? The buffet is as much a part of the Vegas experience as showgirls and slot machines.

            Worth it for quality: Depends entirely on the hotel. Higher end hotel, higher end buffet. I'd rather pay a few bucks extra for Wicked Spoon, Bellagio, Wynn, or Spice Market than endure the sub-Golden Corral slop at the low end buffets like Excalibur, Circus Circus, or Stratosphere.

            High end items: Those are at dinner. My usual buffet meal is lunch. It's not AS fancy as dinner, but the good buffets still have a very nice selection. By the time I'm done, I'm full enough that dinner is a very late meal.

            Kids' buffet pricing: As far as I can tell, it depends on the hotel. Call the ones that don't have pricing online and you'll find out. It looks like the usual kid/adult split is either 8 or 10 years old; your 7 will pretty much always get it, the 11 year old almost never will.

            Celebrity chef restaurants, for the most part, won't bat an eye at your kids as long as they're reasonably well-behaved. Good deals and celebrity chef restaurants are, for the most part, mutually exclusive. One of the few steals in this realm is the Cut of the Week prix fixe menu at Charlie Palmer Steak down at the Four Seasons in Mandalay Bay. Three courses including wine, $48 per person. Problem is, it's definitely a grown-up restaurant; I'd call ahead to see how they prefer to handle kids. You may also be interested in the $20.13 lunch special at Estiatorio Milos inside The Cosmopolitan While it's not a celebrity chef restaurant per se, it's an outstanding restaurant.

            A couple of blocks north of Stratosphere is a phenomenal little place, Viva Las Arepas. It's quickly vaulted to my must-have list every time I'm in Vegas. Bonus: Luv-It Frozen Custard is practically across the street from it.

            Bad news: Stratosphere is pedestrian no-man's land. The closest Strip hotels, Circus Circus and Riviera, are 3/4 mile south. The next closest, Wynn and Treasure Island, are another mile past that.

            As for the Sirens of TI show: It is not appropriate for anyone. The most I've seen of it was when I was walking from Mirage to Wynn, and even THAT felt like two minutes of my life I'd never get back. I couldn't imagine staying for the whole show.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

              Great advice from JK G. in general, although I consider the pirate show to be pretty much G-rated (I'm local, so maybe I'm jaded). However, I agree, it's terrible.

              Totally agree on the good vs bad buffets. Add Paris to the "good" category, unless it's changed in the last couple of years. I especially like their breakfast buffet.

              Another vote for Viva Las Arepas. However, from there, it's not a very pleasant walk downtown. Consider the bus.

              On the Strip, not celebrity, but I really like Taqueria Canonita at the Venetian. Canal-side, so it's fun for the kids.

              Not really walkable, but a short cab ride out E. Sahara is Lotus of Siam, a board favorite and possibly the best Thai restaurant in the USA. A bit pricier than the average Thai place, but worlds better. If you like Thai food, you shouldn't miss it (skip the buffet, order from the menu).

            2. I'm a fourteen year resident of Las Vegas. The Strip and affordable restaurants is an oxymoron. The locals, for the most part, avoid eating on the Strip due to the high cost.The buffets will not allow you to bring in food. You may want to consider taking the Deuce buses on the Strip. It costs. $8 for a twenty four hour pass. The Deuce is a enclosed double decker bus. Your children might enjoy riding on the top level. The Deuce stops at all of the major resorts. The pass is also accepted on all of the routes throughout the Valley. The breakfast buffet is always the lowest cost buffet. On the Strip, expect to pay at least $15 per person for the breakfast buffet.