Six Types of People Who Belong at a Buffet
Are buffet-goers thrifty to a fault, or are they actually culinary sages who have figured out the best way to sample a variety of dishes without dropping $500 on a 15-course meal? Maybe they’re both. In fact, all kinds of people have all kinds of reasons to work more buffets into their dining rotation. Here are just a few of the folks who should consider giving these misunderstood restaurants a second chance:
1. People who don’t stuff their faces
It sounds counterintuitive, but people who eat less at a buffet tend to enjoy it more. At least, we can infer as much from the findings of two Cornell University professors who researched the effects of all-you-can-eat buffet pricing. It turns out that paying less for the same buffet meal led people to eat less and to rate the quality of their meal higher. The lesson? It pays to be thrifty, both for your wallet and for your gustatory enjoyment.
The cuisines most known for offering buffets—Indian, Chinese, and Mediterranean, for example—also happen to be pretty friendly to vegetarians. Veggie spring rolls and dumplings, tofu stir-fries, lentil stews, and herbaceous salads are just a few of the staples you can expect to find at these types of restaurants. But regardless of the type of cuisine served, most buffets offer such a massive number of dishes that people with dietary restrictions are likely to find at least a handful of options.
But be careful: sometimes ostensibly vegetarian dishes are made with chicken broth, fish sauce, or eggs, making them untenable for vegans or anyone who’s had a traumatic experience on Easter. Rather than asking staff whether a dish is vegetarian or vegan, you may want to be more specific and ask questions like “Is there egg in this?” or “What kind of oil is it fried in?”
3. Picky kids
Pizza at the Chinese buffet. It’s a perennial punching bag in the culinary world, but children tend not to agree with the critics. Pizza is good. All of it. Ditto the buffet’s chicken tenders, which may seem pedestrian to the disenchanted adult, but comforting to the unpretentious child. And who knows? Maybe you can coax a kid into trying more adventurous fare in exchange for rewarding them with a slice or two of that always-reliable pepperoni pie.
4. Billy Ray Cyrus fans
“Achy Breaky Heart” chart-topper Billy Ray Cyrus sold his 2013 studio album, Change My Mind, at Buffets, Inc. locations across the nation, thereby putting the country in Old Country Buffet. If Cyrus, or someone of his ilk, pulls a similar move in the future, could you really live with yourself for missing the opportunity to pick up his album while enjoying a bounty of homestyle American classics? We didn’t think so.
5. Large or indecisive groups
Rather than quibbling for an hour over what to eat or how to split a bill eight ways, just head to a buffet and pay individually. The multitude of options and affordable prices at most buffets can help spare your dining party a lot of hassle. Don’t be shy about going to a buffet for a large family gathering either, whether it’s Thanksgiving or a reunion. It eliminates all that cooking and cleanup time, and it can even prevent your relatives from arguing about politics by keeping their mouths constantly full of all-you-can-eat egg rolls.
6. People cheating on their diets
There’s no easier place to sneak a french fry or nibble a bite of carrot cake undetected. The illicit snacks don’t ever have to make their way back to the table, leaving friends and family blissfully unaware of your sly rebellion against an oppressive weight-loss regime.
Check out related reads on the The Guide:
Diving Into Dim Sum
A dim sum chef gives us the scoop on siu mai, chicken feet, and how to ask for more tea.
The Right Way to Split a Group Check
Mister Manners on how to split the check, plus how to deal with a poor-tipping friend.