“You have to stop there to eat,” said the gentleman. “It will change your life.”
“Okay,” I mused. “I’m game. I’ll bite.”
This was part of a conversation that took place on Friday at Foxen Winery, just hours before my District 33 Toastmasters International Fall Conference (“Speaking” – get it?) in Santa Maria.
I’d stopped at Foxen to make The Budget™cry (not on purpose, it just kind of happened), while enjoying some of their stellar wines. But more on Foxen on an upcoming post.
Several of us were talking about the beauty of the Central Coast, and the gentleman and his wife enthusiastically mentioned Industrial Eats.
“Have you ever heard of it?” No, I hadn’t. That was about to change.
If you’ve ever driven from Las Vegas to the Central Coast and back again, you know that the driving takes hours and hours. I had planned my route specially, and it did not include making a side trip to Buellton. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t mind at all.
After finding an over-shaded place to park – difficult in an industrial park, but fortunately, the perimeter was flanked by trees – I walked across the parking lot towards Industrial Eats. Its neighbor is Alma Rosa Winery, which I’ll also talk about later.
My first impressions upon walking into the place was that it was exquisitely clean, light, airy, and true to its name, industrial. The tables are pub style. There are several that are counter height, and a couple that are normal table height and are able to accommodate anyone who may have issues with the taller chairs.
The deli case has a few hard-to-find food items that you won’t see in your neighborhood deli (if you have one), and some the prices are high, but not unexpected for the item. You stand in line to give your order, and the menus – which are rolls of butcher paper – are hung on the wall behind the cashier. The menus are written by someone with great penmanship and are broken down into several categories: Not Pizza, Pizza, Sandwiches, Other. On the counter are impulse items and lists of items that aren’t on today’s menu but are available for order. After you give your order, you take a number and sit and wait. The great thing about pub-style seating is that you get to meet people at the same table, and can pretty much eject the “don’t speak to strangers” warning that your mom always gave you. I met a happily retired couple who apparently patronize the restaurant regularly.
I ordered items from the Not Pizza (Garlic Anchovy Caesar Salad) and the Sandwich (Beef Tongue Pastrami Reuben) categories. While I was at it, I also ordered a glass of Ampelos Pinot Noir which was served in a heavy tumbler. I had no qualms.
How would I describe the food? Ethereal. I could not believe that a salad filled with garlic and anchovies was so good that I couldn’t stop making those “I’ll have what she’s having” noises. It was probably the best Caesar I’ve ever had. Completely delicious. I even ate the croutons, which I never do!
The Beef Tongue Pastrami sandwich (who ever even thought of doing that?!?) was delicious, and the slightly more unctuous quality of the tongue gave a better (to me) texture to the sandwich than the usual brisket.
The Pizzas looked amazing – they are not the industrial commercial style pizzas found in most chains, but these are carefully crafted pizzas especially for their customers. Some of the styles include porcini sausage, mustard greens, pecorino and jerk chicken, kabocha, cilantro, crema. I saw several pizzas being inhaled by the groups around me, and everyone looked very, very happy. I was very, very envious because after the salad and the first half the sandwich, I’d hit my limit.
Interesting factoid. Everything that is cooked is cooked in the pizza ovens.
There is no “kitchen” per se; everything from pizzas (naturally) to sandwiches to not pizzas that require heat are cooked in the pizza oven. Wood-fired, by the way, with stacks of wood waiting to be used to control the temperature of the ovens.
If I’d had the time, I would have hung around for a while and come back later for a meal, but I had to drive all the way to Vegas so that I could make an appearance at The Day Job™ the next day.
Industrial EATS (as they advertise themselves on the website) is worth the trip and one of a few businesses in an industrial park that looks like the beginning of a Buellton version of the Lompoc Ghetto or Santa Barbara Funk Zone. I will most definitely be back, perhaps with more bodies in tow so that we can enjoy more of the offerings.
Simply great. Life changing? Yeah. I’ll go with that.
Buellton, CA 93427
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