Harrah's Lake Tahoe
Forest Buffet Review
South Lake Tahoe has a limited number of casino buffets due to the small number of major hotel-casinos (4) in the area. The Forest Buffet at Harrah's hotel-casino has some great features, but is an overall average buffet. We mention the limited number of buffets in the area, as compared with the huge amount of smaller motels and time-share properties that bring a steady traffic into the South Lake Tahoe buffets.
Harrah's Lake Tahoe Forest Buffet has tremendous views. The buffet is on the 18th floor of the hotel and has sweeping views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevadas. With most buffets on the casino floor having no view (or windows) of any kind, the views alone make this buffet a unique experience. At other hotels, the top floor restaurants are reserved for luxury restaurants such as Llewelyn's at Harvey's and other similar steakhouses or high-end romantic restaurants. The views at the Forest Buffet are top grade.
The food at Harrah's Forest Buffet was average. Having been to every Reno buffet, this buffet would rank in the middle range of buffets in the area. The food had all of the usual turkey, ham, prime rib, salad, desserts, Asian food, Mexican food, and side dishes. While the food was tasty and hearty, the variety and quality were not in line with top Reno / Tahoe buffets. The salad area was small and the desserts were not totally fresh.
The service in the dining area was very good. Our server was prompt, courteous, and attentive to our needs.
The waiting process for this buffet however, was below-average. As you approach the buffet, signs noting "45 minute wait from this point" and "25 minute wait from this point" give you an idea what you are in for. Arriving on a low-season Tuesday night at 5:30 pm, it took us almost 30 minutes to pay and get seated. We were quite troubled by being seated in one of very few inner areas that are afforded little or no view of Lake Tahoe. Since the buffet was not busy and there were empty tables elsewhere, we inquired regarding reseating and were denied reseating in a view area (90-95% of the restaurant's seats have the great views).
In addition, the hostess was not cheery, made no eye contact, and was extremely slow. In comparison to other Reno / Tahoe buffets that have up to 5 hostesses, all wired in with electronic seating monitoring, scanning for empty tables, etc, this was a highly inefficient and slow seating buffet. We would be highly concerned regarding the waits that could be encountered at this buffet on a weekend or ski / summer season night.
The food lines at the buffet were in a single station. Ie, any one food dish was only presented once at the buffet. Most larger buffets present food dishes in 2-3 different areas to minimize lines and wait times. This buffet had issues with moving diners through the buffet lines efficiently that manifested themselves in diner's pushy behavior and attitudes.
The food leaned heavily on carbohydrate items (potatoes, rice, bread, stuffing) and fried foods. There was no custom Asian wok area where foods are made to order, and the one carving station (prime rib, turkey) served the entire buffet. The salad bar had a very basic selection of vegetables, iceberg lettuce only, and very few prepared salads. There was little or no seafood of any kind.
To sum it up... great views.... decent food.... but expect to spend a long time waiting to be seated and more than the usual effort to get your food. If you don't have at least two hours to spend stuffing yourself with relatively heavy food, a diner or casual restaurant in the area might be recommended. An additional highly recommended alternative (double the price @ $30) is the Harvey's Pacifica Seafood Buffet located right across the street and also owned / operated by Harrah's.
- Breakfast $8
- Lunch $12
- Dinner $18