The last time I reviewed a restaurant in Alachua (Jake’s Bistro), the owner decided to throw me out because we didn’t enjoy his terrible food. This time, I’ve decided to talk about a better experience; Brown’s Country Buffet. This little local favorite on 441 just east of Main Street has been around for years, and gets packed! Its dated appearance both exterior and interior can put some folks off, but the locals know what’s up here. I was recently introduced to this spot, and have since made multiple pilgrimages to Alachua for some of their cooking!
I happen to catch their lunch buffet this past Saturday. For $9, diners get a full buffet along with a drink (with refills!). Seriously, that’s a killer deal. The buffet had fresh fried chicken constantly coming out of the kitchen, fried pork chops, rice, mashed potatoes, corn, mac & cheese, green beans, biscuits, cornbread, meatballs, gravy, are you starting to get the picture? There are also desserts, and something called salad? I don’t know what that is. But everything was delicious, hot, and fresh. That fried chicken was fantastic, and the brown gravy was awesome poured over everything on my plate. As a meat and potatoes lovin’ country boy trapped inside the body of a round Asian, I was beyond pleased with my meal.
But if you are not a buffet type of person, they also offer a variety of items on a menu. It’s also insanely cheap. For breakfast, there are items like Fried Pork Chop with two eggs, grits, toast or biscuit for $7.49, or 2 eggs, grits, bacon, sausage or ham, and toast or biscuits for $4.49. Lunch offerings include a 1/3 Cheeseburger and fries for $5.09, BBQ Pork Sandwich with fries for $4.79, and a Double Cheeseburger with fries for $6.79.
This is not a fancy place, there’s nothing trendy, organic, or pretentious on the menu. These folks use canned veggies, unapologetically fry everything, but put lots of love into it. If you couldn’t tell by my previous post about places like Ruby’s Restaurant, I have a soft spot for these kinds of eateries. On any given day of the week, the restaurant will be filled with locals who are enjoying a food-coma-inducing meal with their families, sharing stories about shooting turkeys, and they couldn’t be happier about it. I mean, how can you NOT be happy spending $9 on a buffet like this? That said, I do have one complaint; Brown’s is home to Florida’s most confusing business hours and practices.
Ready for this? The restaurant is open Monday through Friday from 7 AM to 8 PM (a la carte breakfast then lunch buffet), Saturdays from 7 AM to 2 PM (a la carte breakfast then lunch buffet), and Sundays from 8 AM to 3 PM. Lunch buffets run every day but Sunday, breakfast buffets run 7 AM to 10 AM on Friday and Saturday which then switches to lunch, then breakfast all day on Sunday. Confusing enough yet? There’s EVEN MORE! Fridays from 4 PM to 8 PM are “All You Can Eat Fried Shrimp” nights, but also includes catfish, Tilapia, BBQ pork ribs, and chicken. Monday’s buffet features Chicken Gizzards, Wednesday features Meatloaf, and Thursday features Pork Chops…even though there’s already Pork Chops on the lunch buffet. Feel free to look that over a couple times. Good luck trying to verify this either, nothing is posted anywhere online.
The bottom line is; this is simple food done cheap, served quickly, and almost guaranteed to cure your insomnia. If you’re looking for Challah Bread French Toast, referring to green beans as “haricot vert”, or organic free range, all natural, hand massaged, humanely murdered chicken, this is not the place for you. Not that there’s anything wrong with that stuff, it’s just not their style. This is a place that embodies the spirit that the city of Alachua is quickly losing with its rapid expansion. It finds beauty and comfort in simplicity, family, and using food to bring people together. The food is not fancy at all, nor does it try to be, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It knows what it is, sticks to it, doesn’t try to overshoot their abilities, and has been around for over 50 years. What I’m trying to say is, it’s the anti Jake’s Bistro, and I love them for it.