All You Can Eat Meat at the International Food House Restaurant & Buffet

Am I in the minority of people by not getting excited about IHOP coming to Times Square?  To me it just seems like another addition to an area that is quickly becoming an Epcot’ish oversize chain restaurant pavilion.  In all the excitement, I did however notice a little interesting nugget in this little posting by NY Mag’s Blog “Grub St.”

Search for IHOP in the Yahoo white pages (and on Citysearch and various other sites) and… you’ll find a listing on 240 W. 35th Street [which doesn't exist as an IHOP]. We know this because we tried to go there once and instead of being greeted by a Rooty Tooty Fresh ’N Fruity we found, of all things, the International Food House and Buffet, an all-you-can-eat Latin spot.

WHA?!?! All You Can Eat?  Latin food?  International Food House & Buffet?!?!  Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the exciting part of the story?  Who cares about an IHOP in Midtown.  I want to hear more about the buffet!

Well, yesterday I trekked down to 35th St. to find this fake IHOP that had disappointed so many, but was about to make me the happiest lunch’er in all of Midtown.

All the buffet-tastic glory, after the jump…

There are certain places you just walk into, and you know immediately- this is going to be awesome.  All you can eat + Latin Food + $8.95 = happy fat man.  With a fairly long line of options, the buffet quickly goes from a small selection of fruit and salad, through the rice, beans & plantains, into soups and ends up in a meat explosion of epic proportions.  I didn’t even have to taste one bite.  I knew I had found my new favorite Midtown Lunch.

With prices at Margon hovering around $8 and Sophie’s raising their prices to the $9 range, one cannot afford to ignore the economics of a $9 Latin buffet.  Most Indian buffets are more expensive than a lunch at Minar or Joy Curry & Tandoor.  But when a buffet ends up being practically the same price as the take out places with the same offerings, it doesn’t matter how much you can eat.  You have got to go with the buffet.

First Plate:

It’s tough not to load up on carbs at a Latin Food Buffet, but what’s roast pork without rice, beans and plantains to wash it down?   I started slow, adding a BBQ rib, popcorn chicken and a Cuban style chicharron (those little on the bone fried chicken nubs) to my morros, plantains and roast pork.  I also got something that was labeled “goat”, but I’m pretty sure it was chicken- which is actually one of the few problems with the buffet.  A lot of things are mislabeled… but that only becomes a problem if you don’t eat everything.  I don’t have that issue.

The popcorn chicken was a little dry, and I literally choked on my first bite- but I have to say, it probably had to do more with my initial buffet excitement, then through any fault of the chicken.  Can you imagine the irony of my choking to death at a Midtown all you can eat buffet?  In my dream scenario, it is always how imagined going…

The stewed meats fared a little better in the buffet format.  The BBQ ribs were tender, and sweet, and the stewed “goat” (which was actually chicken) was incredibly tender, and tasty.  The food is all way to heavy, and there were two many options to do a significant double dip with the things I had liked from the first go around.

Plate #2:

With my second plate, I tried the BBQ chicken, the fried fish, a roasted rib (with no sauce), a dish that I’m pretty sure was the actual goat (even though it was labeled “spaghetti”), a scoop of this eggplant dish, and of course- morros, plantains and pork.  The sauce-less rib was considerably more dry than the BBQ rib and not as good, but everything else was pretty tasty.

There were three soups (chicken, tripe & a Dominican soup) that I didn’t have enough room to try, but will be perfect for the winter.  There was also a strange selection of pastas, which I guess is why they call it “International” Food House rather than just “Latin Food Buffet”.  Needless to say, I wasn’t there for the lasagna- but if you are into that stuff, there were more than a few choices.  There also was a dessert fridge, but those cost extra.

Nothing on the buffet was really exceptional, but it was *good enough* and by that I mean, more than worth the $8.95 when you consider the variety, cleanliness of the restaurant and the fact that you can stuff your face beyond the point of what is humanly acceptable.  And in the end, that’s all I could ever ask for.  That, and not to choke and die on a Midtown Lunch… despite how funny it would be for you people.


  • Um… it’s a buffet!  (Is there any greater plus?)
  • All you can eat latin food at practically the same price as Sophie’s Cuban & Margon
  • Great selection
  • It’s a nicer interior than you would expect for a $9 latin buffet in Midtown
  • The day we were there, the fried plantains were perfectly ripe and exceptional
  • Buffets are a great way to have a sit down meal, in less time.  You just walk in, find a table sit down and start eating.  A waitress will take your drink order, and then you pay when you leave.
  • Did I mention it is all you can eat?

THE – (What someone who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • I don’t like meat.  And if you don’t eat meat, it’s not worth it
  • A lot of the things on the buffet are dry
  • A lot of things were mislabeled so you had to figure out some items on your own
  • We got there at 1:30 and the place was pretty full (but we still got a seat).  I would imagine, the IFHR&B is a madhouse between Noon and 1pm… and you may not be able to get a table.
  • As my fellow diner Mike said… “it’s a lot of brown”.  Not too many vegetable options, and a lot of stewed latin meats taste the same.
  • With nap time not considered a socially acceptable work activity, the rest of afternoon on the job is pretty tough after an all you can eat Latin buffet.

