Sometimes, we Philly folks don’t want to mess around with menus or have to decide our dish choices. We just want food and plenty of it. In those cases, it’s best to head to one of the city’s many buffets, most of which are offer all-you-can-eat dining. All styles of buffets exist, from fancy-schmancy to casual or ethnic. Whichever you choose, just remember to go hungry.
1400 S Columbus Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Bring the whole family or just your sweetie to Warmdaddy’s Sunday Jazz Brunch and get in touch with your Southern roots. You don’t have any, you say? Well you will after you experience the monstrous spread and cool jazz ($22.95 per adult and $12.95 per child) at this riverfront spot. For breakfast, pancakes and omelets are made to order, and home fries, various breakfast meats and amazing breads and bagels are available. The cold station has dishes like spicy pick-and-peel shrimp and salads like curry chicken and crabmeat salad. In the somehow always-full chafers, there are low-country catfish, jerk grilled chicken, creamy cheese grits and collard greens, to name a few. If you still have room for dessert, there’s chocolate mousse, chocolate-covered strawberries and pineapple skewers and – holey moley – bananas foster bites. You may be full after your visit, but believe me, you will not be singing the blues.
60 S 38th St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Located near the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, Sitar India is a friendly place with a wide range of buffet choices. A span of authentic Indian hot dishes are on display, like naan, curries and samosas. Many of the dishes offered are vegetarian and/or vegan, plus cold salads and a chutney bar (go with the mint chutney) are available. Just $11.95 gets you all you can eat, plus free mango juice. And if that value isn’t enough for you, showing your student ID gets you an additional 10% off, and if you pay cash, another 5% off.
Four Seasons Food Court
1614 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
This clean and bright Rittenhouse Square shop has a loyal following. Part grocery/bodega, part convenience store and part buffet, there is something for everyone at Four Seasons. The food is fresh and the buffet includes just about every kind of cuisine you can imagine: Asian, American comfort, Mediterranean, Korean, salads and more. Your food is priced by weight, so be careful. If your eyes are bigger than your stomach, you could ring up a hefty bill. Seating is downstairs, which can get noisy and frenetic around lunch time, so escape to the upstairs where you can watch the news on TV and eat in peace.
Lacroix at the Rittenhouse
210 W Rittenhouse Square
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Consistently earning rave reviews from food critics and guidebooks, Lacroix is the place to go for a celebration or to impress (perfect for meeting the parents, for instance). While pricey at $59 per person, this tab is worth it for the grandeur of the place and the view, live music and sheer number of fine dishes available. A raw bar contains sushi, caviar, salmon and oysters. The hors d’oeuvres station has an ever-changing array of small plates, including ricotta and prosciutto croissants, lamb rillette and palmier escargot. The salad station is noteworthy as well, with waffle panzanella, octopus ceviche and quinoa salad. The hot foods are in abundance with a carving station, charcuterie platter and many other dishes such as whole-wheat peanut butter pancakes, housemade breakfast sausage and crispy duck confit. Make sure you save room for Lacroix’s special chocolate fountain and liquid nitrogen station, which creates bizarre delicacies like coconut foam with passion fruit curd.
1100 S Columbus Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19147
One of the most popular buffets in the city, Ruby Buffet in Pennsport has over 200 items that rotate weekly. Listing each item here would be difficult, but some standouts are snow crab legs, oysters, stuffed flounder, freshly prepared sushi, crispy duck, leg of lamb, Italian specialties and Chinese donuts. The soft-serve ice cream machine is a popular dessert, just try not to elbow the little kids out of the way to fill up your bowl. Prices range from $4.99 to $7.99 per child and $7.99 to $12.99 per adult, depending on the time of day. Another perk you don’t often see with buffets: Ruby’s offers to-go pricing as well.
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Trish Deitemyer is a freelance writer living in Philly. She covers Food & Drink and has been writing since 1986. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.