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Lucille's Barbecue ??

So I keep hearing about a new Lucille's that opened in Lake Forest (OC) and how it's so jammed you need to go outside of main meal hours to avoid the long wait. I checked the online menu and the BBQ entrees are pretty much all well over $20, so this is into the area of serious pricing I think. Worth it?

Is this Outback/Claim Jumper-style food or better? I mean, does Lucille's get anywhere near close to the kind of BBQ that is continually recommended on this board at small places around LA? Where would Lucille's rank if none of those small places existed?

I should probably include that I really do like the beef ribs at Claim Jumper, though I think their pork ribs are not so special, nor are they great at Outback. I DO like the ribs at Dr. Hogley Wogley's; and (at the other end of the SoCal universe) at Rick's Secret Spot in San Clemente.

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  1. Lucille's is similar to CJ in that the portions are big, but I think the food is WAY better. I had the most tender and delicious barbecued tri-tip the last time I was there. Truly succulent. The ribs are amazing too.

    1. I agree OCGirl, Lucille's is a great family restaurant with VERY big portions. Down home southern cooking.......service is excellent, they are also in Brea and Long Beach.

      1. I didn't care for anything I had at Lucille's. I thought the tri-tip was kind of dry and the roasted corn was just *meh*. Looked better than it tasted. The cornbread mash thing (the proper name escapes me) was pretty chowish IMO though. If Lucille's were half the cost of what it actually is, I'd probably be a little more excited about it, but at those prices......Also, I definitely wouldn't wait in line for it ever. I'll qualify all of this by saying I only went there once, and any place can have an off day.

        1. I have eaten, prepared and watched many very good BBQ chefs prepare great food...this at Lucille's is just average, chain food....IMO

          1. it's pretty good, although you would think Lake Forest never even heard of BBQ before by how insanely crowded that parking lot is. tri tip sandwich was fine, but i went crazy over one of their mixed concoctions featured on their regular menu......the name is escaping me. but i would go back just for that.

            1. Deep fried pickles, greens, babyback ribs and gumbo. It's all good!

              2 Replies
              1. re: pj chap

                Lucille's is lame. It's not real BBQ.

                But yeah as far as I know it's the only place in SoCal you can get fried pickles. Johnny Rebs has fried green tomatoes.

              2. I went to Lucille's once, about 3.5 years ago when I moved to SoCal from Atlanta. I was underwhelmed (especially given the prices) and I don't really remember anything about it, other than being disturbed by the peanuts in the coleslaw.

                Give it a try if you want to risk $20, but otherwise there are better places in LA for BBQ (and, man, that is not a high bar to reach.)

                1. In comparison to other chains, Lucille's BBQ is pretty good. I'd say it's at least on par with Claim Jumper and way better than Outback. I've been to the Torrance and Long Beach locations and seem to remember enjoyable meals. But if I had to wait more than 10 minutes, I wouldn't go.

                  There aren't many BBQ options in South OC, although my favorite place in the area is Ribs on the Run in Laguna Hills. Prices in the $10-15 range, and one of the few BBQ places to offer chili as a side order.

                  Haven't tried Rick's Secret Spot due to the limited days and hours of being open only on weekdays between 10AM-6PM. According to their website, it looks like they now expanded the hours to Saturdays between 11AM-5PM. I've heard that this is a takeout-only place with no indoor seating.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Wonginator

                    Rick is in the process of renovating the space above his and will have seating up there as well as expanded hours into the evening, He didn't say exactly what the hours will be.

                    His current closing time is quoted as "5-ish" or "6-ish". I guess that means he might stay open til '8-ish or 9-ish'???

                  2. The fresh lemonade is great but I always leave Lucille's feeling a little sick. Basically you're at Claim Jumper with bbq sauce poured over everything.

