Submitted by Substantial_Name595 t3_12375rn in pittsburgh

Missing Ponderosa terribly (duh, pregnant and having some cravings), is the Butler location any good? I’d like to know before I drive an hour!



You must log in or register to comment.

TheGoldenChow t1_jdtnt92 wrote

Finally, a question for my undervalued expertise!

Long time Pondo fan here. I'm not sure that's something to be admitting out loud these days, but one of my first jobs was at one and back then it was a decent place to grab an average steak and buffet. It has retained a soft spot in my Midwestern heart ever since.

It has changed through the years but there has been a drastic and unfortunate downturn in the already mediocre quality ever since the pandemic. We ate at the Butler location in December for the first time since covid hit and I doubt we'll go back. It wasn't a horror story or anything--the place was clean enough and they kept the food fresh--but the quality was just awful.

Most foods were bewilderingly bland. The buffet chicken wings, for example, were the most tasteless wings we have ever eaten. The desserts were the same. My partner's go to entree, the sirloin tips, used to come in with a decent amount of sirloin tip chunks, lots of onion slices and whole sauteed mushrooms. This time it was a far smaller amount of lesser quality meat with just a few onion slivers and sliced mushroom bits.

So no, it isn't a death trap or health hazard, but just a huge letdown. It's like having a craving for grandma's homemade mashed potatoes you remember from your childhood and ending up with Aldi instant potato flakes made with tap water.


44problems t1_jdv7dt1 wrote

I feel this any time I try a chain that I have some fond memories of from the 90s. The food is mediocre, the service inadequate, the prices are high.


sr214 t1_jdx3m92 wrote

Our taste buds grow up.


44problems t1_jdxb1x4 wrote

I do wonder that for Long John Silver's. I used to love their food when I was younger. Now it just tastes like oil, no matter whether I'm eating fish, chicken, fries, or shrimp.

Though so many have closed, maybe it's not my personal taste but everyone's tastes that have moved on.


Substantial_Name595 OP t1_jdvnhhd wrote

Holy CRAP this is a let down, but thank you for the information, I won’t be wasting my time. Texas De Brazil or Grand Concourse will do for a buffet 😂


CARLEtheCamry t1_jdvogan wrote

> Grand Concourse

Will underwhelm as well (went for the first time last year). Just my opinion but there have been previous posts about it and this sub generally agrees with the sentiment.

Go with Texas De Brazil. I'm going to check out Fogo de Chao next month.


Substantial_Name595 OP t1_jdxb1q5 wrote

I’m surprised the GC underwhelmed, especially at $42 per person!

Texas De Brazil is def the pick, and Fogo De Chao is excellent!


margeryofyork t1_jdya8xw wrote

Fogo de chao was delicious. We went during restaurant week and it didn’t disappoint


IClight69 t1_jdzo5my wrote

Concourse is so gnarly. Rad setting but def massive dumps of garnished out of temp hospital food.


SnooDonuts4137 t1_jdw0g00 wrote

I share your sentiment. Whenever I visit a chain restaurant that used to be fantastic, I'm always disappointed with the quality. I used to think that it was due to my age and not realizing how subpar the food was when I was younger. However, I now believe that the pandemic and the passage of time have undoubtedly diminished the quality of food in restaurants overall. Additionally, I don't think it was ever as excellent as I remember because, at the age of 12, I didn't have any point of comparison to compare it against a genuinely great restaurant.


cmatthews11 t1_jdwo2i6 wrote

It was my first W2 job in the late 90s early 00s, and as much as I have horror stories from working there, I did always enjoy the food. That said, haven't eaten at any of them since I quit in high school.


B0bb3r7 t1_jdtq2c0 wrote

I had no idea that Ponderosa still existed.


GelatinousPiss t1_jdu15vk wrote

Holy moly there are still Ponderosas?? Thought they all closed down 20+ years ago


Delta632 t1_jdu8rb6 wrote

Butler is about that far behind current time so that makes sense.


orangevega t1_jdug9xx wrote

my german wife and I were driving through butler pre-pandemic and turned on the local radio station- it was a guy promoting his restaurant inside of that dying mall for a the full hour, talking about how he didn't care if he was basically the last business open there, he wasn't gonna quit


cdelaney1982 t1_jdttadj wrote

Isn't Hoss' basically like the same thing? Is there one of those closer to u?


