The 20 Absolute Best Buffets Across The US

Who doesn't love a buffet? With a bounty of food at your fingertips, you can move through these culinary wonderlands and taste to your heart's content. You may think of all-you-can-eat restaurants as an American institutions, but the historic inspiration for buffets in the U.S. would surprise you.

The word "buffet" itself is derived from the French word "bufet," which refers to a side table often found in dining rooms that are used to store plates and linens, per Grammarist. The word was eventually appropriated by English speakers to refer to the food that was served on top of this piece of furniture, hence the way we define the word "buffet" today.

Though the word might be French in origin, the culture that brought us the practice of laying food out for diners to help themselves comes from yet another European country. The Swedish smorgasbord (which literally translates as "buttered breadboard") originated as a way to efficiently feed guests who were coming in from out of town, (via Mental Floss). The concept was introduced to the U.S. during the 1939 World's Fair and the first American buffet, the El Rancho Vegas opened a few years later, and voila, the buffet became an American institution, per the UNLV Center for Gaming Research. Although buffets sometimes get a bad reputation for valuing quantity over quality, this is certainly not always the case. And we'll show you why in the list below, which features the best buffets available in the U.S.

Bacchanal Buffet in Las Vegas

It's no coincidence that we decided to start this list with a buffet in Sin City. Las Vegas is renowned for buffets, and although there's no shortage of all-you-can-eat establishments in town, Bacchanal, located inside Caesar's Palace right on the strip, currently holds the title of the largest buffet in Vegas with a dining room that clocks in at a massive 25,000 square feet. Sometimes having too many options at a buffet can be a red flag, but the quality is not sacrificed for quantity at Bacchanal.

According to Caesar's website, the relatively hefty price tag of $79.99 for dinner and $64.99 for brunch will buy you 90 minutes to gorge on delicacies from around the world. Bacchanal buffet dishes include everything from Roman-style pizza to Chinese dim sum carts, plentiful vegan options and desserts like salted caramel popcorn, earl grey mousse, and gelato. The nine different kitchens and 15 daily chef's specials will not disappoint, so you should plan to come hungry and wear a stretchy pair of pants.

Country Life Restaurant in Keene, New Hampshire

While a buffet is often thought of as a greasy affair, we love a huge spread of fresh, seasonal fare that will keep both your taste buds and your cardiologist happy. At Country Life Restaurant in downtown Keene, New Hampshire, you'll find an entirely vegan selection of food, which is not only better for the environment, but better for your body, as new research reveals the benefits of a vegan diet on blood sugar (though we will note there is plenty of vegan junk food out there, so don't automatically assume that just because something is vegan, that means that it's packed with nutrients).

And did we mention this place is absolutely delicious? Favorites like enchiladas and lasagna form part of the rotating monthly menu and, according to its website, Wednesday is vegan pizza day. If you like what you eat at the restaurant, you can go to the Country Life store next door and pick up some options to take home, too.

Jacob Restaurant in New York City

It would be easy not to notice this tiny storefront located in the historic Harlem neighborhood of New York City, but keep your eyes peeled, because you don't want to miss the buffet at Jacob Restaurant. The National Museum of African American History & Culture writes that Harlem became a hub of African-American culture after the Great Migration drew African-Americans to the area around the turn of the 20th century, which is reflected in the cuisine at Jacob Restaurant.

Popular items on offer include soul food classics like Southern-style fried chicken and collard greens seasoned with turkey, as well as Caribbean-inspired dishes like jerk chicken and sweet plantains. But be judicious about your choices, because, according to its website, when you're done loading up your plate at the buffet table, you pay based on the weight of your food.

Shabuya in Los Angeles

The culinary experience on offer at Shabuya in Los Angeles is called "shabu-shabu," which is Japanese for "swish-swish," and some say it comes from the sound that is made when thin strips of beef are swished around in the hot broth where diners cook their own meat and vegetables. After you choose from a selection of five types of savory broths, servers bring an assortment of raw meats and vegetables that you cook yourself in the simmering soup that sits at the center of your table.

