Having an urge to eat at an all-you-can-eat restaurant requires a moment of acknowledged truth–the one that happens before you step out of your house, into your car, and seek gluttonous nirvana. It's when you know that you'll be immobile afterwards, laying helplessly on a couch with your arms and legs numb by the fat you just consumed, but feeling un-regretful about what just happened (even if your stomach is currently yelling at you).
Since we've got a long three-day weekend ahead of us, here are the perfect spots for those who don't have any plans and would like to eat a lot. We've got Korean barbecue on here of course, but also other AYCE places that'll give you the same effect.
10. Panda's Mongolian BBQ (Orange)
Here's a cheap buffet option for ya: here, $11 will get you endless plates of stir-fried noodles with a choice of beef, lamb, and pork among others. The experience is almost completely D.I.Y.: you can ask the chef to mix sauces (curry, garlic, and teriyaki are a few) and spices up however you like, and then you simply watch them cook it on a sizzling grill.
3544 E Chapman Ave, Orange, (714) 602-8262; facebook.com/pages/Panda-Mongolian-BBQ
9. Aleppo's Kitchen (Anaheim)
With nine versions of kibbeh (dough made with ground meat, bulgur, onions, and spices) to show for, it's obvious which Syrian dish is the megastar at Aleppo's Kitchen, which offers a buffet on Fridays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. for $14.95. Even then, their other dishes are worth a mention: kebabs of lamb, beef, and chicken are so juicy they dissolve right when they touch your mouth, and their fatta hummus (chickpeas, tahini, pine nuts, and olive oil) is so hearty you'll want to bring boxes of it home.
513 1/2 S Brookhurst St, Anaheim, (714) 991-5000; facebook.com/AlepposKitchen
8. Big Thunder Ranch BBQ (Anaheim)
The more experience you have going to Disneyland, the more O.K. it becomes to invest less time into rides and more time into food and drink. One restaurant to indulge in Disney's overpriced food (it can be fun) is at Big Thunder Ranch BBQ near the ride that shares part of its namesake. Here you'll find the classic barbecue experience and no less: ribs, sausage, cornbread, beans, and barbecue chicken all in rotation. With the place's Western decor and occasional live country music performances, you might forget you're at the happiest place on Earth (while feeling happy–strange). Prices are $24 for lunch and $27 for dinner.
Disneyland Park, 1313 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 781-3463; facebook.com/BigThunderRanchCA
7. Makino Seafood Buffet (Irvine)
Makino is a sushi and seafood buffet originally from Vegas started by Kaku Makino, the restaurateur behind Todai–quite the big deal. That said, the endless nigiri and rolls here are far from the half-assed kind you'll find at a janky neighborhood buffet (and for the price you're paying–$20 for lunch and $30 for dinner–it shouldn't be). But more importantly, they've got crab legs that are worth grabbing plates of and even finding a table near (yes, you can be that person for the night). When that gets too much (that might be after a couple of hours, though), you can slurp down warm miso soup to cleanse your palette and go straight for the fried oysters, breaded scallops, and gyoza.
1818 Main St, Irvine, (949) 724-1204; facebook.com/makinobuffet
6. Celebrity Soul Food Buffet (Lake Forest)
In The J.B.'s "Pass the Peas," James Brown asks, "Hey Bobby! Why do you like soouul food?" Bobby replies, "because it makes me haaaappy." It sure does. In Lake Forest, soul food comes in buffet-form at Celebrity Soul Food Buffet where fried chicken, steamed yams, and mac n' cheese can be coupled nicely with a sweet tea for $12-$16. Oh, and there's even a waffle maker for funsies–perfect to pair with some fried chicken.
Celebrity Soul Food Buffet, 24416 Muirlands Blvd., Lake Forest, (949) 328-9720; facebook.com/pages/Celebrity-Soul-Food-Buffet-LLC
5. Cham Sut Gol (Garden Grove)
OC college students owe a large portion of their freshman 15 to Cham Sut Gol, where Korean brisket and bulgogi are served in droves for a flat-rate of $19. The extra pounds aren't just a collegiate thing, though; we're all susceptible. That's because these pounds have a spirit. Even if you eventually shed them from your body, they stay with you in the daydreams you end up having about your time at Cham Sut Gol and in the private moments when you've googled pictures of pork belly at 2 a.m. But it's not just meat here that has won the hearts many: in between plates of meat are non-meat breaks of egg custard pot, soondubu, potato salad, and kimchi–all to prepare you for the next round of animal flesh.
9252 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, (714) 590-9292; facebook.com/pages/Cham-Sut-Gol
4. Angelo's & Vinci's Ristorante (Fullerton)
Those who are on carb diets (intentional and unintentional) will love this one: for $8.95, you can gorge on penne alfredo, lasagna, and different pizzas–yes, just like you've dreamed of before. The pizza here is particularly popular, noted for its hyper-gooey cheese. Lunch buffet runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m Monday through Fridays, and on Sunday they have a brunch buffet with a cool omelet bar.
550 N Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, (714) 382-0658; facebook.com/AngelosandVincisRistorante
3. Gen Korean BBQ House (Tustin, Westminster)
There's usually a line in front of Gen, but perhaps whatever calories you burn from standing the next two hours is for the better. You see, there are no breaks here. Instead, one plate of prime steak only leads to an order of pork belly and then a plate of jap chae (glass noodles mixed with vegetables) for good measure. But even if meat is what they're known for, their different takes on calamari and shrimp are also worth a turn on the grill. Their dinner price is $20 like most Korean barbecue restaurants, but lunch goes for $15–a pretty good deal if you ask me.
13741 Newport Ave, Tustin, (714) 505-1800
16300 Beach Blvd, Westminster; (714) 596-8833
2. Agora Churrascaria (Irvine)
Meat-lovers can't deny the genius of South Brazilian churrascaria, where gauchos spit-roast beef, pork, lamb, and poultry over open fire pits, serving meat the way it should be served on a regular basis. At Agora Churrascaria, there are the expected gauchos serving meat but also a salad and buffet bar that's got everything from clams cooked with olive oil and white wine to savory slices of salmon. Fancy meat comes with a heftier price tag though: lunch goes for $30 and dinner $50.
1830 Main St, Irvine, (949) 222-9910; facebook.com/agoranow
1. Vishnu (Irvine)
We named Vishnu's South Indian mini-lunch buffet best dish in 2014, and the qualities that gave it that title remain. Whether it's lamb curry, curry leaf rice, or vegetable samosas you put on your plate, each item at Vishnu is surprisingly balanced (for buffet food especially) and melts pleasantly with the other no matter the combination. For $7, you'll want to go back and get seconds and thirds because you'll never be able to do so with that price tag again. Open from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. during the week, Vishnu certainly places for best value lunch in town.
17945 Sky Park Cir, Irvine, (949) 752-0358; facebook.com/VishnuCatering