Most Proletarian Pig-Out

HomeTown Buffet

There used to be no shame or class issues in all-you-can-eat restaurants. In the ’60s they were called smorgasbords, and all kinds of people ate there, even fancy ones. It was considered European. Buffet food wasn’t called comfort food then. It didn’t have to be. California cuisine has changed all that, but succor still beckons at HomeTown Buffet. Canopied steam tables sprawl, bristling with ladles, toward the far horizon. One’s a salad bar, one’s a dessert bar, one’s a taco bar. One holds cold dishes — coleslaw, carrot salad, citrine-yellow Jell-O cubes. Another has hot dishes — Spanish rice, enchiladas, sausages, hamburger patties, baked potatoes, macaroni, just for starters. Yet another defies thematization: ham, mashed potatoes, fish, two kinds of squash, lima beans, cinnamon rolls. Drink-dispensing machines form a gleaming and humming island of sodas, tea, and coffee, but also ricey horchata. Prepared in quantity yet with care, the food really does have a hometown flavor. And the seating area is virtually too expansive to ever seem crowded, so go ahead: Spend hours soaking up clam chowder, cobbler, sundaes, and mountains of chicken wings. Your privacy is assured.

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