Settled away in the tranquil Mediterranean-like countryside among fertile vineyards, exquisite bed & breakfast inns, hot springs and Michelin-starred restaurants, you'll find Buster's Southern Barbeque in Calistoga, Calif. On most days, you'll find a lot of people pulling their exotic cars and fancy SUVs into the parking lot and lining up at this small food stand. At a quick glance, Buster's might seem a bit out of place for the neighborhood along Highway 29 and Foothill Boulevard, but locals will assure you that this is the spot for feasting. The roadside open-air restaurant is the pride and joy of entrepreneur and chef Charles Earl Davis, aka Buster.
Davis best describes Buster's as a place of generational-tested, full-flavor, simple comfort food. Many of the recipes have been handed down from his mother who fancied Louisiana-style cooking. Before you arrive at Buster's place, there is an aromatic smoke that fills the surrounding area. Your nose awakens as hunger cravings stir. Your eyes widen in anticipation of seeing racks of tri-tip grilling over a wood fire pit right in front of you.
Davis believes he's tapped into an overlooked mantra: keep life simple in order to enjoy it to the fullest. He is fond of letting it be known to area visitors that after a full day of touring the vineyards and wine tasting, “meat lovers find another bit of Napa Valley heaven in the taste of succulent tri-tip roast and almost falling off the bone tender barbeque ribs, butter tender pulled pork, chicken, sausages and cornbread and chili beans.” Yes, there is even Buster's special blend hot sauce. The meal portions are very generous and prices are modest.
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While sitting and talking with Davis under a pleasantly warm day in the rear patio area of the restaurant he reveals his passion for serving amazing food that pleases the emotions. As a chef, he's constantly working to improve food's flavors while also maintaining familiar tastes. Davis is expanding the patio into a performing arts stage with a menu that includes tofu, vegetables, oysters and other dishes for folks who don't want to eat meat.
In this age of health-conscious eating, Davis makes no apology for his particular style of food. He cooks with real butter, the finest sugar and oils, or what he says are real ingredients your body can absorb and process naturally. Charles Davis has shed close to 100 pounds over the past few years and also has become an ordained progressive gospel minister. He’s enjoying a new vision of life.
How does Davis manage to maintain a healthy weight while running a barbeque restaurant and bakery? He suggests folks should “enjoy great food, great company and great living in moderation – don't overdo either if you wish to maintain what he terms a balanced soul.” He also preaches that you should eat well-balanced meals and take a little walk every day. But when you want to reward yourself every once in a while, by all means, indulge in a little food pleasure.
“Come to Calistoga in any season for its charm and world-class wine and scenery, but stop by Buster's for real over-the-top flavorful barbeque before you head home. Your spirit will thank you.”
Buster's Southern Barbeque is located 1207 Foothill Blvd. in Calistoga. For hours and the menu, visit http://www.busterssouthernbbq.com/home.html. You can also get a taste by following them on Facebook and Instagram.