                    1. I like Lucille's biscuits, but their meat isn't too impressive...

                      1. We go because Lucille's is easy. When not everybody in the family particularly feels like bbq, but those that do want something decent, we go to Lucille's for an EARLY dinner. We get ribs, and those who want can get jambalaya, a sandwich, even -gasp- a hearty salad. We live near the Brea one, and if you're there within 2 hours of a normal dinner hour, you'll be in line for at least 30 minutes. Head out at 4 pm (my parents are retired, and thus eat at 5 pm anyway) and I get to have the delicious apple butter on my appetizer rolls, the mason jar drinks, and enough food to feed me for days afterwards. The food itself isn't even as good as a little hole in the wall near my LA apt (Spring Street Smoke House), but it does the trick.

                        1. The greens are really really good. I actually like the food better than M&M (who also has oversize portions btw). I prefer the spicier bbq sauce at Lucilles. I think the BBQ is smoked, so no, it's not just baked food with BBQ sauce on it. I don't ever get ribs, tri tip is the way to go. Get a sandwich if you're worried about portions.

                          1. I had the best beef ribs I've ever had last year at the Torrance location. They were great !

                            1. There are so many better alternatives to Lucilles in the Long Beach area that we never consider braving the line. Johnny Rebs has fried pickles, too, as well as REAL bbq. Lucilles is the spawn of the Hof's Hut chain, their way of getting more revenue from their Hofs spaces. I'm not familiar with the south OC area, but I think there's a Clayton Shirley's bbq in either Newport or Irvine that's a takeout place that would far exceed Lucilles.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: bigdfromlb

                                Clayton Shurley's BBQ is in Newport Beach, and it has both dine-in and take-out, but I can easily call it among the worst BBQ in SoCal. I work 2 miles away from it, and I know I'll never go there again, despite the convenient location for me. Lucille's is easily better than Clayton Shurley's, no contest.

                                Also, pricing for Lucille's for lunch is pretty comparable to other BBQ locations in the area, in the $12-16 range for lunch-size servings for the entrees.

                                Only other BBQ places I know of in South OC are Texas Pit BBQ in Lake Forest, which is OK for a small lunchtime BBQ meal, Memphis BBQ in Lake Forest (haven't been here yet), and Bad to the Bone in San Juan Capistrano (haven't been here either).

                                1. re: bigdfromlb

                                  Respectfully, Clayton Shirley's pales by comparison to BBQ at Lucille's or any other place I've had BBQ. Lucille's may be owned by the Hof's Hut bunch but please don't put them in the same category as Clayton Shirley's. That's just plain mean.

                                  I haven't been to Johnny Rebs in ages (since I moved from LB) but I rememeber thinking well of it.

                                2. Used to go to Lucille's at Brea. Avoided the line by doing take out. We ordered the 3 item BBQ combo and it easily fed 2 adults. I thought the food was good for chain food, but it's not true BBQ for the aficionados. The ribs were not that great, but the chicken was decent. I liked the biscuits with the apple butter.

                                  Lately whenever I feel like pseudo BBQ I just end up going to Wood Ranch. Their tri tip is good, even though it probably doesn't pass the authentic BBQ test - more like a flavorful piece of steak than tri-tip.

                                  I like the North Carolina style BBQ pulled pork and I don't know if there's anything that can compare here in LA.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: notmartha

                                    Johnny Rebs has the pulled pork in sauce sandwiches that I used to see in North Carolina.

                                    1. re: mlgb

                                      vinegar and red pepper, not the tomatoey ones?

                                      1. re: notmartha

                                        It's been a while, since I don't really prefer Johnny Rebs, but I think I had the sandwich with the sauce in it, and it had some tomato. But looking at the menu, I'll bet you can get it without sauce. It seemed very close to NC type food.

                                        1. re: mlgb

                                          Thanks. Put it in my must check out list - worth a try at any rate.

                                  2. You know, I actually like it, but it's not a Phillips BBQ or a Pivoting Portal or anything like that -- it's a big chain place. The portions are ridiculous. One order of ribs would feed a family of four.

                                    I've been to the Torrance one and the Brea one.

                                    1. i'm with you. i think we sometimes can get a little picky. would i rate it a great bbq place? of course not. but if i'm in the neighborhood, i can get something that's pretty good at a decent price--that's not to be sneered at (i really do like their bbq beans, though).

