Living on a tight budget can be tough, and if it includes eating out on occasion, you end up looking for cheap places to eat. At the same time, who wants it to taste like it’s as cheap as the bill is hopefully going to be?
In Pascagoula, there are some options.
Steve Barnhill’s $5 Buffet is now $5.25, except Sundays. Plus drink. Inside, you’ll find a buffet that is spacious, and usually has a pretty good selection, but you might need to be patient. If they are busy, they frequently are a bit slow in refilling favorites such as fried chicken or fried catfish. (They don’t always have fried catfish though.) The dining area itself is showing more than a little wear, with the carpet having a “gummy” feel after years of spills and dribbles. The restrooms have signs of wear and tear too. Most of the restaurant is very clean, however, like almost every restaurant we’ve visited lately, the high chairs are less-than-clean. ****NOTE: As of 6/19/2011, I cannot recommend eating at this restaurant. We dined here for Father’s Day, and not only was the food inadequate in quantity for the number of customers, but it was of less-than-stellar-quality. The most serious problem, however, was the lack of cleanliness in the restaurant. I actually walked next door to Hardee’s to use the restroom.
There is also KFC, formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken. In Moss Point and Pascagoula (not sure if its available nation-wide) is the $5 all-you-can-eat option, including drink. Like most fast food establishments, KFCs tend towards easy-to-clean tables & floors, and these are no exceptions. Both the locations on Highway 63 and the one on Highway 90 (Denny Ave.) are clean, if you are fortunate enough to arrive before a massive wave of customers does (or that one horribly messy family.) These restaurants tend to run out of particular selections (especially favorites such as crispy, baked or original chicken, chicken livers, biscuits, etc.) and their potatoes may get a bit dry before anything is done about them. If they have an empty bin, ask at the counter. The staff is usually quite polite, although we have found that the staff at the Hwy 63 store were much happier and therefore more helpful. UPDATE: Their prices have been raised to $5.55, still pretty reasonable.
Taco Bell on Highway 90 (Denny Ave) in Pascagoula would seem like another cheap eat option, but I don’t recommend it. Our recent visit found the apparent store manager informing his “employee of the year” (his own words) that he was being reprimanded, as well as another employee being told that next week it would be his turn. I guess its obvious why our food was less-than-stellar even on the Taco Bell scale. The chalupa had a dry and cold tortilla, the chicken quesadilla hadn’t even gotten its cheese melted. Between the store manager’s dialogue with the two workers and the food quality, we’ll not return there, and it will be another few years before we probably bother with another Taco Bell.
Chinese buffets are another frequent choice for the hungry diner on a tight budget. Pascagoula and Moss Point have several offerings as well. All of them are satisfactory, although our “favorite” is located by the new Singing River Medical facility, China Garden. We also like Ly Buffet, also located on Highway 90, further to the east. Typically, these buffets have one price for lunch, and another for dinner.
Most people associate Waffle House with cheap eats. Typically, a meal for two, along with coffee or a soft drink, is going to be $12-18. That isn’t spectacularly cheap, although the food and service is usually quite good. There are a number of these restaurants all along I-10, and Moss Point and Pascagoula both have theirs.
Fiesta Brava serves Mexican food, and it isn’t spectacularly cheap either, although it can be quite reasonable. Service is usually quite good, but on occasion, (such as Valentine’s Day) it can also be quite bad. It also serves alcohol, and that can quickly add up on the dinner bill if alcoholic beverages are selected. The food is also usually quite good, and it is definitely the “fanciest” of the selections, although it too is still within the realm of casual dining.
The Annex is a long time favorite in Pascagoula, and it rates high for both service and food quality. Its hours of operation are the confusing point. It’s usually apparently open for breakfast and lunch (up until 7 pm.) but not always–we’ve found the restaurant closed on various days of the week in the early afternoon. Try their specials–the food is always good, the service is always congenial.
Don’t forget to tip your waiter or waitress, but…ONLY when they provide your service at a minimal standard. If you have to ask for everything, including portions of your food order, utensils, etc., that is NOT minimal standards. Your server should remove empty dishes, but not snatch them before you have even finished eating (yes, we’ve had that happen!) You should be offered more beverage at several points during the meal, and a good server ALWAYS returns a few minutes after delivering food to ensure there is no problem with the meal. At buffets, if there is table side service, your server should remove used dishes before they turn into a gluttonous mound of used plates, even for a group. I don’t believe in adhering to the standard 10-15% tip–instead leaving a minimal tip of a $1 for minimal service, and leaving a far higher tip for stellar service, varying the amount by the number of diners, quality of service, and total of the bill. Tip more if you have an infant or toddler, messy child, or demanding adult in your group, it’s only fair if they have to work harder!