HOME > Chowhound > Washington DC & Baltimore >


Favorite Lunch Buffet in NOVA?

Mr. alka has plenty of food in the fridge, but he doesn't want THAT! No, he wants to go to a lunch buffet. What is your favorite place with quality food? (obviously, you are a hound!)

Also, while searching "buffet", found a post on Well Being Seafood Buffet in Arnnandale. Anything new on that place?

And while you're here, any recommendations on a good Indain DINNER buffet in Arlington/Alexandria/Annandale/Falls Church area? (NOT Delhi Dhaba)
(We love Raaga on Rte. 7 for their lunch buffet.)

Last, is your favorite buffet open on Mondays?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't know if they do a dinner buffet, but Mayuri in Reston has a very good lunch buffet. Minerva (at least in Herndon) does a lunch buffet, but I'm pretty sure they don't do dinner. Minerva has the Fairfax location, too.

    Mayuri Indian Cusane
    2316 Hunters Woods Plz, Reston, VA 20191

    1. I went to the Matusake sushi lunch buffet one day for some sushi. It isn't bad since I live close by, but I don't know that I would drive out of my way for it.

      1. If Raaga is within your radius of eating operations, nearby is Malibu Grill (Brazilian BBQ), Bamboo Buffet (Chinese), Great American (Americana), and Lucky 3 (Dim Sum). My favorite is Bamboo Buffet for the value and variety. There are also pizza buffets next to Raaga and by Great American, but I avoid carb feasts.

        Down 395 at the Little River Turnpike exit is Hee Been. They serve a stellar buffet but it's like $16.95 if I remember correctly.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Minger

          The pizza buffet next to Raaga (Joe's) is no more but Raaga definitely has a buffet for lunch, but I believe not for dinner. The former pizza place next door is now Le Coco Rico, YACP (yet another chicken place). Cece's is all you can stand mediocre pizza in the same shopping center as Great American Grease Pit. I tend to think of Giant Food, Burlington Coat Factory, or World Market as the landmarks there.

        2. 1. Todai (in Fairfax) offers an excellent Japanese seafood buffet for both lunch and dinner (365 days a year). Don't be put off by the fact that this restaurant is part of a world-wide chain or that it is located in Fair Oaks Mall. It's probably the best place in the Washington area to be exposed to the full scope of the popular (as opposed to the gourmet) food of Japan.

          2. Minerva (in Fairfax) offers an excellent Indian buffet for lunch (7 days a week). Unlike most Indian restaurants in the Washington area, this restaurant offers a very wide range of Indian dishes, including South Indian vegetarian and Chinese-Indian.

          3. Saravana Palace (in Fairfax) offers an excellent South Indian vegetarian buffet for lunch (7 days a week).

          On weekends, all three restaurants are usually overcrowded and filled with many extended Asian families that always seem to include some out-of-control children. (At Minerva and Saravana Palace, you may be the only non-Indian customer -- that is, if you're not Indian.) Go for the excellent food, not for the ambiance.

          I'm not a fan of the Well Being Seafood Buffet in Annandale. Although it's Korean-run, rather than Japanese-run, it has a lot in common with Todai -- and suffers by comparison. Furthermore, if you really prefer Korean to Japanese, the Ill Mee Buffet Restaurant in Annandale is, in my opinion, a much better choice for Korean buffet.

          Todai Fairfax
          11750L Fair Oaks Mall, Fairfax, VA

          Minerva Indian Cusine
          10364 Lee Hwy, Fairfax, VA

          Saravana Palace
          11725 Lee Hwy, Fairfax, VA 22030

          1 Reply
          1. re: ballston01

            I drove out to Saravana Palace for a weekday lunch and found it underwhelming and far short of the hype.

            I've been to Minerva once on a weekday and often on the weekends. Tyler Cowen claims, probably correctly, that the food is most authentically seasoned on the weekends, when the natives come to eat.

          2. I like Well Being and I think it's not often enough mentioned here.

            Very close to it is Il Mee, 7031 Little River Turnpike - lunch without tabletop grill is (if I recall correctly) $9.99.

            My FAVORITE place? Minerva.

            Bamboo Buffet has a lot to recommend it. Lucky Three now does dinner buffet as well as lunch.

            6 Replies
            1. re: wayne keyser

              Minerva is the bomb. I love their garlicky soup and dishes like the fried bitter melon. You see Indian bitter melon -- and Indian families buying it -- in the local ethnic markets but you never see it in the restaurants.

              1. re: Minger

                are there a couple minervas? when i was looking for the location of mayuri, in reston
                (good on a sunday we went with indian friends) (also mentioned above)

                Mayuri Indian Cuisine,
                2316 Hunters Woods Plz
                Reston, VA 20191
                (703) 860-4999

                i came across a minerva on centreville road. there is another in fairfax near 123 and 50?

                1. re: alkapal

                  There are a total of five Minervas. One in Fairfax, one in Herndon (on Cenreville Rd.), one in Chantilly, one in Gaithersberg, and one in Atlanta. Here is a link to the complete list: http://005a014.netsolhost.com/locatio...

