Almost every building in downtown Winters will have a hidden gem of a business. Sometimes a place isn’t hidden at all and has been in plain sight for over 40 years, like Buckhorn Steakhouse.
The Buckhorn, located at 2 E. Main St. in the heart of historic Winters, has been a Yolo County staple since it opened in 1980.
“My parents started this place so long ago and for a while it was one of the only places in town so it attracted a lot of people here,” said the COO of Buckhorn, Emarie VanGalio. “Now there are so many more restaurants in town which have made Winters a bigger destination.”
As soon as you enter, you instantly feel the atmosphere of a traditional saloon. The main dining room, bar, and back room fill the space as new floors and fresh paint give the Buckhorn a nice facelift.
The steakhouse is known for its three-point roast char, Mentink-style prime rib, and exceptional certified Angus beef, while offering meatless options and a welcoming atmosphere.
VanGalio mentions that in mid-May they will be opening their brand new DeVilbiss Bar and Lounge, which will be a room at the back of the restaurant where people can hang out and have a drink while they wait for their reservation.
“We’re a place of celebration for people,” VanGalio said. “We have people who come every year for birthdays or anniversaries. Some arrive very well dressed, while others leave work in jeans and a t-shirt.
VanGalio, who was born in Fairfield and moved to Winters when he was three, has worked around the world in the hospitality industry. About 10 years ago she moved back to Winters, and about three years ago she took on the role of COO of the Buckhorn and Putah Creek Cafe, located just across the street.
She mentioned the extreme emotions that came with taking on a bigger role in the family business, which happened during a pandemic that hit just as she was reaching cruising speed.
“It was so frustrating because I felt like I had made a lot of progress in my first year on the job,” VanGalio recalls. “I was working as a team and putting systems in place and I was so excited about all the progress we made and then the pandemic and the lockdowns hit. Now, it’s really amazing to see how much we’ve achieved and how tight our whole team is here. We’ve been through it all together and we’re closer than we’ve ever been. In a crazy way, I can now look back and say that was the best thing that ever happened.
Although it’s been a tough time, VanGalio thanked the community for doing their part to help them stay open when they could.
“The community here at Winters is the best, especially when you look at what we’ve been able to accomplish during this time,” VanGalio said. “There’s no way we would have survived the pandemic without them. Every Wednesday, people came to order takeout. Some even stocked up even though they didn’t need more food. The support was amazing. We also wouldn’t be here without the management team who have really put in their blood, sweat and tears over the past few years. They have worked hard to keep this place open.
For more information on schedules, to make a reservation or any other request, visit buckhornsteakhouse.com/.