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New BBQ Place in Pasadena: Bonnie B's Smokin' Barbeque Heaven

I have not been yet, but my friend, who is from Tulsa, Oklahoma (the owner is as well) went for lunch today and told me about it. They opened this past Saturday.
My friend ordered the Beef Brisket Sandwich and a Hot Link and said it was very good. She likes this place better than the place on Los Robles/Orange Grove, even though she likes them very well (she says the wait is much shorter here).
Their website indicates that they are "Award Winning" and they both cater and deliver.

Bonnie B's Smokin' Barbeque Heaven
1280 N Lake Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91104
(626) 794-0132
Located on Lake just south of Washington

I will post once I have tried it for myself. If you go, let us know what you think! Thx!


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  1. Nice. Going to check this place out!

    1 Reply
    1. re: wesleywong

      Great! Please report back! Thanks!

    2. Thanks for the tip, WS. But who ever constructed their web site needs to realize that pancakes are not BBQ, nor is it Kosher to use food photo's they have found on other sites on the Internet.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ChinoWayne

        Yeah, esp. when they don't even have pancakes on the menu.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          That's funny - I noticed that, too, and searched for pancakes on their menu. That Strawberry Banana Cake sure does sound good!!

      2. Thanks for the heads up post. That is one heck of a Food Gauntlet (North Lake Ave). From the 210, I have to pass (somehow) The Hat, La Chona Tacos, Puebla Tacos, and Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. Fredo's Phillys is closed, or it would be nearly impossible to make it up to Washington.

        Look forward to hearing people's opinions (religion, pancakes, and web site issues aside).

        5 Replies
        1. re: cagey

          Not to mention that this particular block is getting packed with food joints. The only one I've gone to (but that repeatedly!) is La Caravana, though I've heard compliments paid to Bill's Chicken. And then there's the Louisiana Seafood place around the corner...!

          1. re: cagey

            And weren't you forgetting Tonny's? Not exactly ON Lake, but damn near, and if you're heading north it's an easy left turn on Orange Grove.

            1. re: Will Owen

              That whole area (North Pasadena, if you will) is full of little hole-in-the-wall gems as well as lots of bbq joints (both good and bad).

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Yes indeed. The Reyn is a good example of one that's gone UPhill! Now all we need is to get the North Lake Plan honchos to drop their insane gotta-close-at-ten thing and Mrs. O and I can not only eat more often within walking distance but start enticing friends to come to our neck of the woods for some good grub.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  ... and get Tonny's back on a 24-hour schedule!

                  Tonny's Restaurant
                  843 E Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104

          2. just when i was running out of places to try. thanks! i'll go tomorrow for some spare ribs.

            1. Wow!! So proud of their menu that they disguise it with generic pics... and the pancakes, LOL!!!

              1. Wow, spitting distance from Big Mama's Rib Shack. Big Mama's is ok, but I wonder how they feel about this place encroaching on their turf.

                Big Mama's Rib Shack
                1453 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104

                1. ok, i went there today. i ordered the spare rib value meal (3 ribs) with collard greens and mac&cheese. i'd say it's neither a place to avoid nor a reason to get on the freeway.

                  the ribs are trimmed a little closer than usual. only the large bit of cartilage is left. i enjoy nibbling at the tips, but i can appreciate the fact these ribs are tidier, so to speak. they weren't as meaty or as well trimmed of fat as a number of other places, though. they were lightly smoked, and just barely seasoned with salt (no pepper, afaik) and a little sugar. good bark, nice, porky flavor, but not an "assertive" barbecue. it's similar to old fashioned flavor, if you've been there. the texture was a bit soft, overcooked. the cut edges were also dry, so i think they were cut beforehand.

                  the mac&cheese was ok. it's the kind where the cheese is baked in. they could have used more salt and textural contrast. i don't really like the dry/oily texture of plain, shredded cheddar.

                  the collard greens were great! they're not the vinegary kind, but rather savory, with good texture, and not in the slightest bit salty or bitter. they're now the best collard greens i've had.

                  i liked their sauce, too. it comes in mild, medium, and hot, and aside from the spiciness they all taste the same. hot is really just medium, imo. something in there tastes like raisins, but they shot down my guesses of raisins or ancho chili powder. they said i was getting warmer when i suggested molasses, though.

                  service was quick and friendly. prices are reasonable. however, my order was served lukewarm and the bread somehow never showed up. not a big deal. i'd go back if i was in the area, and it may well be the best barbecue in pasadena.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: aizan

                    Hi Aizan, thank you for your review! Nicely written!

                    1. re: WildSwede

                      Thanks for the review Aiszan. I'll have to give it a shot soon.

                    2. re: aizan

                      I also had the ribs (large order) w/mac-n-cheese and collard greens. I'm so glad I tried Bonnie's. It was exactly what I was looking for. A no-frills, whole-in-the-wall bbq joint with good, friendly service. The ribs were the best I've had in the L.A. area so far (and I've tried a lot). I'm a big fan of ribs that stand on their own without the use of sauce and Bonnie's did not disappoint. The flavor, look and texture reminded me of the ribs I used to get at my favorite (now long gone) Pearson's in Jackson Heights, NYC. So close that I don't think I could tell the difference with my eyes closed. I agree with what you said about the mac-n-cheese (needed a little bit more of .....something?) but still good, and the collard greens were excellent. The jalapeno corn bread was also very tasty with just the right consistency for corn bread, although the portion could have been a little bigger. The place itself is small (only a handful of tables) but overall a great bbq joint. The staff also made me feel right at home (Bonnie introduced herself to me). I can't wait to go back and trying the rest of the menu. I'm sure I'll be a regular. A+

