Rick's Secret Spot - San Clemente closed :o(
Bulletin for the few Rick's fans that post here...... I was in the mood for BBQ last night and went online to see how late Rick's Secret Spot was open these days. I knew they had expanded their seating area and were supposed to be open later than before, so I wanted to check. Horrors! The site says they have closed the space. http://www.rickssecretspot.com/
Apparently they are still doing catering and are looking for a new location. No story behind all that. Wonder what happened.
So...... We tried Lucille's on Lake Forest instead. I posted a review on the Chains board. Suffice to say I was not impressed by the meats (though the sides and the rest were pretty good) and can only hope Rick's is re-incarnated somewhere soon.
Note: Have also tried Bad To The Bone BBQ (in San Juan) and was not blown away either. Anything I'm missing in deep-South OC???
Have you tried the new Smokey's House of BBQ in Monarch Bay Plaza, Dana Point? I'm not a big fan of BBQ, but my guy appreciates sweet smoked meat, so we wanted to try out the new place in the neighborhood. Based on just one meal there, if you haven't been, I'd have to say you haven't missed much.
Ok, the artisanal Hefeweisen and the sweet potato fries were tasty. Baby back ribs were pretty good, but not special. Onion rings--undercooked. Cole slaw and salad, very average and the "Memphis chili" was little more than tiny shreds of beef in a starchy base (?) Two plates were tasted, sent back and not refunded. An upright cone of hot wings and assorted fried things brought to the next table looked good, though -- might be worth a try. I think Bad to the Bone is better than this.
Good news: Gelato Paradiso is about to open another shop next door to Smokey's. Should be open any day now.
In the search for good BBQ in So. Orange County I have to admit that the pulled pork little sandwiches at FishBucket in Dana Point are tender and tasty. The ribs served at BeachFire in San Clemente are really good. I have not found one consistently good BBQ Place. The new Smokey BBQ in Monarch Beach did not impress me. The ribs are served with a steak knife. The bread on the Pulled Pork sandwich was so hard that all the ingredients were squeezed out on the first bite. The baskets also make cutting it with a knife impossible. Most of our meal was room temperature AND my favorite part is that the bathroom does have a good view of the open air kitchen, mmm yum. Bad to the Bone took over the WAFFLE Lady of Pico's spot. Both times I went I was unimpressed with the fact that there was no one inside. The food is served good and hot but something is missing....mediocre at best.
I was very disappointed when Rick closed shop. We did have him cater an event for us, and it was great to get his pulled pork again. We've been searching for a worthy replacement for Ricks ever since he closed shop. Mostly we have been disappointed. We also tried Lucille's in Lake Forest. In fact, we've tried it several times. What they lack in quality they more than make up in quantity. I actually feel ill from eating too much every time we go. Bad to the Bone off of Pico in San Clemente is passable. I understand that it is the same owners as the one in SJC, but this one is an indoor restaurant with plenty of seating. The Rib Trader near the Ralph's in San Clem is also passable, with Bad to the Bone being somewhat better.
<<< A place to avoid at all cost is the Rib Joint Roadhouse in Dana Point. Dried out ribs, poor service...no reason to return. McDonald's McRib sandwich is more appetizing. I hate to bad-mouth a restaurant, but sometimes you just have to speak up. >>>
As a backup plan, I have been learning to cook ribs at home. This may actually be the best choice now for South OC. Try the country ribs at Stater Bros, and marinate them in the fridge overnight (or at least 1 to 2 hours) in OJ and brown sugar. Low heat (~250 degrees) for 2 hours works well. Leave covered and include some of the marinade while cooking.
There is a decent BBQ place across the street from Lucille's in Lake Forest- in the center at Raymond and El Toro that houses the Sizzler (obviously, the name escapes me!). I went there once with a BBQ eater that said he had inconsistent results there, but the night we went, I thought the brisket was good, much better than any chain. Worth a second try.