Houston, Texas, has some buffets that really make the grade. When deciding on this review series I stuck to restaurants that specialise in buffets either all the time or have a daily buffet such as for lunch. I did not review any sit down restaurants that had occasional buffet offerings such as for a Sunday brunch. So if you are looking for Houston buffets that really shine, consider my top picks and stay away from the others.
Houston Buffets: Asian Cuisine
Kirin Buffet at 7615 FM 1960 West is another favourite I have often gone to for lunch and dinner. It has a few hot dishes and many sushi and roll selections. Soups, salads, sushi, rolls, hot Japanese dishes and desserts are what you can expect at Kirin. I have always had excellent service here but I recommend waiting a bit past opening to enjoy it as it can get hectic during the lunch rush.
E-Star Chinese Buffet and Sushi Bar is an excellent lunch option, especially at $8.39. They have a wide variety of Chinese hot dishes to choose from and a few American dishes targeted primarily at the children at the party. They have a really good sushi selection, one of the best among Houston buffets. I have been here several times, and it is always pretty good. The service is OK but not stellar and is pretty consistent. The sushi on the buffet is always fresh and goes pretty quickly. The hot foods have been slightly hit and miss. For the most part, they are fresh. However, I am one of those who tries hard to avoid the rushes and when it is not quite as busy, some food stays a tad past its prime. It’s not terrible but could be freshened more often. A good choice for lunch at that price.
I never really have high expectations for Chinese buffets. They are a dime a dozen. Many are OK to eat in a pinch when you are on a budget and out and about. But Two Café East at 935 South Mason Road was beyond gross. The food was not fresh and always overly salty. I am an absolute lover of sushi. I could eat it daily. I have no clue what that stuff was that they were trying to pass off as sushi, but I wasn’t going to touch it. There were rolls with something pink on top of it. Pink. No, not yummy tuna pink. Pepto Bismol Princess pink. Unfortunately, I had been there more than once due to visiting others who live in the area. Still, I rated it every time with consistently poor quality food and terrible service. Glad it doesn’t operate anymore.
Houston Buffets: Indian Cuisine
Neeta’s Indian Cuisine is Chinese and Indian fusion cooking. This seemed interesting, but I was admittedly suspicious about the buffet. But I gathered my courage and trekked to the area to try it out. Certainly, decent Indian food, which can go horribly wrong if cooked poorly, is unavailable on such an affordable buffet. I was pleasantly surprised. I knew I was in for a surprise when I went there around 1 pm and could not find a place to sit. I had to wait for a table but not for too long. Not enough tables and slightly slow service are the only negatives in this place, and frankly, I can live with both if it means keeping the price low.
The buffet itself was packed full of a great selection of entrees. Salad and dessert options were pretty sparse but enough to satisfy most people. Really who goes to an Indian buffet for the salad anyway? The main dishes ranged from traditional Indian fare to fusion dishes. I love spicy food and they had some excellent, flavourful dishes. Entrees consisted of lamb, chicken, goat and fish. There was something for everyone, and the food was obviously fresh. This has become one of my new dining favourites, and I highly recommend it. You can not go wrong, given the quality, selection and price.
Houston Buffets: Mediterranean Cuisine
DiMassi’s Mediterranean Buffet is a good buffet when you crave a little of everything regarding Mediterranean cuisine. I went to the location at 8236 Kirby Dr. for the first time after 1 pm on a weekday. The buffet was $15.99 and included drinks. They had a great selection of foods, including soup, salad, hot entrees, gyros and desserts. For the most part, everything was fresh. However, my late start marred the experience somewhat as it was apparent some food was sitting there for a while.
I was disappointed in the chicken arura because it had a great flavour, but the penne was mush. The chicken kabab was delicious but slightly dry. Some dishes of note were:
- the lamb,
- hommus and
- the Lebanese salad
There was also a skewer of lamb to be used in gyros at the brick oven, but I was not informed it was part of the buffet (you have to ask for it) until leaving.
In all fairness, I can not truly attest to the quality of Aladin Buffet and Grill located at 16310 FM 529 Rd. I went in with the expectation of sampling all the food and either having a decent nearby Mediterranean restaurant or an incredible one. But, alas, I could not stay to such an unappetising aroma. I looked at the two people who were with me. One had the same expression on her face as I did, and the other, my husband, had a cold and couldn’t smell anything, but he was not impressed with the appearance of the food. We just walked out. As adventurous as I am, I will leave the review of the place to someone else. Maybe they will have better luck.
Houston Buffets: American Cuisine
At Lyndons’s BBQ, the food is mostly good. Whenever you go to a restaurant for any length of time, you will find some flaws occasionally, and Lyndons’s is no exception. However, they are pretty consistent with the food quality, which is a solid “good”. Not bad, not superb either, just good. They have a fair selection to choose from. I have occasionally encountered some food that was a bit overly salty or some items that seemed to be sitting out just a touch past their prime. But for the price, it’s one of those Houston buffets you can’t beat.
Houston Buffets: Latin and Mexican Cuisine
I didn’t really know how to rate Pancho’s Mexican Buffet, located at 5442 North Freeway. I will lose all culinary credibility if I say it’s good food. It’s not; I know it. It may even be pushing it to categorise it under Mexican food. But I like it. Call it a guilty pleasure. It goes like this:
- You go through the line initially in cafeteria-style herding, gathering the foods you wish to have for course one.
- You can get salsa and veggies for toppings at the bar and chips at your table when you sit down.
- Then when you need another round of food, you raise the little flag and wait for the staff to come.
This continues for as long as you can hold out. Finally, when you are about to explode and think you do not have room for even a wafer-thin mint, the sopapillas come, which is the best part of the experience. These fried doughnuts should be drizzled with honey and eaten by the dozens. Go ahead and indulge. I won’t tell.
I have been waiting to try Flor de Cuba, located at 16233 Clay Road, for a while. But I was sorely disappointed in both the food and the service. The service was slow, especially considering all the waitress had to do was refill drinks. She kept giving the drinks back to the wrong people when she refilled them.
To call this a buffet in the first place was an insult to buffets. There were really only two items that could remotely be called entrees. The ‘picadillo a la habanera’ was flavourful but a bit on the salty side. They had a chicken vegetable soup that was surprisingly good and the high point of the meal. Everything else was just bland. There was shrimp that was neither peeled nor deveined, the other selection that could possibly be deemed an entrée. They also had 2 rice dishes, black beans and plantains. Their salad bar looked like canned fruit salad and chopped iceberg lettuce. No thanks. When researching, I saw a lot of positive reviews, and they even received the 2008 Houston Press award for Best Cuban Restaurant. So maybe they have changed over the years, or perhaps it was just the buffet. But the bad experience at the buffet will cause me to stay away even if the off-the-menu items are exemplary.
I’ve read that Kenyan cuisine is very tasty but until now I haven’t come across any restaurant with such dishes. Would love to try out if I ever find one.