                    3. Okay, so I finally tried it. I ordered the combination dinner (for lunch) $14.95: Pork Spare Ribs and Hot Links, sides I chose were greens and candied yams. White bread. My friends ordered the 1) Brisket sandwich with potato salad on a bun: $7.00; 2) Beef Salad (not sure what that comprised of); and 3) chicken salad. And 3 slices of the Glaze it to me Cake $3/ea. We took it all to go.
                      While we were paying, I decided to order 3 of their jalapeno cornbread muffins $.95/ea. I am really glad I did!! They charge extra for sauce (I did not realize they had already put one in my box) so I asked if I could just dump some on my ribs - no problem! As mentioned by other posters, they have Mild, Medium and Hot. I squirted plenty of all three all over the ribs and links. Got back to the office... dug in! One word - WOW! I took a bite out of the ribs (there were 4 in my order) delicious! The link was cut on the diagonal and had a nice kick to it - enough to make your lips tingle in a good way! The yams were fantastic and the greens were some of the best I have ever had. I would definitely order each and every one of these items again. So good!
                      Two of my friends were fighting over the chicken salad (they only had one left) and I was wondering exactly what was so great about it. Well, when she got it, she brought it to me to take a look at. It is made like tuna or chicken salad - mayo, celery, etc. BUT the special thing about it is that they use their smoked BBQ chicken. She let me taste some - it was fantastic with that smoked flavor. Now I can understand when she declined tasting my ribs, links, greens and yams! She was saving room for that salad! It was on a bed of greens and two ice-cream scoop sized mounds of salad on top. All the friends who I ordered with today have eaten there several times before - I was the only virgin there. Boy, have I missed out!!
                      On Fridays, they have fried chicken, fried catfish and fried filet of sole. However, someone who was there ordering while we were picking up today asked about the fried chicken and they were told they didn't have any. I think a safe bet would be to call them and make sure they have what you want first.
                      I have not tasted the cake yet, but I am sure it is every bit as delicious as the meal was. If you want good BBQ - this is the place to go!!
                      PS - their website has changes since my original post - no more mention of pancakes!! ;-)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: WildSwede

                        Okay, I ate the cake on Friday night and Saturday morning (breakfast of champions!) and it was really, really good. I also ate the leftover ribs and hotlinks for breakfast!!

                      2. I tried the ribs and I was very disappointed. There was no detectable smoke flavor and the meat was tasteless as if lacking salt/seasoning.The ribs tasted as if par-boiled or baked. As well was not advised that there were three sauces available and the sauce provided was awful: overbearingly sweet with strong chemical aftertaste. The macaroni and cheese was not remarkable; however, the greens were flavorful but not enough by itself for a return trip. If you have had ribs from Bludsoes or Bigmista's you will be disappointed with these....I plan to try the other barbecue place in Pasadena on Orange Grove to see if it is better....

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: foufou

                          Perdue's is the name of the other BBQ place, on Orange Grove, in Pasadena.

                          VERY slow service. Nice people but a 45 minute wait for food?

                          BBQ ribs are barely better than Tony Roma's.

                          1. re: reality check

                            thanks for the heads-up on Perdues; it has been more than a decade since I've been to Tony Romas' but in my memory they would have been better than Bonnies!

                            1. re: foufou

                              It's hard to beat Roma's ribs, especially the beef.

                          2. re: foufou

                            Weird... I had the exact opposite experience with their food and cannot wait to go back! Just more for me, I guess!

                            1. re: WildSwede

                              Have you been to the place on Orange Grove, Perdues? If so, what did you think?

                              1. re: foufou

                                No, I have not been there... yet. But plan on trying it. Maybe on Thursday I will call in an order for lunch and pick it up (since I hear tell the wait is FOREVER!).

                          3. Do they have beef ribs and baby back or just the pork spare rib with gristle on the end?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mucho gordo

                              just spare ribs. they sort of do a half St. Louis style cut on them, leaving only the large piece of intercostal cartilage on the end. i like the whole tip to be left on, though.

                            2. I've been to Bonnie B's 3 times now and each time have really enjoyed their beef brisket. It's tender, smokey, and their house made sauce is good. The hot link isn't my thing - the texture was a bit spongy for me, but others I've went with enjoyed it. My friend is in love with their fried catfish, so much so that I've never had a chance to steal some off her plate :). I thought the greens here were pretty good - cooked long enough where the texture was perfect. The mac n cheese I found to be good, but not particularly outstanding. Cornbread was moist and delicious without the baking soda flavor. Last time I was here the owner gave us a free samples of their barbecued bologna. First time I've had it, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Apparently it's an Oklahoman thing? Anyways, I've found this place to be a great addition to Lake. I do wish they had later weeknight hours.

                              1. I went to Bonnie B's this past Saturday and ordered the ribs. I've got two words to describe their ribs... rib perfection!! Definitively the best ribs I've had anywhere aside from taking ribs fresh out of my own smoker at home. Thanks for the recommendation!!

                                1. What's the current feeling of the board on Bonnie B's vs Perdues, now that both places have been open for a while? Do either steam their ribs?

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Peripatetic

                                    There is no way that Bonnie B's is steamed, IMHO. The texture and smoke penetration on the rib meat is too pure and genuine of smoked meat to even hint of any consideration of steaming. I don't remember Perdue's well enough to comment on it.

                                    1. re: Peripatetic

                                      I thought these ribs tasted parboiled but there was a total absence of smoke flavor

                                      1. re: foufou

                                        the spare ribs could have been a tad smokier when i went, but they were still smoked. they had a very decent bark and smoke ring, which would not have been the case if they were boiled or steamed, even if they were finished on a grill. some other places do that, and it's very obvious, but bonnie b's is not one of them.

                                    2. I'm reading the reviews and went to the website, and they said that the beef ribs are by special order only. Has anyone tried them, or seen them?