The Hitching Post II steak house in Buellton, CA, a family spinoff from the original Hitching Post just south of Santa Maria, CA, is a great local place. Thanks to the movie Sideways, however, it is now a world-famous, jammed for noon to midnight place. Reservations on weekends are very necessary, and even with one you may have to wait 10 to 30 mins. It’s a wine country institution.
For the umpteenth time, my wife and I ate there Saturday night. As with each visit, my wife has to cringe and grit her teeth when the waiter greets us and asks “if we’ve dined with them before”, praying that I don’t deliver Miles from Sideway’s line “It’s practically my office.” As usual, I considered it and then decided against it. She breathed with relief.
Here is a simple list of why I love The Hitching Post II:
- The grilled artichokes – fresh, par-steamed and then grilled over open wood flame with their signature “magic dust” seasoning, they are served with a chipotle mayo and the pairing is heavenly.
- The grilled quail – maybe you’ve had quail, maybe you haven’t. But if you like BBQ chicken, do yourself a HUGE favor and try the grilled Texas quail. Again, over the open wood pit flame with magic dust – it’s just THAT good!
- The steak – could you do it home?…sure. But their wood grill and magic dust give their prime beef a singular flavor. If you only eat beef occasionally, save up for the Hitching Post beef.
- The wine – as many people who have NEVER eaten there know, they make their own Hitching Post wine, wines that are available throughout the U.S. in limited quantities. Their specialty?…what else, Pinot Noir! Their standards, Cork Dancer, Highliner etc. are always good. Their vineyard designates, like their Bien Nacido and Fiddlestix, are even better. Tonight we had a Fiddlestix blend called Perfect Set – a 2010 iteration. To draw again from the movie, “…because it’s so F$#@#%n good!”
So yes, it’s now a tourist attraction, but the Hitching Post II never disappoints. If you have an artichoke, a quail, a steak and a bottle of Pinot Noir, it’s as good as it gets anywhere – famous or not. Enjoy!