We owe the popularity of the American buffet to the Swedes and their love of the smorgasbord. In America, the smorgasbord has evolved into chain restaurants like Sweet Tomato, Old Country Buffet and Golden Corral, not to mention the ubiquitous casino buffet. The Denver buffet scene is a virtual global tour that includes elegant daily buffets for business lunch meetings, Sunday brunches, Peruvian lunches and steam tables filled with Ethiopian stews, Indian curries and Mexican chile dishes.
200 Inverness Drive West
Denver CO 80112
Buffet: Daily 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
The Garden Terrace at the Inverness Hotel has mastered the art of the daily breakfast and lunch buffet. For diners with difficulties deciding what to choose from the menu, this is place. Six days a week, the Garden Terrace features a buffet, capped off by an acclaimed Sunday brunch buffet of 100 different items. For smaller morning appetites, a daily continental breakfast buffet of pastries made in-house, yogurts and fresh fruit, cold meats, hot oatmeal and cereals for $10.95. The full-breakfast buffet satisfies morning hunger with the continental breakfast choices plus a variety of egg dishes, breakfast meats and potatoes. The seasonal lunch buffet menus change daily and include cold salads, a pasta station and hot entrees like char-crusted New York steak with sweet onion and potato puree, chicken cacciatore and eggplant parmesan. Remember to save room for dessert. Pastry Chef’s Sarah Scriver and Lindsay Marachiano add playful and artful touches with their cakes, tortes and cookies.
Ras Kassa’s Ethiopian Restaurant
2111 30th St
Boulder, CO 80301
Buffet: Mon to Fri 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Sit by the window to hear the creek dance by, sip a Red Stripe beer or honey wine and master the art of using injera sponge bread as your fork and spoon at Ras Kassa’s. Ethiopian food is traditionally eaten sans utensils by using a bread made from teff flour, called injera. The bread and Ras Kassa’s lunch buffet will take you on a spice adventure to points far and beyond with Shirro stew, a pea-flour and onion based stew with or without fish or meat; Yebeg Alecha lamb, a ginger, garlicky, red pepper lamb stew; and red and yellow lentil stews that look much like Indian daal. Many of the stews are spiced with a house-made berbere spice, available for purchase onsite if you would like to try your hand at making Ethiopian foods at home. As for side dishes, Ethiopian religious culture calls for meatless days during various times of the year, which means Ras Kassa’s takes care in coming up with delightful salads and sides using carrots, beets, collard greens, sweet potatoes and squash. Save a little extra time for the coffee ceremony, a three-step ritualistic brewing and pouring process, which makes one feel remarkably grateful this lovely Ethiopian restaurant is in Colorado.
Lake Terrace Room
1 Lake Ave
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Buffet: Sun 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
The Lake Terrace Dining Room at the Broadmoor Hotel is home to one of Colorado’s finest Sunday buffet brunches. The white linen service, towering fresh flower bouquets and ice sculptures are old-school fine dining, the perfect place for celebrating a special event or getting away for a romantic weekend. The menu is a seasonal exploration of the best Colorado can offer with as many as 100 food items. Tables are crowded with European cheeses, smoked meats and omelet stations, while pastries and desserts line the banquet room walls. The center space buffet holds chafing dishes of eggs in all manner, sausages, bacon and hot-lunch entrees. Prices range from $17-$48, with complimentary buffets for children under three. The dress is nice casual, and reservations are recommended.
Los Cabos II
1525 Champa St
Denver, CO 80202
Buffet: Mon to Sat 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Sun 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
You will know Los Cabos by the llama statue that greets diners. The Peruvian lunch buffet is a favorite for an affordable endless meal. For only $8.95, lunch goers can have their fill of Peruvian favorites like Lomo Saltado, thin strips of beef sautéed with onions, peppers and tomatoes; Cau Cau De Mariscos, a Peruvian seafood stew with curry sauce; and Peruvian soups, chowders and salads. The buffet is $8.95 on weekdays, $15 on Sundays and free for children under age four. To wash it all down, Los Cabos serves Peruvian beers and cocktails.
330 E 6th Ave
Denver, CO 80203
Buffet: Daily 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Little India has big lunch buffet fans in Denver, and its three locations reflect that, even more so with the newest restaurant in Lakewood. Appetizers include batter-fried Pakora Masalas, filled with spinach and onions and served with a nice sauce and Punjabi Samosas, which are pastries stuffed with mashed potatoes and peas. Little India’s curries are spiced with ginger and tomato for a perfect combination of tastes. Make sure not to leave out the made-to-order naans. They are baked in a charcoal-tandoori oven and stuffed with all kinds of wonderful fillings including ground lamb and chicken, nuts, raisins and cherries and mashed potatoes and peas. The lunch buffet is $8.99 per person.
Guadalajara Authentic Mexican Buffet
11385 E Colfax Ave
Denver, CO 80010
Buffet: Mon to Fri 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sat and Sun 9:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Guadalajara offers so many options, it’s hard to know where to start. It is as if the restaurant has put the entire country’s culinary menu on one very long buffet table. For starters, soup choices include Beef Soup Caldo De Res, Seafood Soup Caldo De Mariscos, Pozole Pork and Hominy Stew and of course the ubiquitous hangover cure, Tripe Soup better known as Menudo. House-made flour tortillas sandwich melted cheese and various fillings for quesadillas. Guadalajara doesn’t forget Mexico’s coastline with shrimp and seafood dishes, including a citrusy ceviche. For meat lovers, there is Costilla Adobadas Puerco, slow-roasted ribs and Birra Estilo Jalisco, a beef or goat meat in red chile stew. Condiments and salsas are plentiful with pico de gallo, pickled and roasted jalapeños, cucumbers, radishes, onions and cilantro. Desserts include fresh mango, pineapple and melon, housemade flans and tres leche cake. The best part; the buffet is an incredible deal at $9.99 per person.
Kimberly Lord Stewart is a food author and journalist for CBS Denver local, Organic Food Reporter for Examiner.com, and the Food, Wine and Spirits editor for Denver Life magazine. Her book, “Eating Between the Lines” tells readers about the truth and myths of food labeling. Stewart is the recipient of two Association of Food Journalist awards for food news reporting and the Jessie Neal Business Journalism award. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.