Friday, June 07, 2013

Cactus Willies Steak Buffet and Bakery, Lancaster, PA

It has been a year since I have been at Cactus Willies Steak Buffet and Bakery in Lancaster, PA. This is becoming our Sunday night buffet in Lancaster as all of the usual buffets are closed on Sundays other than Millers Smorgasbord, Cici's Pizza Buffet, and Old Country Buffet. This is not a Pennsylvania Dutch foods buffet but it is part of a two location chain with the other location in Essex, Maryland.

Not much has changed in a year here. The prices are still good and the meal has a lot to offer though do not expect it to be on the same scale as Golden Corral which it is most similar to in layout inside.

I will focus this review on what stood out on this visit and there were two items that became the mainstay of our selections - one for my wife and one for me. Those to items were the barbecue ribs and the grilled chicken made on the char-grill. If you are a regular reader you know which of us had which. Let me say that I did start with the steak which has been good in the past was good on my last visit a year ago. The steak this time was not very good. The meat was grizzled and tough and while I asked the woman cooking and serving at the grill for a steak rare or medium rare, the piece that she had that was the closest was far from that and she did not offer to cook one for me. After that piece with no other steaks seeming to have gone onto the grill, I did not go back for another try at steak.

What caught my eye were the barbecue ribs. They looked good though they had a lot of red barbecue sauce on them. For most this is OK but for personal reasons, I prefer less sauce - but they were calling to me and I gave in. The ribs (as I have said in the past) were meaty and fell off the bone. They served my urge for "real" barbecue ribs very nicely, though I doubt that they had been cooked in a smoker. They tasted good, the meat was tender, and I could wipe away any sauce that I did not want. I should say that the sauce was good and not too sweet or with too much vinegar. The ribs were the size of baby back ribs (though I am not certain that this is what they were) and they were cut into pieces of three ribs. As I took some of the pieces up with the tongs onto my plate some of the bones fell away.

I did try a few other things that were on the buffet that night. I went back for a favorite of ours that we have only had here - turkey pot roast - and that was good. But those ribs, that was what I went back for and did have a few plates of them.

Now my wife is a picky eater and my readers know that. She eats "plain" - no sauces. She looked for carvings and there was not the usual ham or turkey. She did find grilled chicken breasts which she had spotted on one of our previous visits but had not tried. She took one and enjoyed it. She did have another. Had I wanted to look for something other than the ribs I was enjoying I would have tried the chicken also. (I stuck with the ribs.)

A little aside, and something that I have been doing more and more recently. Just because it is a buffet with choices of many items there is no reason why you cannot just choose one item that you like a lot and make a meal of it - an all you care to eat meal of that item. For me on this visit it was the ribs.

Will the ribs be as good the next time that we go? I hope so. As I have found here, things change and it depends on who is cooking and what is being cooked.

We do not get here often. We have been planning our Lancaster visits around weekdays and Saturdays when the regular buffets that we enjoy so much are open. When we need to be in Lancaster on a Sunday night, this is where we will come.

If you are looking for a buffet on a Sunday night, give it a try. I can't say everyone will like it and don't think you are walking into anything like the Lancaster buffets that I usually recommend. You will find enough to eat and we have both been fine there.

Cactus Willies is located in a strip mall not far from the city of Lancaster. It is located at the Regency Mall, 101 Rohrerstown Rd, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This is a bit out of the way of the usual tourist areas. The phone number is (717) 390-7060. There is a website (for both locations) and that is linked at the side of this page.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I live in Lancaster, and love your reviews. However, there should be much caution with Cactus Willies. They tend to fail health inspections (or have always had issues). Please keep this in mind, and watch the cold foods. But it is tough finding a place around here open on Sunday's.