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Aug 18, 2007 08:52 PM

Good Dinner Buffets in Northern Virginia or DC?


I want to take out some of my old college buddies visiting me here in the DC area to a few restaurants, including some good buffets where they can stuff themselves to contentment.

I'm aware of a buffet called "The Great American" in Alexandria, which isn't a bad place, probably a decent value for the money (it has a good selection of meats though it has a sloppy salad bar and the grease/oil used for fried foods has a flavor I don't like). Across the street is a good Chinese buffet I like, the Bamboo Buffet - I dont really have any complaints about it, as far as Chinese food goes it's very good for a buffet. I've only heard about the Malibu Grill, which seems to have earned several negative reviews from Chowhounders here, so I'll probably avoid it.

Are you aware of any good buffets, of any style cuisine (steakhouse, seafood, ethnic, etc), that you would recommend I try with my friends in the DC area?

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  1. Finding dinner buffets is much more of a challenge than lunch buffets. Of course, with most of the standout ethnic places in the area, you won't need a buffet to eat heartily at a good price (see Tyler Cowen's guide for ideas).

    It will be a long time before you find many Hounds responding favorably to anything like "Great American Steak and [whatever]" buffet - myself, I think it's edible, but only just. Wouldn't want to think I had friends going home thinking this was the best budget dining available in the Nation's Capital.

    I'm a fan of Bamboo Buffet - nothing there is awful anhd if you choose wisely some of it is quite creditable as buffets go. Il Mee in Annandale should please almost anyone, with its tabletop grills and immense variety, and even if some of your friends don't enjoy the full range of Korean offerings there who can complain about unlimited fresh meats and shrimp to season as you please and grill to your taste?

    Malibu Grill has its fans and its detractors - certainly the sheer bulk of meat you can have is impressive, and accounts for the price, and the presentation makes an impression, but I didn't like the whole experience the one time I went.

    Considered a good kabob place? Downscale atmosphere (the really good ones, anyway) but good food and plenty of it at good prices. Also, Dragon Sea Buffet in Springfield - large Asian clientele (which is a decent indicator of its standing in the community) and I like it a lot.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wayne keyser

      If they're real carnivores, you should try Fogo de Chao in DC. Pricey but good quality grub.

    2. I was mildly surprised at Old Country Buffet in Woodbridge last night. I don't normally go to buffets, but it was a multi-family outing. First two points worth noting -- it is very family friendly and it is very affordable. Something like $11 for adults, if I recall correctly. My family of 6 (including two children) ate for about $65 and that included the tip.

      The food was passable. Typical salad bar, nothing significant to point out there. The hot foods included a carving station where I had very good, almost exceptional, carved flank steak. They also had huge beef ribs, barbecued chicken and ham on that carving station. I didn't try any of the fried foods but my son had chicken and the breast was a bit dry. The dessert bar had a good assortment of cakes and brownies, plus two soft ice cream machines with toppings. One of the machines had fat free vanilla.

      Overall, good value and decent quality, but not the place I would go to every other night.

      3 Replies
      1. re: BigEats

        I have been to Old Country Buffet. They have great rolls, reminded me of an old restaurant at home that made fresh hot rolls daily. Not where I would like choose to go but in a pinch it'll do. My Mom said they have pretty decent bread pudding. Haven't been to one in years, since I lived in a quite rural area, but if you go hopefully the rolls are the same.

        Across the street from us on Fairfax drive in Ballston is a place called the Carribean Grill, they have a buffet at some time, I don't know if it is brunch orlunch or a night of the week dinner, but they probably have a website, I have never been, but have seen the sign? A lot of sushi places have lunch buffets though so if you want something different for a lunch...

        1. re: ktmoomau

          Even the Chinese buffets have great rolls (Bamboo Buffet does, anyway) - Everybody has great rolls now - the secret: cases of frozen dough. Makes a pretty good product.

          1. re: wayne keyser

            I don't think so in this case... they are like north carolina butter rolls... with butter on top to make them shiny. They bake up and you seperate them into four. At least I don't find that at many restaurants.

      2. Do any Indian buffets run in the evening? Great option for lunch at least.

        What about the place in Rosslyn - Orleans house? I know it has a big salad bar - is there a buffet as well?

        Getting away from buffets, heck just go to Victors II in Falls Church and get a steak dinner or the meat/heart attack special - (page 4 of the pdf menu)

        1. The only thing wrong with the Malibu Grill is that for twice as much money at the other Brazilian steak houses, you get a better grade of meat. If you want to eat like the real cowboys do, Malibu Grill is just fine.

          There are a couple of decent Indian buffets, but most are lunch only. Jaipur on Lee Highway between Nutley Rd. and Fairfax Circle might have their buffet at dinner during the week - you could give a call.

          At Fairfax Circle, there's Peter Pan, a Chinese buffet that's authentic enough so that you shouldn't be squeamish about trying some of the less common foods they have on the buffet. While Bamboo Buffet can hardly be called mainstream Chinese food, Peter Pan is even less so. There's a newish Afghan buffet in Annandale, but I've never been there.

          Pestone's Italian Inn at 7 Corners has a very extensive salad bar which is almost as good as a dinner buffet. The menu food isn't bad either.

          2 Replies
          1. re: MikeR

            Thinking more about it, and reading some of the other comments, I would also recommend Chima in Tysons. It may be close to Fogo de Chao in quality, but I really like the "salad bar" -- far more extensive than just salads, and you could make a full meal from this "buffet"....but save room for all the meat that comes around.

            As far as Chinese buffets go, I really prefer dim sum, which is really a mobile buffet.

            1. re: MikeR

              Yeah, Pistone's - great salad bar. Good luck finding the right one of the seven corners to get into its parking lot.

              And I almost forgot - Tom Sarris' Orleans House in Rosslyn. Great salad bar (though it's not what it was 20 years ago) and a decent plate of roast beef.

            2. The Yil Mee Korean buffets in Annandale and Fairfax are open at dinner time and are decent. You'd get much better Korean food by ordering from a menu, however. The selection of non-Korean food is fairly minimal.

              Hee Been's dinner buffet is not cheap. It's about $25.00. However, they have fairly extensive Korean selections, a full side of non-Korean items, and a sushi station. I think the food there is better than at Yil Mee.