The Water Cooler – Buffet Restaurants

April 10, 2014 12:00 pm · 76 comments

The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it!

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon!

Today’s question:

Do you eat at buffet restaurants? If so, which one is your favorite?

Talk about it….

1 only me April 10, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Nope, don’t eat at them. I can’t eat enough at one meal to make it worth my money. As it is, at sit-down restaurants I always have to ask for a take-home box, since I can’t finish the meal at one sitting.

2 I like... April 10, 2014 at 12:06 PM

When I’ve gone there it was good quality, home
style cooking, Home town Buffet.

3 anonanonagain April 10, 2014 at 12:07 PM

I usually don’t eat at Buffet restaurants because of the quality of the food, however there is ONE restaurant that I love to eat at their buffet table and that is Swagat Indian cuisine. I love Indian food and their lunchtime buffet is excellent!!!

4 Take a look at folks waddling out of Hometown Buffet April 10, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Usually 300 Pounds and over, gasping, probably diabetic, and suffering from high blood pressure and diverticulitis. Last thing they need is a 4000 calorie lunch, followed by an afternoon of TV back at the Trailer Park.

5 B April 10, 2014 at 12:15 PM

I didn’t know Jimmy Buffet owned any restaurants? Which ones?

6 chalkboy8 April 10, 2014 at 12:16 PM

I used to go to the Todai’s in Sun Valley. I stopped after figuring out that they charge $75 for the free birthday dinner.
You have to have 2 people go and you get a coupon – $50. then you have to bring a paying customer to use your free coupon -$25.

I used to save up stomach space for buffets. You can eat more if you avoid rice, water and anything you can eat at home. Also, work the salad bar backwards. They put the more expensive stuff at the end of the salad bar.

7 ChampagneKitty April 10, 2014 at 12:20 PM

I used to like to eat at Sweet Tomatoes, but had to stop because I just cannot carry the food anymore. I’ve got a chronically bad back, my knees are shot, and I have permanent nerve damage in my hands and arms due to work-related repetitive stress injuries. I get around on either a walker-on-wheels or a cane, if the walker is not convenient. This is also why I no longer go to Papa Murphy’s Take & Bake Pizza. No, it’s better for me to have someone bring the food to me, so buffet restaurants don’t work.

8 Absolutely never April 10, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Every time I have ventured into a Buffet or Cafeteria, I become very ill. I am guessing it’s the MSG. Not worth the suffering. Also, I never have been one willing to stuff myself. Family dinners and fun gatherings aside, a normal meal for me is not eating too much.

9 Tonic April 10, 2014 at 12:23 PM

I miss the Smorgie Bob’s at Park & Shop.

10 Anon777 April 10, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Not a fan.

11 Connie Dobbs April 10, 2014 at 12:28 PM

#5 He owns a chain called… wait for it…. Margaritaville.

12 Triple Canopy April 10, 2014 at 12:34 PM

China Wall Buffet (Concord):
Buffet City (Concord):

…attack the seafood!

Let’s add Bombay (Walnut Creek):

13 jtkatec April 10, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Chez Fayala

14 Steve Jobson April 10, 2014 at 12:42 PM

Have to say, “Olive Garden,” with it’s unlimited breadsticks.

15 mutts April 10, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Oh Connie! You’re the bee’s knees!

16 The Mamba April 10, 2014 at 12:46 PM

Only in Vegas.

17 Swivel April 10, 2014 at 12:46 PM

I used to enjoy going to Pipers; I know no one knows that restauraunt, they had some of the best cinnamon bread.

18 Anon-E-Cat April 10, 2014 at 12:56 PM

@Swivel – I remember Pipers. So you’re not alone there :)

19 chomp chomp April 10, 2014 at 12:57 PM

Classy buffets in Vegas or bust! Efff trashy mick fouler toilet cloggers round here…

20 MonteKatt April 10, 2014 at 12:57 PM

Lunch salad at Sizzler with a glass of wine after delivering Meals on Wheels. Sundays brunch at El Tapatio with champagne. Hometown Buffet no way!

