With more than 90 buffet dishes including 30–35 hot entrees and more than 10 varieties of sushi, it’s no surprise that Buffet Palace's Austin location has been voted best buffet 12 times by Austin Chronicle readers. The similarly well-stocked Killeen location looks like a grounded spaceship from the outside, complete with a cylindrical metal cage, a Saturn-style ring, and two alien-like statues.
At each location, a modern 350-seat dining room vaunts sleek countertops and high ceilings as well as a buffet so long visiting Lilliputians regularly land planes on it. Items range from Korean-style salads and Japanese sushi to more than 30 primarily Chinese hot dishes such as sesame chicken and pan-fried dumplings.
In addition to these made-from-scratch items, a chef cooks Asian pancakes and dumplings. Before departure, diners can also stock a plate full of the buffet’s housemade desserts, which include cakes, cookies, and fruit so fresh it often gets smacked by older, wiser side dishes.
When Travis Dickey opened the first Dickey's Barbecue Pit in Dallas in 1941, he kept his menu small and simple, only cooking up beef brisket, pit hams, and barbecue beans, which he sold alongside potato chips, beer, bottled milk, and sodas. Dickey smoked all of his meat in-house, a practice that put his eatery on the map and one that his sons, Roland and T.D. Dickey, still rely on today.
The menu has expanded since Travis’s time behind the grill, offering plates and sandwiches that brim with nine kinds of barbecued meats, including spicy cheddar sausages, pork ribs, polish sausage, and Texas-style beef brisket that’s chopped to order. Several types of baked potatoes are piled high with meats and cheeses, which diners can wash down with a gallon of tea or Dickey's signature 32-ounce big yellow cup of soda. Staying true to the same spirit of hospitality, cooks always include a buttery roll; a homestyle side such as jalapeño beans and fried okra; dill pickles; and free ice cream with every meat plate.
A historic marker may be all that's left of the original Alexander's Distillery, which washed away in a flood in 1865, but that's not to say that the current reincarnation doesn't aim to recreate its predecessor's ambiance. Amid traditional decor elements such as dark, rich woods and scrolled silver platters, guests dine on elegant dishes from a seasonally rotating menu. Entrees have included everything from coq au vin to Black Angus tenderloin filet, which pair perfectly with desserts such as crème brûlée. Alexander's also offers prix-fixe chef's choice menus that include an appetizer, salad, entree, and dessert for each guest, with optional wine pairings available for those who know the proper way to pull out a wine cork using their teeth.
Situated on the shores of placid Belton Lake, Dead Fish Grill stands tall over the water, encouraging diners to enjoy the beautiful view from either the covered outdoor patio or from inside, where large windows span from floor to ceiling. Here, the chefs send out plates of peel-and-eat shrimp, their specialty creole-whiskey steak, and fried oysters piled into baskets with hush puppies and cole slaw during dinner. Frequent live music enlivens the space on Friday and Saturday nights, and shows are always free.