For lifelong, or long time, East Texans, there was a Mexican buffet that was both delicious and fun to eat at. That could be the nostalgia glasses getting in the way but I remember as a kid loving the chance to go and eat there. That buffet restaurant has been absent from East Texas for a long time now but has not been forgotten. While there are still some restaurants in Texas, it's high time for it to come back to our area. I am talking about Pancho's Mexican Buffet.

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Going on a Nostalgia Trip

Pancho's Mexican Buffet was a big deal when I was a kid. I remember taking trips to eat there with my church's youth group. Mom and dad would surprise me and my sister with a Friday night dinner there. We'd load up on tacos, enchiladas and burritos then raise the flag to get that sopapilla to fill with honey for dessert. Sadly, the Pancho's Mexican Buffet that was next to Hastings (another beloved store that needs to come back) in Tyler closed around the turn of the century. The one in Longview shut down in 2005 and the building was demolished in 2019.

Pancho's Mexican Buffet History

Pancho's Mexican Buffet started in El Paso in 1958 and quickly grew across Texas and other surrounding states. The restaurant chain blossomed in the 70s and 80s because of their very affordable buffet which averaged $4. By the 1990s, however, business started slowing and profits started to drop. By the year 2000, Pancho's Mexican Buffet restaurants began disappearing.

Still Some Left in Texas

Today, there are only four Pancho's Mexican Buffet restaurants left for us to raise the flag; Mesquite, Fort Worth, Humble and Arlington. I haven't eaten at one since I was a teenager so this is probably more nostalgia talking than anything but I would love to see one return to East Texas.

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