Folks who think Californians are just hippies who eat sprouts and do yoga have obviously never eaten at a Buckhorn BBQ.
The Northern California barbecue chain brings the meat, and then some, at its new location in Modesto’s Vintage Faire Mall. There it’s all about the tri-tip — not to mention pulled pork, barbecue chicken, smoked sausage, baby back ribs, salmon, burgers and, fine, some salads. The restaurant celebrates its grand opening Monday at the Modesto mall.
It is the first Buckhorn in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. The chain has about a dozen other locations in the Bay Area and Sacramento region.
Husband-and-wife owners Rich and Christine Loudermilk said they were sold on the concept, which they call “real California barbecue,” as soon as they tried it. Then came the tricky part, finding the perfect location. When they came across the corner spot on the south wing of Vintage Faire Mall, across from the Coach and Apple stores, they knew immediately, as well.
“We just loved the food and wanted to bring it to Modesto,” Rich Loudermilk said. “We think this is a food destination here at the mall. With us, Buffalo Wild Wings and BJ’s, we all complement each other here.”
The menu is a meat lover’s delight. Most go through a multi-step process that includes a wet marinade, a dry marinade, smoking and, finally, char-grilling. You can get it in a sandwich or on a platter or on a salad. Heck, you can even buy it by the pound. Sandwiches and burgers range from around $8 to $10, and platters run from about $16 to feast-size to feed whole family for around $60.
Sides include house-made cornbread muffins, fries, onion strings, sweet potato fries, mashed potatoes and gravy, mac and cheese, beans, roasted veggies and more. And yes, for the vegetarians out there, there are seven different salads to choose from (you are of course welcome to add meat or fish to any of them, non-vegetarians).
The Loudermilks decided on the location last September, and construction began in February to convert the space, which was the former home of Furniture & More. Modesto-based Paradigm Construction did all the work, turning the 4,350-square-foot space — which did not have a kitchen or other amenities — into an inviting dining room with 22-foot ceilings and an open kitchen. The decor is California rustic, and the Loudermilks made a point to use all reclaimed wood from the Port of Oakland throughout. You can see it on the decorative tresses, bar siding, posts and other wooden accents.
Modesto’s restaurant follows the company’s newer and larger concept, which goes by the name Buckhorn BBQ, instead of Buckhorn Grill like some of the older sites. Buckhorn BBQs also have full bars. The Loudermilks are particulary proud of their 25-foot bar top, which is made from sustainable beetle-killed pine and has a live edge.
“We really wanted to incorporate materials from California in the design,” Christine Loudermilk said. “We wanted to create a romantic, rugged California feel.”
The fast-casual restaurant is set up to order at the counter when you come in, and then your meal is brought to you at the table. The Loudermilks emphasize speed, with a goal of lunch orders out in five minutes and dinner in seven minutes. They also have a self-serve ordering kiosk, and next week two self-pour beer taps will be installed, the first restaurant in Modesto to use the technology (Turlock has two). The patio will have misters, to make those hot summer days bearable.
The site has a staff of 45 and can seat 277 between its indoor and patio dining. The bar will have happy hour specials from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Tuesdays are Pig Feast days, with a two-carnivore meal of baby back ribs, smoked sausage, pulled pork and two sides for $20.
Buckhorn BBQ, at 3401 Dale Road, Suite 654 in the Vintage Faire Mall, is open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 209-857-3905 or visit https://buckhorngrill.com.