Buttonwillow and the tar parking lot – Zagat rated?

Finally get to test the mommy missile with the family on a true road trip. ROAD TRIP! Destination San Francisco, CA. 8 hours with the family and stuck in a car. We all deserve a medal!

I tried to plan a “Triple-D” spot along the way; the only problem is Guy Fieri’s dives, drop off of the radar (or GPS for others that are using the Honda Odyssey Touring Elite) somewhere in Los Angeles; and the “Triple-D”estinations don’t resume until the Bay Area, especially when traveling along Interstate 5 through God’s only forbidden zone. Yup, going through the San Joaquin valley. The only thing out here are dead sheep and buzzards . . . and the Willow Ranch Restaurant. Google Maps has this place rated at a 23 Zagat. I guess I can vouch that Zagat is a bit off kilter. Not a bad meal, but not near the 23 rating.

Willow Ranch is Buttonwillow, about 3.5 hours into our 9 hour trip. Upon arrival into this vast wasteland we see the sign next to a big rig gas station. The place was actually pretty full. I think this must be the only good place along this stretch of nothingness, because it appeared that any and all government officials ate here on this Friday lunch. You know you’re in a small town when your driveway gets re-paved by the kitchen staff . . . or the owner, his wife and son. I mean, you know your in a small town when your restaurants BBQ catering rig is pulling double-duty by being used to melt the tar sealer going down on the parking lot. YIKES . . . just what is their BBQ sauce made of.

Well the meal was safe and anticipated. Standard . . . safe grill food, plated efficiently with decent portions. A safer bet would be the Carl’s Jr. across the street if you want a really good burger. But I couldn’t just settle for something known . . . I gotta go for the adventure; even if that means watching stray dogs, interstate truckers wearing wife beaters and eating Kentucky Fried mock-up coleslaw. I would Zagat below 17 . . . and I don’t even know what that means. I guess that means just slightly above average.

The Touring Elite performed its function perfectly. Comfortable, quiet, smooth; and sitting for the remaining hours of the drive in the middle seats, while watching movies with the 650 watt surround sound, proves this car worthy of its acclaimed “best” in its class. Don’t misunderstand my thoughts . . . it’s still a nine hour road trip. We were beat upon arrival.

Well, I may not ever again have the opportunity to tour the vast wasteland of the desolate San Joaquin, but maybe we should have stopped at Harris Ranch an hour further into the drive. Maybe the “double” average per person meal would have averaged out the misery of spending 8+ hours stuck in the same car with my kids.

Alright, I’m going to give Willow Ranch one dead cow and an ugly vulture.



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