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Living off a buffet

Heaping helpings of food are cheap and easy to find in Columbia

Dan Brennar

All-you-can-eat buffets are not hard to come by in Columbia. Don’t feel bad about going back for more servings after reading these buffet-eating tips.

November 11, 2010 | 1:54 p.m. CST

Seventeen plates of crab rangoon, steak, pork, eight types of chicken, squid, cake, chocolate-covered anything and pineapple make up numerous hours and plates of a buffet meal. An all-you-can-eat buffet like this costs more than a meal at a fast food chain, but the variety and quantity of food are worth every serving. But for an optimal buffet endeavor, the experience must be tackled correctly.

Buffet-aficionados alike know one method is monitoring food quantity. Another trick to buffet-eating is timing. If timed correctly, one trip to the buffet can count as lunch and dinner. Aim for mid- to late-afternoon in order to pay the cheaper lunch price.

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Next dinner time, skip the drive-thru and head to one of these Columbia eateries for a never-ending smorgasbord.

Great price
With a kid-friendly atmosphere, CiCi’s Pizza is a value-meal at $4.99. The cinnamon rolls and mac’n’cheese pizza are not to be missed.

Biggest mega buffet
Teppanyaki Grill and Buffet offers 250 Japanese buffet items including selections for vegetarians and picky eaters.

Home style food
Golden Corral prides itself on 10 signature items that are a must-try if home cooked meals are rare. The restaurant’s rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, bourbon chicken, grilled sirloin, homemade yeast rolls, fried chicken, pot roast, meatloaf, pizza and carrot cake are reminiscent of your mother’s cooking. The food quality and family atmosphere attract customers.

Cultural experience
India House’s traditional cuisine and dishes allow for an adventure to a foreign land without leaving Columbia. Don’t be afraid to venture out and find new favorites. Customer Megan Johnson recommends the restaurant’s nann bread and vegetarian dishes.

Dinner and a Show
HuHot Mongolian Grill is more than dinner; it’s entertainment. HuHot allows customers to bring out their creative side when choosing ingredients for the create-your-own stir-fry. Enjoy mixing the sauces together to get a new flavor with each bowl and then watching the chefs grill it.

All you-can-eat Buffets in Columbia

India House
India House serves vegetarian and carnivore versions of different Indian dishes in a convenient downtown location.
Where: 1101 E. Broadway
When: Lunch: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Cost: Weekday, $7.99; weekend, $8.99
Call: 573-817-2009

Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal with a light interior and friendly wait staff offers a wide variety of food in their buffet.
Where: 19 N. Fifth Street
When: Daily from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Cost: $7.95 weekdays; $8.95 weekends
Call: 573-256-6800
Website: tajmahalcolumbia.com/

Hong Kong Market
Hong Kong market provides more traditional foods and aims to please food-loving and working Columbia residents.
Where: 107 Business Loop 70 West
When: Weekday lunch from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: $5.95
Call: 573-442-7350

China Garden
China Garden is a mega buffet that serves mainly Chinese-American food, but also has American favorites like roast beef.
Where: 3420 Clark Lane
When: Lunch and dinner; Monday-Thursday and Sunday 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Cost: Lunch $6.25, dinner $7.50, Friday and Saturday night seafood buffet $11.11
Call: 573-814-0007

Teppanyaki Grill and Buffet
Teppanyaki Grill and Buffet is the king of mega buffets with 250 items.
Where: 908 I-70 Southwest Drive
When: Lunch and dinner; 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. weekdays; 11 a.m.-10:30 weekends
Cost: Monday through Saturday, lunch $6.59;
dinner and all day, Sunday $8.99
Call: 573-886-2888

CiCi’s Pizza
CiCi’s Pizza is a kid friend buffet serving cinnamon buns, pasta and unconventional pizzas.
Where: 2609 E. Broadway
When: Lunch and dinner; Monday-Thursday and Saturday-Sunday 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Friday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Cost: $4.99
Call: 573-814-1230
Website: cicispizza.com

HuHot Mongolian Grill
Enjoy entertainment at HuHot Mongolian Grill as chefs grill customer created stir-frys in front of them.
Where: 3802 Buttonwood Drive
When: Lunch and dinner; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sunday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Cost: Monday-Friday lunch until 4 p.m. $8.49; Saturday and Sunday lunch until 4 p.m. $9.49; Daily dinner $12.49
Call: 573-874-2000
Website: huhot.com

Golden Corral
A homey, family-friendly environment serving American classics like chocolate cake and fried chicken.
Where: 3421 Clark Lane
When: Weekend breakfast, lunch and dinner; Monday-Thursday 10:45-10 p.m., Friday 10:45 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Cost: Breakfast and lunch buffet $7.49, dinner buffet $9.99
Call: 573-814-3305
Website: goldencorral.com

Hy-Vee Chinese
Hy-Vee Chinese is one of the most assessable buffets serving popular Chinese-American food.
Where: All Columbia Hy-Vee locations
When: Lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. daily
Cost: $6.99
Call: 573-447-0133
Website: hy-vee.com

Hy-Vee Italian
Hy-Vee Italian serves thin-crust pizzas and wings that can be eaten at the in-store cafeteria.
Where: All Columbia Hy-Vee locations
When: Lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. daily
Cost: $5.99
Call: 573-447-0133
Website: hy-vee.com

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