I hate to call the Sunday buffet at Millie’s Place a “buffet.” It’s more of a fellowship dinner. The place is packed with those just out of church, and a gospel choir plays on the sound system as folks fill their plates or wait for carryout from the buffet. There’s good reason you can barely get in the door on a Sunday between 1 and 6 p.m.: It’s probably the largest spread of good Southern eating north of the Mason-Dixon Line. And it’s disappearing as fast as they can bring it out of the kitchen. On the all-you-can-eat spread there are pork chops, chicken, maybe some meatloaf with gravy. The creamy mac and cheese, just-tender collards, sweeter-than-sweet potatoes, and hearty black-eyed peas all get great praise. And after your third plateful, you need to pray there’s some of that amazing peach cobbler left. Maybe that’s what the gospel music’s for. Millie Byers introduced her Alabama kitchen know-how when she opened the place as a retirement job in 1993. She is no longer with us, but her grandson Charlie maintains the tradition. This is the unofficial community center for Madisonville. The place has never been about the looks. It’s about standing in line for the fried fish special on Friday nights, the chicken and waffles for breakfast, or the cheapest burger combo in town at lunch. And it’s about first-timers saying they heard about the legendary food so many times the place seemed like home before they walked in the door.
Millie’s Place, 5923 Madison Rd., Madisonville, (513) 527-4075. Breakfast and lunch Mon–Thurs. Lunch and dinner Fri and Sun.