Sometimes a single plate of food just won't do. Sometimes we need multiple iterations of the same meal. After all, how else can we answer some of life's toughest questions, like, which is better: first lunch, second lunch or the illusive, but sometimes necessary, all-important third lunch? At these area buffets the answer will always be "all of the above," so clear your schedules, you've got hours of eating to do.
1825 I St., NW
Enigmatic rapper RiFF RAFF isn't the only person who can bring the rice out. So can this downtown lunch spot, which hosts possibly the best Chinese buffet in town. The Ma-Po Tofu is a spicy kickstarter for a productive afternoon and the steamed pork buns are always a winner. The only drawback is that it doesn't operate on an all-you-can-eat flat fee system. Instead, diners pay by the pound, which turns out is still a pretty good deal at just $5.95. We'll be taking another trip through the steaming pots and pans, thank you.
Mayur Kabab House
1108 K St., NW
Housed in a Tudor-style house sandwiched between more typical DC buildings, this eatery, with its back-to-basics decor, is one of the best deals in town for those seeking Indian food. If you see butter chicken in the line-up here? Eat it. It's so juicy, delicious and flavorful, we used every last crumb of naan to sop up the delicious sauce. Lunch runs around $10 per person and dinner will clock in around $13, but the fact that the buffet goes until 9 p.m. or so is worth the evening surcharge.
The National Gallery of Art's West Building, 4th + Constitution Aves., NW
While this buffet, housed in the National Gallery, may be a bit on the pricey side (it's about $20 per person), it's totally worth it. In place of heaping pots of saucy dishes, this well-structured eatery offers up cheese, charcuterie and the best chocolate mousse this side of the Atlantic. Or, well, at least it hit the spot when we scarfed it down. Seriously, though, this is the classiest buffet we've ever seen.
6395 Seven Corners Center, Falls Church, Va.
Did somebody say unlimited larb? Or was that just our inner voice repeating our mantra again. Unlimited larb. Unlimited larb. Unlimited larb. Seriously, Thai food is so good we almost wish we had four stomachs...like a cow. Aside from the larb, diners will find platters of flavorful curries, heaping dishes of pad thai and more sweet, spicy and savory Thai classics at this lunchtime and weekend dinnertime buffet. We'll stay for both, thanks.
8233 Fenton St., Silver Spring, Md.
Leave the knife and fork alone and, instead, go straight for the injera. Diners will find loads of this spongey Ethiopian sourdough bread all rolled up in the cute basket that begins this glorious, vegetarian-friendly African buffet. Sure, you'll still find a couple of meat-based dishes, but it's the vegan specialities that made us keep coming back for more. Lentil samosas FTW, folks.
Asi Es Mi Tierra
2559 Ennalls Ave., Silver Spring, Md.
Although it only happens twice per week, it's enough to get us over there for lunch either Wednesday or Friday when this hole-in-the-wall establishment rolls out a few Peruvian classics in its buffet line. And at under $10 per perons, how could we say no to fall-off-the-bone chicken, slow-simmered in a variety of South American spices? We couldn't. If you're lucky, this place might even have some chicha morena around. This super-sweet traditional soft drink made of purple corn goes surprisingly good with, well, everything.
1811 Columbia Rd., NW
While there are plenty of brunch buffets to attend in DC, this one remains one of our all-time favorites. Perhaps we just like the variety of vittles. (Breakfast foods and sushi at once? Sure!). Or maybe it's the bevy of outrageous drag queens. Bring lots of cash, 'cause these ladies love when you make it rain (and they'll reward you with some fine fully-clothed entertainment in return).