Saturday, May 25, 2024 May 25, 2024
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‘Burbalicious: What I Ate in Garland

The glorious outside of Furr's Fresh Buffet (photos by Carol Shih)

In conjunction with July’s Best Suburbs issue, I’m traveling to 10 different ‘burbs in the DFW area for a semi-weird cross-city food tour. I’ll be documenting all my finds in these ‘Burbalicious posts that’ll be peppered throughout June and July (and August). If you feel like your suburb deserves a shot at some SideDish love, email me and I’ll ask my Magic 8 ball if I should go. Last week, I went to Mansfield.

It’s already August and I’m way past my deadline for Suburb #10. Well, here it is, in all it’s shining glory. I end these ‘Burbalicious posts by going to Garland, eating at the one and only Furr’s Fresh Buffet, and conducting a non-scientific study of buffet eaters.

Don’t judge and jump if you dare to continue.

Walter and Jesus from The Grill area are very happy to take this picture.

The last time I’d been to a Furr’s, it was during a previous century and inside a different location. Back in the day, these places were still called Furr’s Cafeterias. (I’d grown up with my mother telling me she ate a scary ton of fish at Furr’s Cafeteria while she was pregnant with me. This tends to explain everything about my life.) Now Furr’s is trying to be all cool and hip by opening cool and hip buffets all over town. It’s upped its game. Four Furr’s Fresh Buffets in DFW (a Plano location just opened on June 27) now include buffet bars of grilled fish and steak. They’re no longer ratty tatty like the old Lewisville Furr’s Cafeteria where you slide your cafeteria lunch tray across silver metal bars, and a mysterious hand/person/whatever plopped a scary plate of gunk onto that said tray.

After hearing that a pimped out version of Furr’s existed in Garland, I traveled there on a Sunday afternoon only to find myself standing in a long queue that extended all the way outside the door. At 1 p.m. Furr’s was raking in the greens with all the church ladies and ministers and all one hundred of their offspring waiting outside, baking like hot potatoes. Cars were parked in the grass since the Texas-sized parking lot was already full. Apparently, there was nowhere else to eat in DFW on this Sunday afternoon. Furr’s Fresh Buffet needs to be re-dubbed as the Dallas Convention Center for Hungry People Who Don’t Mind a Buttery Death.

Turkey stuffing with gravy, corn, baked Alaskan fish, and meatloaf

I wanted to tell everyone to shoo so I could get to my chicken fried steak faster, but no one would’ve budged anyway. That $10.29 price for adults and $3.99 price for kids 3-7 for an all-you-can-eat, blow-your-stomach-lining-out buffet is too cheap to beat.

Blue jello

For the first five bites, the food at Furr’s tastes like whatever the gods in Mount Olympus eat after you’ve been standing in the heat, dreaming about grapes and cold water. By this time, even stale garbage is appetizing. But once you hit bite number six, reality sets in and your brain is screaming at you, “What have I ever done to you to deserve this wretched food?!” And if you take a solid glance at what’s heaped on your plate, you’ll realize that the catfish is fried until it can’t be fried anymore. The chicken fried steak looks so pale and ghostly it could pass for wrinkly old lady skin. (Whatever it was probably died three days ago.) Yet the pot roast with carrots and onions isn’t too bad, except for the stringy beef parts that made you wonder if that cow ever got any exercise, and the meatloaf is okay to eat if you forget that it’s comprised of chunky pieces like barf. Only the blue jiggly jello that tastes like blue jiggly jello and soft serve topped with multi-colored sprinkles (always a bonus) made up for whatever previous two plates of heart attack food you had earlier.

But, hey, if Furr’s is your kind of place for lunch just like Waffle House is my favorite destination after 1 a.m., that’s cool. Just make sure you do an anthropological study while you’re there. Maybe you’ll discover the same results as I did.

The best part of any buffet: soft serve

To be very methodological about this, let’s assume Furr’s is comprised of three types of people. Here’s a list of the kind of folks you’ll see lurking in the Furr’s jungle:

1. The Pile-highers: Takes a single plate and piles it as high as the sky. He/she tries is trying to save precious eating time by taking as few trips to the bars as possible.

2. The Flippers: Stands in front of a buffet station for twenty minutes picking out the best drumstick, best salmon, best wrinkly chicken fried steak out of the pack. Stay away from these guys. You don’t want their leftovers.

3. The Wannabe Healthy Eaters: Tries to eat in a HEALTHY MANNER at a BUFFET. (Hello, mother.) Goes straight for the salad bar, because this person is under the impression that if they eat a salad and chow down on over-buttered carrots, somehow they’ll avoid turning into a blubber ball. That is what we call a ‘myth.’ Inevitably, they cave and eat a steak.

Conclusive evidence suggests that Furr’s Fresh Buffet not only guarantees a meal that’ll lead you into a heavy food coma, it’s the perfect place for people watching.

(Also spotted: two men wearing wife beaters, one lady decked out with a Kentucky derby hat, and a man named Jesus.)