                                      1. If we're talking chain food, I'd much rather have Houston's BBQ ribs and beans any day over Lucille's, but that's just me. . .Plus you have somewhat of a variety at Houston's too. Not everyone has to eat BBQ.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: hch_nguyen

                                          Since you've only been once, you probably didn't realize that the menu is pretty wide. It's available on line. Salads, fish, steak, etc. Of course most people go for BbQ or southern type cooking.

                                          I sort of like that Lucilles is still family owned (part of Hof's which started in Long Beach).

                                          1. re: mlgb

                                            Actually, I did realize that its menu is extensive, but I opted for the BBQ as it is a BBQ place and it was my first time there. My point in bringing up Houston's was that it offered diversity just like Lucille's (which someone upthread mentioned as one of Lucille's advantages) and even has better BBQ (IMHO). I doubt I'd give it another try. While it wasn't horrible or anything, it was just sort of take it or leave it. Couple that with high prices and a long wait and the chances of my ever going back there or just about nil....I'd say go just to try it and see what all the hype is about. Of course, in my case I went just to find out that it really was all hype, but to each his own. . .

                                        2. Put me in the category of Lucille's fans.

                                          I actually think their coleslaw with the peanuts is the best, didn't disturb me in the least. As a matter of fact I tried to find the recipe online and even asked Uncle Phaedrus if he could locate it to no avail.

                                          I generally eat in the bar area. For some reason people will wait in line for an hour for a table in the restaurant when they could just walk into the bar and be seated immediately and have the same exact menu. It's a mystery to me why people wait when they don't have to.

                                          Love the haystack onions although I wish they made half orders because a full order is obscene.

                                          Also, what is the hubbub about the prices? I must be jaded because their prices seem ordinary to me. In some acceptable range of average, especially given the amount of food that is served. I always being home a doggy bag and have a meal or two afterwards so I think Lucille's is a bargain.

                                          I also like the atmosphere. I find it pleasant and somewhat unusual.

                                          Are the ribs as good as Tulsa Rib Company? No, but TRC doesn't have peanut coleslaw or haystack onions so that is a strike against them if you are looking at the dining experience in it's entirety. Not to disparage TRC, they are my favorite, but that doesn't mean that Lucille's is an inferior experience.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Pate

                                            S-h-h-h-!!!! Don't tell everyone about bar seating! The same thing is true at Claim Jumper & KIng's Fish House. We eat in the bar all the time. Not great for larger parties but 2-4 is a snap.

                                            1. re: Pate

                                              I'm w/you 100%. I think their food is good; and since I abhor waiting, we'll often eat in the bar when tables aren't ready w/i 10 minutes. The prices aren't out of line and the atmosphere and service are good. The one time we had lackadaisical service, I noted that on our comment card and received a gift card from corporate.

                                              Though I don't care for the St Louis style BBQ, everything else I enjoy.

                                              I think Lucille's is slightly better than Wood Pit and the other BBQ chains. Houston's and Claim Jumper, while not BBQ restaurants, are good, but both pale slightly to Lucilles. I've had BBQ in Atlanta and consider Lucille's just as good.

                                            2. Lucilles is good, it's like the El Torito of BBQ, very good but you're not going to get Menudo on Sundays (El Torito). If you like Carolina Style BBQ, go to Johnny Rebs in Orange on Chapman.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: irishkevbo

                                                P.S. Best ribs in OC are Tulsa Rib Company in Orange

                                              2. My husband is super picky and has a limited number of things that he will eat. One of the things that he will eat is Lucille's BBQ baby back ribs. He's addicted to the biscuits, although they really don't do much for me. We drive a very long way to have lunch there, only on the weekends. We've NEVER waited for a table - we just go right into the bar and take a table or a seat at the bar.
                                                I love the ribs, the greens and the garlic mashed potatoes. Heck I love all of their side dishes. We like it for what it is. For Brisket we go to Hogly Wogly, but only on Monday!