Hidden, Good Mexican Buffets
OK, so Austin's well known for its buffets. And for its Mexican restaurants. I've been gouged numerous times @ Fonda San Miguel, & I regularly frequent 7th St. Eastsider Fonda del Sol (lunched there today). So the question to you Austin 'hounds is...are there any yet-to-be-discovered (by me at least) hidden gem authentic/interior Mexican (credible/edible) buffets ?
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There is a small but nice looking buffet at La Palapa (290 E and Berkman in NE Austin). I haven't tried the buffet but I have eaten at the restaurant many times - it's in my neighborhood and they have some pretty solid entrees. No "wow" factor but everything is tasty and homey - I think they are like the Mexican equivalent of the Bakehouse. They have a buffet on Saturday nights and Sunday brunch. I have seen the Saturday night buffet which looked kind of blah - fajitas, tamales, fixin's, etc. but the waiter told me that the Sunday buffet had some more varied items like chile rellenos and other things. I'd like to hear if anyone has been there.
Fajita Warehouse (in Cedar Park) has a pretty decent lunch buffet $6.95. It includes your tea, tortilla soup, desserts, salad bar, tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, sides, etc. Basic tex-mex, but quite a bargain. They also do a Champagne brunch on the weekends, but I haven't tried it yet so can't judge that.
I'm sorry, amykragan, I just can't even remotely endorse FW.
La Chalapa on Anderson has a buffet, but I have never had it. Doing a walk-by, looks to be the standard gringo fare - enchiladas, tacos, etc. Basically the same thing Trudy's on Burnet does. I've found most buffets to be lacking, with Chinese holding a close second to Mexican.
You get what you pay for. Anyone looking for a $6.95 Mexican buffet special (and there are some) can fill up on interesting things (rellenos, fish in banana leaves, tortilla casseroles, chicken mole verde, etc.). But when it's over, you know you got $6.95 worth of food. So La Fonda is expensive! Don't eat there every week. And when you do, don't go looking for a pigout place. It a place to taste refined uses of spices, marinades, peppers, moles and a host of other things not designed to make you say "Yeh, hombre, this is hottttttttttt." This is not a roadhouse where they destroy the flavors of food with overly hot pepper sauces. Frankly, most of the people who want Mexican food would be timid about ceviche, sauteed nopales, or marinated chayote. Let them stuff on a chimichanga at Jesus Maria! But if you want to sample exquisite spice-rubbed lanb chops, corn souffle, cold rellenos with ricotta and tres leches to die for, and many other dishes you'll not find at Guerro's or Jaime's, then prepare to relax and spend a few hours. And when you leave, unless you were dumb enough to bring your 2 1/2 and 3 year old, you'll have something to tell your friends about.
re: Dave Zersen
My agreement with this economic theory of self-serve eating varies in inverse proportion to cost. While I've never felt shortchanged by a free buffet, and many $6.95 buffets can seem worth the cost, I have not been wowed by FSM, but that has been discussed by many in the past. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/93182
The brunch there is a better deal than dinner, and it would be an amazing $6.95 brunch. For half the price, though, I can get tastier food elsewhere in quantities larger than I could possibly eat.
I'll leave the wisdom of brunching with younger family members to others, but I imagine in this case that a couple of toddlers are more likely to provide something interesting to tell my friends than is the chow at FSM.
When this old thread reappeared, I hoped someone had found a new answer to stellawine's question. I guess the search for undiscovered buffets continues.
For cheap & pretty tasty I recommend Casa Moreno at 4606 Burleson Rd. it's in a little strip mall thing and has a lunch buffet that I think is $6 or so. About 10 tables in all. They always have an enchilada (cheese or chicken), beef tacos, good rice, refrieds, good boracho beans, and usually a really good potato dish. Sauteed potatoes with peppers and onions. Homemade huge flour tortillas are OK, thin hot sauce, and sopapillas at the end. Here's a previous post from someone who's eaten there more than I: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/304594 If you're in the area it's a pretty nice deal, given the low cost.