PALA, California -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- While Las Vegas continues to play catch-up in the “big buffet” business, the real creators of the concept in Southern California continue to up the ante. (If you don’t think so, stop by Choices at Pala Casino Resort and Spa any Tuesday evening for All-You-Can-Eat Lobster Night.)
“If you are a Southern California resident who likes to visit buffets, you don’t have to drive to Las Vegas. With gasoline at $4-plus per gallon, diners can enjoy a beyond-Vegas experience at Choices and save a hefty amount of money,” said Roy Hillis, vice president of food and beverage at Pala Casino Spa & Resort in Northern San Diego County.
Choices is the 30,000-square-foot, wildly popular and oft-copied buffet at Pala that offers guests unique experiences that stir the culinary passions of all who enter this cornucopia of more than 600 menu selections.
The All-You-Can-Eat Lobster Tuesdays (4 p.m. to 10 p.m.), $36 per person, with Privileges membership discounts, again raise the bar for buffets. Lobster lovers enjoy Grilled Maine Lobster San Felipe, Choices Lobster Pizza, Canadian Lobster Tail, Asian Lobster Claws, Lobster in Champagne Sauce and Lobster Bisque Soup in addition to the eight food stations and dessert bar.
Even the name, Choices, entices and conjures visions of what can be enjoyed on “the other side” of that cool, wall fountain that beckons at the entrance. For it is well known that what others may feature as “special” is regular bill of fare at Choices and that when Choices says special, it really means “extraordinary.”
Choices opened May 22, 2009, and immediately set the new standard for size, comfort and food selection in buffets. “Our experience with our first buffet told us we had to expand,” Hillis said. “Due to the demands of our guests in this large Southern California market, creating a buffet even larger than anything in Las Vegas became a necessity.”
At Choices, the adventure begins with the atmosphere: the expanse, which comfortably houses 620 seats under two-story ceilings, the floor-to-ceiling north wall made entirely of glass with its panoramas of the surrounding mountains and the fresh air that allows all the aromas to mingle. And, of course, the Pala Pride service that begins with your first step through the door.
Immediately at seating, a drink order is filled. And then, the experience really begins as guests fan out amid eight serving stations where chefs prepare many entrees while guests watch.
Where to start? What surprises wait at the Italian, American, Asian or Mexican Stations? Or, should we start at the massive Soup ‘n Salad Station, located right in the middle of the room?
Crisscrossing the floor allows guests to create an international meal even before they arrive at the Fresh Seafood Station, laden with shrimp, crab legs and crab clusters, oysters on the half shell and on regular, “extraordinary” occasions, Australian lobster tails flown in daily.
But wait. Now comes the aroma of a fresh steak or chop grilling at the Specialty Items Station. If a diner can wait just two minutes, a steak, chop, hamburger or a large Nathan’s dog will be grilled to order on the spot, a service that is extremely rare in the buffet business.
After the repast, which may include an additional trip, or two, back to the food stations, it is time for dessert.
Pala Pastry Chef Albert Cruz creates at least 80 desserts for the Choices Dessert Station daily. But not to be missed is a hand-packed, Cold Stone ice cream sundae, strawberry shortcake, banana split or root beer float made on the spot at the ice cream bar.
In addition to the daily menu, the Pala chefs add appropriate specialties for every holiday such as Snow Crab, Prime Rib, Whole Roasted Atlantic Salmon and many other dishes. Brunch is served from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays and on holidays, limited brunch items are served from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Specialty Dinner Nights, starting at 4 p.m., are Fridays, seafood; Saturdays, steak and shrimp; and Sundays, steak and crab. :
Reservations are accepted for parties of 10 or more by calling 760-510-2299. Choices also accommodates large groups of 100 or more for dinner and lunch depending on the day and the number of existing reservations.
Lunch is $21.24; Dinner, $28.74; Brunch, $24.99; and Specialty Nights, $33.74. Choices Buffet does not charge sales tax. But Pala Privileges card members and one guest receive a 20 percent discount; Gold members, 30 percent; Platinum, 50 percent; and Elite members dine free. Privileges cards are free in the casino.
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