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. We've rounded up the best all-you-can-eat buffets and restaurants.
The best all-you-can-eat Melbourne restaurants
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.
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: $29.80
Unlike traditional all-you-can-eat situations, dinner at Okami doesn't involve food sitting in bain maries for a questionable amount of time – there’s table service, and the food here is made to order, coming to you fresh out of the kitchen. In a boon for budget-conscious indulgence, you only pay $29.80 per person and you can order anything off the set menu. Bookings are preferred (of course this deal is popular) and you can select from two sessions: 5.30pm, preferred by young families, or 7.30pm for the rest of us.
Expect to pay: $38 on Saturdays and $40 on Sundays
Eat all the yum cha you want and still stick to your budget at David's Prahran. For just $38 on Saturdays and $40 on Sundays, you can feast on unlimited serves of dumplings, xiao long baos, pork steamed buns, spicy fried chicken and more. The staff here are happy to explain what they've got in their trolleys – a nice change from the surly trolley ladies in traditional yum cha restaurants. There are two sittings on both days, from 11.30am and 1pm.
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: $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: $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.