21 Clayton Pete April 10, 2014 at 1:06 PM

Just about all of the buffet chains are uniformly disgusting, as are many of the people who eat there. As someone noted above, just look at the Hutts that waddle in and out of a Hometown Buffet or the like. Sweet Tomatoes and Fresh Choice are better, but they aren’t really traditional buffets.
Some standard restaurants that offer buffet-style lunches can be good, though, since the food tends to be much higher quality, and you are probably not going to find yourself sitting next to the Chubbs McBlimperton family during your meal. Like one poster noted, Swagat’s lunch buffet is actually really good.

22 Dorothy April 10, 2014 at 1:07 PM

I’ve been to a few, can’t say I want to go back to any. Salad bar at some restaurants is about the only buffet I want any more.

And #4, are sure you have described the people at buffets accurately?

23 anon April 10, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Buffet City, Concord

24 Claytonian April 10, 2014 at 1:12 PM

I really don’t like to eat at any place where they have to use a “sneeze shield”.

25 Diablo April 10, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Fresh Choice in Walnut Creek.

26 Paul Brennan April 10, 2014 at 1:15 PM

I like buffet restaurants not for the fact that I like to eat as much as I want but because I can eat as little as I want I used to eat a lot and was bigger but I lost 300 pounds and I’m really skinny now and hate to feel full I like to eat half of what I get then eat the rest later but I can’t resist ice cream I will eat a whole carton in one night also I can’t resist cereal I will eat a whole box it also reminds me when me and my cousin were kids we used to eat cereal every morning I only like regular milk not or almond because it messes me up I also will eat a whole box of girl scout cookies they are so good and I like to donate and eat something good in return when I was a kid I wanted to do boy socouts but I couldn’t because I wasn’t in school because my parents pulled me out because the school said I had a learning disability but they said the school was stupid so they didn’t let me go back

27 Cowellian April 10, 2014 at 1:26 PM

I used to like Sizzler when I knew someone who worked there.

28 Charles-the-cat April 10, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Years ago I would go to various Indian restaurant buffets, along with Fresh Choice, Todai, and occasionally China Wall. Maybe I’m getting to be a pickier eater as I get older but buffets don’t appeal to me any more. I may go to Bombay’s buffet (in WC) if I find myself downtown at lunch but that’s pretty rare.

29 BuffytheBuffet April 10, 2014 at 1:33 PM

Once in a while I like Hometown Buffet although I haven’t been in about 4 years.
The only buffet go to a few times per year is “Favorite Indian Restaurant” in San Ramon. Really good! I use to love Nemaste’s buffet and was so sad when they closed. Love love love Indian food.

30 SK April 10, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Excellent recollection, Cowellian! Those were the days… we used to tease Mr. Mayor! Ha ha ha… That was way back before had any advertising, remember?

31 Concord Grape April 10, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Pipers across from Rossmoor.A looooong time ago

32 Shulla April 10, 2014 at 1:41 PM

@ 17 & 18. I loved Pipers…went every Sunday after church. Our infant son had his first taste of ice cream there. Yummy place.

33 Justin April 10, 2014 at 1:42 PM

A surprising amount of hate in here for not only buffets, but the people who patronize them. Really #21, calling people Hutts?

I’m in good shape and enjoy a lunch buffet at least once a week. They’re not just good for stuffing as much as you can – they’re also a good way to sample many types of food. I’m especially fond of Indian Buffets, like you’ll find in Todos Santos. The prices tend to be right too – like $8 – $10.

Go to a reputable place and you won’t get sick.

34 Larva April 10, 2014 at 1:57 PM

Years ago my sister was digging in to a very memorable salad she’d ordered at The Sizzler. She still talks about what she appropriately named “the Cater-platter.” As you might image that was her last meal there.

35 Isaac April 10, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Buffet City or Home Town Buffet.

36 Incognito April 10, 2014 at 2:18 PM

I’ve never been a fan of buffets, primarily because I prefer quality over quantity. I rarely eat out, so when I do indulge it’s at a very nice restaurant where I can order something I don’t usually cook at home and enjoy a quality dining experience.

