What foods do you avoid when dining at a buffet-style restaurants?

ALERT! At the end of this answer there is a true story detailing the absolutely worst food to eat at a buffet.

Folks go to buffets for three reasons.

  1. Speed. In and out fast.
  2. Variety. The ability to try many things without purchasing full portions.
  3. Cost. They want to screw the restaurant by eating as much as possible.

There are variations on these three and I am one. I love the variety and I certainly want a good value so I’m going to try to eat so that I feel the price was fair. I have no intention of piling high, 5 or 6 plates of food as I’ve seen so many times before.

So before I answer specifically we need to take high-end gourmet buffets out of the picture. I’ve been to many buffets, often Sunday Brunches, that are well over $100 per person and that is outside high cost areas like New York city. At these experiences, even staples like bread or mashed potatoes can be amazing!

So let’s talk about normal buffets. Here is what I try to avoid-

  • Many buffets, especially ethnic buffets, have two or three items grouped together as “kids food.” This is often the world's worst frozen pizza or maybe hot dogs along with soggy french fries. You are an idiot if you choose that junk.
  • Try to abstain from drinking large amounts of water or soda. It just fills you up.
  • Some folks refer to this section as the “white stuff.” Bread, potatoes, white rice, or plain basic pastas. You get the idea.
  • Be a little suspicious of food that doesn’t fit in. There is a large Chinese buffet near my home and their asian food is solid. They also have a carving station where you can slice your own beef or ham. The cuts of meat are very poor, taste terrible, and you need a chainsaw to slice them. However it’s great for their marketing!

I promised you a story about the world’s worst buffet food so here it is for your reading pleasure.

Las Vegas Buffet Fountain from Hell!

Vegas is famous for its fountains and I admired a few when I was out there on business for two days. Little did I know that I was going to end my visit with one more amazing display!

It was my last evening and I was enjoying dinner with three business associates at one of those ginormous buffets that Vegas is famous for. It seemed like there was acres and acres of food. There was probably enough to feed a small country.

This particular buffet was arranged in “Country Stations.” There was the Italian station and Chinese station and German and Thai and Mexican and you get the idea.

Near our table was a group of young guys that were beyond drunk and really swilling down the beer. They weren’t particularly noisy so no big deal. One of these guys got up and staggered towards the Italian Station which was quite close. He could barely walk. He piled a mountain of Italian food on his plate and by some miracle made it back to the table.

So this guy forks some food into his mouth, washes it down with beer. He gets this look of disgust on his face and shouts, “This isn’t fucking Italian food!” It gets very quiet as the nearest ten or so tables stare at him including us.

He jumps up and heads for the Italian Station. Once there he unzips his pants, hauls out Big John, aims high and shoots a beautiful stream of beer urine all over the station! It really was quite a sight. The stream was huge and as it arched over and began its fall, the buffet lights made it sparkle nicely. I was impressed.

The folks on the other side of the station weren’t so impressed. Hot urine was splashing on them and some of them started screaming. I don’t think they appreciated the light display!

The nearest servers and a nearby manager were stunned and just watched for a few seconds. This guy had drunk lots of beer so the show just went on and on. The manager finally made the phone call and you can guess what happened next.

If you have never seen a full blown Vegas security response, it’s very impressive. I’m reminded of the famous term “Shock and Awe!” About a dozen very big guys showed up. Three of four of them grabbed whom I now called “Fountain Man” and whisked him away in about ten seconds. Big John was still hanging out and dribbling.

This guy's table was surrounded and they correctly decided to be very cooperative. They piled a bunch of cash on the table and were quickly escorted out.

To this day, if I’m asked what buffet food to avoid, I immediately think of the Italian Station! If somebody asks me about Vegas fountains, I’ve seen one that was really special!

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