Hometown Buffet is one of the best all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants in the United States. It will probably take some time to browse all the delicious meals listed on their menu, which are cooked and served with love. Some of the food that they do, however, may not be suitable for people following a strict vegan diet.
If you are one of those vegans who want to try Hometown Buffet, you are in luck. We have prepared a summary of the popular vegan options Hometown Buffet has in store for its customers.
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What Is Hometown Buffet?
Hometown Buffet is one of the buffet-style restaurant chains owned by Buffets, Inc. The company operates a total of 388 food establishments in 36 states, while they have another ten franchised restaurants serving in ten more states.
Out of almost 400 restaurant units under the management of Buffets, Inc., Hometown Buffet holds the most number of restaurants using this name. With a total of 140 Hometown Buffet restaurants spread across the United States, it is no wonder why they have become so popular among the foodies in the country.
Aside from the name recall due to its sheer number of branches all over the nation, Hometown Buffet has this modern style of buffet dining that attracts more people by the day. For one, Hometown Buffet restaurants feature a so-called “scatter system” wherein the food islands and counters are separate from each other instead of having the traditional straight-line buffet setup.
Another main attraction of Hometown Buffet is that all meals served on their buffet table are served fresh. It is the restaurant’s number one rule to have no left-over food being served on the following day. Once a food tray is emptied, the kitchen staff will refill it immediately with freshly-cooked delectables.
The History Of Hometown Buffet
The man who started Buffets, Inc. is Roe Hatlen, a restaurant veteran who began his career at International King’s Table, Inc., an Oregon-based restaurant chain. His 9 years of experience in this company gave him the confidence to start his own chain. In 1982, Hatlen asked his friend and former workmate from King’s Table, C. Dennis Scott, to go into a joint restaurant business venture.
The pair successfully established Buffets, Inc. in 1983, and since then, their business has continued growing. Hatlen and Scott realized that this buffet-style operation saved them more money than when they were managing the usual restaurant diners. It has been more economical since the buffet setup does not require waiting staff to tend to the customers.
From then till now, Hometown Buffet knows what their patrons are looking for in a buffet table: all-time favorite homestyle meals served hot and fresh. They have popular recipes that go all the way back to the ’80s, but they have been updated to match the modern-day taste of their customers.
Over the years, people have also developed new beliefs that define their relationship with food. Specifically, the vegan movement has inspired many changes in choosing the food we eat. Fortunately, Hometown Buffet can go with the tide as they also offer meal sets that are safe and suitable for vegan customers.
Certified-Vegan Hometown Buffet Specials
Vegans will not have a hard time choosing the right meal for them at Hometown Buffet. While most of the food choices on their menu obviously have animal-derived ingredients, many others served at the buffet table are actually plant-based.
Broccoli Apple Salad
Hometown Buffet’s selection of fruits and vegetable salads is perfect for those people who want to have a vegan all-you-can-eat experience. The first on the list is a salad usually served during the fall season– broccoli and apple salad. Of course, anyone can enjoy its sweet and savory goodness at any time of the year.
The broccoli and apple salad at Hometown Buffet is made with raw broccoli, sweet and crunchy apples, cranberries, walnuts, raisins, onions, and carrots. Salad lovers prefer dressing their broccoli and apple salad with some maple syrup to balance the savory flavor with more sweetness.
Some branches may offer honey as a dressing option for your broccoli and apple salad. However, you should keep in mind that honey is not vegan. While processed honey does not contain animal derivatives, the process of mass-producing honey exploits bee colonies.
Cucumber Tomato Salad
Next on the list is another salad favorite from Hometown Buffet, the cucumber tomato salad. This one is light and refreshing to eat, especially if the cucumber and tomatoes used are fresh. Slices of red onions and lemon are sometimes added to introduce a little kick of sweet, sour, and spicy.
