My buddy Jared and I showed up at Buster's at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. We were were greeted by our waitress Kiki, who quickly led us to a comfortable table near the waitress station. This location would prove to have some consequences.
Kiki asked if we wanted anything to drink and then rattled off the beer menu from memory. She had us both at "Newcastle." We went for the special: 25-ounce mugs for the price of a pint ($3.75).
With beers in hand we scanned the place. There was a lot of blue and orange, including framed jerseys from past Boise State football players and a plethora of televisions. The obvious focus was the two huge flat panel TVs hanging on the west wall. I could easily imagine the floor of the restaurant filled with Bronco football fans, all glued to the TVs during a game. We also noticed—although this point has little to do with Buster's—the neighboring table's conversation. Three middle-aged guys were having a loud chat about what sounded like a recent trip to Las Vegas. They all should have been wearing parental advisory warnings on their foreheads, and we wondered what happened to the "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" credo. Jared and I were stunned but amused, and tried our best to tune them out.
Kiki returned to take our orders. Still reeling from the overheard conversation, I hadn't had a chance to glance at a menu. I picked one up and noticed a diverse arrangement of pub fare, full dinners, kids' choices and a la carte offerings. There were also some notable additions, such as fish tacos and a Kobe hamburger slider appetizer (basically four mini-burgers). Burgers came with the option to substitute veggie or turkey patties—a nice consideration for those who want all the condiments without the red meat.
Jared went with the Baja fish tacos ($7.99), while I settled on a Buffalo chicken sandwich ($7.99). I was undecided on a side until Kiki recommended the fries, saying they were trans-fat free.
"Sounds good to me," I said as Jared nudged me, indicating he would be happy to help me polish them off.
Minutes after our waitress took off, about 30 bottles of malt vinegar fell off a shelf within feet of our table. Punch-drunk from the pungent aroma and afraid we might be further damaged by overhearing more of the exploits of the traveling trio, Jared and I moved to a new table. Our food arrived shortly thereafter.
My breaded chicken sandwich had a hot-sauce kick and was easy to manage and zesty, but I had to move fast because the sandwich had the potential to get a bit soggy. The fries, on the other hand, showed no risk of sogginess. They were crisp and went especially well with the accompanying fry sauce. Later, I learned the fries are unlimited. You could show up to watch a game, order a sandwich with fries, and still be eating fries at half-time, at the end of the third quarter and at the end of the game. That's probably not the healthiest thing to do, but it's definitely generous on Buster's part.
When I asked Jared how his breaded halibut, crisp cabbage and chipotle sauce tacos were, his one-word reply was, "Tasty." He then mentioned the side of rice and beans was really good and that he thought the rice had some sort of "Indian spice." I never got a chance to verify that, however, since he mentioned it as he was taking the last bite.
Our visit was exactly as expected—satisfying food and beers in a bustling sports bar setting, and food served by the friendly, cute "Buster's girls." Plus, it's a place devoted to Boise State sports, willing to make their food a bit healthier (e.g., trans-fat free fries and veggie/turkey options on the burgers) and offering a generous bottomless-fries policy. Just be careful where you sit.
—Ryan Peck uses vinegar as an herbicide.