Which Johnny Reb's is best?
I'm thinking about taking Mr. Gouchy (a.k.a. Hubby) out to Johnny Reb's for Father's Day dinner. We are close to the junction of the 405 & the 22 so any of the various locations would be reasonably close. Which location has the best food? Which has the nicest environment (or are they all about the same - having never been to any, I have no clue). Do they take reservations?
Someone posted a while back that the Long Beach location has had a fire. Has it reopened?
Lots of thanks to those who responded with input. Here's a mini-review: We chose the location in Orange on Chapman (east of the 55) since a Sunday drive along the 22 to the 55 is really quite easy these days. Parking was adequate and the wait (on Father's Day at about 4 p.m.) was not too long. They only take reservations for parties of six or more, and on Father's Day, that was most of the groups. (We were a party of two). There were two dining areas, inside and outside. "Outside" was more like a screened-in porch along the driveway. The outside of the building was just like you'd expect to see at Knott's Berry Farm for the Log ride, or as sbritchky wrote, "hillbilly" style, with a touch of an old southern roadhouse. While you wait, you can help yourself to peanuts in the shell, or a cup of lemon drink from the jug in the alcove just inside from the waterwheel. We were seated inside after about 20 minutes and the service was pretty good, despite the crowd. Do not dress up to go to this place - the more casual, the better. Very homey/hokey decor - lots of stuff to look around at. Some very interesting folks there (fit right in with the decor!) today, for those of us who enjoy "people watching" as much as eating. (It's been a spell since I've seen someone with an 18" long beard - and it wasn't Santa!).
We ordered the combination dinner for two. This came with a plate of appetizers (we got fried okra and sweet potato fries, and possibly some fried pickles. Normally it would also include fried green tomatoes, but apparently they ran out as the waitress had forewarned us). There were enough for 4 people. Then came the dinner - lots of various ribs - at least 2 of each, 2 small spicy sausages, 2.5 pieces of fried chicken, 2.5 pieces of fried catfish, 2 hushpuppies, 2 small pieces of heavy corn bread, and 2 side dishes. Mr. Grumpy (a.k.a. Hubby) decided to order rice AND mashed potatoes. I was hankerin' for some black eyed-peas, but since it was Father's Day, I gave him the choice. I had a sausage, 1 rib, 1 big piece of chicken, 1 piece of the catfish, the corn bread, and the inside of the hush-puppy, which was perfectly round. Now, in retrospect, this was WAY too much fried food for me, being a person who does not deep fry at home and rarely eats it, not to mention, normally a very low-carb eater. However, I must say that this is the first catfish I have enjoyed. Every other of the (very infrequent) times I've had catfish, it tasted like it had dirt in it, which is the reason why I eat it so infrequently. Well, of course, catfish is a bottom-feeder, so naturally it could (and I have been told, should) taste that way. Anyway, this was GOOD, and not too-well fried. As far as the rest of the deep-fried foods, they were good but not "GOOD!" because (for my taste, anyway) they were just a little too long in the fryer - a little too brown and a little too heavy because of that. At any rate, we came home with a whole mess o' ribs because we were stuffed half-way through the entree. The ribs we did eat were good but not outstanding. And since the dinner special included dessert, we have that (and a'la mode) to enjoy later tonight.
This is a fun place for a big group. My suggestion is to have 4 people split up the dinner and order some small side salads, if you decide to order the special. According to the menu, it is available after 5 p.m., but our waitress was more than happy to accomodate us and said others had already ordered and received it, despite the fact that it was only shortly after 4 p.m.
Mr. Grumpy's review: "The cornbread at Katella Deli is still the best."
We noticed on the menu that they have a breakfast special which includes fried green tomatoes, and is apparently quite popular, according to the waitress. Sounds like a possibility.
We went to the Long Beach location a couple of weeks ago and they do take reservations. We were a party of six so maybe that was why. The parking is a big problem and the restaurant is very narrow and small. The service was excellent and we all enjoyed the food we had. I've been there many times before and nothing has changed since their re-opening.
The Long Beach location reopened a couple of weeks ago. I haven't been there since the refurbishing, but I imagine the decor is fresh and the staff is enthusiastic, so that might be the best choice for a Father's Day dinner.
Reservations at Johhny Rebs'? Never heard of such a thing, but it wouldn't hurt to call in advance on a holiday.
I've been to all of them and have seen no significant difference in food quality. They're decorated in a similar hokey-hillbilly style, but each has its own feel. If your husband asked me to recommend one for a night out with the guys, I'd choose the Bellflower place. The times I've been there, several of the waitresses were mighty cute. The location in Orange has more of a family-restaurant look, but I've actually seen more young couples than large families. And the Victorville branch (a long way from you, but I include it for completeness) has a more-open design and a distinct Western feeling.
Be sure to have the hush-puppies, whatever else you choose. They're fragrant and flavorful and addictive to this Son of the South. The catfish is good if they don't overcook it, and the chicken is also fine. If you like greens, this is the place, because they're full of leafy flavor. But if your husband has his heart set on pork ribs, I'm sorry, but I've never really liked them at Johnny Rebs'. Somethin' 'bout that texture.
Finally, given the occasion and your desire for a BBQ place with a nice environment, I'd also consider Wood Ranch in Cerritos for good ribs, sides, and salads, as well as a good-looking dining room where you won't bump into the Beverly Hillbillies.
Thanks everyone for the tips! Sbritchyky, I think we will try the Chapman one for Father's Day and reserve the classier Wood Ranch for either our anniversary or his B-day coming up. I checked out J-R's website and they mention reservations are for groups of 6 or more. Since it will be just us two, should be no problem. I will steer him away from the ribs. . .
According to their website, the Long Beach location reopened on May 13, but that location seems rather small, and a bit more hole-in-the-wall-ish, maybe because of the unpaved dirt parking lot. The Orange location seems to be a bit bigger and felt more like a restaurant, even though both had sawdust and peanut shells on the floor.
I think food quality is about the same (been to the Long Beach location once, Orange 3 times). I doubt they take reservations, but they do have an email address on their website, so you can ask them.
Here's an article in the local Long Beach paper about the reopening, along with some interior and exterior pictures: