By Andrea Ayala
To the guy still wearing bathing suits at parties, still making fruity margaritas for the “poolside” and still insisting on having backyard BBQs: Dude, summer’s over. Get over it. These days, outside cooking is so passé. Luckily, I’ve found a place that takes BBQ seriously and is too legit to quit after the summer months come to an end.
“The best BBQ.” That’s how one customer described Buckboard BBQ & Grill in Upland. But let’s face it, Upland isn’t exactly the first place you think of when you’re hankerin‘ for some real, home-style BBQ. But if the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, Buckboard will make him fall in love.
Driving down Foothill Boulevard, you’re likely to spot the telltale signs of suburbia’s most common culinary offerings: fatty fast-food places, large chains, mediocre-at-best restaurants. Yet hidden amongst all these, nestled next to a karate place and a gay nightclub, is some of the greatest BBQ known to suburban man. (Perhaps I exaggerate, but it is good.)
Buckboard’s BBQ is far from medium-rare. It’s true. Ask anyone who’s been there. Although I warn you, it won’t be many. As of yet, it remains Upland’s best-kept secret. Buckboard prides itself on keeping alive the tradition of “Santa Maria” style BBQ, which is BBQ rooted in the Santa Maria Valley of the Central Coast. That means Spanish influence, which makes for a unique twist on your average BBQ.
Sink your teeth into their famous tri-tip sandwich for example: slow-cooked and hardly marinated (no cover-up needed, the taste is in the meat), the tri-tip comes wrapped by a delicious sourdough hoagie roll. The melt-in-your mouth, succulent tri-tip is what makes this place an instant favorite. Also, prepare your hands for one of their juicy, tender beef ribs, guaranteed to make your taste buds trip the bite fantastic. Try it “Santa Maria style,” which means it comes with salsa instead of BBQ sauce. Have some traditional pinquito beans with bacon bits in it or some of their delicious chili.
They’ve got some Mexican-influenced dishes as well: jalapeño poppers, homemade chips and salsa and a tri-tip burrito.
The thing about Buckboard is that you’ve got to admire the care they put into the menu and meals. They showcase real, top-notch ingredients (real butter, homemade chili, slow-cooked beans) that you can taste. Some of the menu items can get a little pricey, but they’ve got online coupons to help you ease the wallet blues. And believe me, it’s worth every penny.
Buckboard’s got a relaxed atmosphere with beer on the tap so it’s the perfect place to go with a few friends to watch The Big Game. They’ve got football-watching favorites, too: chili fries, burgers and hot wings. Combine that with the fact they’re one of the only places left that still serve Bert & Rocky’s ice cream and you’ve got yourself a sweet deal.
It’s enough to keep you warm for the fall and winter, without having to go through hypothermia trying to light up your crappy BBQ. So, summer guy, put on some clothes and head on over to Buckboard.
And no, we do not want to go to the beach. Seriously, stop calling.
Buckboard BBQ, 1386 E. Foothill Blvd. Ste. M, Upland, (909) 608-7393; www.buckboardcatering.com. Mon-Thurs 11:30AM-9PM, Fri 11:30AM-10PM, Sat 11AM-10PM. AW, D, MC, V.