Buster's Southern BBQ in Calistoga

Buster’s Southern BBQ: You know the spot. Winter or summer, it’s been at the crossroads of Hwy 29 and Lincoln Ave. in Calistoga like, I don’t know-forever. Most of us blast on by on our
way to fancier Napa affairs, afraid of a little sauce on our shirts and tri-tip stuck in our teeth. It’s so un-Napa. So paper-plate and picnic table un-chic, where ordering’s done at a screen window and the eating’s done on the parking lot porch.

So bring a jacket and an appetite. The tri-tip sirloin steak sandwich is what you’ve come for — thick slabs of beef piled on garlic toast. A ladle of sauce goes over the top, hot or mild. But be warned that hot is exactly that. Hot. Don’t try to be a hero unless you really like the fire.

My take: This sauce hails well south of sweet Kansas City style, but with a similar heft and tomato tang. Vinegar’s not the star here (thank goodness), instead smoky pepper takes the lead.

With the $7 ‘wich, you get a single side, which should be their sweet, pineapply coleslaw. Unless you’re more of a bean fan. There’s also corn bread, potato salad and macaroni salad. For $1.25 to $1.50 each, splurge on a couple to keep your options open. Leave room for fresh lemonade and sweet potato pie. Bring a few Wet Naps. And dream of summer.

Buster’s BBQ, 1207 Foothill Boulevard, Calistoga, 707.942.5605.