Golden Corral: not the buffet this country needs, but the one it deserves

Story by Nate Gimby, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of

I suppose that Golden Corral could be loosely defined as a “buffet style restaurant.” It’s really more of a feed trough with an entry fee but as you can’t get surf and turf, plus a turkey dinner and deluxe nachos for $12 anywhere else. I suppose it has its merits. As far as I can tell, the name Golden Corral is supposed to evoke two things: affluence and beef.

The affluence they’re going for is a sort of medieval, Game of Thrones kind of affluence where you jovially eat a 70 course meal as hungry peasants bang their dirty, calloused fists on your front gates and shout Monty Python-esque obscenities. Except that here you’re still a peasant yourself, as is everyone around you, there’s no live entertainment to throw turkey bones at and worst of all, there’s no wine. Poisoning your dastardly half cousin’s iced tea just doesn’t carry the same exhilarating rush of court intrigue and the whole illusion just comes crashing to the ground. You’re still poor and no amount of buffet steak will change that, even if it is cooked on demand.

That said, GC has the Corral part of their name down pat. From the moment I entered I felt as if I was being shuffled into a dusty, fenced enclosure to gorge myself in preparation for my impending death. The numbered tags they clip to your ear after you pay were a nice touch that really lent itself to that industrial ranch atmosphere. The tags also offer you the peace of mind that in your food-coma haze you can be easily identified and led back to your table if you got lost. I do have to say that my ear is now infected rather spectacularly, throbbing and dripping yellowish pus all over my shoulder but that’s probably just because I haven’t been taking the complementary bovine-grade antibiotics they gave me before I left. I’m an American, God dammit, and I take responsibility for my actions, even if my corporate feed-masters don’t.

However if the word responsibility has any real meaning to you, you probably just shouldn’t eat at Golden Corral. That said, if you are a masochist or your body has betrayed you recently and you would like to punish it so sadistically that it never does anything useful again, Golden Corral is a solid option. Or if you happen to be a mastichist and you derive pleasure simply from chewing food regardless of its flavor or nutritional value, GC has more than enough slop to sate your perverse desires.

Three words of advice. 1. Steer clear of the pie. Pumpkin tastes like potpourri and apple is just a flavorless, mushy pile of calories your body does not have room for after three plates of hush puppies and mac and cheese.  2. The spinach is disturbingly rubbery. Don’t bother trying to be healthy here. “The damage you do to your body with Golden Corral cannot be undone by Golden Corral,” – Sir Isaac Newton. 3. I know this should be obvious but in the name of all that is good and true in this world do not touch the Chinese food. Under the so called “Pagoda” section of the buffet line there was a single lone wok full of honey sesame chicken, flanked on one side by clam chowder and on the other by a vat of “nacho” cheese (read: knock off velveeta). Sure, these items may have been shipped from China because global food markets are insane and incomprehensible human rights disasters, but nowhere have the terms Hunan and Szechuan been so criminally misapplied. The honey sesame chicken is a travesty, a monstrosity so offensive to the palette that the American Civil Liberties Union probably has several suits against it just for existing.

Finally, screw you Jeff Foxworthy. There’s nothing “farm-fresh” about that omelet you’re holding and I think we both know it.

Categories: Culture

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