Oh, the possibilities: salad bar, taco bar, Italian bar, comfort-food bar, seafood bar, gooey dessert bar.
But here we were with one foam takeout container, the kind with two small compartments and one main one. The only way to take advantage of the $9 takeout-dinner deal? Pile it on — literally.
If you don’t mind your salad running into your enchilada running into your mashed potatoes running into your cobbler, Hallandale Beach’s HomeTown Buffet can be lots of fun.
But before you dig in, some advice: Survey what’s being served so you don’t come upon a favorite with no more room in the container. Because the rule is this: The foam lid must close when you’re done shoveling.
Another tip: If you are buying for the family, put desserts in one container, salads in another, meat and sides in another. That way you will avoid balsamic dressing soaking into the chocolate lava cake.
HomeTown Buffet isn’t going to win any James Beard Awards (think Middle America diner or hospital cafeteria). But the food is fresh and tasty, the choices are vast, and everything is replenished regularly and presented nicely.
The sprawling salad bar displays the tried and true (coleslaw, potato salad, red Jell-O cubes) along with some upscale surprises (mixed greens and Caesar salad). We had fun assembling our own tacos (soft or hard shell) with the ground beef, lettuce shreds, Cheddar strands, tomatoes and salsas.
The steak at the carving station looked great but cut a bit tough. But it was steak. Next stop: the Italian counter for lasagna and pizza, both thick but bland.
The comfort-food station at the heart of the buffet offered chicken quarters, brisket, mashed potatoes, corn stuffing, spinach and egg souffle, baked fish and what looked and tasted like canned green beans. Off to the fried-food island for crispy french fries, fish sticks (yes!) and butterfly shrimp.
Not done yet, we stepped up to the dessert bar for warm fruit cobblers, cookie squares, bread pudding and, ooh-la-la, the chocolate sundae cake.
After stuffing our trays, we headed for the door to stuff ourselves.
HomeTown Buffet, 1403 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd., Hallandale Beach; 954-456-5123; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, breakfast 8-11 a.m. Saturday-Sunday; takeout breakfast and lunch $6.88, dinner $9.