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Chomp! Guide to budget gluttony

By by todd krainin/tkrainin@vicad.com
Jan. 25, 2012 at 2:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 24, 2012 at 7:25 p.m.

At $4.99, Hunan Restaurant's all-you-can-eat buffet is so cheap and plentiful, it makes cooking at home seem almost profligate. Hunan doesn't have the most variety in town, but for the price you really can't argue with this plate of butter shrimp, sesame chicken, greens in black bean sauce and rice noodles.

Gourmet, shmourmet. Sometimes you're plain flat broke, and you just wanna stuff your gob. If you're a man, a journalist, or a man who is a journalist, then I need not explain any further. But for the rest of us, this week's Chomp! is a handy guide to eating the most for the least in the Crossroads. From bargain all-you-can-eats to gimongous tacos for pocket change, here's how to shatter your laughably optimistic New Year's resolution in gluttonous, penny-pinching style.

HUNAN RESTAURANTAll-You-Can-Eat Buffet

More than just a triumph of quantity over quality, Hunan Restaurant is the sort of buffet where quantity grabs quality by the scruff of its neck and pummels it into submission while on its mad rush for thirdsies at the feeding trough. But the butter shrimp is pretty good. The $4.99 feast includes authentic specialties from China's Hunan Province, such as frozen onion rings, jalapeño chicken and french fries.

TEXAS DRIVE-INNPancakes Unlimited

If "all you can eat" are the four best words in the English language, surely "another round of pancakes" has to be a close second. Thick-battered, saucer-sized flapjacks times infinity are on the breakfast menu for the are-you-kidding-me low price of $2.99. For that kind of expenditure, you are not allowed to complain about being served on Styrofoam. The pancakes aren't mentioned on their web menu, either, so consider yourself in the know. Avoid weekends, when breakfast is served for only 30 minutes. And, yes, it includes all-you-can-slurp maple syrup.

ADVOCATE INTERNET CAFEHamburger

Who could possibly be afraid of BarBara Kaiser, the welcoming, good-tempered AdvoCook of the newspaper cafeteria? Cows, that's who. Being shocked by the amount of beef in what has to be the biggest $6 meat sandwich in Texas is part of the fun. Finishing your beef and bun without dislodging your jawbone is the other part. It even comes with a side of fries, just to add to the intimidation factor. Rumor has it Kaiser is wanted in India for crimes against bovinity.

TACO POCO LOCO

Super Taco

Pity the poor tortilla that must bear the weight of this mini-mountain of eggs, bacon, potatoes, chorizo, sausage, ham and beans. At $3.99, the Super Taco at Taco Poco Loco (say that five times fast) may be the largest taco the Crossroads has to offer at any price. It's like having breakfast, lunch and dinner on a single plate. But don't try to lift this massive kitchen sink concoction with hands alone; it must be eaten with a fork, or preferably, a shovel.

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