The Carnival World Buffet at the Rio offers a tour of cuisine from Asia to Latin America, and all places in between. Tamales, omelets, pot stickers, and cream of wheat are just a sample of the variety of items available at the Carnival World Buffet. Breakfast is served from Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and will only set you back $20.99. Lunch, offered Monday through Friday 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. costs $22.99. Dinner, served daily from 3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. is $30.99 Sunday to Thursday but on Friday and Saturday the price is $35.99. Weekend brunch, Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. includes Champagne for $30.99. Children ages four to eight receive discounted prices for every meal.Read More ...
For my final venture in Las Vegas, I head over to the Rio to enjoy breakfast at the Carnival World Buffet. I park in one of the many structures that border the resort, and I make my way to the entrance of the building. I step out to find myself at one end of the massive complex, and I wander around for a minute in search of a sign directing me to the buffet. I make my way down an escalator to the casino floor, and walk past rows of slot machines, knowing that eventually the proper path will present itself.
As I get my bearings straight, I ask a cocktail waitress where the buffet is. While she is giving me directions, I realize that I am literally on the opposite end of the giant building from my destination. After a few minutes of walking though the casino floor, I approach the entrance to the Carnival World Buffet. There are only two people in line ahead of me, but I choose to take advantage of the automated kiosks that flank the cashiers’ stand.
The displayed hours of operation for the Carnival World Buffet at the Rio indicate the establishment is open most hours of the day. Breakfast is available from Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and will only set you back $18.99. Lunch, offered Monday through Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. costs $19.99. Dinner, served daily from 3:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. is $37.99. Weekend Brunch, Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. includes Champagne for $27.99. Children ages four to nine receive a $5 discount on breakfast and lunch. For brunch and dinner, children receive a $9 discount.
The automated kiosk is simple to use, like an ATM. I opt to pay with cash instead of a credit card, just to see how the machine works with paper money. I am impressed with how straightforward the transaction is.
With my receipt and change in hand, I advance to the hostess line. I barely step up to the gate when I am greeted by the nice hostess with a bright smile and a cheery, “Hello! Welcome!” She unhooks the velvet rope that partitions the entryway from the dining room and escorts me to my table. On our way, she asks if I have dined at the Carnival World Buffet before. I answer honestly, “no” and she quickly explains the general layout, including the ever-important information regarding where I can find the omelet station.
I take my seat, and my server, who is even more cheerful than the hostess, greets me with a nice smile and takes my standard order of water and coffee. I rise to get my first plate, and I see that only half of the massive buffet is open during breakfast. I would presume that the entire kitchen is utilized for Sunday Brunch, and maybe Dinner, but at this time only the limited selection is at my disposal.
My first plate starts with a slice of French toast with strawberry topping. Moving down the line, I grab a tamale from the “Mexican” portion of the buffet. I complete the first round with a sausage link and a few slices of bacon.
I arrive back at my table to find a piping hot cup of coffee. The dark brown liquid is so hot it is difficult to determine the quality of the bean used. I drink it too fast for an accurate assessment, but I can certainly attest to the fact that even the refills are absurdly hot. Let me make it clear, hot coffee is good. The hotter the coffee, the better it is, as far as I am concerned. On this point, the Carnival World Buffet at the Rio excels.
The French toast is okay. The base of the dish lacks taste. The bread is not a decent quality, and the texture is mushy. The strawberry topping is like a sauce to put on an ice cream sundae rather than a fresh topping for French toast. It tastes more like sweetener than real strawberries.
The tamale fairs better than the French toast. It falls apart as I remove the corn husk wrap. It is moist, but borderline soggy. However, the taste trumps the texture. The chicken filling is not skimpy, and the serving of corn meal is plenty for a decent tamale.
The sausage is a general, run-of-the-mill sausage link. Not bad, but not memorable either. The bacon is long, thin, and crisp. It is not the best I have ever had, but is certainly enjoyable.
For round two, I decide to follow habit when the lack of a line allows, and I hit the omelet station. I order “the works” to which the nice lady making the omelets asks, “would you like to add jalapenos?” It never gets too hot for me, so I gladly tell her, “you betcha!” This is the only place I have seen where the cheese is added and the omelet is finished in a broiler, assuring the cheese is melted. Details always make the dish, if you ask me.
With omelet in hand, I head over to the toast station, and grab a slice of rye and a slice of wheat, both out of the bag, and I toast them to my liking. I manage to track down a couple pads of butter near the salad bar. To my dismay, there are no spreads to be found. I then grab a bowl of what I initially think is grits, but it turns out to be cream of wheat. On my way back to the table, I stop by the carving station and get a piece of the smoked kielbasa sausage.
I return to find my coffee cup refilled and a few extra napkins on the table. I dig into the omelet to find that along with the jalapenos, there is ham, bacon, tomato, onion, and peppers, all topped with cheddar cheese. The best way to describe this omelet is to say the flavor is reminiscent of a nice slice of supreme pizza.
The toast is crisped to my taste and sufficient enough with just butter; however I do wish I had a fruit spread to sweeten things up a bit. The cream of wheat looks a bit like gruel, but since I like this kind of food, I polish off the bowl relatively quickly. The smoked kielbasa sausage is the real highlight. The natural casing has a satisfying snap, and the sausage itself is rich and smoky, exactly as sausage should be.
To wrap up my meal, I go for a slice of banana crème pie. I see the dessert station has a warming tray full of Bananas Foster, and I put a generous scoop of the topping on my plate alongside the pie; it turns out to be the perfect combination. The pie contains a layer of fresh bananas, cream filling, and whipped cream all topped with roasted almonds.
Although it is obvious I am done with my meal, my server comes by to see if there is anything she can do for me. “Fresh coffee? More napkins?” she asks. I smile and let her know that I have had more than enough coffee, and that I am certainly full. Before she leaves, she is sure to tell me that if there is anything else I need, I should not hesitate to let her know. While the buffet itself is fairly average, the service more than makes up for the somewhat plain food.
Similar to my other buffet trips, I am happy with the fact that I was able to experience such fine service. As I sit and reflect on my experience at the Carnival World Buffet, I think to myself, the coffee is hot, the selection is broad, and the service is top notch. The dishes themselves may not have been haute cuisine, but with the price in mind, I would say the buffet at the Rio is not bad at all.
On my way out, my server wishes me a good day, as does the hostess. I smile and thank them for their wonderful service. I exit the restaurant to see a line beginning to form at the entrance. My early arrival allows for a quick exit, and I am on the road heading home within a quarter hour.
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