We’ve all got a soft spot for Smorgy’s in our hearts (those of us whose hearts didn’t explode after eating 21 consecutive plates of pizza, cinnamon doughnuts and chicken chow mein), but buffets have come a long way since the days of the luke warm bain-marie. Now they’re actually good.
Of course, as any buffet pro knows, there are tactics you need to master. Avoid your breads and dips. Always load one plate with two piles of food you would never usually eat in such quantities (personally, we’re a fan of smoked salmon and hash browns). And remember to leave room for dessert, because there’s nothing sadder than the words “I can’t fit the cheesecake.” We know of what we speak.
So here we go, Melbourne. The best places to stuff your gob until you’re sick. Enjoy.
Infinite Wings | San Antone
Crispy wings, smoked for two hours and served straight out of the fire pit. That’s what they’re dishing up at San Antone at Crown, and on Mondays, you can eat as many as you want. The bottomless wings will set you back $25, which gets you a bucket of 10 wings, plus buttermilk ranch dipping sauce. You can keep ordering as long as the place stays open. We recommend switching up the dipper for the Louisiana hot sauce (fiery as hell, and utterly delicious). Monday may not be the most traditional night for eating your bodyweight in chicken wings, but you’ll be a water cooler hero come Tuesday morning...
Endless Sushi | Gaijin
Now we’re talking. South Yarra fusion restaurant Gaijin runs all-you-can-eat sushi nights Monday to Friday, and they’re a southside smash. The best thing about all-you-can-eat sushi is that it’s just vaguely healthy enough for you to justify eating several kilos of the stuff (just think of all that Omega 3). Mix it up with kingfish sashimi, spicy scallops, soft shell crab tempura hand rolls and Baked Dynamite: a California roll topped with diced scallop, crab sticks, spicy mayo, teriyaki sauce and green onion. Yeah, that sounds healthy as shit...
Luxe Buffet | Melba
Melbourne’s best dinner buffet is a toss-up between The Langham’s Melba and its arch rival, Crown’s Conservatory. Both are great, but we’re Melba fans at heart. Six ‘cooking theatres’, chicken rotisseries, char-grilled to-order steaks, a team of sushi chefs, oysters and green-lipped muscles, a carvery with fresh-baked Yorkshire puds, a permanent clay pot station and endless duck pancakes—and we haven’t even scratched the surface. If you’re going to shell out the $89+ it costs to eat at Melba, do yourself a favour: eat a light lunch. It’s a crime here to eat fewer than 10 plates.
Unlimited Veggo | Crossways
You’ll find Crossways up some innocuous stairs on Swanston St, and waiting for you at the top is the best $7.95 you’ll ever spend. Even meatheads have to acknowledge this place as hands down the best value for money in the city, but it’s surprising how many Melbournians walk straight past. Crossways’ mains are all vegetarian, vegan-friendly and wheat-free, and depending what day you drop by, you’ll find steaming bowls of satay vegetables with tofu, red kidney beans and rice, Malaysian curry or Thai curry and pappadams. Plonk your money down and go nuts. Wash the whole thing down with a killer mango lassi.
Non-Stop Yum Cha | The Roving Marrow
Carlton’s The Roving Marrow is doing something that willrevolutionisee your Sunday afternoons: all-you-ca-eat yum cha. Now usually when you see a headline like ‘all-you-can-eat yum cha’ you’d assume that the quality of the yum cha is in inverse proportion to the quantity of the yum cha. But at Roving Marrow, the last plate is as good as the first: think braised short rib dumplings, crispy pork, grilled Flinders Island lamb. You can even upgrade your session with ‘free flowing’ Prosecco, Bloody Marys and Gin & Teas (The Marrow’s kombucha spin on the classic G&T). Easy does it—they pack a wallop.
