Buffalo Chips is an American restaurant that started in Amador City, and as it grew in popularity, they moved to 76 Main Street in Sutter Creek, which is the former location of the Palace restaurant. I had never eaten there, so on September 16, my mother and I took the opportunity to order takeout lunches because Buffalo Chips is only open for breakfast and lunch.

I called ahead to order a Buffalo Chips burger and fries for myself, and my mother ordered a ham and cheese sandwich, which came with chips and a side salad. When we entered the restaurant 20 minutes later, we found a few people eating inside the restaurant spaced far apart per the state’s new 25 percent occupancy order.

We walked to the bar in the back of the main dining room and found two workers behind the bar and no customers in front of it. Our food was already prepared in several cardboard boxes within a plastic bag. Though Buffalo Chips offers pies and ice cream, we didn’t order any dessert. We paid for our meal at the bar and we were on our way in a couple of minutes.

My Meal

My box contained a burger on a sesame seed bun and shoestring fries with the skins on them. Atop the fries was a small paper-wrapped package that contained the produce for the burger: lettuce, one large slice of tomato, and dill pickles. The water from the produce seeped through the paper, so the fries underneath were soggy.

When I took off the top sesame seed bun to view the hand-formed patty, I saw the bun was toasted and (mostly) buttered. The bottom bun was toasted and buttered, and also had a small amount of mayonnaise.

I placed the produce on the burger, put the top bun on top of the burger, and took my first bite. I didn’t taste much of anything. There was no seasoning either on the bun or on the meat patty. As I ate through the burger, the only taste I found came from the produce. In the plus column, the lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles themselves were fresh. And the bun and the burger stayed firm from the first bite to the last.

The fries were limp and unsalted, though they had the requisite amount of grease. I ate only a third of the fries and saved the rest for dinner the next day. The fries were crispier after being heated in the toaster oven for a few minutes at 350 degrees.

Mom’s Meal

My mother ordered the ham and cheese on sourdough bread. The sandwich came with two surprises: a side of waffle potato chips and a side salad. I got ranch for my mother, and the salad was in a separate box, unlike the produce for my burger.

Not all the ham and cheese filled the entire slices of toasted and buttered sourdough bread, and my mother didn’t know what cheese they used except that it was mild. Overall, she described the taste of the entire sandwich as “blah.” That is, the sandwich didn’t have a strong ham and cheese taste to it, and she had a few bites of only sourdough bread.

The potato chips were unsalted but crispy, and they, too, were “blah.” The salad, to my mother’s surprise, was tossed with ranch dressing instead of being presented with the dressing on the side. So, she found the salad a bit too wet for her taste, but she liked the dressing and the lettuce and cabbage were fresh. My mother concluded her review by saying the salad was the best part of her meal.

Buffalo Chips ham and cheese sandwich

The Verdict

A couple of hours after we ate, I figure out what our Buffalo Chips lunches were: the meals you get at a catered large event where the caterer, or the person charged with cooking the food, only offers a few meal options.

As you go through the food line, you choose what you want and it’s put on a disposable plate. The food is basic with little taste to speak of, and you have to apply condiments to make the taste more to your liking.

For that experience at Buffalo Chips, we paid a little over $23.

Some restaurants make you wonder how they succeed after you try their food, and Buffalo Chips falls into that category. We may return one day for breakfast, but we won’t go back for lunch.

So, we’ll flash a yellow light. Consider Buffalo Chips if you’re in the mood for a basic American lunch in Sutter Creek and prefer to add flavor to whatever you order.

Want to Try Them?

Buffalo Chips is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays. They’re also open until 4 p.m. on Saturdays and 5 p.m. on Sundays. They have no website, so the best place to find the Buffalo Chips menu and updates is on their Facebook page. When you want to order, call them at 209-267-0570.

Amador Business Ticker food reviews are adventures in local dining with Editor Eric Butow and his mom.