Breakfast in Vegas

Okay, so you’ve made it through your first night in Las Vegas with the kids. Everyone’s up–probably a little earlier than you’d like if you flew in from the East Coast. Now you’ve got to decide: where do we go for breakfast. You’ve got five real options.

Breakfast BuffetThese options range in price from nearly-as-cheap-as-home to about what you’d pay for a fancy dinner for two back home. Depending on your budget for the trip and your comfort level with spending a big chunk of money on a meal that you’re probably going to be hurrying through, you’re going to want to make different choices. You also have to look at the time factor. When kids are taking 2+ naps a day, you’ve got a limited window of opportunity to get things done. Do you want to spend an hour and a half eating breakfast, when you know you’ve got to get your infant down for her nap 3 hours after she woke up (and remember, if you’re coming from the east, she woke up early). Probably not, but if it’s a special meal (the extended family’s getting together for the first time), you’d make an exception.

In order of average cost, from highest to lowest, here are your Vegas breakfast options:

  1. Room service. If you’re on a budget, this is bucket-list expensive. $9 for a cup of coffee. $7 for a glass of orange juice. Another $9 for a cup of (steel-cut) oatmeal. If you want eggs, pancakes, and bacon, you might pay $30. Per person. For a family of four, this can easily put you out $100 before you’ve taken your shower. Granted, those prices are on the high end, but you’ll rarely find a Vegas room service menu that’s a bargain. If you place a premium on privacy and have got the money, though, more power to you.
  2. Coffee shop. Every casino has a coffee shop. Most are open 24 hours, and they serve the kind of stuff you’d expect in coffee shops. Prices are usually higher than what you’d pay back home. The Sao Paulo Cafe at the Rio is in the middle of the pack. An omelet will run you $12.49. Oatmeal is $6.49. Most other breakfast entrees are between $10 and $15. There’s a discount if you sign up for a player’s card (always a good idea), but you get the picture. Depending on how busy the hotel is, there might be a wait to get in, and you should expect to spend over an hour from the time you sit down until you pay the check.
  3. Quick bites/cafe. Most casinos have a Starbucks or Starbucks-compatible place serving coffee and pastries. Prices are usually a bit higher than you’d pay at home, but otherwise it’s what you’d expect. One word of warning: if there’s a large convention group in the hotel and you time your visit just before their morning sessions start, there may be a considerable line. It’s less expensive and quicker than a coffee shop, but you generally speaking will be eating muffins and bagels.
  4. The buffet. Vegas is famous for them, and for good reason. Most (not all) casinos have a buffet that serves heaps of food for what may or may not be a low price. You could pay as much as $20 at nicer buffets, per person, for breakfast, or as little as $5 at a locals casino (the Feast Buffet at Station Casinos is a great example). The quality varies greatly. Some, like Wynn, Bellagio and, for breakfast, Paris, will be exquisite. Some will be serviceable, and both quick and a great bargain (Stations). Others will leave you circling the buffet line with an empty plate, looking for something that looks vaguely palatable (I put the Monte Carlo and Planet Hollywood on this list, but that’s entirely subjective). Most buffets offer free or discounted prices for young children, so be sure to ask. The biggest downside of buffets is the wait. If you head down to Paris’s Le Village Buffet at 9 AM on a Sunday, you’ll wait at least an hour before you get in. On the other hand, if you go during the week and before most casual tourists (the ones without screaming kids) are up, you might be able to slip in pretty quickly. It’s not a bad option, if you’re smart about it.
  5. Make your own. To be frank, this is the one we usually pick when we travel. It takes some preparation, but you save a great deal in time, money, and hassle. All you need to do is, the day before, stop one of the drug stores–Walgreen’s, CVS–that line the Strip. Pick up some breakfast cereal, milk, and a pack of muffins, and you’re good for breakfast for your whole trip. Notice I said milk. This is when it pays to have a room with a refrigerator and a microwave. If your little one is used to warm milk at bedtime and on waking up, you can do it yourself in seconds. Also, if he’s used to a certain kind of cereal, you can get it (or a reasonable facsimile) for him. There’s a lower chance of “I don’t want to eat that,” which has been known to happen when the food he said he wanted 20 minutes ago arrives. If you’ve got kids, it’s not a bad way to get breakfast out of the way quickly and conveniently before getting everyone showered. You’ll be out having fun before you know it. Bonus: if one parent wants to make a trip to the gym while the other handles breakfast, you can do that, too.

I personally prefer option 5 (make your own), because we’ve had breakfast-related meltdowns at restaurants and seen some really long buffet lines. But if you’re part of a bigger group that wants to have breakfast together, you can easily finesse the coffee shop or buffet options; just remember that, like in comedy, timing is everything.

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