Traditionally, thinly sliced marbled beef is the main event at shabu-shabu, but Shabuya offers six types of beef, as well as pork belly, chicken breast, and lamb leg. According to its website, guests have 90 minutes to order to their hearts' content for the modest price of $32.99, but beware if your eyes are bigger than your stomach, because each plate ordered and not eaten will incur a charge of $5.99.

Red Apple Buffet in Chicago

We love a neighborhood standby, and this award-winning all-you-can-eat Polish restaurant in the Chicago suburb of Norwood Park has stood the tests of time and taste. The flavors that make Polish cuisine uniquely delicious come from the country's location at the crossroads of different cultures, per the Polish Tourism Organization. The blintzes, pirogies, stuffed cabbage, and potato pancakes on offer at Red Apple have origins in the various ethnic minorities that have inhabited Poland for hundreds of years.

According to its website, Red Apple also serves classic American dishes like shrimp cocktail, beef brisket, and BBQ ribs alongside its Polish signatures so that you can taste the best of both worlds. Gather the family for a weekend brunch or dinner, because Red Apple is only open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and it offers discounts for kids.

Jin Korean BBQ in Plano, Texas

Down in Texas, nobody does Korean barbecue better than Jin. This meat-forward eatery is perfect for those of us who love a do-it-yourself experience. What sets this buffet apart from your standard all-you-can-eat restaurant is that diners cook food at their own tables, each of which is outfitted with a grill in the center.

For some, bulgogi (Korean BBQ beef) is the main attraction, but Korean barbecue is all about tasting bits of several different kinds of dishes. Aside from meats like pork belly, spicy chicken, and tilapia, meals at Jin include hot wings, kimchi, potato salad, and stir-fried dried squid, to name a few. With so many different flavors to experience, it's meant to be an experience shared with family and friends, each of whom can take a turn being the "pit master" in charge of the grill.

Casey's Buffet in Wilmington, North Carolina

How much do you love barbecue? You can find out by going to Casey's Buffet, where the staples and sides that made Southern cuisine famous await you in abundance. There are many styles of regional BBQ in the U.S., and Casey's is located in Wilmington, North Carolina, where it serves up local specialties like catfish, baked chicken, and pan-fried okra. All of the dishes at Casey's are based on family recipes, passed down from the owner's mother and grandmother, per its website.

On top of its standard menu of Southern fare that is served daily, Casey's offers a rotating selection of dishes served on different days of the week (don't miss the carved roast beef or the deviled crab on Saturday nights). And if you've got a sweet tooth, look no further than the cakes and pies at the dessert table.

The Nordic in Charlestown, Rhode Island

Did somebody say unlimited shrimp cocktail? That is just one type of elevated seafood fare available in unlimited quantity at this Rhode Island eatery that is only open during the summer months. This is one of the more expensive buffets on the list, with a price tag of $135 for adults, so make sure you know how to eat a lobster tail before you go, because you can help yourself to as many as you like.

In addition to the New England seafood staples that made The Nordic a destination for summertime travelers, it offers a whole smattering of quality meat basics like prime rib, filet mignon, and BBQ pork ribs. And don't forget that this is a classy joint: The website makes it clear that "proper casual attire is required."

Brook Shaw's Old Country Store in Jackson, Tennessee

If you're traveling between Nashville and Memphis, be sure to work up an appetite for a stop at this local favorite in Jackson, Tennessee, that serves up comfort food that "brings back memories of Grandmother's home," per its website. It may be off the beaten path, but there is a reason this favorite remains a destination for travelers on their way across the Volunteer State.

Southern cuisine originated in a mash-up of Native American, West African, and European cuisines that gave rise to the distinct flavors we know today, which are displayed in all their glory at Brook Shaw's. The "pure, honest Southern cookin'" features down-home favorites like crispy fried chicken, sweet potatoes, and black-eyed peas that will leave you hankering for seconds, and even thirds.

