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10 Buffets That Could Change Your Dinner Plans



The buffets we feature below are meant to give diners a cross-section of experiences from dining on stick-to-your-ribs fare in Harlem at Sweet Mama's Soul Food Restaurant & Salad Bar to the let's-keep-the-party-going on Sundays at Tosca's Cafe in the East Bronx to dancing down a grand staircase worthy of a Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers number at the French-accented Brasserie 8 1/2 for a table lined with crepes and more. What you want from a buffet first and foremost is variety and tantamount to that, absolute cleanliness. Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg's A, B, C ratings the latter is clearly posted all over town. This list is also meant to invite you to travel all over the city: from Little Asia in Flushing for a stab at the Japanese Spring Shabu-Shabu or swish swish as you cook your own meal at table side to Jackson Diner featuring northern Indian cuisine Hillary Clinton recently sampled. Further afield, a ferry ride to Staten Island brings you to Phil-Am Kusina where Filipinos will welcome you with open arms as you eat with your hands is a good thing. Vatan, set in the Murray Hill section of town takes you to a colorful, warm, and romantic setting while Turkish Kitchen will impress with the innate culinary influences of Egyptian, and Middle Eastern. Finally, New York City brimming with open salad bars, you won't find them on this list, but Morton Williams, a supermarket chain that has been in town since the mid-50s fits the bill while you're in between places making food choices quick and simple. And the best of the best, New York City's most elegant, landmarked venue of all – the Rainbow Room on the 65th Floor of Rockefeller Center.


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NYC is home to maybe a half dozen family-owned supermarkets many of which now feature fabulous buffets, 24/7. Morton Williams boast 16 stores since they first opened in 1954. The hot and cold buffet is extensive at the 57th Street store where you can find up to four types of soup daily, sandwiches made at the deli counter if you like, and what appears to be freshly-made options such as mac and cheese, stews, cutlets, sushi, salads and often, spinach pie. There is no one ethnicity left out of this fabulous buffet. The 57th St. location has an attractive seating area upstairs that is well-maintained, with tables, chairs, couches and a microwave to heat your meal. Good place to relax while sightseeing, waiting for that pricey concert to begin at Carnegie Hall.

Recommended for Buffet because: You can find anything in New York City and Morton Williams is a treasured buffet at the heart of a retail store.

Maria's expert tip: Down the street from Carnegie Hall, the Russian Tea Room, a stone's throw from Le Parker Meridien and Salisbury hotels; good spot for families traveling with kids.

Read more about Morton Williams Supermarket →




Turkish Kitchen popped up initially as a business lunch spot on Third Avenue and has since blossomed into a lively dining scene that offers an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet on Sundays with two seatings. Authentic since its debut, the cuisine reflects the polyglot influences on Turkish dishes ranging from Central Asia to Persian, Greek, and Egyptian. So bring your appetite and a few friends on a Sunday morning for a spectacular taste of the Ottoman Empire: from calamari to kebobs kebobs and grilled eggplant salad. Ambience is exotic and service is good. Appetizers are a must. Be prepared for the full and varied menu where each dish sounds as good as the one before.The all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch is a steal at just under $25; two-course and three-course lunches start at $15.95 Mon.-Fri.

Recommended for Buffet because: Modest prices, undying loyalty among fans, staffers who know what is in every dish, Sunday brunch defies all willpower.

Maria's expert tip: The all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch is a steal at just under $25; two-course and three-course lunches start at $15.95 Mon.-Fri.

Read more about Turkish Kitchen →




Set in Little India, this 30-year old Queens institution that has since launched an outpost in Floral Park, Jackson Diner serves a wide variety of northern Indian fare in a bright, spacious spot mere steps from the Roosevelt Avenue subway station. Jackson Diner's menu transports diners 7,800 miles to India, north to a bit of the south in its menu selections that now include dosais, a southern specialty. A daily buffet between the hours of 11:00 AM to 4:30 PM for $11.95 per person is quite possibly one of the very best deals in the city. Sometimes the buffet includes a dosa station but don't set your heart on it as it is not always set up, however, the buffet offers a wide array of meat and meatless dishes with all sorts of breads, rice.

