***NOTE: This restaurant has been sold, and is under new management after some remodeling and updating to the restaurant. Prices have increased some, but the $5 buffet had already increased in price before the restaurant was sold. For more information about the new restaurant, see this new entry.
Moss Point, Mississippi has never been known as a tourist destination. The last town along I-10 in Mississippi before entering Alabama…or the first town in Mississippi after leaving Alabama, depending on your direction of travel, it doesn’t have anything to attract vast hoards of tourists. Sitting alongside the Escatawpa River just before it dumps into the Pascagoula River, it’s kind of a sleepy place, and it has two exits off of the interstate.
Exit 69 is the exit with most of the quick-access travelers venues. Gas stations and fast food, convenience stores and motels, and Steve Barnhill’s $5 Buffet. It’s a bargain, and stopping there is tempting, but you can’t help but wonder…what are you going to get for that $5 price tag.
It doesn’t include your drinks, which are refilled endlessly by waitresses who usually sport a continual smile and express all the traditional Southern hospitality with their assistance. Even with that, a meal with a drink for under $7 is definitely a bargain, so after finding yourself a table, you venture to the buffet.
There’s a reasonably large spread for the salad bar, including the required iceberg lettuce as the base for a green salad, along with plenty of trimmings and dressing options. There are other cold salads to try too.
On the hot buffet side, there’s a continual stream of excellent fried chicken to a vast pile on the buffet line, along with such offerings as roast pork loin, baked chicken, fried catfish, sausages with peppers, chicken fried chicken, mashed potatoes, several vegetables, rice, brown gravy, white gravy, corn muffins, fresh rolls…the list goes on.
Even better, the food is fresh, not dried out from hours on a steam table waiting for the occasional diner to show up. It’s all tasty and well prepared–our sole complaint there was that the taco meat mixture for nachos is incredibly salty. There is a surprising variety available for that meager price tag too.
After you have probably eaten too much, then there’s the dessert bar to try. Granted, it isn’t gourmet stuff, but you DID stop at a $5 buffet, and it tastes better than many supermarket offerings. There are cakes, cheese cakes, pies, bread pudding, banana pudding, jello…and ice cream. Even ice cream CONES!
Barnhill’s amazing buffet delivers excellent quality, amazing variety, and includes dessert. All for $5, whereas a recent stop, once again, just off of I-10 in Slidell, Louisiana, at a Shoney’s where we sampled their seafood buffet found a tiny buffet meagerly stocked with two kinds of fried fish, popcorn shrimp, clam strips, mashed potatoes (complete with dried out crust) brown gravy (this too had a scum floating over the top) and hush puppies, along with a minimal salad bar…and cost us $10.99 per person, plus drinks. In addition, dessert was extra ($2 on up.)
Comparing the two, Shoney’s got excellent marks for their facility. The restroom had excellent fixtures and was clean. The furnishings showed no sign of wear, nor did the carpet. Barnhill’s has a clean restroom and is in good repair, but shows signs of wear. The furnishings and carpet showed mild signs of wear too. Barnhill’s has a steady stream of customers–there was even an entire bus that was there when we arrived on one occasion recently, but their buffet remained well stocked and the restaurant felt spacious and well suited to informal family dining with its steady stream of families, workers obviously just done working, and travelers. Shoney’s looked more like a ghost town, and still sported a spartan buffet and even lacked any kind of bread except the hush puppies lurking in one of the trays.
Would I recommend Shoney’s? Definitely not for the buffet. It’s overpriced, and would be expensive for a budget minded family. The food lacked flavor and quality, as well as variety.
Would I recommend Steve Barnhill’s $5 Buffet? Definitely. It’s very family friendly, although like any other buffet, children are to be escorted at the buffet itself. There are good reasons for that requirement, and responsible parents shouldn’t find that a problem. It’s suitable for groups, solitary diners, or couples. You can eat and get going again quickly, or you can linger over your meal, taking your time and enjoying the company you are keeping. It’s very budget friendly–even for families. Food quality, flavor, and variety is excellent. Restrooms and dining area, along with the buffet line are clean and well kept.
To get to Steve Barnhill’s Buffet, get off on exit 69 from I-10 in Mississippi. Head south on Highway 63, and turn left at the first stop light. You’ll see Steve Barnhill’s Buffet nestled between a fast food joint and a motel off of the frontage road. It has plenty of parking, even for buses and other large vehicles. Tell them that Gulf Coast Foods sent you there!
Now if you happen to stop in Slidell, on Gause Blvd., I’d recommend passing over the Shoney’s and finding something else. There are a number of offerings there to consider. If you do stop, maybe you shouldn’t mention that I told you not to!