Top Five Buffets in Seattle

Buffets aren't just for old people anymore
Finding the best buffet can be daunting--and for the weak stomached, it could mean spending hours locked up in the bathroom wondering what alternative dish made it all go wrong. Despite a few sour selections (after all, what's a buffet without having to utter "I'll have a little of the yell-ah"), you've got to admit it's a great concept that breaks up the old steak and potato routine.

For buffet enthusiasts, dish browsing is simply a win-win situation that entails piling whatever looks edible onto a plate and diving in. While some may take it on as a challenging race (who can make the most trips to the line without letting the fork lay on the plate, an indication of a white flag for servers), others choose to take it as an opportunity to liberate their pallet with as many cuisine-mixing opportunities as possible. Chinese chicken and Mexican flan? Perfect. Alfredo and Thai curry rice? Exotic.

While Seattle's list of buffets are endless for the lunchtime or brunchtime seeker, its dinner options are thin I found out when I scoured the area (and outer city limits) for the top five evening all-you-can-eat hot spots.

Still good no matter where you are in the country

5. Old Country Buffet

4601 200th St. SW, Lynnwood, 425-672-9731

A Midwest staple (and in some suburbs, the place to be on a Friday night), the Old Country never vanishes despite its quasi-edible selection of dishes beneath florescent lights. Often staffed with just one member manning the carving station, patrons are left to fend for themselves in a wilderness filled with mystery gravies and fried chicken. But for many buffet cruisers (and the reason why it makes our Top 5), Old Country Buffet is the definition of a buffet. It presents the challenge (is it macaroni or ...?), the options are endless, and most importantly, everyone leaves feeling like they've experienced a slice of comfort food. For less than $20 a piece, Seattleites can fill their stomachs at one of the various locations either north or south of the city with as much cornbread and mashed potatoes as they desire--not to mention the dessert table is an expansive abyss of pies, cakes, soft-serve ice cream, and cookies. So, the next time you're feeling the itch to round up the family Griswold-style, be sure to think of the old highway pit-stop that keeps everyone satisfied.

Steaming dishes at Northgate's Super Buffet

4. Super Buffet

300 NE Northgate Way, 206-362-0888

Northgate mall shoppers looking to snag a bite in-between their stop to Target or Sports Authority just need to look for the unmistakable red neon sign that gets right to the point. Featuring over 150 different dishes, this buffet lives up to its prefix, and its reasonable price (Monday-Thursday $12.99, Friday-Sunday $14.99) keeps foot traffic flowing enough to ensure each tray of food is piping hot. While a few items are not so desirable, (the hot and sour soup serves more as a dipping sauce for wontons than a liquid meal), seafood items such as the snow king crab legs and baked mussels with cheese are the most sought after entrée for multiple-trip-makers. With white tender meat exploding out of hard-shelled, spiny legs the length of my forearm, it's easy to understand why surrounding tables were littered with metal cracking utensils. Although it may not be the seafood sanctuary that is Salty's weekend brunch over on Alki, Super Buffet offers a comparable economic option in an inviting environment. Not only were the staff attentive and appreciative, they also kept me informed when a new tray was brought out. Spacious and well-lit, the atmosphere was clean and tables were carefully placed away from the aisles of food to ensure a peaceful dining experience.

Preet's delicious vegetarian buffet

3. Preet's

8440 160th Ave NE, Redmond, 425-867-9400

Hidden in one of Redmond' s high-end neighborhoods, Preet's offers a vegetarian Indian buffet both during lunchtime and dinner hours. Its exterior gives off the impression that the restaurant is much more expansive than it is. Upon entry, the buffet table hardly reaches ten feet in length. But don't be fooled by its lack-luster display--Preet's offers quality Indian dishes at one of the best dinner buffet prices around. For $10, you can dip papdi chaat (Indian-style nachos) loaded with garbanzo beans, cilantro flecks, onions, potatoes and crispy wafers in either sweet tamarind sauce or rich yogurt dressing; or pile your plate high with basmati rice and some mulai kafta (the vegetarian meatball) drenched in a rich, creamy gravy. Other entrée selections (that rotate each day) include curried tofu and mixed greens. With only three cushioned booths lining the walls, it might be a tight squeeze but Preet's does offer outdoor seating on warmer days. For first-time Indian food adventurists, the wait staff offers helpful advice and explanations about each dish. To finish off the meal, be sure to grab one of Preet's velvety good Chai lattes to-go.

The Mongolian barbeque buffet at Snoqualmie Casino

2. Snoqualmie Casino

37500 SE North Bend Way, Snoqualmie, 425-888-1234

It could mean quite the trek for some, but Snoqualmie's elegant resort houses one of the finest buffets just 30 minutes out of the city. If you happen to stumble in on prime rib night, the buffet ($24.95) offers medium-rare slices of beef to hungry gamblers in need of a quick fix between their slot and card games. The dining area is vast and food options include a full salad bar, fresh seafood table, and a Mongolian barbeque with your choice of selected meats, vegetables, and noodles. The attentive staff keep an eye on empty glasses and plates, making sure forks don't go missing during the multiple trips to the buffet line. On Fridays and Saturdays, the buffet is even open until 11 p.m., perfect for anyone getting a late start on the evening.

Who would have thought these were alive earlier in the day?

1. Bluefin Sushi

401 NE Northgate Way, 206-367-0115

Although it is the priciest buffet option on our list, Bluefin offers the best service and quality. For $28.99 on the weekends ($26.99 Mon-Thurs), anyone who loves sushi will be satisfied with the long tables of rolls and sashimi. Situated right in Northgate Mall, it's easy to overlook the restaurant but once inside, nearly a dozen chefs pour over intricate, edible creations. Even the desserts are fashioned into bite-size cakes. Bluefin purchases its snow crab alive. Not to miss: the once-weekly hamachi and the spicy scallop roll with its creamy filling.

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