Recommended for Buffet because: Definitely dodge the worn carpet to Curry Hill and step out of you Manhattan comfort zone for a ride to Little India on the #7 train.

Maria's expert tip: Arrive at noon for the buffet to avoid crowds; and hit the ATM before you get on the 7 train as Jackson Diner is cash-only.

Read more about Jackson Diner - Jackson Heights →


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Luke's lobster first opened its doors in the East Village in 2009. They now bring traceable sustainable seafood to guests across the country. serve seafood straight from the source, prepared pure and simple, without the filler. Luke's pairs seafood with chowders and bisques, Maine-style sides, local desserts, natural sodas, and local microbrews (where the law lets them). And they work with partners who uphold our commitment to sourcing superior, sustainable ingredients and strive to support other small businesses, many of which are based in Maine or local to the cities where Luke's has opened shacks. Some say the lobster rolls are the gold standard at all 12 outposts throughout Manhattan.

Recommended for Buffet because: If you take your food seriously, love rich lobster rolls, chowders and the taste of the sea, Luke's is the place for you.

Maria's expert tip: Ok, the lobster, crab and shrimp rolls will cost you 380 calories served chilled over a buttered New England split-top bun, worth every calorie.

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Sweet Mama's Soul Food Restaurant is mainly a grab and go place with a few tables and chairs and a wealth of delicious selections for just $5.30 per pound, a find in one of NYC's hottest culinary nabes â€" Harlem. And instead of a sports channel, you'll be entertained by a music video of African-American artists like Stevie Whonder and Whitney Houston. Above all, it is a very clean place that serves soul food – mac 'n cheese, collard greens, fried chicken, jerk chicken, oxtail or honey wings – for $5.50 a pound, which is likely a record low for Manhattan. Pescatarians will delight in the curried salmon or whole fried tilapia. With so many selections, vegetarians will find it easy to share a meal with you. Sweet tea and lemonade are also great. At Thanksgiving, Sweet Mama spreads the karma by sharing its wealth serving some 700 New Yorkers.

Recommended for Buffet because: Good food, served buffet style with a friendly staff and facilities any five-star hotel would be proud of.

Maria's expert tip: Leave room for the cornbread, the banana cream pie or the yellow cake with coconut buttercream; and tip the very congenial staff.

Read more about Sweet Mama's Soul Food Restaurant & Salad Bar →




Shabu-Shabu literally means swish swish, which is what you want to hear as you toss in ingredients that simmer before your eyes in your very own hot pot. Toss in dumplings, fishcakes and noodles to compliment the very generous portions of meat and seafood entrees Shabu-Shabu is a Japanese style hot pt, it is fun and a healthy interactive dining experience. The very clean, chrome, no nonsense look of the place allows the spotlight to zoom in on the food. Rows and rows of spectacularly colored veggies and then thinkly sliced meat or assorted seafood, noodles aer cooked in simmering broth in individual pots at the table. So swish away those winter time blues at Shabu-Shabu in the heart of Little Asia in Flushing, Queens.

Recommended for Buffet because: A trip to Spring Shabu-Shabu is like stepping into a world that encourages you to play with your food, heightening the delight of it.

Maria's expert tip: Choose your base, your entree and let it rip with the sides you toss in creating a complex broth to your own taste. Dinners daily, $16.95, kids go for half price and those under 3.5 feet, eat free.

Read more about Spring Shabu Shabu →




Even the grand staircase at its location in the Solow Building will spin your head at this highly rated French dining spot called Brasserie 8 1/2. Yet prices are affordable for this Midtown west locale just steps west of Fifth Avenue: prix-fixe lunches cost $29 and dinner, $42, making it a high-quality, sophisticated option. The Sunday feature is an all-you-can-eat Buffet Brunch albeit a refined one. Priced at $34, kids under 10, $16; add $17 for Endless Mimosas and you have enough. Beyond the endless array of omelettes, a crepe station, seafood bar with ceviche, a carving table, the buffet definitely speaks to diners with a French accent. Salads are crisp, fresh and inviting, but do save room for dessert, at last count a dozen pies, cakes, and cookies topped the tables.

