For lunch today I decided to try another local eatery in Calistoga: Buster's Barbeque, located off of Foothill Blvd (hwy 128, which is what 29 turns into if you keep going straight past Calistoga), right after the turn for Lincoln Ave. into Calistoga (if you're heading north)
I had seen Buster's many times -- pretty much every time I come to work! -- but I tend to be pretty frugal so I try not to go out and buy lunches... besides, I only have a 30 minute lunch break.
However, I'm a fan of barbecue (and spending my college years in North Carolina certainly didn't hurt that fact) and I had heard Buster's was pretty good, and I had nothing to bring for lunch today so... here I am.
As soon as I rounded the corner on my short walk to the establishment, I could see the signature smoke signals of carnivorous delight climbing into the sky. When I cam close, I saw about 2 dozen heft slabs of meat slowly cooking on the outside charcoal grill they use, and they were being carefully turned and tended by one of the workers.
I approached the order counter (they have a sit-down eating section but the service is done more like line-order style at the counter) and took a look over what they had... sure enough, looked like your typical southern barbecue menu -- tri-tip, pork, cole slaw, potato salad, etc.! That was strangely reassuring... not that I don't love the "California fusion cuisine" twists they love to do around here so much, but sometimes you just want the comfort of the comfort food you know and love.
As I approached to order, the lady at the cashier gave me a look and said "Your day off?" Haha, she knew who I was! Like I said, Calistoga's a small town, and I teach every kid at the elementary school, so I guess I become pretty famililar (not that I knew which child she was a parent of. It's hard enough to remember 450 kids' names!)
"No..." I replied "Just a quick bite to eat during my lunch break." and I ordered the tri-tip sandwich which she sliced right there at the counter and served up on garlic bread with a side (I chose potato salad) and a container of barbecue sauce. I had to scramble pretty quickly to walk back to the school and eat it before my 30 minutes were up, but despite the rushed meal... it was very good! The tri-tip was delicious, the sauce was a little bit tangy, a little spicy, a lot excellent... the potato salad was nothing amazing, but who cares?
The price was reasonable, too, at about $8.50 for the sandwich plate (around these parts, that's more or less a bargain). I can see why this is a favorite pit stop for the swarms of hog-riding bikers who cruise through the valley during the warmer months.