Midtown Happy Hour: Stuff Your Face (and Drink Too) at the International Food House
If you like to eat, chances are you like to drink (read: a lot of you are freakin’ lushes), so I thought maybe it was time to introduce a happy hour column to the site. Every week, our Happy Hour Correspondent “Mamacita” posts about a different bar in Midtown that fits the Midtown Lunch mentality: unhealthy food, not lame (unless it’s lame in a cool way), and most importantly… cheap.
International Food House recently began promoting its $5 happy hour drinks and evening all-you-can-eat buffet for $5.95. There are many doubts that come to mind when a lunch buffet transforms into an all you can eat feast after 5pm. Are they just trying to get rid of leftovers? Are there different or cheaper food offerings at night? Do they really have a full bar, or am I getting a can of Coke here? I was determined to find out… so I rounded up a few victims volunteers to check it out.
IFH was mostly empty when I arrived and the bright front seating contrasted starkly against the darkening street at sunset. In the far back was a dimly lit section that hosted a full bar loaded with liquor and there was techno-dance music playing. That’s where our troops settled in before laying siege to the buffet.
We ordered a round of Coronas (though cocktails are included in the special too) then confronted the food trays. All were steaming, fragrant, meaty and full —a good sign. Zach is the king of buffets, so I felt a little bit like I was taking my ML final exam. In his original post Zach mentioned IFH’s less then meticulous approach to labeling their food. I’m pleased to announce they’ve appeared to solve this problem by eliminating labels all together! (Mystery, adventure and dinner all for one low price!)
I took Zach’s advice and got a sampler platter on my first round: guacamole, fried chicken chunks, goat stew, beef stew, pernil, some potato and shredded fish dish, yellow and white rice with peas.
The fried chicken chunks were dry, as was the pernil, but every table had a big bottle of Tabasco sauce so if you like spice this mostly fixes the problem. The guacamole was super watery and I really don’t care how expensive avocados are, if you can’t make it taste like the main ingredient then just serve some tomatillo or red salsa instead. The fish dish was, for lack of a better word, pungent. I found the goat stew a bit chewy and fatty. There was some good meat in there but unless you love goat meat (and I do) you may find it too much trouble to bother with. The better of this first plate was the beef stew. It fell apart and had a rich, thick gravy.
The second plate was the â€˜walk on the wild side’ dish because it included some creamy linguini with clams and less identifiable seafood as well as a fake crab salad —from an all you can eat late buffet in the Garment District people! Yeah baby I live on the edge. If this doesn’t attack the gut I don’t know what will. I supplemented this with steak and onions, maduros, seasoned fries, and finally a cucumber salad to make it, you know, healthy.
I feel dirty saying this but I gobbled up all that seafood. Only tomorrow will tell how my iron stomach fares. The safer choice on this plate was the steak and onions. It was savory, tender and worth a few trips back. I’d pass on the fries unless they come out fresh and the maduros are a poor example of their kind. They were sweet on the inside but the outside was blackened and oily.
So as to the ultimate question” “How old is this food? Has it been here since lunchtime?” I did see trays replenished and I did see the kitchen staff dumping all the trays by 6:40pm. An interesting note is that any table seating, despite the amount of people, has gratuity added to the bill but the beers ended up being only $4 not $5. Works for me!
- Beers and cocktails are cheap and the perfect accompaniment to rich Latin food
- All-you-can-eat buffet at dinnertime for $5.95?? I’m in!
- The buffet is a meat-o-rama! Aside from some token salads, it’s all a meat wonderland
- $5.95 all-you-can-eat dinner buffet in midtown? I’ll pass
- The roasted meats seem too dry, are you sure this hasn’t been here since lunch?
- I’m a vegetarian
International Food House Restaurant & Buffet, 240 W. 35th St. (btw. 7+8th), 212-564-7444
Post and photos by “Mamacita”