Buffet on the Atkins plan

The joy of Atkins rests in its guilt-free gluttony. Sure, you’ve eliminated three and a half of the four food groups, but who cares when there are 15 kinds of fish, pork, beef, chicken and turkey just waiting to tickle your tender taste buds? Variety is the spice of life, but isn’t rare, medium and well-done enough variety for anyone?

Here’s the skinny on the area’s casino buffets. Prices are for Monday-Friday lunch.

Eldorado Hotel Casino, 345 N. Virginia St., 786-5700, $7.99: Oddly enough, Eldorado didn’t have the highest food quality, but I ate here at least three times more often than I ate at any other buffet. The reasons are simple: It’s in walking distance from the office, reasonably priced, there are no lines, and you can get in and out very quickly. Chefs will prepare all-you-can-eat cheese-and-mushroom omelets. The servers are on top of things. You can stand and eat bacon while your omelet is prepared.

Peppermill Hotel Casino, 2707 S. Virginia St., 826-2121, $9.99: The Peppermill has taken the crown for the tastiest buffet in the Truckee Meadows. The absolute freshness and quality of the meat and range of foods that aren’t coated in icky carbohydrate-loaded barbecue sauce, combined with the rainforest atmosphere, is not topped in northern Nevada. The Peppermill has two drawbacks. It’s among the most expensive of casino buffets. It’s also got the longest lines and a time-consuming walk from the parking lot.

Atlantis Casino Resort, 3800 S. Virginia St., 825-4700, $9.99: A friend and I had lunch here one day, and the sliced beef was so tender and succulent that we could cut it with our forks. I’ve become somewhat of a connoisseur of dead animal flesh. The things that used to make the Atlantis the best buffet in town are all still true. This buffet’s drawbacks include a tie for most expensive buffet, a long line at the front, long drive time and distant parking.

Harrah’s Reno, 219 N. Center St., 786-3232, $8.99: Decent enough. Lots of selection. Omelets on demand. Cute décor, good food.

John Ascuaga’s Nugget, 1100 Nugget Ave., Sparks, 356-3300, $7.99: John Ascuaga’s buffet is still one of the top-quality buffets in the area, but you’re likely to end up in a long line if there are conventions in town. One of the best things about this buffet is the desserts, which Atkins doesn’t allow.

Reno Hilton, 2500 E. Second St., 789-2000, $8.99: Very solid buffet, as far as the Atkins diet goes. It’s deep within the Reno Hilton, so it’s long time in the parking lot, a long walk, and you may have to wait in line with the tour-bus traffic. Good meat, though.

Silver Legacy Casino Resort, 407 N. Virginia St., 329-4777, $7.99: The buffet here is almost as good as the Eldo’s but does not have the omelets.

Baldini’s Sports Casino, Rock and Glendale boulevards, 358-0116, $5.99: The cheapest around; the biggest benefit of the Baldini’s buffet is the all-you-can-eat scrambled eggs.

Circus Circus Hotel & Casino, 500 N Sierra St, 329-0711, $7.99: Same price as the buffets at Silver Legacy and Eldorado, but the food is not as good and seems to sit on the steam tray longer. Went back for seconds but never received a drink.

Boomtown Casino, 1-80 and Garson, Verdi, 345-6000, $8.49: The food was fresh, but there were very few things a low-carb dieter could eat; most of the meat items were breaded or barbecue sauced. Long drive time and difficult parking. Closed through Dec. 14 for remodeling.

Rail City Casino, 2121 Victorian Ave, Sparks, 359-9440, $5.95: I ate a piece of Chicken Cordon Bleu that tasted sebaceous or scandalous or mendacious. Stood at the carving spot watching a fly buzz the meat. Never saw the carver.