37 Not actually a Buffet April 10, 2014 at 2:20 PM

The Samoa Cookhouse in Eureka. Family Style All-You-Can-Eat high quality comfort Food.

38 Amy April 10, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Never! These type of restaurants are DISGUSTING and so are the people who eat there. The food is poor quality, lots of grease and salt. People don’t wash their hands between going back to the food “trough” and people touch the serving utensils and the dishes that everyone uses. Ewwww.

39 ClayDen April 10, 2014 at 2:57 PM


BTW, I have eaten at Margaritaville in Waikiki (it’s not a buffet).

40 Attila April 10, 2014 at 2:58 PM

Used to be Ghengis Khan Mongolian BBQ on Clayton Rd. You’d make up your own bowls, pick your meats, veggies, and cooking oils. Dude would fry it up on the big round grill and hand it back to you. Quality ingredients. Unlimited. All you can eat. Wasn’t much money either. Salad bar. Crazy desserts. When I was young I’d eat a few days worth of food. Totally gross, I know. I haven’t seen a place since that’s comparable that wasn’t expensive.

And yeah, Swagat is good, as is Sargam in W.C.

41 tennis king April 10, 2014 at 3:14 PM

Don’t like to eat at buffets because too many people handling the food and contaminating everything.

42 Enfield303 April 10, 2014 at 3:21 PM



43 LE April 10, 2014 at 3:30 PM

we take the grand kids to Fresh Choice which is now in Walnut Creek and we really like it – last time we were there I asked him to open another one in Concord – he is thinking about it – Buffet City and Fresh Tomatoes are awful and over priced

44 Cowellian April 10, 2014 at 3:32 PM

I do remember, SK!

45 RanchgirlCA April 10, 2014 at 3:40 PM

I’ve never been a fan of the buffet. All I see is a large quantity of mediocre food, at best. I’ve only eaten at one, twice in the past few years. Once, was multiple meals on a cruise, simply for the ease and convenience. The other was on a vacation with friends, who treated us to a show, so we took them out to dinner and that was what they liked. On my own, I don’t go there.

46 Lucy April 10, 2014 at 3:48 PM

@Tonic – Our family use to go to Smorgie Bob’s in Park & Shop…I would rather have mexican food but with 3 brothers I didn’t win often!!!

47 farah anwar April 10, 2014 at 4:12 PM

Well,we usually like going to sweet tomatoes or freshchoice ,there prices are really afforfable and pretty good quantity of food , for the kids meal its $15.88 and drink $5.09 adults its also pretty low for 26.99 and drink 5.09. I dont remember the prices for fresh choice but there pretty low too we mostly go to regular restaurants like chilis, olivegarden, melos etc its much much better quality and you still get full.

48 H8TRS suck April 10, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Home town then china wall. And as far as the
comments about size of patrons, so what.
I clock in at 190 at six foot two. And the quality
and cleanliness has always been exelent.
But some of you that posted those remarks think
in n out is a good burger ( gag), check out what
the average person ingests with out their knowing
some time. Haters suck! Hope you eat a bug!

49 Tasty! April 10, 2014 at 4:17 PM

No regular buffets- they’re kind of gross, but Swagat for Indian food for lunch or on the weekend nights.

They have very delicious dishes that even newbies would enjoy. The problem is that you want to keep eating and you get stuffed.

It’s something I look forward to before we eat and loathe afterwards!

50 funny man April 10, 2014 at 4:25 PM

aww i miss genghis khan. i loved the pick-your-own-ingredients and watching the old man stirfry it up.
lok tao the place behind mcdonalds in park n shop is pretty good. just wish they had jalepeno chicken like china wall.
+1 swaggats in downtown too

51 Mark April 10, 2014 at 4:40 PM

BEST: The Samoa Cookhouse in Eureka.

WORST: Walnut Creek Fresh Choice

52 Kathy April 10, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Last time ever was about 15 years ago. Saw a kid pick something up with his hands, taste it, make a face, and stick it back in the buffet under the rest. Now I refer to them as “Barf-ets”!
They represent a bacteria fest in my opinion!

