What's Your New York Deli Buffet Strategy?


[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Though we're all comfortably in Chinatown now, plenty of the Serious Eats New York staffers are midtown office refugees. Which means that we hit up the buffet table at the corner deli for lunch more times than we care to admit.

When you're paying $8, $10, or even $12 a pound for salad greens and overcooked "lo mein," you have to strategize. "I had a really good system in place at the salad bar," Jamie says, "until I got to the dumplings or sesame chicken. Then it was all over."

"I'm not going to lie," Leandra told me. "I used to hit the pasta salads pretty hard. But the make-your-own salad bar was a treat. Though most of the time I was just so hungry and trying to get the cheapest amount of pasta salad and old greens. I was always jealous of the people who sprang for the hot buffet."

This is what midtown office lunch does to us.

I'm a two-or-three pieces of General Tso's kind of guy, with my plate buffered by plenty of crunchy vegetables. I always though I'd gamed the system by sticking to small containers and relying heavily on the greenery, but even a passing glance at that chicken sent me over my $10 limit. Hey, I said strategy, not necessarily an effective one.

So how about you? What's your deli buffet approach? Have any good ones we should check out? Let us know in the comments.

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