Friday, February 28, 2020     Volume: 20, Issue: 52

Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Just a short trip up the 166, a visit to the Cuyama Buckhorn Restaurant and Bar will leave you feeling all kinds of autumn


Since its establishment in 1952, the Cuyama Buckhorn Restaurant and Bar has been serving meals to locals and travelers passing through alike. But this fall season, the New Cuyama staple is switching things up with its first seasonal offerings: the Fall Harvest Menu.

Eat for yourself
For hours of operation and a full look at the Cuyama Buckhorn Restaurant and Bar’s new menu, visit

The Buckhorn’s deviled eggs feature local eggs from SZ Ranch.

“There’s going to be a huge culinary focus on connecting the food and beverage offerings to all of the farms and ranches of the valley. Our Fall Harvest Menu is our first fully farm-to-table dinner menu that we’ve rolled out. We partnered with about 14 farms,” Savannah Fox, marketing and operations manager at the Buckhorn, told the Sun. “Most of the farms are local to Cuyama Valley.”

And when an ingredient can’t be found in the farms of the surrounding valley, the restaurant is committed to getting as close as possible, according to Culinary Director and Farm Liaison Matthew Roberts.

“When we’re unable to source from those, we reach out to the immediate community surrounding us, so Santa Maria, Bakersfield, sometimes Carpinteria,” Roberts told the Sun.

The Cuyama Buckhorn hotel, restaurant, and bar was built originally with a mid-century architecture style, but recent renovations also seek to capture that classic Western cowboy flair.

Fox said the impetus behind the new menu is to highlight the history of New Cuyama, a tiny roadside town about an hour’s drive up Highway 166 from Santa Maria with a population of a little more than 500. But the goal is also to showcase the past of the Cuyama Buckhorn, the hotel accompanied by the restaurant, through the menu.

“We have dishes like the Ode to Santa Maria BBQ platter,” Fox said. “We grill our tri-tip on a red oak grill that is a historic piece of the property, and we’re going to be showcasing that more moving forward. We’ve always had Santa Maria tri-tip on our menu, and we wanted to pay a special tribute to that on the new menu.”

The Buckhorn plans to keep items like the Ode to Santa Maria BBQ on the menu year-round, but other items seek to capture the spirit of the season.

“One of our favorite dishes on the menu is the sweet potatoes dish, which we jokingly call ‘Cuyama in a dish’ because every single thing on the dish is coming from Cuyama Valley and the farms of Cuyama Valley,” Fox said.

The dish includes Cuyama Orchards apples, Quail Springs mint, Santa Barbara Pistachio Co. pistachios, Rock Front Ranch honey, and of course, sweet potatoes. 

The iconic Cuyama Buckhorn still looks the same on the outside, but inside things are happening, including the restaurant’s first seasonal menu.

Another locally sourced dish is the simple, savory, and slightly spicy deviled eggs. 

“We’re using SZ Ranch’s organic, free-range eggs on that dish,” Fox said. “That ranch is owned by Steve Zaritsky, and he has been in the valley for a very long time. That’s an amazing dish because his eggs are so spectacular. Then we’re using house-made hot pickle and oil and paprika on them. We’re not doing a ton to them but his eggs just stand out on their own.”

Though this classic dish has just a few ingredients, Roberts said that when you source local, fresh, quality food, less is more.

“It’s a very rustic, simple approach to things, but when you have very good ingredients you don’t need to do too much to it,” Roberts said. “We’re keeping it simple but making sure it’s really good.”

The Buckhorn intends to continue its seasonal menus into the future, with a new menu each quarter, Fox said. Customers can expect a fresh new winter menu in January. But the classics will always hold a spot on the menu.

“Since we are located on Highway 166, we’ve historically been a roadside stop,” Fox said.

Matthew Roberts, the Buckhorn’s new chef, salts a tri-tip before throwing it on the grill.

“We will continue to also offer all of our historic favorites like our wonderful hamburger and the Santa Maria tri-tip platter. Everything that’s nostalgic to people who have been coming to our property for years and years will remain staple items on our menu.”

In addition to the seasonal food menu, the restaurant’s bar has introduced seasonal cocktails to complete the meal.

“Our bar manager, Brandon, made a cocktail utilizing pomegranates from Rock Front [Ranch], which provides our honey as well—all things that we will be incorporating into the winter menu coming up,” Roberts said.

With their commitment to supporting local farmers, the iconic Buckhorn hopes to stay true to its roots.

“We have been a staple restaurant in the community since 1952,” Fox said. “We mean a lot to the community. That’s a big piece of what we’re trying to do, is really be the community hub for Cuyama Valley, and showcasing everything that is coming out of our wonderful valley.” 

Contributing writer Malea Martin is taking a trip to The Buckhorn. Send foodie story tips to

Nibbles & Bites

Creme De La Ice Cream celebrated its grand opening on Nov. 25 and is now open at 1102 E. Clark Ave. in Orcutt. Find fresh ice cream flavors made daily, plus ice cream treats, sandwiches, and yes, even ice cream for your furry little dog friends. Everything is homemade from the toppings to the ice cream. Find out more at or @cremedelaicecream on Facebook. 

• Over Black Friday Weekend, skip the crowds and head straight to Riverbench Winery—if you’re into that kind of thing. Every case of wine sold over the weekend will include 13 bottles. You can take home 13 bottles of your favorite chardonnay, pinot noir, or sparkling wine for the price of 12—and the nice elves over there will even let you mix and match if you’re on the “nice” list. This special offer is only available for in-person tasting room visitors to 6020 Foxen Canyon Road near Santa Maria. 

La Purisima Mission State Historic Park in Lompoc is giving you an opportunity to walk off all of that Thanksgiving turkey on Saturday, Nov. 30, from 9 to 11 a.m. The ranger-guided tour is family friendly and labeled as a moderate 2 mile hike that is family and kid friendly, but strollers aren’t recommended. Meet at the Visitor Center, 2295 Purisima Road.

• Enjoy pizza and beer pairings and support Toys for Tots at Klondike Pizza in Santa Maria for a Christmas Beer and Pizza Tasting event on Monday, Dec. 2, from 6 to 8 p.m. Luponic Distorition IPA and 805 from Firestone Walker, Sierra Nevada Celebration IPA, and Alaskan Amber will be on tap. Tickets are on sale at Klondike Pizza, 2059 S. Broadway; $20 and an unwrapped children’s gift valued at $10 or more covers all of your food and malty beverages. 

• You can have dinner with Santa on Thursday, Dec. 5, from 5 to 7 p.m., at Tower Pizza in Solvang, 436 Alisal Road. It’s free for everyone to swing by and enjoy the big bearded man in a red suit or have some tasty slices. All Tower is asking for is a canned food donation to help stock the local food pantries.

• On Saturday, Dec. 7, the Dana Adobe Cultural Center is hosting a Tamale Make and Take through the Dana Cafe Cooking Classes from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Docent Helen Duario will lead a hands-on class that will teach attendees the basic steps to make traditional Mexican-style tamales. All of the ingredients and equipment will be provided for a $50 fee, but there are only 10 spots available. Bring an apron and pen with you and leave with six chicken tamales, six cheese tamales, and a recipe for an easy-to-make salsa. The deadline to register is Wednesday, Dec. 4. RSVP at (805) 929-5679 and ask for Lexi. 

Editor Camillia Lanham will take tamales and wine please. Send your tips, tricks, and tasty tidbits to

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