The spit-masters at Texas Pit Bar-B-Que bring a taste of backyard Texas cooking to California, delivering hearty barbecue to the eatery’s tables or directly to doorsteps. Their macaroni salad, mashed potatoes, and coleslaw accompany sauce-slathered helpings of St. Louis–style ribs, tri-tip sandwiches, and whole or pulled chicken. A sampler platter gives customers a little taste of everything, like a movie that features one scene from all the movies of ever. The staff also grants deli sandwiches a spot on the menu, with soft bread cushioning turkey and swiss or pastrami. Cooks pack up takeout or delivery meals for groups as small as 3 and as big as 25; they also can provide onsite barbecuing of pork and the like at picnics.
At the medieval-themed Radcliffe’s Royal Ribs, colorful hanging banners adorned with family crests and a suit of metal armor set the scene for a hearty menu of finger-licking barbecue fare mixed with Old English favorites. A queen-sized plate of grilled Cajun shrimp ($12) fills bellies flanked by one of seven sides, including smoky baked beans and grilled asparagus, and the king-sized brisket ($15) roasts overnight in a dragon’s orthodontic retainer. Diners clasp gauntlets around the barbecue-chicken sandwich on a sesame bun ($9) or lick their chops in anticipation of the brisket on a french roll ($9). A large outdoor seating area fills about 50 patrons with mirth as friends sip bottled and draft beers and joust with leftover rib bones.
Despite their restaurant's moniker, the chefs at Johnny Rebs' Southern Roadhouse aren’t averse to local ingredients. In fact, all their produce comes from California growers. But rather than recreate Southern flavors, they prefer going straight to the source, relying on Virginian and North Carolinian farms to send country hams and Delta farms to send catfish. Said catfish simmers beneath mountains of slaw in po’ boys, one among Johnny Rebs’ many housemade Southern staples, which range from creole shrimp over cheddar grits to pulled pork slow-smoked up to 12 hours.
Though steeped in traditional Southern cooking, Johnny Rebs’ critically acclaimed culinary team puts its own twist on Southern and American staples alike. To wit: grilled cheese made with pimento and jalapeños, as well as deep-fried apple pie, which bubbles in a deep fryer stolen off a Georgia windowsill. Complemented with “suds” and “squashed grapes”—Johnny Rebs’ speak for beer and wine—feasts unfold amidst a rustic dining space made to resemble a cozy, wood-paneled home. Before the table fills up with smoked and fried meats, guests can snack from a bucket of peanuts. They're free, but any quarters diners donate in return go straight to charities such as the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
With a name like "The Rib Trader," you can expect to find meat on the menu. And the restaurant more than delivers on that promise, grilling up their signature ribs in baby back, beef back, or St. Louis styles, all served with house barbecue sauce. Other hearty options include pulled pork and brisket sandwiches, as well as tri-tip steaks and hickory-roasted aged prime rib. On weekends and holidays, diners can dig in and practice on their rib-marimbas while watching the entertaining illusions of Merlin's Magic & Comedy Dinner Theatre.
Strands of hanging lights illuminate the yard outside Beach Pit BBQ's low-slung bungalow, where guests gather at picnic tables to enjoy Southern–style barbecue. Pit masters smoke the meat for 12 hours over indirect heat from hickory- and pecan-wood-burning ovens that give pulled pork, beef brisket, and whole chickens rich flavors. Diners get a complete rustic meal rounded out by classic Southern sides that range from jalapeño-cheddar cornbread to sweet-potato fries. The restaurant slathers their slow-cooked selections with a variety of housemade sauces, including a golden mustard sauce praised in Orange Coast magazine.
The vibe is laid-back as patrons settle into adirondack chairs around the outdoor fire pit or inside at gingham-covered tables the perfect size for arm-wrestling contests to decide who gets the last rib. Youngsters gambol about a play area enclosed by a white picket fence and sit at kid-size picnic tables to enjoy their meals. The eatery strives to give back to the community by sponsoring fundraisers and catering local events.