Best buffet near the Bay Area?
April 14, 2018 10:16 AM   Subscribe

My wife's been craving an extravagant Vegas-style buffet (or really, she's missing the hotel "viking" buffets of her homeland). What's the best way to scratch that itch near the SF Bay Area? Going more for quality/variety than just quantity, and a bit picky about Asian food (so places like Kome and Tomi don't look that appealing). Willing to drive 2-3 hours if necessary. Cliff House and Navio both look interesting but the latter especially is pricey and not sure how they compare. Any meal of the day would be fine, not necessarily brunch.
posted by mshrike to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I've been to Navio for Sunday brunch, and it was transcendent, without question one of the best buffet brunches I've ever had in my life. There was a tremendous amount of variety, and the quality was uniformly high. Expensive but completely worth it.

I've also been to Cliff House buffet, and it was just OK, a Sunday brunch in an offset room, but nothing even remotely close to Navio in terms of variety or quality. I've also been to the Cliff House Bistro, the side restaurant, for non-buffet lunch and I thought it had both better food and views - but it wouldn't scratch the buffet itch. Not sure it's worth it.

Two other options: Top of the Mark's Champagne Brunch wasn't quite as good as Navio's, but it's a tasty option with magnificent views and centrally located if you're in the City. Also, in the East Bay, HS Lordships has a pretty big buffet on Sundays, is right on the bay, and I believe it's a little less expensive than these other options.
posted by eschatfische at 10:41 AM on April 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

What about sticking with the casino theme? Cache Creek in Capay Valley has a buffet that is supposed to be pretty good. It's about two hours from SF. It's a beautiful drive out there this time of year. (If you go, be sure to check out the olive oil tasting room across the road from the casino.)

Thunder Valley is farther from you, but their buffet is also popular. People rave about the one at Red Hawk Casino, but it might be farther than you want to drive. The one time I was there, the line was stupid long, which I guess proves its popularity.

Of those three, Thunder Valley would be the least interesting drive, by far.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:06 PM on April 14, 2018

The Palace Hotel brunch buffet has sadly passed into legend, but they have a breakfast buffet that I would look into if I wanted a spectacular buffet.
posted by wnissen at 4:09 PM on April 14, 2018

How do you feel about a Brazilian style churrascaria serving a rodizio menu? Espetus has a location in SF and one in San Mateo. I have not personally been to these locations, but I'm a fan of the genre and Espetus is widely held up as excellent.
posted by ericales at 5:44 PM on April 14, 2018

I've never had the brunch buffet, but I like Farmer Brown as a normal restaurant. I suspect the buffet is not fully opulent and over the top though.

Honestly I think dim sum scratches that itch for me in SF. Yank Sing in Rincon center is the canonical Sunday dim sum. Tom Kiang is also very good.
posted by Nelson at 6:55 PM on April 14, 2018

Brix's Sunday brunch buffet in Napa is good.
posted by pinochiette at 7:57 PM on April 14, 2018

The closest thing I've had to an upscale Vegas-style buffet in the Bay Area was a massive Sunday brunch buffet at the Claremont in the Berkeley/Oakland hills. We're talking a massive dining room lined with tables full of food, including champagne, caviar, seafood, and decadent and creative desserts (in addition to fancier versions of the usual brunch fare). It sadly appears to no longer exist--it may have been erased when the hotel was remodeled some years ago--but it might be worth checking out other fancy hotels for something similar.
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:19 PM on April 14, 2018

Wow, thanks everyone! We'll try out Navio this time (since it's a birthday splurge). Lots of other great suggestions that hadn't been on my radar, so looking forward to gradually working through the list!
posted by mshrike at 11:11 AM on April 15, 2018

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