Aggravating_Foot_528 t1_jdunmz5 wrote

Wait, there are still Hoss'?


bigebs67 t1_jdup7hw wrote

Yep. In Murrysville.


plastikstarzz t1_jduuiwx wrote

My husband had never been & we stopped when we were in the area. Most disappointing food I’ve had in a while.


Sea-Cook4549 t1_jduvn1c wrote

There's one in youngwood too, outside of greensburg!


Old_Lie6198 t1_jdv9hod wrote

That's not youngwood, it's south Greensburg. You can tell youngwood by the 25mph limit and never ending road construction with the sole intent of making it harder to get through.


Life_Statistician592 t1_jdvpbwe wrote

Also one near the Prime outlets off I79 Grove City exit. On the right side opposite the mall.


KermieJagger t1_jdv4kp1 wrote

Hoss’ can be hit or miss but have had some legitimately great steaks there over the years. I think they are still pretty big in Central PA?


thebaron512 t1_jdv9xm5 wrote

There is a Hoss before the mountains to Johnstown/Altoona Area and one in Altoona, but been a few years since I have gone.


garvisdol t1_jdurorc wrote

In my experience the buffet at hoss was never as extensive. Mostly just soup and salad like eat n park


grandma_millennial t1_jdvhyxb wrote

Correct. My first job was Hoss's and if you didn't explicitly state that the salad bar was NOT a buffet like Ponderosa you would get a lot of pissed off customers. It was huge but no hot foods really.


puppy_fan t1_jdusmpb wrote

I was just at that one 2 weeks ago. $19 for steak tips and salad bar that was one of the CHEAPER options.

Hasn’t changed a bit though.


nonymiz t1_jdvvb8j wrote

There's a Hoss' in Belle Vernon that my parents and I often go to when I drive down to visit them (they moved the Belle Vernon several years ago).

I actually like it there. Their "cleaver cut" is sorta like a filet and really good for the price.

The place is literally like stepping back in time 30 if not 40 years; it's amazing in that regard.

They seem to do good business there; always pretty busy when we go.


cdelaney1982 t1_jdvxgtj wrote

I never knew about broccoli salad til I went to my friends house for a holiday dinner. Her mom always used to go get it to have for a side.


cjynx t1_jdtvmav wrote

We were just there earlier this evening. It was ok. My son said he didn't care to ever go back again. It was my second trip there with my wife in maybe the last 2 months. We liked it better the first time. It might've been the people in the crowd with us. There was a table of roughly 10-15 people next to us that didn't seem to care what their kids were doing. Pretty much running circles around their table. Moving chairs, blocking aisles.

My wife got a steak and potato. My son and I, just the buffet. With the tip, it was $75 for 3. To me, it isn't worth $75 or $25 per person. The buffet itself is $14. Drinks were $3.

The buffet had salad and 6 or so dressings, macaroni salad, some kind of tuna salad, potato salad, cole slaw, chicken, chicken wings, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, stuffing, 2 kinds of gravy, taco meat and cheese sauce with taco shells or tortilla chips, pizza, french fries, perogies, pudding.

The area to the side had an ice cream machine that the vanilla was empty, toppings like nuts, chocolate chips, whipped cream, strawberries for the ice cream, cookies, cake and pies.

We're planning on going roughly once a month because we're going to buy a special dog food from the Rural King at the mall. We drove about 45 minutes each way from about 5 miles north of Pittsburgh.


MenudoFan316 t1_jdurqv2 wrote

No lie. 1991. My buddy took his Prom Date to Ponderosa.


SendAstronomy t1_jdzfxqe wrote

Ponderosa was different in the 80s.

No wait, I was a little kid and my family was poor af and this was all mom could afford when raising 2 kids.

I wonder what the Pondorosa and Hoss's inflection point is.


CARLEtheCamry t1_jdvpi2m wrote

Side note - I went on a little vacation last year to the Parkersburg, WV area (actually just across the river on Ohio) and they had this "Western Sizzlin" steakhouse that seemed like a Ponderosa - and was supposed to have a nacho bar. My wife loves nacho's so it seemed like a no-brainer that we had to go.