                  I'm familiar only with the Minerva in Fairfax (on Lee Highway). I don't know whether or not the others are as good.

                  1. re: ballston01

                    i have been to that one. it has plenty of dishes, but we prefer raaga on rte. 7. better quality food and better service, nicer atmosphere.

                    1. re: alkapal

                      i've been to both, raaga is more convenient to me, but minerva is in, IMHO, a league above raaga. to each their own tastes. it's dishes like fried bitter melon that make minerva authentic above any other indian restaurant i've sampled in this area. i'd say raaga is at the upper end of the typical indian restaurant for non-indian customers. and i'm comparing raaga to weekend minerva.

                      i'm also only familiar with the minera in fairfax. funny to think about three possible clones in the area. i may have to make a roadtrip to check one of them out.

                      1. re: Minger

                        i am pretty familiar with indian food; i have been cooking it for 20 odd years, and am married to a sri lankan. we have many indian friends. as well. but, as you say, to each his own tastes. that is what is wonderful about the free market! to borrow a phrase, allez cuisine!

            2. I will add my "thumbs up" for Minerva as well but I have a hidden gem that is incredible!

              There is a GREAT Korean Buffet, (with a so-so Chinese buffet just next door) located in Fairfax very close to the RT 50/66 junction near Jermaintown Rd called the Seoul House Restaurant

              The address:
              11272 James Swart Cir
              Fairfax, VA 22030

              (703) 934-8250

              This non-descript exterior restaurant located in a strip mall with a Circuit City, Burlington Coat Factory, and Ruby Tuesday, serves an incredible variety of Korean dishes that are fresh and tasty. The inside is gorgeous and clean and you would never believe you are in the same restaurant that you see from the outside.

              They serve multipl types of Korean noodles, Kim Chi inspired dishes, some fish and meat offerings, salads, seafood, peel and eat shrimp, rice, tempura veggies, fruit, and even miso soup.

              The best part is that in addition to the Korean buffet, they have one of the largest all- you-can-eat Sushi selection I have ever witnessed. Probably 20 varieties, all very fresh.

              I try to go here at least 2-3 times a month and it always has a large crowd of which 80% or more is usually Korean/Japanese/Chinese diners.

              I give it an 8 out of 10

              I only eat the buffet at lunch so I can not offer guidance on anything else

              8 Replies
              1. re: LoveFood2Much

                I think I know this place. When we lived in Oakton for a year we found it. We liked it, but at the time thought it wasn't quite up to some other places, such as Hee Been.

                I don't think they had a buffet at the time OR served sushi - that was one of the marks against it at the time for us - the menu was very limited.

                Is there still a Mexican place to the left of it as you're facing it? That place was good and got some notice on this board, but they were running the service side of it too slowly and were bound to lose business.

                1. re: Dennis S

                  Dennis, no there is a Chinese Buffet that is not so good immediately left. I actually ate at Seoul House today for lunch! It was great. Plenty of fresh sushi and good Korean buffet. I've never been to Hee Been, being relatively new to the area but will give it a try in the near future.

                  The service seems pretty good-they have plenty of help walking around

                  1. re: LoveFood2Much

                    dingdingdingdingding. sounds like we have a winner! thanks everyone, keep on giving suggestions, please! many thanks for all you have offered already.

                    1. re: LoveFood2Much

                      Yeah, that's what I was asking - but it sounds like the Mexican place is gone. The Babies R' Us is further left. We'll need to revisit soon - sounds like it is now even better than what it was.

                      1. re: LoveFood2Much

                        oh interesting. i've been to seoul house once and i don't think it had a buffet then either. i do remember the chinese buffet next door -- my friend doesn't do buffets and refused to consider it as we walked past. what are the prices?

                        1. re: Minger

                          The buffet and a smaller sized sake was $18.32.

                        2. re: LoveFood2Much

                          Try Songbird's lunch buffet at 8413 Old Courthouse Rd Vienna, VA 22182. It's a Korean buffet with sushi. I don't bother eating sushi but their Korean offers are varied and changes frequently. On any given day you should find beef, chicken, fish, and shrimp on the buffet table. It's about $16 with tax, tip and a soda. I have to check out Seoul House some time.

                          1. re: Ericandblueboy

                            yes, i haven't tried it, but we went to paya thai last saturday night, and i went for lunch yesterday (wednesday). it is next door to songbird, and that parking lot is full. i'm guessing most of those folks are in songbird. and i spent $17 for som tum and drunken noodles at paya thai, with tax and tip. $16 for songbird is a good deal.

                            we're looking forward to trying it.

                    2. I don't know if anyone has mentioned Aroma in Shirlington. I haven't been to their lunch buffet, but I know they have one and I like the place for dinner so maybe they have a good lunch buffet? It is Indian.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: ktmoomau

                        At its buffet, Aroma offers relatively few dishes, at least compared to places such as Todai and Minerva which offer ten to twenty times as many different dishes as Aroma. (One quality I look for in a good buffet is a wide variety of choices.) That said, the food at the Aroma buffet isn't bad. For example, unlike Minerva, which stacks the naan at its serving counter, Aroma brings the naan directly to your table from the oven.