Recommended for Buffet because: The Patina Restaurant Group owns other NYC favorites in landmark locations: The Sea Grill, Rock Center Cafe, Naples 45, Brasserie 8 1/2 won't disappoint.

Maria's expert tip: Arrive at 11 AM for the top picks and a good table at the buffet brunch but do save room for dessert. Consider the crab and BYOB Sundays and Mondays.

Read more about Brasserie 8 1/2 →


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Staten Island


Filippino food has not been on the culinary radar just yet, but that is about to change with the influx of Filippinos across the city. One special place is Phil-Am Kusina in the tk section of far-flung Staten Island. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4-8PM, they feature what I like to call a "personalized buffet" or Kamayan Menu, for a minimum of 5-6. A communal meal that you dive into and eat with your hands. The entire table is covered with banana leaves and no utensils needed; there is a wonderfully uninhibited feeling about being one with your food. The Kamayan Menu costs $25 to $30 depending on your emphasis. Seafood is a more expensive delicacy. But it is very much like a buffet with three choices of appetizers, four sides, three meat and fish platters or a crown roast, no lie. This is a banquet not a buffet.

Recommended for Buffet because: Because this is a dining experience not easily replicated and because Filipino cuisine is joyful, sweet and salty, smooth and crackly.

Maria's expert tip: You've tried all the rest: from Chinese to Indian to Mexican, time for a little Filipino flavor. Time your visit for Tuesdays or Thursdays when it is polite to eat with your hands. BYOB and no cork fee.

Read more about Phil-Am Kusina →




New Yorkers, as sophisticated as they are, and so many inhabitants are from parts unknown, can be provincial when it comes to bouncing off the island of Manhattan and venturing north to El Bronx. So, yes, Tosca's Cafe is nestled in the East Bronx and it is worth crossing a bridge or two to get there for the Sunday Champagne Brunch Buffet. At $31.95 per person, the menu rises from mimosas, Bellinis, Bloody Marys to a fresh juice buffet, shrimp cocktail, calamari, clams on the half shell, an omelette station, smoked Norwegian salmon and of course standards like Eggs Benedict, steak and eggs, and beyond. We're not advocating gluttony, but this is indeed, an all-you-can-eat scenario and you will likely not be hungry at least for the rest of the day.

Recommended for Buffet because: Besides the Italian-accented high-quality fare, spacious surroundings and congenial staff, Tosca's Cafe is a great gateway to the mighty Bronx.

Maria's expert tip: Enjoy with friends on a lazy Sunday. Groups of 12 or more pay $34.95 per person; kids under 12, $12.95 per person.

Read more about Tosca's Cafe →




Located on the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza the elegant Rainbow Room offers spectacular views of the city and channels old-school New York elegance like nowhere else. Once under the leadership of the legendary Cipriani family of Venice, these days it has undergone extensive renovations and was reopened in 2014. Today the Rainbow Room is managed by Tishman Speyer. The Sunday Brunch Buffet is pricey at $125 per person, it is one of the city's best. Diners choose an entrée and run wild thorugh specialized stations that includfe a bacon bar, sweet and savory crepes made to order, fresh pressed juices and the most decadent desserts quite possibly on earth.

Recommended for Buffet because: Because nothing says New York like a decadent a la carte brunch at the iconic Rainbow Room.

Maria's expert tip: The Rainbow Room is opened just two days a week to the general public, cannot overemphasize booking your Sunday Brunch Buffet in advance.

Read more about Rainbow Room →


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Meet Maria Lisella

No matter how many countries Maria Lisella has visited (62), this native New Yorker finds the world at her doorstep in amazing Queens where its residents speak 138 languages.

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