Best Seattle Restaurants 2011: Buffet Dining

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Everyone loves to make fun of them— heard a good joke about sneeze guards lately?—but Salty’s wouldn’t be rolling out tons of Dungeness crab and Palisade’s parking lot wouldn’t be packed if their owners thought there wasn’t a market for the all-you-can-eat weekend buffet. The idea of the restaurant patron thinking he’s in the driver’s seat is especially appealing in a down economy. But brunch buffets seem to prosper no matter how our 401(k) accounts are faring, precisely because they allow us to decide how much of a good thing is enough.

For instance, at IPANEMA BRAZILIAN GRILL downtown, serious carnivores come for the rodizio-style dinners, featuring meat served off skewers by roving waiters (until diners say, “Enough!”). But others keep coming back for the superfresh mesa de frios (“cold table”), laden with grilled vegetables, salads galore, soups, black beans and rice, cold cuts and cheese. Lunchtime is bargain time—$17 per person weekdays, $22 weekends. (At dinnertime, the price climbs to $39.95.)

It may not be the renowned Bellagio Buffet of Las Vegas lore, but the FALLS BUFFET AT SNOQUALMIE CASINO in Snoqualmie does a bang-up job of feeding patrons well with an eye toward value. Starting at $14.95, the weekday lunch includes standards such as a wok station, succulent fried chicken, go-to prime rib, excellent salad options and DIY soft-serve ice cream among the sweets. Every evening features those standards plus a different specialty (and price), such as Brazilian Thursday ($26.95) and Sunday night king crab buffet ($31.95).Just what you need to fuel yourself before going head to head with Lady Luck.

When the craving for Indian food strikes, the buffet at MAYURI INDIAN CUISINE in Bellevue ($8.95 weekdays, $10.95 weekends) is just the thing. On any given day, lush butter chicken, the hot and spicy pickle condiment, warm naan fresh and bubbly from the tandoori, and the surprise of okra stewed in a sweet-tart marsala sauce constitute an enormously satisfying lunch.