Buster's Texas Style Barbeque

Buster's is Closing.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008 will be the end of the Texas style BBQ in South Salem. This is really a shame because it's one of my family's favorite restaurants. We ate there about twice a month and love many of the items on the menu. Plus, the staff was friendly and hardworking. If you want to contact Buster's main office and protest this closure, here's the link. http://www.bustersbarbecue.com/ContactUs.htm



Review by Salem Man 1/22/08

Do you have a restaurant that you just love to eat at, you rave about it all the time, only to find that no one else feels the same way you do. Buster's Barbecue on Commercial SE near Vista Roth's is that restaurant for me. It's an acquired taste but once you're hooked you'll be back for more. Just about every time I pose the question, "where do you want to eat tonight?" the answer that my children give me is Busters. It's hard to resist the temptation of this Texas style smoked barbecue, everything I've had on their menu I've enjoyed. But for some reason, they don't pack in the customers like they do at the Best Little Roadhouse up the street where I believe, the food is inferior to Buster's. So let me make one more pitch for Buster's and maybe you will change your mind. Next time you go there order the Pulled Pork Po Boy with a side of coleslaw. Put the slaw on top of the meat and eat like a sandwich or with a fork. This is how I've eaten them in Memphis style restaurants and I found that it works great here at Buster's. With the side of slaw a Po Boy is about $7. Smothered in barbecue sauce this is one of my favorite meals in all Salem. And Buster's is one of the most consistent places in town. I've never had a badly cooked meal, the service is always great and the country music never seems to end. My kids, they love Buster's for the chicken strips and french fry children's meal. Mostly they like that it comes with four Oreo cookies for dessert.









Reviewed 6/3/07

This has got to be one of the best places in town to get a good no hassle meal. The first time I ate here I was disappointed, I thought the chicken was dry. But for some reason, I was craving it in the next few days driving past it on Commercial Street SE. After my next visit, I became hooked and soon so was my family. Many of the items on the menu are really good. Start out with the basics, chicken half or baby back rib special for $9.95. It will be more than enough to eat and get lots of the bbq sauce. Service is buffet style and the meat can be cut the way you like it, moist or dry. The staff is hard working and friendly which indicates the employer treats them well. Other great menu items include the pulled pork po boy and the spicy sausage dinner. The best part, when they print your credit card slip, there is no line for tip or a tip jar so you don't have to feel guilty about not leaving one. Thats pretty rare these days. This place is so good, you don't even mind the endless country music playing in the background.

26 comments:

EazyMoney said...

Although not my favorite BBQ place in town, they have the best baked beans ever.

Certainly worth another visit.

D.Lamkid said...

Well, today Monday June 25th my husband and I decided to try Busters for lunch.

We got there just a little past noon, and had the baby back rib baskets.

Ok...so someone thinks this is good? We had a bunch of oddly cut pieces of pork, that was all hard on the outside, and not fall off the bone tender like baby backs should be. Not much smoke going on either. Most of the chunks were like jerky.

The coleslaw was ok, the beans ok, the potato salad was a disaster! How hard it it to take some spuds, add some mayo and mustard, chop up some onion, relish, and toss a couple of eggs in? This stuff has a dill pickle flavor, and too much stuff added in to pinpoint what this concoction is supposed to be! Plus the fact that it just had a bad flavor.

The cold piece of toast is a nice touch too. No garlic, hardly any butter, and cold. But it was put atop the rib basket, so it would hide the strange shaped, "Baby Back Ribs".

Let's see, oh yah, add a couple of Bud Lights too. How can you ruin one of these babies? By not having them cold! come on, this place it horrid.

I rate this meal out of five stars, a minus one. Lousy...we won't be back soon.

Anonymous said...

Why would you not want to tip for great service?

Robert said...

Burgers, pizza, and BBQ. That's what I crave and Buster's is the best BBQ in town.

Anonymous said...

in response to d.lamkid, i've never had a warm drink at buster's. but it's too bad your experience wasnt good. i actually love their ribs... i'm no connoisseur, but i like good ribs, and buster's are great. bottom line: dont care for their sides (agreed, potato salad is below-par!) but for the price and the meat, definitely worth a trip.

laina said...

