Join us on an adventure as we explore Pistol City Restaurant and Saloon, a small-town gem with a rich history and delicious buffet.
We’re Bruce and Karen Carlson. We recently moved to the Metro East area of Illinois. It’s a whole new world out there. Our goal with this website is to share our exploration of the Metro East area. As we find businesses and services we use in our daily lives, we’ll share how these businesses and services have helped make our lives better and easier to live.
We’re calling our move to the Metro East area retirement, but we’re not quite sure what that means. By sharing our story with you, we hope you too will gain a better sense of what the Metro East area has to offer and how their businesses and services can improve your lives and build a better community.
We’re retired and enjoying it.
Yep, we’re retired and enjoying it. We can do more of what we want, and believe me, there’s a lot we can do. But the nice part of it is we can just decide to do something. This last Saturday night was a great example of being able to just go and do something. During Saturday Karen was at a craft show in Highland. We packed everything up at the end of the show and started heading home.
We were in no hurry, so we took the route home through Mascoutah. There happened to be an outdoor craft show down the main street, so we stopped to take a look. Made some nice connections with people and good ideas for future craft shows. Of course, we also got a good amount of our daily steps in walking up and down the street looking at the various booths.
We got back to the car and looked at each other and said let’s go get something to eat. About a week ago Karen sent me a link to a restaurant in Coulterville, Pistol City Restaurant and Saloon. I said to her let’s go there, oh why did you send that restaurant link to me? She said, “I don’t remember why.” We decided it must be divine intervention. Boy was it a good one.
We plugged in the address to the maps app and off we went. It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies. A very enjoyable ride to Coulterville. The nice thing was it was only a 20-minute or so drive back home. According to the census of 2020, Coulterville is a small town of 834 people. Boy, do they have a gem in the Pistol City Restaurant and Saloon.
As we pulled in and parked there were a number of cars already there, a good sign. As we walked in there were plenty of tables. We could get the feeling that this was a hometown place. Not like the corporate restaurants that want to move you in and out as fast as they can. Our waitress, Gabby, came over to our booth with menus, but she also said there was a buffet. A quick word about Gabby, she was wonderful.
I’m not sure why, but you don’t see many buffets around anymore. I’m not sure why, but in my mind, it’s not the norm anymore. As Gabby started into the items that were part of the buffet I knew what I wanted. Karen quickly said buffet for her. Gabby took our drink orders and we were off to start the first course.
Now I’ve seen larger buffets, but the Pistol City buffet was a good balance of items. Many buffets just have lettuce. The Pistol City buffet had lettuce, romaine, and spinach. There is also a good selection of other salad items to choose from. I had no problem filling my plate. I have to admit the days of going for 6 or 7 plate refills are long gone. A big plate of salad and two plates of main course was all I could handle.
Great buffet selection
The chicken was hot and juicy. The Italian Beef was good. They had small rolls you could make an Italian Beef sandwich. The fish, I believe was catfish, was lightly breaded and fresh. The bread pudding was perfect. I would have liked to go back for more, but I was at my limit. We’ll just have to come back again to try the rest of the items we couldn’t get to.
Gabby kept a good eye on us and refilled out drinks when necessary. She made sure we had everything we needed. I knew we had to write a review so one time when she stopped by I asked her to share what she knew about the restaurant. She said, “I’ve only worked here for a year and a half, but I know the perfect person you want to talk to.”
A few moments later Dylon came by. Dylon has worked at Pistol City for 8 years. He was full of knowledge about Pistol City. His manner of speaking was laidback and friendly. Talking with him was like someone we had known for years. He was fully attentive to our questions. He was willing to spend however much time it would take to let us the history of Pistol City Restaurant and Saloon.
Dylon started by saying the area that became Coulterville was called Pistol City way back in the day. So when the restaurant opened Pistol City was a natural choice for a name. It started off as a simple café. Everything is pretty much handmade. The tables, wall dividers, and the bar, were all built as needed. The original menu was also simple, burgers and breakfast. They have been doing breakfast every day except Christmas and Thanksgiving. Several employees have been there since the opening day.
Dylon said the area we were in was the original building. Over the years they have expanded it by adding the back party room about 10 years ago. That increased the restaurant’s capacity by 52 seats. If needed they can expand the buffet into that area also. The bar area is relatively new. The neat thing about the bar is they have epoxied many items from the local mines. One item was a fossil, another was several pieces of Pyrite, fool’s gold. Dylon continued saying many of the items on the walls were from the people of the community.
Walls with history
We then took a tour of the various room areas of the restaurant. Across the back wall was a long picture of a wagon train. As we walked around I couldn’t help but think about the history of the items on the walls. What stories could those items tell? Some of the items on the walls no one is quite sure what they are. That just adds to the fun of creating a story around the items.
As we walked into the bar area we could see the gaming area. Dylon said Pistol City is the number one gaming location in Randolph County. While we were looking at the items in the bar, I was introduced to Sam White. Sam was the original owner of Pistol City. Sam said he was 84 and came across as one of those guys who you would just love to hear the stories he could tell.
Sam said the original building was a shed that he converted into a restaurant area and opened for business in April of 2001. Much of the wood for the walls was from old barns. The tables were handmade from the same wood. Though not the owner anymore, Sam still comes by and helps out. To keep busy Sam runs an ATV trail just outside of town.
I would highly recommend Pistol City Restaurant and Saloon. The buffet was excellent and the staff made us feel, not like first-timers, but welcomed us and made us feel like they had known us forever. We have many more places to visit and share our thoughts. However, Pistol City Restaurant and Saloon (I like saying that) will be on our list to return to.
In the tapestry of life, every once in a while, we stumble upon a place that transcends mere dining – it becomes a chapter in the book of our memories. Pistol City Restaurant and Saloon, with its warm embrace and delectable buffet, is one such chapter for us. It’s a reminder that in retirement, we have the luxury of time to explore, to savor the simple joys, and to cherish the unexpected. So, as we close the book on this delightful chapter, we know that it’s not really an end but merely a pause. We look forward to revisiting, writing new stories, and to sharing the magic of Pistol City with others. After all, life’s adventures continue, and with each one, we uncover more gems in the most unlikely places. Here’s to the beauty of the unexpected and the joy of every “let’s go.”
We hope you are enjoying these articles and are willing to continue to follow along as we share our adventures of learning about life in southern Illinois, This is an exciting area and we are so happy to be part of this area. Our lives are being fulfilled by the people we are meeting. Bruce & Karen.