All You Can Easter: A guide to the Easter buffet

The rather fancy Easter brunch spread at the St. Paul Hotel

The rather fancy Easter brunch spread at the St. Paul Hotel

Easter comes but once a year, and it should be circled with three markers on the calendar of any aspiring buffet buff. If done right, Easter is a unique opportunity to eat your weight in ham, fettuccine, seafood, and desserts. If done wrong, you'll end up at the kids table of an Old Country Buffet playing with Sweet'N Low packets. Check out these recommendations and do your Easter right. 

The distant relatives have been politely ignored, the eggs have been dyed, and all that lies ahead for your Easter planning is picking the right buffet for your party. Read on for some tips about the best Easter brunch spots in the Twin Cities as well as some sage advice for enjoying the meal. 

Get there early.
No matter what buffet you go to, the quality of buffet food is only getting worse as the day goes on. Did the stone sober family in matching embroidered polos spill Hollandaise all over the chocolate cake at 9:30am? No, your drunk high school buddies did at about 12:41pm. So, grab some coffee and beat the crowds. And be sure to make a reservation, as walk-ins generally get turned away on Easter for brunch service. 

Get the lay of the land before you dig in.
Easter is not a day to joke around with a buffet. Too many times we've seen our fellow diners fill up to the brim without even seeing the dessert room next door. Scope out all the buffet stations, find out if there is anything you can order from your server, and ask what beverages are complimentary.

Pace yourself.
You paid for your table, take some time between trips; strike up a conversation, enjoy a fruit plate. There is no need to rush through what will likely be one of the most indulgent meals of your year.

Choose wisely.
This one should be obvious, but it bears repeating: Go to a buffet that suits the makeup of your dining party. Don't go to an expensive place where everyone will be in their Sunday best if you woke up in an AC/DC shirt and snow pants. 

On that note, the following are some Twin Cities classics to get you started on picking the right buffet for your holiday celebration. Though some are already booked up, many offer a similar buffet arrangement for Mother's Day, which is right around the corner.

Green Mill
Locations in St. Paul, Hudson, Uptown Minneapolis, Lakeville, Bloomington and many more. A full list can be found here.

Green Mill puts together quite a spread for brunch every Sunday, and on the holidays they step it up a notch. The stand-out dish is by far the parmesan hash browns -- a plate piled with potatoes and four-cheese scrambled eggs is the perfect start to your meal. And though there's plenty to be sampled by way of specialty Easter dishes, we recommend you stick to the stuff Green Mill does year round. The pasta dishes, spinach dip, and signature salads are kept really fresh throughout the day and are always crowd favorites. For the buffet traditionalists there is also a salmon and prime rib station.

(Check each individual location to verify time and prices.)
Hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Adults: $19.99
Seniors (55+): $16.99
Kids (5 to 12): $8.99
Kids under 4 eat free

Saint Paul Hotel
350 Market St., St. Paul
For more information visit their website here.

This is the brunch to beat in the Twin Cities. For decades, the Saint Paul Hotel has been the gold standard for fine hotel dining and the Ballroom brunches are no exception. The staff is a well-oiled machine; guests pre-pay for the meal as they enter and the service is prompt and professional. The cuisine here steps into a different realm as far as selection and quality, but so does the price. At almost $40 a head (gratuity included) it is no surprise that the hotel can splurge on the finer things. This is the spot to bring your snobby family friends who turn their noses up at buffets. The seafood and dessert offerings are where the Saint Paul Hotel's deep pockets are most apparent. The quality of ingredients and preparation stand head and shoulders above the other locations on this list. If you are mainly jonesing for some eggs and a chocolate sundae, save your money, but if you want to split a plate of scallops before trying a fancy patisserie, the Saint Paul is the only way to go.

(The Saint Paul Hotel is sold out for Easter, but they offer similar fare for Mother's Day.)
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Adults: $39.95 (service charge included, tax additional)
Kids (4 to 10): $16.95
Kids under 3 eat free
If you park in the Lawson Ramp between St. Peter and Wabasha, two hours of complimentary parking are provided with your brunch purchase.

Jax Cafe
1928 University Ave. NE, Minneapolis
For more information, visit their website here.

Jax Cafe splits the difference between the uber classy Saint Paul Hotel and something a bit more blue collar in presentation. At Jax Cafe, it's easy to find the Packer jerseys amongst the button-downs and Sunday bests. Everyone is welcome here, and that's a good thing, as the brunch is one of the finest in the Twin Cities. Given that they are primarily a steak house, it is no surprise that Jax's prime rib is the best on this list, and during Easter they serve up a nice ham as well. (One word of caution, if you come back for standard brunch be sure to avoid the orange flavored pork, which tastes like a holdover from the day the restaurant opened in 1933.) In addition to the beef, the secret hit at Jax is the chicken salad with almonds. Spoon it onto a croissant for the best results. If you're in the mood for eggs, stick to the omelets made to order, as the egg strata leaves something to be desired.

(Jax Cafe is sold out for Easter, but they offer similar fare for Mother's Day.)
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Adults: $35.95 (service charge included, tax additional)
Kids 12 and under: $15.95

Q. Cumbers
7465 France Ave S., Edina
For more information visit their website here.

Q. Cumbers's standard offering is already pretty Easter brunch-esque, so they do a great job stepping up for their Easter brunch. The salad bar is at the center of the dining room, and no trip to Q. Cumbers is complete without six trips to the ranch dressing area. This creamy house-made ranch can turn the most staunch anti-salad visitor into an iceberg enthusiast. The entrees are pretty good as well (with the exception of the hamburgers, which should be outlawed from all buffet stations). On Easter, Q. Cumbers brings out a couple of specials you can't find every Sunday, including baked ham, a cactus and cilantro egg bake, and freshly made Belgian waffles. Q. Cumbers gets frequented by a lot of families on the holidays, and though all of these restaurants work great for kids, this one might be the best fit. The staff is used to little ones walking a bit astray from their parents and they keep a nice stockpile of high chairs and coloring materials for the young families. 

Hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Adults: $17
Seniors: $15
Kids: $1 per year of age for ages 3 to 12, free below 3

Do you have a favorite Easter buffet? Share it with us in the comments.

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