My husbands father joined us there for lunch one day, and had ordered a beer with his meal. He opened the bottle, only to find that it was lukewarm straight from the fridge. The manager came out, after my FIL tried to exchange it for a COLD beer, and argued with my FIL saying it wasn't warm. I couldn't believe the gall the manager had.. what customer service! Won't go back on principal.

K & N said...

Oookay, you've convinced me. The next time N suggests going, I'll say yes. We've been once and I wasn't impressed, but I was comparing BTSB to a "sit down and be served" meal at Smokin' Swine. Since SS is no longer with us, I might as well surrender. Besides, the slaw on the po boy looks awfully tempting . . .

Anonymous said...

i have to agree with D.Lamkid & Anonymous that their potato salad is not pleasant. but i've learned the virtues of their other sides -- hello, best mashed potatoes EVER! get some beef gravy over a dish of those... sometimes i go for two dishes. man. awesome. their salad sides are gigantic and always fresh, too. the beans are great, the fries are good...

i will complain that the last time i ordered pork ribs there.. last week or so, they were quite dry and the outside layer was extremely tough. i tired my jaw trying to chew... as D.Lamkid said, like jerky. a great flavor, but tiring to eat! too bad.

on the other hand, at this same visit, my boyfriend and i did the two person dinner deal for $25. what a deal! we both had so much food.... meat of choice, two sides, a fountain drink AND dessert.. which was delicious cheesecake. we still had leftovers to eat the next day. awesome!

the girl at the counter is always really friendly, too! especially for not being tipped :) very good service.

i think there are good and bad things about all restaurants and i'd still much prefer busters to best little roadhouse like you said.

Anonymous said...

I love busters pulled pork po boy it is so goood. It is the only thing I have tried there and I am fine with that.

Vegan's Nightmare said...

Hold on there partner... let's back the pork-fat wagon up here. I've been to Busters. I've been to Smokin' Swine. I've been to Adams' Rib Smoke House. And my BBQ-Chowing-Bus stops at Adams' and parks in the driveway.

I had been going to Smokin' Swine for a couple of years when I discovered Adams' Rib back when they were on Market St. After having my first lunch there, I apologized profusely to Mike and Katrina for not eating lunch there before -- I felt guilty for having been to another BBQ joint. I tried Smokin' Swine once more after they re-opened for a very short time on Lancaster -- I don't have anything positive to say about that experience.

Buster's is OK as far as BBQ goes. But if you want the real deal, from a true Mom-n-Pop Shop, go down to 12th and State and get THE best tri-tip, brisket, and hush-puppies in town.

Salem Man said...

I like Adam's Rib also, but I'm addicted to Buster's and so is my family. By the way Vegan Nightmare, that was one of the best comments on the blog. You can take off your 10 gallon hat and cowboy boots now.

Anonymous said...

I guess I just have to give up, and realize, people who live in Salem really don't know what good BBQ is...sad.

Anonymous said...

Busters is the best ribs in town. We used to drive to Tigard to go. The sweet BBQ sauce is the best, we buy it by the case for at home use. We have had ribs from other joints and they tasted uncooked and like old beer. YUCK! Yahoo to Busters, Thanks for being in Salem.

Anonymous said...

I like Buster's. They're not "great BBQ", but they are good, reasonably priced food. I almost always get a three-meat combo of brisket, pork tenderloin & hot sausage, and use a combination of mild & hot sauces. For sides I get two doses of dirty rice, plus a dish of the beef gravy--the rice is good dry, but with a little gravy it's GOOD. My partner goes for turkey & mild sausage with no sauce (go figure...), rice & french fries. The fires are crinkle-cut, and more often than not they give her a number to bring our fresh ones. I give her my toast--she likes it, I don't.

The other thing I do there is takeout by the pound. Two pounds of mixed meats plus a large dirty rice & a small green beans feeds three of us a good dinner with leftovers for lunch.

