X is for XXL
New No Da Ji · The Yellow Bowl · Micah's Cafeteria · Cactus Willie's
We here at Baltimore's Most Mass-Consuming Alterative Weekly don't speak Korean, but we're willing to bet that New No Da Ji (2501 N. Charles St.,  235-4846) translates to "eat till you drop." This all-you-can-eat establishment ($8.95 lunch, $14.95 dinner) puts out a mighty buffet of sushi and Chinese and Korean foods. The sushi is, well, scary, but the price of admission is worth it for the hot foods alone. Luscious loaded dumplings, crunchy breaded chicken chunks in spicy-sweet sauce, tempura-fried veggies, sesame-scented noodle stir-fries . . . the array of foods at New No Da Ji is ever-changing, but always worth at least two trips back to the steam table. Wear your eatin' pants.
The Yellow Bowl (1234 Greenmount Ave.,  685-2932) is a mainstay of a now-dodgy section of Greenmount Avenue; as the longest-lived African-American-owned restaurant in the city, it's got a proud history. It's also got the goods, delivering belt-loosening portions of classic soul food, including some just-greasy-enough fried chicken. Bonus points for the cool jukebox selections.
Micah's Cafeteria (5401 Reisterstown Road,  764-0606) wins the truth-in-advertising award. As its hilariously hyperkinetic TV commercials attest, Micah's sumptuous soul buffet can make anyone develop a weight problem (as in, we can't wait to get to Micah's). Of course, stuffing down all that barbecue, greens, mac 'n' cheese, sweet potatoes, and so on can also make you develop a weight problem, but man, what a way to go.
The area is filled with all-you can-eat joints, emporia for the culinarily indiscriminate who judge a meal by quantity rather than quality. Cactus Willie's (7940 Eastern Ave., Essex,  282-8268) fills--and we mean fills--the quantity bill without sacrificing too much on the other end. This massive eating warehouse offers comfort food and lots of it: pizza, pasta, fried fish, mashed potatoes with gravy, vegetables, chili, soup, salad, and more. But what sets Willie's apart from the rest of the AYCE pack is steak--as much of it, with or without mushroom sauce and onions, as you can throw down your piehole. Rumor has it a man once downed 14 of them on a visit to the restaurant. Well, at least he followed the rules: Take all you want, but eat what you take.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201