Govinda's Vegetarian Buffet in Honolulu

As the saying goes: Your body is a temple. Then what better place to fill it up with quality nutrition than inside an actual temple that hosts yoga, meditation classes, and, of course, a buffet that is among the best the Aloha State has to offer? Everything at the table at Govinda's Vegetarian Buffet is plant-based, which is great news for the vegan and vegetarian folks out there looking for a quality buffet.

The rotating menu at Govinda's features delicious, healthy, creatively concocted meat alternatives like nut loaf with gravy and kofta cabbage coconut curry. And on Mondays, it goes one step further, offering only dishes that are fully vegan, according to its website. So if you're ready for a culinary awakening, grab your fork and your yoga mat and head to Govinda's.

Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl, Pennsylvania

Only one buffet can claim to be the largest in the United States. And with a whopping 200 feet of buffet counters, Shady Maple Smorgasbord holds that very title. While Shady Maple serves time-tested American classics like steak, prime rib, and seafood, it's also known for featuring Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine that is unique to the region.

According to The Washington Post, Pennsylvania Dutch cooking reflects the agrarian roots of the local population and is rooted in "freshness, seasonality, and tradition," none of which is in short supply at Shady Maple. It remains a family-owned business and, according to the website, the original farm stand has been open for more than 50 years. In the 35 years of offering its famous smorgasbord, more than three million donuts have been fried at Shady Maple!

Wicked Spoon in Las Vegas

Located inside the super chic Cosmopolitan Hotel on the Las Vegas strip, the Wicked Spoon has elevated the Las Vegas buffet experience to new heights. Instead of using troughs and serving spoons to get your hands on culinary delights from around the world, the Wicked Spoon serves each dish on an individual plate that you can collect from the different serving stations spread throughout the dining room floor.

The menu at Wicked Spoon rotates seasonally, another classy touch that sets this buffet apart from the others in Sin City. According to the Wicked Spoon website, if you want to spice up your breakfast, lunch, or brunch and get the party started early, you can order bottomless mimosas, Champagne, Bloody Marys, or Bud Light for an extra charge.

Espetus in San Francisco

This Brazilian rodizio restaurant in San Francisco is not the kind of buffet you're used to. You don't need to stand up and make your way to a serving counter to get a plate full of churrasco. According to the blog Gateway to Brazil, it is the Brazilian style of barbecue that originated in the country's southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, where there are cows aplenty and no shortage of meat lovers.

At Espetus, servers roam the dining room with skewers loaded with pork, chicken, lamb, shrimp, and beef, including a type of steak cut called picanha that is one of the cuisine's signature delicacies. Per the Espetus website, for $41.95, the weekday lunch will buy you seven cuts of meat as well as fresh salads and signature appetizers like fried polenta and pão de queijo, a delicious, chewy Brazilian cheese bread. Dinner, which will set you back $70.95, includes a whopping 12 to 14 cuts of meat, so don't plan to invite your vegetarian friends.

Kikoo Sushi in New York City

Don't let anybody tell you that all-you-can-eat sushi is too good to be true. At Kikoo Sushi in Manhattan's bustling East Village, the best types of sushi, sashimi, and tempura are served alongside grilled teriyaki and slurpable, chewy udon noodles for you to munch on until you're full. Kikoo's website confirms that everything there is made fresh to order, and when you're done with the bountiful appetizers and rolls, be sure to leave room for delicious desserts.

You can find yourself in this sushi heaven for only $40, and if you choose to add drinks to your dinner, it'll only set you back an extra $10. Diners can stay for up to two hours, so you should arrive at Kikoo revved up and ready to order.

North Country Steak Buffet in La Crosse, Wisconsin

This Wisconsin restaurant is a meat lover's dream. In the small town of La Crosse, Wisconsin, you can find yourself surrounded by an unlimited array of steak, burgers, chicken, and pork chops — and there's even a taco bar for those of us craving something spicier. While the meat is the main attraction at this carnivore's paradise, there is also a huge selection of salads and sides to even out your protein-packed lunch or dinner.

Although red meat sometimes gets a bad reputation for its high-fat content, according to WebMD, it is also a fantastic source of iron and zinc, which can help boost the immune system. If you're watching your cholesterol, you can help yourself to leafy greens and vegetables at North Country's cold salad bar. According to its website, on Sundays, North Country offers a brunch that serves up hearty American classics like biscuits and gravy, cheese omelets, and corn beef hash.

