All-you-can-eat restaurants haven't disappeared with your local Sizzler, they just look little different to what they used to be. Gone are the salad bars and stale bain-marie dishes. These days, it's all about restaurant-quality meals: expect fresh seafood, gourmet pastries, vegetarian curries, chicken wings, and yum cha. The best part is, you can have unlimited serves of your favourites. We've rounded up the best all-you-can-eat buffets and restaurants from cheap eats to special occasion-worthy meals.
The best all-you-can-eat Melbourne restaurants
Expect to pay: $40 for breakfast, $84 for lunch, $90 for dinner
A hotel buffet doesn't have to mean queuing up for lukewarm tidbits, dubious hotpots and congealed eggs. There is a glorious thing happening in luxury Southbank hotel the Langham's restaurant, Melba: it's the all-new, revamped, super-buffet deluxe, and we're excited to dive in. Think a cornucopia of authentic, modern Asian cuisine, a bounty of top quality seafood, a traditional roast carvery, sashimi and sushi station, Indian tandoor oven, Italian pasta corner with its own expert chef, and an eye-popping dessert case to make any sweet tooth pinch themselves in disbelief. Oh, and did we mention they've got a chocolate fountain? Melba at the Langham is open daily from 6.30am to 11pm, serving a full buffet and à la carte selection for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There's also a range of high teas from 10.30am-4.30pm on weekdays, and afternoon tea on weekends. It's a classy affair, so wear your finest (albeit loose) attire for your buffet feasting.
Expect to pay: $30-$36 for lunch, $60-$65 for dinner
Apparently home to the biggest Asian buffet in Melbourne, China Bar Signature in Burwood East and Epping runs well priced buffets that will cater to the pickiest of eaters if only because its offering covers a huge selection of food. Expect Peking duck, sushi and sashimi, steamed dumplings and buns, Malaysian noodle and rice dishes cooked to order, and a fresh seafood bar. Come hungry.
Expect to pay: $55 and $45 for unlimited drinks
On Sunday lunchtime, $55 a head will buy you unlimited yum cha with a rolling raw bar that stocks Sydney rock oysters with a briny granita and ceviche, savoury pancakes, braised short rib dumplings, crispy pork and grilled Flinders Island lamb. An optional but highly recommended extra is the unlimited drinks package, that gives you a free flow of Mumm Champagne and cocktails for $45. No, we’re not in Chinatown anymore – this is yum cha, Euro-style. Get down to bargain-town, Melbourne, although it has to be said that the other five services a week, where you could eat your fill for under $60, are no slouch in the value department either.
Expect to pay: $7.95
Vegetarians, you haven’t been forgotten. Run by the Melbourne’s Hare Krishna Temple, the Crossways Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurant provides an unlimited meat-free meal for lunch and dinner. At less than $10 a head, this is a great option for starving students, the cash-strapped and vegetarians. Concession cardholders get to pay a measly $5.95.
The meals consist of a vegetable curry, rice, papadums and a drink. There is a different curry each day of the week and the dessert is usually a delicious fruit halava. There's no charge for seconds and you can even take food home for an extra 50 cents.
Expect to pay: $25
Be a wingman (or woman) every Monday night at San Antone and get messy with a pile of chicken wings smoked for two hours and served straight from the pit. For $25, you’ll get a bucket of 10 smoked chicken wings with buttermilk ranch dipping sauce and a side of chips. Here's the cincher: you can keep ordering more for no extra charge if you're still hungry! You can also choose from a range of sauce options: hot Louisiana sauce, house mild barbecue, house hot barbecue, or go ‘naked’ (sans sauce).
Expect to pay: $55
Conservatory is Crown’s upmarket buffet restaurant. There’s seafood, sushi, Indian, salads and mod Oz favourites in at least three sittings per day so you can choose your own adventure for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Remember to leave plenty of room for the dessert bar, they’ve got a killer chocolate fondue fountain that’s just waiting for you to dip whatever you want into a puddle of chocolate.
The price per head includes a glass of selected wine, unlimited tea or coffee, and four hours of complimentary parking so you don't have to worry about the car while you're filling up.
After some cheap eats around Melbourne?
With so many cheap eats options in Melbourne it's not hard to eat out without breaking the bank. We've got lunch and dinner sorted if you're after a budget feed, so you can save up to go to Melbourne's best restaurants. Pro tip: you can also save a few bucks at some of our favourite BYO restaurants.