Savvy Vegas eaters know not all buffets are created equal. All of Station Casinos’ buffets are dubbed the Feast, and though they may look alike, different locations actually specialize in different food. Sunset Station’s Feast just happens to have quality Southern grub, for example, and though it was something of a secret, Texas Station’s buffet has been serving up surprisingly strong barbecue since last summer.
It makes sense that a Texas-themed casino would be capable of decent meat smokery; the property brought its two giant smokers out of retirement to add richly flavored turkey, chicken, ribs and brisket to its offerings. But the latest dish on this buffet line is a bigger surprise—authentic tacos al pastor, made to order at no additional cost.
Texas Station director of food & beverage Michelle Cox sampled this style of street taco for the first time recently at a friend’s party and couldn’t get enough. She took some of her staff on a research mission to Tacos El Gordo. She consulted with corporate chef Chris McGonigle and the Feast’s room chef Richard Holland to find out if adding them to the menu was a possibility, and the team quickly discovered it had a secret weapon in its culinary arsenal. Jaime Montes, a cook working at Texas Station since it opened in 1995, possessed a 75-year-old recipe passed down through generations of his family from Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco.
Montes teamed up with Holland and the rest of the Feast crew to find the formula for a much larger batch of his great grandmother’s recipe, the spicy, sweet sauce that gives the grilled pork the perfect flavor. It takes more than 24 hours to turn guajillo chilies and a blend of spices into al pastor magic. “You have to use the right chilies and the right ingredients to get the right color, too, not just the flavors,” Montes said.
Ever since the tacos hit the menu right after Christmas, the buffet’s lunch crowd has expanded. “Sometimes a line starts forming just before 11 when we open for lunch,” Holland said. Step right up, tell the cook how many you want, and dress them yourself with onions and cilantro, red or green salsa or the Acapulco-style relish with cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon and fresh peppers.
How these tacos match up to the ones at your favorite taqueria is for you to decide, but consider this: The lunchtime price at the Feast is $7.99—$9.99 if you have a Station Casinos Boarding Pass—for all you can eat. Most taco shops charge a couple bucks per taco. No wonder the lines are getting longer.
The Feast Buffet Texas Station, 631-1000. Daily, 8 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday brunch, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.