                        1. re: ballston01

                          I went to Aroma on and off two or so years ago and forgot about it. Thanks for letting us know it is still there -- and serving fresh bread. Minerva is the benchmark for me but a trek for lunch so it is weekend destination. My impressions of Aroma were the same as the two posters above. Small selection but competent execution, good location and decent price.

                          I'll add another Indian buffet -- I don't remember and couldn't find the name but it is located at the Ballston Comfort Inn, 1211 N Glebe Rd. I would say it is below Raaga or Aroma but I remember they have later lunch closing hours. It's to good know additional options for various circumstances.

                      2. Still no answer to the question: An Indian DINNER buffet inside the Beltway in NoVA. On Mondays or Tuesdays I need to eat around 5:30 in time for a 7 p.m. bridge session in Arlington. Mark's Duck House and Ravi Kebab are my standbys, but an AYCE would be nice. Il Mee is too far given the traffic. Ideas?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: jkosnett

                          jkosnett, all you needed to do is ask :-)

                          Indian dinner buffet is a rare bird but I know of one just inside the beltway, at Loehmann's Plaza:

                          7263 Arlington Blvd Falls Church, VA 22042

                          don't remember the name, something Dhaba? facing the Loehmann's store in the eponymous mall, it's in the strip of stores to your left, which includes Celebrity Deli?

                          not great Indian, but it fills the bill.

                          1. re: Minger

                            Punjab Dhaba - I reeally like it, it's buffet-mostly (you can order at the counter from the menu on the wall). My only problem with it is a certain sameness from day to day.

                            1. re: wayne keyser

                              In fairness to Punjab Dhaba -- try the goat! -- it's more of a strip mall storefront one-man-show kind of place than a place like Minerva, which is a massive operation.

                        2. I'm sort of surprised no one's brought up Bombay Cafe yet. The ambiance is cafeteria-style and very non-descriptive... Not a place to take your date! However, the food is very good and they have a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Their menu changes daily and on Saturdays they have curry-flavored fried wings. Lunch buffet is eight bucks and dinner is ten.

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: nitb4tempest

                              I agree that the food at Bombay Cafe is very good. The only complaint I have is that the variety and offerings are pretty limited once you've been there 2 or 3 times. Their chiat offerings are good and so are the breads.
                              I've been going to Minerva instead for the variety.
                              The Afghani restaurant located next door, (name escapes me) serves incredible flavored kebobs with a very, very unique flavored chick peas and rice that I've never tasted anywhere else.

                            2. go to Hee Been Restaurant, i think they have buffets all throughout their business hours.
                              A korean buffet where they have a variety of different foods + BBQ.
                              The food is very good and the interior is wonderfully set up.
                              its located in Alexandria.
                              check it out:

                              1 Reply
                              1. Minerva is terrible..I am from india and sometimes the food isn't at it's best, last time i was there the chicken was tough, the lamb was chewy and the goat was undercooked...I have gotten to know the owners over the years and they don't care about the food much anymore. the original Minerva was opened in Herndon off centreville road, then they slowly opened the rest one by one. They have also dipped into the bar/wing business as part owners in Chick's N Wings in Tyson's.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: mixtrosity

                                  You should tell them that their wings really suck at Chicks 'n wings. I hate soggy wings.

                                  1. re: mixtrosity

                                    i wasn't impressed with minerva in fairfax (so-so buffet, and paper plates, iirc!).

                                    there is another indian in reston that we went to with some indian friends on a sunday afternoon about a year or so ago. i think it is mayuri in hunter woods plaza, not very far from reston parkway).

                                    Mayuri Indian Cuisine‎
                                    2316 Hunters Woods Plz, Reston, VA - (703) 860-4999‎

                                    great buffet! lots of choices and quality meat, veg, and breads -- and excellent butter chicken and saag (two of my most important dishes by which to judge an indian resto). many, many indian folks there (overwhelming majority, i'd say). that's my test, also, for whether the ethnic cuisine is "on the mark".

                                    if it weren't so far away, i'd be there a lot! ;-)

                                    ps, hope i didn't post about this before, but maybe so.....

                                    1. re: mixtrosity

                                      I agree - Minerva's food is absolutely terrible...the tandoori meats/chicken are consistently dry and extremely difficult to chew (also microwaved)...the chicken they use for Korma is not cleaned (all the fat left on)...OMG....my last and final (3rd) experience with them was utterly disgusting...we bought $45 worth of food, brought it home...and threw it ALL away after tasting each one.

                                      1. re: lateefx

                                        As far as lunch buffet, there are a couple of places, but I think Hee Been hits the mark for what you've been looking for.

                                        Great ambiance and good food. The buffet is in a big square shape, seperated by vegetable and cold dishes section, the hot foods section, sushi section, and meats.

                                        www.heebeen.com - for better description and address