Best Practices for Maximizing at a Buffet

Categories: Best Practices
People in San Francisco like to play that they've always known the glory of free-range quail terrine and grew up foraging for truffles with their French papa. Don't front. The vast majority of us grew up celebrating all holidays, birthdays, and special events at a buffet. Won a Little League soccer game? Fresh Choice*! Celebrating a cousin's engagement to another cousin? Hometown Buffet! Someone won the lottery? Todai! OMG, remember the time your grandparents took you on a Carnival Cruise and you got to binge on the Midnight Buffet and then lay in your rocking bed, shaking like a meth head, praying for sleep or death? It's a defining moment in every child's life.

The glory of the buffet cannot be beat because it's EVERY food. As in, all the food. Like, every food you can imagine, and as much of it as you want. Which is all of it. You want a Butterfinger sundae topped in beef chow mein? Go for it! You want the man who is not a chef but wearing a chef's hat to make you 15 waffles while the line behind you fills with angry hordes of America's finest? Do it to it! You want to stuff a dozen brownies down your bra for a later snack? The world is your oyster! (Just whatever you do: Don't eat the buffet oysters.)

As wonderful and sanitary as most buffets are, some employ shady techniques and underhanded sneakiness to encourage customers to practice portion control (NEVER!). You paid your $7.99. You should be able to eat as much food in one sitting as the entire country of Uganda does in a week. Hell, you shouldn't even have to eat it, you should just get to take it and leave it all in a gigantic pile on your table! America FUCK YEAH!

Here are my best tips for maximizing at your next buffet (you know it's gonna happen, don't fight it):

1. The best time to visit a buffet is at the end of lunch, just before dinner. It's a really fantastic deal because you get two meals for the price of (the cheaper!) one. Don't worry, the only entertainment you'll need between meals is staring at the wall and drooling -- you effectively become a disgusting, giant baby. It's so great! Also, don't starve before you go -- you'll just throw yourself into shock when you encounter the Glorious Bounty. Eat a light breakfast to keep that metabolism going; you're gonna need it! And I don't mean to be crass (lie), but you need to take a giant dump before you go. AND NOW, WE FEAST!

2. Wear your eating pants, whatever that might mean to you. Basically, if it signals to the world that you've given up, you're on the right track. Also, make sure it's not stuff you love because there's a good chance you'll have to burn them when you're done -- either because of stains or shame.

3. Make a pact with yourself that you won't drink any liquids** before or during your meal. You will notice that a buffet's main flavor profile is salt, and that will cause you to be thirsty. But! You cannot give in. That valuable stomach space is for food, and food only. Actually, do liquids even go into your stomach? I don't know, I don't work at NASA -- but the point is, it's still psychological. If you are downing Diet Coke, where do you think all those meatballs are gonna go!? Besides, drinks cost money at buffets and obviously you are straight broke, because otherwise you wouldn't be here.


4. No filler foods! That means no rice, no potatoes, and especially: NO ROLLS. These are cheap food that buffets want you to go crazy on so you forget that you spent $14.99 on a gigantic plate of Uncle Ben's. Which brings me to my next point:

5. Seafood: Learn it, live it, love it.
Let's face it, the only thing of value at a buffet is the seafood. Let us take a moment to observe all women over the age of 50 at your buffet of choice. You will notice one thing: They hover over the crab section and wait. The bravest and/or saddest thing you'll ever do at a buffet is stand head-to-head with these octogenarian monsters and compete for the meat. As soon as the plate hits the bar, you must do what it takes! Throw elbows, throw punches, and bodycheck women in wheelchairs***, whatever. You're the man! If you go about this smartly, you can deplete an entire ocean ecosystem (what's that?! You're here to eat, fuck everything else!) in one go-round at Hometown. Good job!

6. Fuck quality. Now you might ask, Laura, what is the best way to get a good, healthy meal at a buffet? And to that I say: GET OUT OF MY COUNTRY! Next step.

My Voice Nation Help

I have done just about all of the above. I've done the most damage at Hometown. I fill up on the fried chicken and some other meats and a vegetable or two on my first couple of plates. By the third (yes, third) plate, maybe another piece of chicken and then the carbs! Gooey mac & cheese, rice & gravy (I don't care for their mashed potatoes), lots of bread, etc. If I sit there long enough, I'll try dessert, only to regret it. Somehow, I make it to the car and sit. And sit. And my child falls asleep 'cuz mommy ate wayyyyy toooo much! And let's not forget casino buffets! Nothin' like an appetite for gambling and food.

Well, I have to say that I'm proud of myself. I've eaten at buffets alot less in the past year. And when I do go, I limit what and how much I eat. The last time I 'pigged out', I drove home and started having a strange feeling in and around my chest. As I let the windows down for air (mind you it was freezing out), I started thinking 'never again'. Buffets are fun, but not when you hurt yourself.....


Right now, there's a serious dearth of buffets in San Francisco. We need to rectify that situation with a Hometown/Old Country Buffet, or at least a Fresh Choice.


(It can even be at Stonestown! Just as long as it's in the city, please)

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