Q. Cumbers in Edina, Minnesota

If you're looking for a buffet option that values fresh, seasonal ingredients, you should head to Q. Cumbers in Edina, Minnesota, a suburb just outside of Minneapolis. We're salad fanatics, and the salad bar at Q. Cumbers features 50 feet of fresh, delicious greens and veggies for those herbivores looking to get their fill of quality vegetarian fare.

According to Vogue, a salad is a perfect way to start a meal so that you're ready to move on to heavier courses, which are offered in abundance at Q. Cumbers. The hot entrée bar serves up specials that rotate daily and feature delectable dishes like beef barbacoa and pork carnitas on Mondays and Q. Cumbers' signature "famous pot roast" on Wednesday nights, per its website.

Nepal House in Baltimore, Maryland

This cozy spot in Baltimore's Charles Village neighborhood serves up "the taste of the Himalayas" like no other. Himalayan food shares some culinary history with other South Asian cuisines that are more widely known, so you may recognize Indian classics like curries and vegetable samosas. But if you want a uniquely Himalayan experience, you don't want to miss the momos, which are steamed dumplings stuffed with veggies, lamb, or chicken. According to Yowangdu, momos are the most well-known Tibetan dish. They're also widely loved.

The buffet at Nepal House is offered at the eye-poppingly reasonable price of $15.99 on weekends and $14.99 on weekdays. But if you're looking to fill up at the buffet, plan on going for lunch because this scrumptious spread of delicacies is only offered as a buffet between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on weekdays, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends, per its website.

Boma Flavors of Africa in Orlando, Florida

Walt Disney World knows how to do a themed buffet. And Boma Flavors of Africa is no exception. Located inside Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, this massive eatery is meant to be enjoyed by the whole family. The thoughtfully designed interior features exposed wood beams and bright colors that conjure images of a safari lodge.

While some of the continent's staple dishes like turkey botobie, a type of quiche that Fodor's Travel claims is South Africa's most important dish, are available along the buffet table, Boma also serves up American classics like roasted meats, salads, and chicken nuggets for the kids. The experience, which, according to its website, is supposed to resemble "a bustling African marketplace," is a perfect way to wind down from a day at the park. And for guests over 21 years old, there's a wide selection of African wines to expand your palate.

Hot Pot Hero in Gaithersburg, Maryland

We love a group dining experience, which is exactly what you'll find at Hot Pot Hero in Gaithersburg, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. Hot pot dates back over 1,000 years and it's thought that the tradition of boiling food in a simmering bowl of the communal broth comes from Mongol warriors who used their metal helmets to boil water to cook dinner while they gathered in a circle around the fire.

Hot Pot Hero has elevated this tradition, featuring electric stovetops on each table that keep your broth bubbling while you order unlimited raw meats and vegetables that you cook yourself. According to its website, for $32.95 (and $22.95 for lunch), you can avail yourself of one of eight different kinds of broths (beware the super numb and spicy dark hero broth!) in which you cook meats, seafood, tofu, five different types of mushrooms, and an array of yummy veggies.

Tamr Mediterranean Grille in Stow, Ohio

We've all heard wonders about the Mediterranean diet. The countries that surround the Mediterranean sea boast some of the healthiest culinary landscapes that the world has to offer, emphasizing plant-based foods like whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and hearty herbs and spices, as well as using olive oil as the main source of fat, according to the Mayo Clinic.

At Tamr Mediterranean Grille, the owners have brought the flavors of the Mediterranean in bountiful quantity and exceptional quality to the suburb of Stow, Ohio. Lamb, roast chicken, hummus, lentil soup, and rice pilaf are among the delicacies that you can expect to enjoy at the Tamr buffet, which is offered in addition to a full a la carte menu. All of the dishes on offer reflect the restaurant's values of bringing food to the community that is "lovingly prepared with fresh ingredients and halal meat," per its website.