International Food House Restaurant & Buffet, 240 W. 35th St. (btw. 7+8th), 212-564-7444


  • Maduros are small consolation for missing out on German-style pancakes (read: crepes). Delicious!

  • All aboard on how underwhelming a Times Square IHOP would be – anywhere else would be great – but could we please have a moratorium on Times Square and Disney comparisons?

    I haven’t been to Disney in years, but does any part of it actually look like Times Square? Are there cabs hurtling down Main Street USA, flanked by guys selling fake watches? Are there enormous neon billboards draped off every inch of the castle? If so, that’s awesome and I’m booking my flight now. Otherwise, it’s the kind of statement that makes New Yorkers sound completely out of touch with everything that occurs South and West of here.

  • IHOP in Times Sq just gives more reason for the locals to avoid that hellish area. At least the major corporations have it down right – build and the tourists will come. Middle America doesn’t know any better. They don’t understand there are GREAT places to eat in this city that don’t exist in their suburban back yards. Hey if they want to patron Applebees, Olive Garden, and now IHOP in Times Square – fine by me… I have a hard enough time fighting off NYers for a table at quality spots.

  • I want to strangle tourists when I see them walking down the street eating “pizza” from a Pizza Hut box!

    (actually, I just want to strangle tourists period. “Look Maw, a tall building, that there’s higher than the dang silo back home”)

  • I post about the greatest all you can eat buffet Midtown has ever seen (ok, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration- but it’s still awesome), and all anybody can talk about is IHOP. So disappointing…

  • welcoming.

  • fear not Zach, I’m going to try and hit this up Friday for lunch as I prepare for the Yom Kippur fast starting that night.

  • Isn’t it the NY demeanor to vent? Especially when it comes to things we hate? ie: tourists, corporate conglomerations, tourists, times square, tourists, un-airconditioned subway cars, tourists, crowded sidewalks caused by tourists, over-priced meals, tourists…

    Latin Buffet? Silence is acception, is it not? I think perhaps everyone is in awe at the splendor that resides in one of the most hated neighborhoods of the city. Is it worth fighting past the tourists to this buffet of Eden? It just may be.

  • Awesome Zach!!!!, awesome!!!

    Does look rather brown mind.

  • Maybe we could get Margot a Tourist rifle……… and an open window at the NY food bloggers book depository.

  • And can we have John Lenon back.

  • Haha, I am IHOP’s biggest fan, but I’d be way too scared to eat at one in NYC.

    Re: the Latin buffet, I’ve passed by there before and even looked at the steam table, but everything looked like it was swimming in grease. Don’t they also throw Latin dance night or something there?

  • I suppose I’m not technically a NYC girl having grown up in the woods and should watch what I say about tourists. However having come here since I was born (thanks Grandma for having lived here my entire life) and now living here for few years, I think I’ve earned my right as a NYer. Especially having to pay these f’n taxes. Tourist Rifle? I dig that. A lot more fun could come of that than shooting empty beer cans off my mom’s pickup truck back home ;)

  • Zach – Great post, great find. Although the phrase “it’s a lot of brown” made me… uh… chuckle.

    Zap – I will go to my grave defending the principle that Pizza Hut pizza is far superior to most NYC pizzarias. Obviously, specialty places like Angelo’s, John’s, Patsy’s, Naples, etc. kick PH’s arse. But your average deli/pizza joint in Manhattan is nothing special.

  • DDR – that’s “a lot of brown” you’re talking

  • The three Latin secretaries in our office told us about this place way back. Sorry you let the goat out of the bag. It is great but not for the faint-hearted. Also, they always add a tip to the check, no matter how many people are in the group.

  • ‘Com listen to a story bout a man named Zach,poor bloggerier barely kept his belly fed.Then one day he was eatin’ latino food and up from the web came a bubblin’ fools.

  • Hahahahahaha… too funny (the comments). This place looks awesome and is quite near BF’s workplace (well, at 1pp, what ISN’T near him… sheesh). I do find it hysterical that tourists will travel allllll the way to big’ol’NYC and eat at… Olive Garden. Applebee’s. Like, I can get this shit at home and pay half price- don’t they ever think that?!?!?! Whatever… like someone else said, stay outta my places then that’s fine.
    Although I do know someone who insists on going to a McDonald’s in every country she goes to, just … cuz… it’s different. *shrug*

  • I’m a vegetarian but as soon as I saw this post I sent the link to one of my girlfriends promising I was about to change her life. She responded “i hate to break this to you, but this place has been on my radar for quite some time. my tummy remembers it fondly.” Not as detailed as Zach’s review but if a tiny girl like she can withstand this place, I bet you ML’ers have nothing to worry about.

  • Chop Dodger.

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