Breakfast With A View | No35
Of all the hotel brekky buffets in Melbourne, The Sofitel’s No35 wins Best View hands down. You get a panoramic 35th level vista over the CBD, not to mention one of the better-stocked breakfasts going around. Omelette station? You betcha. They even do made-to-order pancakes. Fussy eaters will appreciate the range of sugar-free preserves and gluten-free bread, not to mention the helpful ingredient labels on every dish. This is your time to go heavy on the hash browns: crispy, golden and re-filled to your heart’s content. Save room for dessert though, there’s a decent pastry and cake range if you really want to make those jeans explode.
Bottomless Japanese Grill | Takumi
CBD Japanese hot spot Takumi does an all-you-can-eat menu from $50pp ($55 on weekends). The hero of this bottomless menu? Charcoal grilled meat. Specifically karubi beef and tender squid (there’s also finely sliced ox tongue for the brave). You can also eat as much salad, mushroom, pumpkin, capsicum, eggplant, steamed rice and miso as your stomach will hold. Pro tip: seafood fans can upgrade to prawns, scallops and salmon for an addition $15. The only catch? You’ve got just 90 minutes to eat as much as you can. After that, you’re out of there. Probably in search of an antacid...
Oyster Frenzy | The Deck At Circa
Following the success of back to back sold-out oyster orgies, Oyster Frenzy is returning in 2018 at The Deck at Circa. The concept is pretty simple: you rock up, you pay, you eat as many oysters as humanly possible. There's always a range of styles on offer, including cooked combos like tempura oysters with wasabi mayo. Pick your dressing from Bloody Mary, Cucumber Gin & Black Pepper, Sake & Mirin or Red Wine & Shallot Vinaigrette and just go nuts. The details for next year's event are still TBD, but we'll be sure to give you plenty of heads up. This year sold out scary quick.
All-You-Can-Eat High Tea | Grand Hyatt
Non-stop finger sandwiches and cups of Darjeeling? Sounds like a good idea to us. The Grand Hyatt is already known as one of the best brekky buffets going around (it's Collins Kitchen breakfast has won Australian Gourmet Traveller's Best Hotel Breakfast three years running), but they're also doing a very special High Tea Buffet in collaboration with teaware designer Cristina Re. We're talking fine bone china and 24-carat gold-rimmed teapots, plus a massive selection of scones, jams, cream, preserves, finger sandos and just-one-more desserts. Everything from the 'Hot Selection' and the 'Patisserie' is all-you-can-bloody-well-eat. The tea comes courtesy of T2 and for an extra $20 you can get free-flowing Chandon NV Sparkling Brut. Score.
Bottomless Brunch | Fargo & Co
Fargo & Co is a slick new bank-themed bar and bruncherie popping up in Richmond (watch this space, guys). They'll be running a bottomless brunch every Sunday from 13 August 2017, which includes free-flowing mimosas and prosecco (!!) plus a chef's brunch menu until 2pm. It's set inside a two-storey Edwardian bar, and it promises to be classy AF. All-you-can-drink mimosas? Shut up and take our money.
Easy On The Wallet | Kitchen Workshop
Perfect for those who want to fill up on some of the best buffet food in Melbourne without a full-on bill, Kitchen Workshop is one of Melbourne’s best all-you-can-eat restaurants. Kitchen Workshop boasts a fresh salad bar, roast counter and extensive dessert selection. And because the Crown team know we’re suckers for a good deal, unlimited coffee, tea and soft drink are always available when you visit.
Infinite Yum Cha | David's
If you haven’t heard of David’s, it’s like the upmarket, classy older brother to Oriental Teahouse. And even though OTH have put their all-you-can-eat yum cha on hold, David’s bottomless dumplings are still going strong. There are two all-inclusive sittings on Saturday and Sunday: 11:30am and 1:30pm. All you can eat will set you back $38 on Saturdays and $40 on Sundays (pro tip: Saturdays also includes BYO). The dumplings are a step above your average China Town fare too: perfect little flavour parcels, smothered in black vinegar and chilli. You’re gonna eat several plates of these, so wear stretchy pants...
If you've made it this far, you're gonna want to see this: we found Melbourne's most insane eating challenges. Bring it on.
Image credit: Gaijin | Griffin Simm