I visited Golden Corral for the first time this week.
New York City only has one location in the Bronx, where staffers went viral on social media.
Golden Corral greatly exceeded my expectations, even if they were initially low.
New York City's first and only Golden Corral is getting a lot of attention thanks to its viral social media campaign.
A video shared on its official Instagram account in December 2023 showed staffers dancing to Burna Boy's "Ye" to the tune of 5.6 million views on Instagram.
"This gotta be the most nyc promotion ever," one person wrote in the comments. "Tell golden corral give ya a commercial."
I have to admit that the video also piqued my interest.
I've never eaten at a Golden Corral, so the fun and catchy video made me want to check it out, despite living over an hour away in Brooklyn. I'm a bit iffy about eating at buffets, but inflation has reinvigorated all-you-can-eat eateries.
CNN reported in May 2023 that restaurants like Golden Corral, Cicis, and Pizza Ranch were seeing more customers as people searched for affordable deals.
I didn't have high expectations, but the service and food pleasantly surprised me.
I visited the only Golden Corral in New York City, which is nestled in the Bronx.
I took the train on Tuesday afternoon to the Bronx, a borough in New York City, where the Golden Corral is located among a strip of stores and restaurants.
Just by walking through the parking lot, I could tell it was a popular establishment because of all the parked cars and customers seated inside.
The ordering process is streamlined, and their prices don't break the bank.
I noticed that the restaurant was decorated for Valentine's Day when I walked in and joined the cashier line. I wasn't sure how ordering at Golden Corral worked since it's buffet-style, but fortunately, it's intuitive.
Behind the cash register is a sign listing the buffet price items between seniors, adults, and children along with types of meals. I ordered a dinner meal for one adult that cost $19.99 and a pink lemonade for $2.99. I paid $25.02 for my meal.
Personally, that's a really great price for the amount of food offered and free refills. If I ordered the same amount of food and drink at a different establishment, it probably would have made a small dent in my wallet.
I also appreciated that this Golden Corral location didn't feel cookie-cutter, even though it's a chain restaurant. It offered limited-time options like coquito, which I've rarely been able to find in other restaurants. When I searched online, they were the only franchise I could find selling coquito.
There were at least six food stations, including the carving station.
Once I chose a table and the waitress delivered my drink, it was officially time to try the food. One of my hesitations with buffets is that food can sit out a long time, but the stations at this Golden Corral looked well taken care of. Each area looked clean and I didn't see cross-contamination with the food, which is a plus!
The first thing I grabbed came from the meat carving station, which surprised me with its options. In addition to barbecue pork ribs and carved roasted turkey, they also had carne asada — which shocked me.
I wasn't expecting such a diverse menu.
The diverse menu featured healthy options and favorite family entrées.
I stopped by the healthy food and family favorites station next, which had just about every main and side entrée I could think of. They had two types of fried chicken, meatloaf, mac and cheese, bread rolls, pasta, rice, broccoli, collard greens, and more.
There was also a dessert table with cakes and other baked goods.
The dessert table had classic foods like apple pie and offered unique options like piña colada cake. There was also carrot cake, cookies, jello, cupcakes, and other items.
For my main course, I tried three proteins and four side items.
I ate honey-coated fried chicken, a slice of carne asada, baked fish, mac and cheese, collard greens, cornbread, and sweet potatoes with marshmallows for dinner.
I can confidently say that none of the food was bad. Taste is subjective, but my items had flavor and felt temperature-appropriate.
My favorite item was the honey-coated fried chicken, which succeeded in mixing sweet and savory flavors. The collard greens had a classic taste, while the carne asada was seasoned well.
The only thing I would skip next time is the cornbread, which was a bit hard from sitting out, and the mac and cheese. I love mac and cheese, but the recipe at Golden Corral could benefit from some more seasoning.
I tried the piña colada cake for dessert, which is a smash hit.
I returned for a second plate at Golden Corral, this time intent on trying the desserts.
I'm not a huge chocolate fan, and by this point, I was fairly full, so I stuck to the piña colada cake, melon slices, and a mini cupcake.
The piña colada cake might become a favorite of mine. It was tasty, moist, and had a sweet flavor that hit all the right notes. The cupcake was also a fun treat alongside the melon.
While finishing my meal, I noticed how busy the restaurant had been since I arrived. Families, couples, friends, and single folks were seated around the restaurant, proving its popularity.
Golden Corral surpassed my expectations with their food.
I never desired to visit a Golden Corral before this month, but I'm glad I did. Any preconceived notions I had about the food or sanitation were proven wrong.
Everything was clean, orderly, and filling.
I don't know if Golden Corral will become my go-to spot, but I know that if I'm ever in the Bronx with an empty stomach, I'll have no problems visiting my local franchise.
Read the original article on Business Insider