Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ
They obviously spent a lot of money on atmosphere. There are lots of knick knacks, interesting materials, and technology (nice lighting, sound system, walkie talkies on the hosts, etc.).
The blues music they play has a sound quality that really adds to the feel of the place. It’s not too loud, just loud enough to fill-in the gaps.
I appreciate the effort it must have taken. But there is still a certain “chain” feel to it.
The baby back ribs were cooked perfectly: a nice black sticky crust on the outside, and inside it was pink. These were very tender, and came off the bone nicely. This was my favorite meat dish.
Also pretty good was the tri tip. It had a dry rub and was pretty firm in texture. The smoking had really given it a nice flavor. This was quite good with some additional sauce.
The Kansas City Spare Ribs weren’t my cup of tea. They were not as tender as the baby backs (as expected), and had a little more fat (also as expected). The flavoring didn’t quite permeate through them, and I think they could have cooked for a while longer. They just weren’t quite “there” yet.
The brisket was my least favorite. On its own, maybe in a sandwich with some barbecue sauce and cole slaw it would be perfect. But served in a pile on the plate, it just doesn’t look very appetizing. And the taste was quite bland. It was very tender and stringy, and it had some sauce it was served in. But it needed a little more oomph.
Which brings me to the BBQ sauces on the table.
There are three sauces: One is mighty sweet (I did not like this one), One is quite tangy (this one is pretty good), and the third one, the one that’s blackish colored is quite spicy (this was my favorite).
Like the meat, the side dishes were hit and miss. The macaroni and cheese was creamy and had a nice bite to it. I really enjoyed this. The baked beans were too sweet. The corn on the cob was cold and difficult to eat as they flower-back the husk to one side so you have to hold it out of your way while you eat.
The biscuits they serve when you arrive are nothing special really, but they’re okay to take off the appetite edge. Interestingly, the whipped butter they serve it with has nutmeg in it. Unusual, but not bad.
The drinks (non-alcoholic) are served in huge glass jars that generally don’t need refilling.
Overall, it was fine... Kind of like Houston’s or Claim Jumper, but with a Southern barbecue bent. The quality was also a notch above Claim Jumper, although at Claim Jumper you get more food (not a good thing in my book). Even so, we brought home about a half-serving of meat.
The above was about $60 before tip.
As an aside, we were driving home from the Lucille’s in Long Beach to Hollywood, and OMG, the fireworks in the backyards along the 605 were unbelievable, especially in Norwalk and Downey. Somehow all these people had the fireworks that shoot up and explode in big multi-colored sprays. This was better than sitting in a park somewhere because it just kept going and going as far as you could see.
Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ
7411 Carson Boulevard (it’s in the huge shopping center just off the 605)
Excellent revue, you hit the nail on the head with the sauces. I go to the one at Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga. Though I've had a better experience with the sides. Maybe it looks like a chain because it is (9 Locations 2 more coming), but I understand what you are saying. I think once a restaurant goes over 5,000 sq. ft. you've got to create a motif and design that cuts it up into smaller pieces so it doesn't look like a cafeteria, thus the chain effect.
I liked LUCILLE's more when there were only a couple of them, b/c of the chain feel you mentioned. But in the northern OC area, LUCILLE'S is my favourite bbq spot. I usually finish 2-3 glasses of their strawberry lemonade; and enjoy their mac-n-cheese, peanut slaw & their corn on cob. I had their greens once and it was over salted. Otherwise, I find that place very yummy!
I too had the strawberry lemonade. I found it a little too sweet for my taste. If they used fresh-squeezed lemonade that would cut the sweetness a little.
I'm also glad you reminded me about the peanut slaw. Like you, I really enjoyed this side dish. The peanuts add a nice depth to it.
Edited to add: Southern style drinks tend to be too sweet. Ask them to water it down a bit next time.
WTF is up with this edit function?.
I originally agreed with the first review and commented that the greens are excellent and not overly salted in my opinion, and cooked perfectly. I second the tritip sandwich with spicy sauce.
i have been to many bbq places and lucilles consistently delivers excellent memphis dry rub style bbq. their service is up and down and sides are sometimes up and down as well. but their bbq especially the rib tips are the best in so cal chain or not. though the pig in west hollywood does some great memphis bbq as well.
i had an incredible drink listed on their regular menu....was it the Southern Punch? man, did that hit the spot after a long day of work.
their tri tip sandwich was grand, too.
second the atmosphere, but if you end up in Lake Forest, it's beyond deafening in there. I bet the Victoria Gardens locale is much more chill.
I'm quite familiar with Lucille's since one of my best friends really likes this place. The brisket and the St. Louis ribs are definately things I wouldn't order again. The BBQ chicken is pretty good though, it's my favorite meat there. The garlic mashed potatoes are usually a good bet when it comes to sides. The Victoria Gardens location has good service most of the time. Long Beach is supposedly the best location since it's the original (I've never been). The last time I went to Lucille's was the one in Tustin, it had just opened a few days before so they had quite a few kinks to work out.