Eat Your Heart Out: Top Eight Buffets in Houston for the Valentine-less
4. Udipi Cafe
Photo by Michael Shum At Udipi Cafe, the options are nearly endless.
Every day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Udipi Cafe serves a buffet featuring some of the best dosas in town. You can also choose from a number of different curries, samosas, chutneys and idlis, all of which are vegetarian. The restaurant does a lot of catering, so that's what their focus is on, but the $8.99 weekday buffet ($10.99 on weekends) is great for a quick sit-down lunch that packs a bit of heat. There are several locations in town, so stop by the nearest one next time you get a masala dosa and sambar craving that just won't quit.
3. Best of Filipiniana Filipino Buffet
In spite of Houston's diversity, there aren't very many Filipino restaurants in town. But we don't need very many with a place like Filipiniana here, which offers just about every traditional dish you could want (they advertise a minimum of 32 dishes). The freshest food hits the buffet table at lunchtime, and in spite of the crowds, that's the best time to go. You'll find palabok (a rice noodle dish), sinigang (a sour tamarind stew) and ginataan bilo bilo (sticky rice balls in coconut milk). This is also one of the few places in town where you can order the buffet to-go, meaning you can stuff your take-home container with as much food as possible and eat it in the comfort of your own home.
For me, Luby's is nostalgic. I remember eating there with my father (an inept cook) on nights when my mother was teaching, and we'd always have wonderful -- albeit far from gourmet -- meals. Most Luby's don't offer buffets, and many of the ones that used to have closed, but in Houston, the Eastex Freeway and West Greens Road spots still serve it. The buffets are served only on Saturdays, but they're available all day for $8.99. On the buffet, you'll find classics like macaroni and cheese (I still love Luby's mac better than most), famous "square fish," chicken fried steak, fried okra and a few purportedly healthier dishes that no one wants anyway. I don't go to Luby's for healthy food. I go for a little comfort food with a big dose of nostalgia. And Jell-O.
1. Sweet Tomatoes
Photo courtesy Sweet Tomatoes Salad bars with buffet food are my favorite salad bars.
Not only is Sweet Tomatoes the healthiest buffet in town, it's also the freshest and the tastiest. Yes, it's a chain, but it has so much to offer. Breakfast AND salads AND soups AND desserts AND pasta. And sometimes other stuff, too. Every month the restaurant changes the specials, so there's always something a little different at the buffet. All baked goods and soups are made fresh every day, and the buffet is always stocked with kid-friendly items in addition to more sophisticated dishes like Thai slaw with fresh herbs and whole-grain couscous with feta cheese. And then, there's the quattro formaggio focaccia, buttermilk biscuits and red velvet lava cake. OK, so not all of it's healthy. But I kinda love that about it, too.