The Hitching Post II – Buellton, California

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.

Grilled Artichokes with 'magic dust' and chipotle mayo - mmmmm!

Grilled Artichokes with ‘magic dust’ and chipotle mayo – mmmmm!

-          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!”

2010 Hitching Post "Perfect Set" Pinot Noir

2010 Hitching Post “Perfect Set” Pinot Noir

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!





Figueroa Mountain Brewery – Buellton, California

Several years ago, our company produced a reality-build show on the DIY Network called Garage Mahal. The show, as the name clearly implies, was a garage-makeover show. Our lead builder was the owner of garage remodel shop Garage Envy in Los Angeles. But not long after we made the show, Jaime Dietenhofer and his father, all originally from Solvang, California – decided to pursue a lifelong dream and open a brewery. Jaime, a UCSB MBA and a very sharp businessman, nailed it right out of the box. Buellton was the perfect location, his timing for market demand was spot on, and his product is excellent. It’s not just wine country anymore!

Already in just two short years, Figueroa Mountain Brewery has garnered dozens of local, regional and national awards for their brews. At any given time, they have upwards of 20 beers available at the brewery, and their kegs and bottles are spreading far and wide in restaurants and bottle shops throughout the West.


Barb finishing a pint of Helles Lager overlooking the brew tanks

Their house ale, their house Hoppy Poppy IPA, their Davy Brown dark ale and their Helles Lager and house Pilsner are all daily drinker worthy. Then when you get into their more unique craft blends, watch out!

The next time you’re in wine country tasting Pinot Noir, stop by Fig Mtn when the tasting rooms close and have some great craft beer. If you’re not traveling there soon, ask your local pub for it – chance are they either carry it or are considering it. Congrats Jaime – well done!


The downstairs tasting bar at Fig Mtn Brewery. Notice the menu screens behind the bar – over 20 beers today!