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Oct 20, 2006 04:07 AM

The Ribs at Looney's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que

Having been disappointed on my first visit...

...I decided to give the place another shot, particularly as the first time around they weren't serving ribs, which are in my estimation the raison d'etre of barbecue.

So I got a half-rack of pork spare ribs.

The short review: not too bad, a mild case of redemption

The long review:

For nine and change I got a half-rack of spare ribs, which in this case meant five big meaty ribs, and two sides.

The presentation was surprisingly pretty. I actually found the splash of green garnish across the ribs a little alarming when they arrived, because, um, barbecue shouldn't be pretty.

My biggest complaint was that the ribs had a pronounced taste of char. A little char is part of the Q-master's palette, but this muted the flavor underneath.

To the degree that the char could be ignored, the flavor of the ribs was good, though I suspect smoke-lovers (and I am one) might be disappointed with the feeble smokiness of these.

I feel like I'm emphasizing the bad, when there's a lot good to say about the ribs. 1) I enjoyed the "spicy" sauce (which is not spicy); 2) the texture fell in the golden mean; 3) even a half-rack here is a HUGE portion.

Oh, the corn bread sucked. The fries--skin-on variety--were very, very good.

A few more pluses about the place: 1) the staff are very friendly; 2) the place is very well set up for watching sports; 3) according to the website it's open till 2 AM every day.

As it is, it makes a great place for watching sports with relatively good chow. As a ribs destination, I'm reserving judgment for another visit.



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  1. Neither you (Nor their website) mentioned where this place is!!!!
    How could a webwsite not mention location??!!!

    1. bancroft and Oxford berkeley.

      3 Replies
      1. re: nirpaz

        Thank you...isn't it bizarre that their website gives you the hours, but not the location?!

        1. re: ChowFun_derek

          Or the phone number! Or links to the promised online ordering.

          Probably a good sign for a BBQ place.

          1. re: ChowFun_derek

            Sorry about that. For those using Google Maps...

            The address is: 2190 Bancroft Berkeley CA


        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. Stopped there tonight. The baby back ribs were nice and flavorful without the sauce, but not a lot of smoke flavor. The sauce (got a mix of hot and "girly-man" and it is a thick tomato based sauce, flavorful, with a little heat. The ribs were not as tender as I would have thought. But my wife enjoyed them.

            The smoked chicken drumstick appetizer was great. I think this is insted of drumettes. We got this for my 21 month old son, so we didn't get the sauce. The smoke flavor was very nice on the chicken, and then I guess they fried it to crisp up the outside. And about 6 chicken legs for an appetizer!

            I had the pulled pork dinner, which was also good. I had thought somehow that this was carolina style, but it turns out the sauce was red, although not a big tomato sauce, but probably a vinegary tomato sauce. I enjoyed the pork and the cornbread was okay (fluffy sweet variety). The slaw is a bit weird--really finely chopped, almost gritty, but a nice dressing, not too sweet. My son enjoyed the whipped sweet potatoes, and it wasn't that crowded, so I'm glad my son could run around a bit and not interrupt people watching the football game.

            For plusses, Gerard forgot to mention the 12 micro beers on tap. It was funny, though, that Chimay was listed under white wine.

            Oh, and as we were leaving the friendly server brought over a big piece of bread pudding, complements of the owner. We took it to go, although a quick taste showed it was hot and very moist and custardy (I have a pet peeve why nearly all bread pudding in the area is so firm and dry???). Will enjoy the dessert a little later.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Bryan Gros

              About those drumettes. T-Rex does the exact same app with fantastic SMOKY results. Anybody tried them both?


              1. re: Gerard

                Agreed on the T-Rex drumsticks -- I had those when I was there and was blown away. I haven't tried the Looney's version, but Looney's is much closer to me, so I might...

              2. re: Bryan Gros

                That may be a North Carolina vs South Carolina sauce thing. The NC sauce is usually red, but mostly vinegar based instead of the mustardy SC sauce.

              3. I completely agree with Gerard about the ribs -- okay, great price, won't go out of my way for them, and the spicy sauce was not spicy at all. I didn't think that the cornbread exactly sucked, but it was too thin and too sweet. The potato salad, however, was absolutely awful. Glad to know that the fries are good, though, I might try them another time.