Buellton restaurant The Hitching Post II’s burgers have been singled out by Iron Chef Cat Cora for Food Network’s show The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
The show, which features foodies’ top picks from eateries around the nation, was able to select The Hitching Post on a personal recommendation from Cora, who is based in the Santa Barbara area. According to restaurant spokesperson Jannis Swerman, “She was the one who suggested it. [Owner] Frank Ostini and Cat know each other; she had definitely been in before.”
It’s easy to believe that the restaurant is a favorite of Cora’s, as the Oak Grilled Burger is somewhat of a “locals only” secret — not listed on the regular menu and served only Monday to Wednesday. “It’s as simple as we put a little sign up in the bar that says we do burgers Monday nights,” said Ostini of how a steakhouse came to have nationally renowned burgers. “We were just attempting to get some business on slow Monday nights, and it became such a phenomenon. We would have the dining room full and people waiting for a seat in the bar area.”
For the episode, film crews captured the behind-the-scenes process of Ostini’s creation, from the homemade bun, to the grinding of the meat, to the in-house ketchup. “For a burger, it’s pretty unique in that it’s cooked over the wood fire, and the meat is from our high grade steaks,” explained Ostini.
Although The Hitching Post is not new to media attention — in addition to being featured in a number of food articles and magazines, it was central in 2004’s Academy Award-winning film Sideways — Ostini said that working with the show was a unique experience. “It was impressive to see them come in and do what they did. It ended up being fun versus hard work. We’re proud of what we do, and we’re so proud it’s being recognized on a national show.”
The episode will air Monday, August 2, at 9 p.m. on the Food Network.