53 C April 10, 2014 at 5:07 PM

Eating at a buffet is basically admitting that you are lower class.

54 Atticus Thraxx April 10, 2014 at 5:14 PM

Went to one in Waikiki that was so gross it was funny. Damned if I can remember the name. I like buffets if the food is good and the clientele isn’t too nasty.But again I can’t remember the names.

55 The Closer April 10, 2014 at 5:19 PM

I’m with #37 and #51. The Samoa Cookhouse is awesome.

56 Bill Houston April 10, 2014 at 5:32 PM


57 Don April 10, 2014 at 5:47 PM

I got a really bad case of food poisoning at the lunch buffet at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas.

58 Hillary April 10, 2014 at 5:54 PM

I enjoy Korean barbques, they are sort of a buffet but the entourage is limited to the table you’re eating at.

59 Rose Garden April 10, 2014 at 6:26 PM

I try to eat healthy, so I stay away from buffets.

60 Julio April 10, 2014 at 7:01 PM

I would drink water before I would pay 5.09 for a soda anywhere. It cost 2 cents for the ingredients.
No to buffets unless Vegas, Stateline Tahoe or a nice Indian Casino.

61 Mustang Sally April 10, 2014 at 7:37 PM

The last buffet I ever went too was China Wall Buffet. It was long ago. We drove back to Oakland and barely made it before all hell broke loose, and I’ve got a cast iron stomach. Never again.

62 TinFoiler April 10, 2014 at 7:59 PM


63 94598 April 10, 2014 at 8:13 PM

I cook a lot- no buffets for us

64 Just Another Concord Resident April 10, 2014 at 8:19 PM

I got a really bad case of food poisoning at an Indian Buffet in downtown Oakland many years ago.. haven’t touched curry anything since. Used to go to Fresh Choice in Sun Valley, never had an issue.. had troubles with the salad bar at Marie Calendars in Concord and never went back.. Food poisoning is too much to take.

65 Old Gringo April 10, 2014 at 8:26 PM

If your up in Humboldt County The Oriental Buffet in Arcata is way better than the Samoa Cookhouse.

66 GLUTEN-FREE GAL April 10, 2014 at 8:37 PM

NO- I try to avoid buffet restaurants because of Celiac disease. I always worry about cross-contamination and getting very sick.

67 Michelle April 10, 2014 at 9:19 PM

Can’t do it.

68 nytemuvr April 11, 2014 at 7:55 AM

@Tonic #9
I miss the Smorgie Bob’s at Park & Shop.

We went there……once.

69 Cuzzzzz............... April 11, 2014 at 8:04 AM

Harrah’s Buffet @ South Shore………..The only buffet I will eat at.

70 foonman April 11, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Glad to see the Samoa Cookhouse mentioned here. It was my only “Pig out” once a year, for twenty years or so when travelling north to the Oregon coast. Its “logging camp food and plenty of it”. Cant do it any more but enjoyed the memory…………….thanks

71 Mimi (original) April 11, 2014 at 11:34 AM

A brunch buffet at a class restaurant is the only buffet I’d seek out. I’ve seen too many children touch food with their bare (dirty) hands and then put stuff back!! I’m Never heading down that road!

72 ConcordGal April 11, 2014 at 6:21 PM

I have eatin at buffets In the past but after my husband became a route driver and started delivering to these places….never again!!They are so unsanitary and disghusting,not to mention all the disghusting people that frequent these places!!it’s bad enough when you have to wonder what’s happening to your food in the kitchen let alone food it’s been around for hundreds of people :-!

73 Skippy April 11, 2014 at 8:35 PM

Never been to one. Just read a book called “Pioneer Girl” which went into detail about Asian buffets and how disgusting they are. Definitely won’t go now.

74 mika April 11, 2014 at 8:44 PM

Just think of all those people touching the handles to dish out their food. Yuk! I like what the cruise ships do, they make you squirt sanitizer on your hands before entering the buffets.

75 Incoming April 11, 2014 at 10:31 PM

No. I value my life.

76 MaryJane April 13, 2014 at 5:22 PM


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