If you go there regularly, you can save some money by buying yourself a gift card of $50 or more--they take off 10%, and the employees don't care that you're using it yourself, even right away, instead of "gifting" it.

I've tried to like Adam's rib, but I just don't--smaller portions & the meat's often too dry to eat. Good hush puppies, though.

I still mourn the Smokin' Swine's passing from greatness, which preceded their actual closure....

Anonymous said...

there used to be a meeting i was supposed to attend, held at some restaraunt that i don't recall, anyways, i couldn't force mself to go until they moved the meeting to Busters. I would try various dishes and thought it was good bbq, until i tried the baby back ribs,,, then that was the only thing i would order and i would look forward to going every month to the meeting, Their baby backs with sweet bbq sauce are the best and most consistantly outstanding ribs i have ever had, just don't get the bargin basket... get the full rack!

Anonymous said...

This place is wildly inconsistent. We have been there and the food has been great, and other times the meat is dried out and like jerky.

I think it really depends on when you go. Go when they are busy and you get fresh food. Go at 5 pm and the food has been under heat lamps for the last three hours after lunch.

So I give it a half/half review. The thing that sinks this place for me is that it is a chain. I really try to only eat at local restaurants as much as possible. Keep the dollars in the community.

Anonymous said...

AHHHH!! no, busters! dont go........
this is going to break my husband's heart too....

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why they are closing?

Anonymous said...

Well, they put another BBQ place with Oregon roots (across the street), so I'm not feeling too bad about this place.

Salem Man said...

I guess business is not as good in Salem as it is in their other locations. I've never really seen that place full of customers.

Amanda said...

oh I have to have that tomorrow. I have to have one last pulled pork po' boy

Anonymous said...

I love this place! Everything about it is great. The service is first class and the food is so Texas BBQ, yum! Now I have to drive to Portland to get the real deal at Buster's. Twenty-six year's says it all!

Anonymous said...

Buster's was the lead story on KATU tonight. Buster was on tv, and said that 4-5 months ago, business dropped by 30% in Salem, and never recovered.

Wasn't that about the time that gas prices started skyrocketing?

I hope their Portland locations survive, but we now have one less locally owned option. Better get to Red Robin, Olive Garden or Red Lobster.

Pam Hawk said...

Hmmm, yeah we noticed Buster's had closed after the fact. Too bad. And BBQ Pit, which had been across the street from Buster's, was on its way out when we moved here from Minneapolis (a surprisingly awesome BBQ town and now home to Famous Dave's.)

We love good BBQ - The Smokin' Swine had potential but was disappointing. Buster's was fine, but we prefer Memphis style over TX Q. Adam's Rib - excellent. Famous Dave's? The nearest one is in Olympia although there are rumors of one opening in Tualatin. (Or not. Rumors of one at Keizer Station fizzled a month after they started.)

So what I'd like to figure out is this:
Is Salem just not a BBQ kind of town?
Or have we had a bunch of mediocre BBQ places that came and went?

Anonymous said...

Good BBQ is a tough business because you have to consistently move that product fast and in high volume before it dries out and gets tough. When you get a couple slow days, you have to deal with the loss and degraded product which results. If it is still served, customers are disappointed-- thus a downward spiral ensues. A good BBQ place has to have high standards which includes starting over every day, and hope for good traffic. If not, you have to bite the bullet. Good BBQ is not a fast food; thaw & grill business.

Buster's Salem location was high traffic. Judging from earlier comments here, I'd guess that when business initially slowed down due to the financial scare, instead of scaling back volume and maintaining standards, Buster's Salem mgmt may have compromised on food quality in order to offset waste, resulting in some bad dining experiences and word of mouth that came back to bite them. Hence, they couldn't bounce back well and soon enough to remain viable.

I wouldn't blame the Salem market, as the location is extremely hi-profile and hi-traffic. The restaurants who serve frozen & canned foods are still running. Busters may blame Salem to save face, but they know. The Salem mgmt blew it.

Anonymous said...

The Portland locations are still doing great. It's Salem.