No trip to Vegas is complete without at least one night of classic dining and entertainment on The Strip. From celebrity chef restaurants to all-encompassing buffets, there’s an incredible assortment of culinary adventures to explore before taking in a world-class show. On my latest trip, prior to a late show with Cirque du Soleil, I visited The Buffet at ARIA (http://www.aria.com/en/restaurants/the-buffet.html).
The atmosphere at The Buffet at ARIA is a mix of upscale meets comfort: the decor is warm and welcoming, with seating arrangements that accommodate intimate dinners or grand group gatherings. On my visit, I noticed just as many couples dressed for a night on the town as I did families dressed in more casual attire. The background music is contemporary pop and at a level that’s comfortable for dinner conversation. There is no bad seat in the house, though I appreciated the large windows that offered a glimpse of the impressive ARIA pool.
I started my meal with a Summer Breeze margarita, as The Buffet was offering a special holiday beverage package for Labor Day Weekend. The bottomless specials included margaritas, draft beers, wine, and a nice variety of cocktails. The Summer Breeze margarita is a mix of lemon juice, agave nectar, orange bitters, cucumber, soda water, and tequila. This was a refreshing choice after a hot summer day exploring The Strip.
The Buffet has a wide variety of flavor stations. From the massive Fish Market to the Carvery featuring grilled, smoked, and slow roasted meats, there’s something for everyone. I enjoyed the steamed snow crab legs and sampled some of the many shellfish options, including a beautiful paella dish. From the carving station, I tried smoked sausage and an individual short rib dish served with sweet potato. Lobster ravioli is served in individual steel pans and is a must-try. Children won’t turn their noses up at this buffet, with plenty of kid-friendly options like a creamy mac and cheese, roasted chicken, and a grand selection of New York pizzeria-style pies and calzones.
My main entrée selections were fresh, hot, and presented with an artistic touch. Buffet staff members were friendly and helpful in sharing ingredients, so those with food sensitivities will appreciate the variety of gluten free and other special options. The dessert station also had a number of sugar free and gluten free selections. I sampled the key lime pie minis, and perhaps one of the moistest carrot cakes I’ve ever tasted.
The Buffet is open 7am-10pm, and prices and menu selections vary according to holidays and special events. This was my first time experiencing The Buffet at ARIA, but it won’t be my last. The focus on freshness with a variety of global cuisines was more than satisfactory. Plus, with quick but friendly service, this was an excellent dinner option prior to taking in an evening of entertainment.
I attended the 9:30pm performance of “O,” the Cirque du Soleil show hosted at Bellagio. From the curtain’s draw, I knew this would be a high intensity performance as the stage combined with water and the theatre became an aquatic centerpiece. Acts include impressive aerial hoop features along with fire, trapeze, and contortion. Every single element shines for its beautiful artistry, while the complexity and precision of even the most minuscule movement is breathtaking. The high dives and synchronized swimming acts are especially noteworthy.
While I was mesmerized by the acrobats, divers, and stage characters, I know this is a performance I’ll want to see again and again. There is so much going on with such mastery that a repeat visit is inevitable for me. I’m sure another visit will enhance my appreciation even more, as the trapeze work was simply amazing for its intricate aerial movements and spectacular display of body control.
It was a full house at “O” and it’s no wonder. Cirque du Soleil is a must for any Vegas vacation and seeing “O” was something I’ll never forget. I look forward to exploring other performances along The Strip, and taking in a touring show when the opportunity presents itself.
M Life members receive a discount for Cirque du Soleil performances at their Las Vegas resorts. M Life details, and a full overview of each resort, may be found online at https://www.mlife.com/en/resorts.html. A portion of my itinerary was provided by hosts at MGM Resorts International, though all opinions shared are my own based on my specific experience.