I've been up to Charles' Southern Kitchen (on 8th, bet. 151 and 152) about three times now, mostly because the fried chicken is amazing. In fact, I never imagined that fried chicken could be so good.
But...every time I've visited, the buffet restaurant is never open. I think the first coupla times I went it may have been a Monday or Tuesday, but the last time was a Thursday and at or around 9PM, when the posted hours indicate that the place should be up and running. I'm dying to experience the all-you-can eat deal and try some of the things that I'm too timid to chance at the take-out (also, it seems that only a fraction of the menu is consistently available at the take out kitchen).
Also, the takeout line is surpisingly inneficient and subjects you to the second-hand ire of impatient and hungry customers.
Although I'm still probably more comfortable with the scene at the Metropolitan AME Church (58 w 135), which serves amazing meals on Fridays and Saturdays (and is one of Alpha-Dog's most unique, cherishable finds--but the fried chicken is not one of their livelier preparations), I'd like to experience the grandeur of Charles' buffet--any concrete hints as to a good time to go.
Also, I think that Charles' takeout is open until 2AM, which is pretty cool, and I was curious if that northermost Charles' store is a veritable catering operation or what?