Harrah's Tunica: It's a Paula-dise



Y’all, I just got back from Tunica, Mississippi, the country’s third-largest gaming area behind Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Technically, I was in Robinsonville, which was, 25 years ago, nothing but cotton and grain fields with the occasional farmhouse and cotton gin. But the legalization of riverboat (barge, actually) gaming in Tunica County transformed the area to a miniature Las Vegas (OK, not really).

I didn’t want to stay in Tunica. But the casino hotels there have the best rooms for the best rates in all of northern Mississippi. So I sucked it up and booked my reservation for Harrah’s (formerly The Grand). For those of you not familiar with Tunica or Harrah’s, it’s the home of the Paula Deen Buffet (y'all). But I discovered much more.

First, though: the buffet. You and 559 of your closest friends can dine at this sprawling all-you-can eat complex modeled after Paula’s home in Savannah, Ga. The various rooms include Paula’s parlor and birdcage room, and the food stations are based on Paula’s cuisine (Lady and Sons, Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House …). This is the place for a real Deeniac (on a budget). Kind of. I suppose it’s like an Elvis fan visiting Graceland Too.

Anyhoo, there’s more.

The real Deeniac can take a little Paula with them by visiting the gift shop. Not that you’d have a choice; to leave the buffet, you must exit through the shop. There, you can purchase Paula Deen-inspired and approved gift items such as Deen family cookbooks, a “Peace Love and Butter” T-shirt, and kitschy kountry krafts. You can also choose among the diabetic coma-inducing Paula’s Dessertsto Go, the most famous of which is Paula’s Gooey Butter Pie (which is just chess squares, y’all). Be sure to drop a bill in the Paula Deen slot machine on the way back to your hotel room as well.

Oh yes; the hotel.

If it’s not enough to eat facsimiles of Paula’s food in a facsimile of Paula’s house, you can also sleep in facsimiles of Paula’s favorite rooms in her Savannah home. Harrah’s offers four different Paula Deen Suites available to rent. Just what does a Paula Deen Suite offer the Deeniac? Does it come with a mini-bar stocked with butter? Equipped with a deep fryer? Unlimited hoe cakes? Sadly, no. The only Paula influence comes in the decor, designed by her personal interior designer. Nary a fat-laden confection or concoction awaits you. But it does come with a refrigerator and microwave and at least one photograph of Paula to keep you company.

So there you have it; Harrah’s is the ultimate Paula Deen-ish destination. A Deeniac’s paradise. A Paula-dise. There are even Paula package deals for Harrah’s Total Rewards members.

In addition to Paula's food, visitors to Harrah's can enjoy visit Quizno's, Dunkin' Donuts, and Fuddruckers. One sad note to report, though. It’s with a heavy heart (though not one heavy with cholesterol because I didn’t actually eat at the Paula Deen Buffet), that I must inform you that you can no longer hang out at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar. Just a short time after opening to numerous bad reviews, the restaurant and bar closed.

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