No nacho bar. We ordered the most expensive steak (still not that expensive) and it was Kings-quality, overcooked grey piece of meat (ordered medium). They did have a "baked potato bar" consisting of sour cream, gravy and/or cheese (couldn't tell the vats of grey/yellowish gel apart), a shaker of bacon bits, and inexplicitly - peas. Like a big buffet pan of canned peas.

Average age of people eating there was around 80, and I watched in horror as the little old ladies just went full ham ladling an ridiculous amount of canned peas onto their baked potatoes. It felt like being in a Twilight Zone episode where aliens in disguise walked among us and they could only get nutrition from peas.


joedracke t1_jduix1o wrote

Please for the love of God resist the urge. I had a family dinner there that I really didn’t want to go to because my previous experience was bad, but I figured I’d try to give it a chance. I was expecting a bad meal and even then I was let down. Extremely bland everything. Nothing much redeeming. Save the trouble and the the trip!


ScareJessica2Death t1_jdup2on wrote

Back in the day, no matter the location, every single time I dined at a Ponderosa I was met with a bout of explosive diarrhea a short time after.

Go figure.


MothaFknPOOOON t1_jdxufnh wrote

Hoss's gives you the same rewards if you're missing out on that


gracefulnesto t1_jduy1vb wrote

This post made me miss hoss's. Never forget what they took from us!


Adorable_Anybody_133 t1_jdtt3x3 wrote

Last time I ate there… I got sick in the parking lot after my meal. Ended up with food poisoning from something. Not sure what. This was a few years ago however. I just couldn’t get myself to ever go vack


hypotenoos t1_jdwc6l2 wrote

The last- and only- time I was at the Butler Ponderosa a fist fight broke out between staff members.

It was glorious in its own right.


Jcs290 t1_jduyirh wrote

My wife and I came back from Texas to visit family and Butler Ponderosa was one of our stops. It is not the Ponderosa we remembered. The wing dings were the main reason for going. Those slightly spicy golden brown wings were replaced with a pale imitation. We asked one of the servers about it, and they told us the supplier of the original wings went out of business during the pandemic. They didn't have the lava cake on the dessert bar, either, but no one knew why.


Substantial_Name595 OP t1_jdxbvzz wrote

And just so everyone knows and don’t downvote me- Eat N’ Park Brunch Buffet is actually REALLY GOOD.

No fighting lol.


GoodGravy412 t1_jdupg2h wrote

I think I saw one still open past Hopewell.


Katie-sin t1_jdusjuv wrote

No, the only one we had for a while even near here was across state line in Calcutta oh and it’s closed now too. Chippewa is also closed i believe. No other ponderosa near beaver county. There is a golf course called Ponderosa though?


doransignal t1_jdv1222 wrote

There was one in beaver county but the pandemic killed it.


Substantial_Name595 OP t1_jdvo4i0 wrote

Yeah they tore it down too, that’s the one I went to growing up and have the fondest memories of!


NSlocal t1_jdv6g4g wrote

If you tell me they still have the sunday bar, then I'm going.


S4ltyInt3ractions t1_jdv6xn1 wrote

It always bothered me that the pine trees on the sign were mirrored from the center like how AI has weird details that are just off and creepy


Rook22Ti t1_jdw9d7u wrote

Pondy's the coolest.


kniki217 t1_jdwf2r8 wrote

I will never miss Ponderosa. My family loved that place and ate there a lot until my mom and I got food poisoning so bad from the one that was by Kennywood that she ended up in the hospital for 2 days and I threw up so hard I burst blood vessels in my eyeballs. I was like 5 years old. Still traumatized.


Beastofburden1169 t1_jdwmyt3 wrote

We go every once in awhile it’s not bad I think the buffet is $13.99 it always has a decent amount of people in there.


WallaWallaPGH t1_jdvdem2 wrote

Funny you mention this cause just this last weekend I was out driving with my dad around Murrysville and noticed the Ponderosa was packed. Granted, so was the Atrias and Juniper Grill, but I was honestly shocked to see it so full lol 🤷‍♂️ this was midday