Just like in any salad, cucumber tomato salad can be enjoyed with a special dressing. For vegans, however, be careful in choosing a dressing with dairy content such as mayonnaise and butter. Good thing that Hometown Buffet offers vegan-approved dressing for your cucumber tomato salad, such as cider vinegar and lemon juice.
Up next is a Mexican staple that has captivated the Hometown Buffet patrons. The good news is that vegan customers can also enjoy this delicious meal. Refried beans, or frijoles refritos, are quite similar to mashed potatoes except that pinto beans are used to create a mashed mixture.
Other ingredients present in Hometown Buffet’s refried beans are onions, salt, pepper, and olive oil. In itself, refried beans are suited for a vegan diet. However, you might be offered to have cheese and butter toppings for your refried beans, which are both animal byproducts.
Grilled Cowboy Potatoes
Last but not least is a very simple yet appetizing Homestyle Buffet special. Even if you have given up grilled meat in your vegan journey, you can enjoy the taste of something grilled. Here, we have the so-called grilled cowboy potatoes. The potatoes are grilled using actual fire, which makes the grilled taste very much authentic.
With the right seasoning of salt, pepper, and vinegar, you can enjoy grilled cowboy potatoes as much as you want without feeling guilty. Be careful, however, if the serving of grilled cowboy potatoes at one branch already includes cheese instead of having the cheese as an optional topping. In that case, the grilled potatoes are no longer vegan.
Seemingly Vegan Meals You Should Check Before Eating
Caesar Salad would be the first on the list of anyone looking for a vegan meal. After all, the Caesar Salad recipe is made mostly of chopped romaine lettuce. However, there are a lot of non-vegan ingredients present in this meal. In the case of Homestyle Buffet, their Caesar Salad recipe includes boiled eggs, anchovies, Parmesan cheese, and mayonnaise.
You can ask the kitchen staff politely if you can have a plate of Caesar Salad without all these mentioned non-vegan food products. They can do this for you as they prepare a new batch of Caesar Salad for a refill. They will set aside a portion with only olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice drizzled in your salad.
Cream Of Broccoli Soup
Broccoli soup can easily be a vegan meal. However, the broccoli soup at Hometown Buffet is made to be creamier and tastier with full cream milk. If you strictly follow a vegan diet, picking broccoli out of the cream soup would be useless since there are already traces of dairy all over the vegetables.
Hometown Buffet’s mashed potatoes are made from real and fresh potatoes. One might believe that mashed potatoes are 100% plant-based, but that still depends if there are other ingredients included in it.
After boiling and mashing the potatoes, some restaurants would add milk and butter to the mixture. These two are known animal byproducts, which make the mashed potato recipe non-vegan.
It is better to check with the kitchen staff of the Hometown Buffet restaurant near you if they did not use milk and butter in making their mashed potatoes. Some are very heedful of their vegan customers’ requests, so that they will make a special vegan-friendly serving just for you.
This another entry in the list could have been a vegan-compatible meal, but the recipe used by Hometown Buffet in preparing their coleslaw includes mayonnaise. You can always approach the kitchen staff if they can possibly make another serving of California coleslaw without dairy products.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Aside from their main course meals, Hometown Buffet is also known for its special desserts. Most of their desserts are branded as entirely plant-based, including the oatmeal raisin cookies. By the name itself, you might give the oatmeal raisin cookies a pass because oatmeal and raisins are the main ingredients.
Unfortunately, the preparation of oatmeal raisin cookies requires eggs and dairy. It might be hard to request another batch of cookies made with purely vegan ingredients, given that cookies take some time to bake.
Hometown Buffet has a whole bunch of vegan options ready at their buffet table. Many other vegan meals are not included in the list, especially those meals that are only added recently. After all, restaurants are open to their customers’ requests and suggestions, and they can suddenly include a new meal set in their daily specials.
You yourself can make a few suggestions to make more vegan food available at Hometown Buffet. Befriending the kitchen staff will be much better since you can ask for special favors, like getting a vegan version of their current meals.