By Steve Beauregard (Updated August 2017)
Although the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino has dropped a notch or two in the eyes of many hotel reviewers, the resort’s Carnival World Seafood Buffet still ranks as a favorite among Las Vegas visitors and locals alike.
The Rio has traditionally been known as the epicenter of Las Vegas buffets.
Up until fairly recently, the Rio was home to two very well-regarded buffets.
The Rio Las Vegas is home to the Carnival World Buffet
However in October of 2015, the separate Seafood buffet merged with the Carnival World buffet to create one, larger super-buffet boasting over 300 different menu items.
The carnival is one of the larger buffets in Sin City, with a serving line that snakes around for what seems like miles.
It’s also that rare Las Vegas buffet not to serve breakfast. In the summer of 2017, they stopped severing lunch as well, however a weekend brunch is offered.
Carnival World Seafood Buffet Price & Hours
Champagne Brunch (Saturday & Sunday): 10 AM to 3 PM
Dinner (Monday – Thursday): 4 PM to 10 PM
Dinner (Friday – Sunday): 3 PM to 10 PM
Please note that Seafood upgrade costs $20, seven days a week.
Once paid, your hand will be stamped with an invisible black-light stamp that you will show to gain access to the seafood section.
Also, there is an all-you-can drink option. For $13 extra, you can have unlimited draft beers and wine.
Please also note that these prices do not include the Las Vegas/Clark County sales tax of 8.25%. Therefore, a weekend dinner buffet for two ($34.99 x 2) with the seafood upgrade ($20 x 2), with tax, ($9.07), would cost you a total of $119.05 after tax.
One last note on pricing: While the Carnival World Seafood Buffet is part of the 24 hour buffet pass, the Buffet of Buffets, there is an additional $25 fee to use your pass at the Carnival Buffet, regardless of day or time of visit.
Below is a list of menu items you will typically find during the dinner buffet.
Rio Buffet Menu Items
The large buffet has the familiar lineup of different stations, although Carnival seems to have more choices than most Las Vegas buffets.
There are the make-your-own salads of course, with three different types of greens to choose from and all the fixin’s you could want, fresh fruit, (versus the canned fruit you often see at Vegas buffets) including melon, cantaloupe, watermelon, and pineapple.
There’s also a small vegetarian section here, and pre-made salads include a crab & shrimp salad, macaroni salad, traditional potato salad, and chilled vegetables.
The teppanyaki cooking station is a favorite. The sushi section less so, as there is only a small selection of the standards (spicy tuna roll, California roll), etc. The Japanese area also offers a variety of noodle dishes.
One of the stations at Rio’s Carnival World Buffet
A highlight for many is the made-to-order soup station, where a chef prepares your dish there on the spot. On a recent visit, the extensive soup choices were: egg noddle, Vietnamese pho, Udon noodles soup, egg drop, wonton, rice noodle soup with tom yum broth, and a hot & sour soup. You may add a variety of toppings and extras into your dish, including fish, beef, and chicken dumplings.
Nothing fancy here, just your typical cheese enchilada, Spanish rice, tilapia, green pork chili, nacho bar with all of the fixin’s (nacho cheese, refried beans, lettuce, fresh cheese, tomatoes, four kinds of salsa, onions, etc.), and menudo soup.
Here you’ll find vegetable fried rice, green curry chicken dish, chow mein, vegetable spring rolls, sesame balls, and several other hot dishes all with your choice of sauces: soy, plum, chili, sweet & sour etc.,
There is a shrimp har gow (or dim sum shrimp dumplings), barbecue pork buns, pork & shrimp shu mai, pork ribs, and several meat dishes, including duck.
The Italian station has make-your-own Caesar salad bar, which is next to a small, but well-regarded pizza section. You usually don’t hear compliments about buffet pizza, but the four different pizzas here get good reviews on the flavor front.
There’s also spaghetti with your choice of meat sauce or a meat-less marnara, beef lasagna, and clams with garlic & parsley.
A unique menu item here not found at hardly any other buffet in town is the baked trout. The American station also includes fried shrimp, French fries, chicken wings, mashed potatoes with brown or white gravy, seasoned vegetables, and teriyaki pork ribs.
Along with the buffet standard: Prime rib, you’ll find roasted pork loin, roasted turkey, baked ham, beef ribs, rotisserie chicken, and sides like corn on the cob, and mushroom rice, among others.
Unlike other Vegas buffets, Carnival has a wide variety of meat offerings, including grilled pineapple, beef hot dogs, grilled pork belly, mini corn dogs, and chicken sate.
Other items you’ll find here include peel and eat shrimp, blue crab (snow crab legs are in the upgrade area), clam chowder and fried catfish.
Seafood Station (Upgrade fee applies)
Any seafood or fish dish mentioned above is part of the regular buffet and included in the standard prices.
However in addition to the ones already listed above, there is a special seafood station, which requires an additional $20 fee per person.
You’ll find more than 70 different fish and seafood dishes here, ranging from basic shrimp to octopus salad to fan favorite: lobster.
Other menu items in this area include snow crab legs, steamed blue crab, Cajun crawfish, chilled crawfish, steamed clams, oysters, baked scallops, and seafood enchiladas.
On the fried front, you’ll see fried shrimp tempura, and fried calamari, among others. Soups include lobster bisque and spicy clam chowder.
Continuing on the seafood line, you’ll notice mahi mahi vera cruz, seared salmon, grilled ono fish, shrimp & grits, blackened tuna, chicken prawns, and shrimp scampi.
Compliments here include asparagus, breads, crackers, condiments, hot butter and sauces.
In addition to the usual assortment of cakes, cookies, cupcakes, mousses, éclairs, Carnival has a great selection of tasty fruit pies including cherry, blueberry, and of course, apple.
Other temptations include Crème brulee, fruit tarts, and flan. There is an area of sugar-free desserts as well.
Gelato section includes ten different flavors by my count, including a green tea gelato. These are scooped up for you in individual servings, rather than being self-serve, like you see at most buffets.
Carnvial’s drink station include the make-your-own Pepsi machine with seemingly a million different flavors, juices, teas, coffees. Unlike years past, the drink station is self-service now.
There’s lots of seating at Rio’s buffet
Carnival Buffet Phone
You can use this number for general questions, or to reserve table for large parties only, which they define as 14 or more guests.
Although it is off the Strip, and not really within walking distance of major casinos, many feel the benefits of the Rio’s buffet to be worth the trip.
There’s even a free shuttle from the Strip to the Rio (and back) that runs from both Bally’s and Harrah’s on the Strip to take you to and from the Rio All-Suites, allowing you to partake in the resort’s outstanding Carnival World Seafood Buffet.
(Photos courtesy of Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino and via Flickr.)