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Tulsa Rib Company review - Orange

  • w

As it gets close to one year since I discovered Chowhound on the web and began my quest for quality BBQ in OC and the outer edges of LA County, I decided to head back to Tulsa Rib Company, the first BBQ restaurant I visited when I moved to OC.

I'm not sure why it's taken my this long to visit again, having now been to at least 20 different BBQ places over the past year, but I felt it was time to see how their Q stacks up to all of the other nearby options.

Tulsa Rib does indeed hold its own, and I might consider it the best OC option for BBQ. On a slow weekday at work, I decided to give myself a 1.5 hour lunch break so I could spare extra time to make the 20 minute drive each way.

The restaurant was pretty slow this afternoon, only having a couple of other tables occupied. This place looks like it's been renovated since the last time I visited.

The prices are very reasonable for their lunch plates, as I ordered the beef rib entree. It came with a salad (which I choose tabooli, an intriguing option I've never seen in a BBQ joint), cornbread, Tulsa potatoes (look like fat potato chips), and baked beans. This entree was $9.25, which is a bargain for BBQ in OC.

Now how about these beef ribs. Absolutely excellent. I get two huge beef ribs with the entree, probably 10"-12" in size. Large meat-to-bone ratio, about the largest I can recall since Joey's BBQ in Pomona. Most BBQ places have a 15-20% meat content, compared to the size of the bone. Here at Tulsa Rib, it is about 25%. It doesn't match Joey's, which was about 30%. Little bit of fat, but not much. The meat is extremely tender, almost melting in my mouth. Almost braised short-rib quality good. Almost fall-off-the-bone tender, but not quite. Still, excellent top notch beef ribs that have moved into 2nd place as best beef ribs I've tried in SoCal. Still behind Joey's, but Tulsa Rib moves into #2 position, displacing the Rib Nest and Johnny Rebs. Burrell's beef ribs don't even come close. Chris and Pitts give you 4 beef ribs for the same price, but the quality of the meat isn't even close to Tulsa Rib.

As for the sides, I've never had tabooli before. Coleslaw was the other option, but I've had that so many times that trying something new like tabooli was intriguing. Not sure of its origins, but it tastes pretty good. Flavorful and zesty. Cornbread is top notch, being soft and hot when it arrives in a cupcake-type wrapper. Baked beans are just OK, nothing to write about, while the Tulsa potatoes were pretty good, like fat home-made fried potato chips.

I guess when I started my quest for BBQ last year, I wanted to try new places before I headed back to old places with which I was already familiar. I should have made an exception for Tulsa Rib, because they got some excellent BBQ here. Can't wait to go back to try their baby back ribs, which they have multiple flavor options of smoked, Caribbean, spicy, and Cajun. Even got country fried steak on the menu.

Tulsa Rib Company
954 N Tustin Ave
Orange

Link: http://www.tulsarib.com

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  1. b
    bottomlesspit

    Thanks for that review, Wonginator. After watching those cheesy May-December commercials, I've often wondered if their food was as cheesy-bad as their ads, but I'm glad to know there's a nearby place with good bbq. I'm a pork ribs gal myself, so I'll have to give those a shot.

    Actually, they're almost bound not to disappoint since my last bbq outing had me eating the worst bbq of my life at Burrell's. I just don't get that place!

    4 Replies
    1. re: bottomlesspit
      r
      Reality Check

      Burrell's is a North Carolina style BBQ. It takes a little getting used to. I'm not a big fan of Burrell's either.

      1. re: Reality Check
        f
        FoodObsessive

        In my experience, North Carolina barbecue closely resembles a pig struck by lightning.

        1. re: FoodObsessive
          b
          bottomlesspit

          That may be a very common phrase to describe bbq, but it's the first time I've heard it, and it almost made me snort my coffee. I would say that about sums up my feelings about Burrell's.

          Thanks for giving me a chuckle to start the day. =)

          1. re: FoodObsessive

            I suspect nothing that remotely resembles true North Carolina BBQ pork is served here.

            It's a glorious thing, when done right, and it doesn't taste like a pig struck by lightning.

            I was excited to see it at the Orange Cty Fair but that stuff was horrid.

            When I look for BBQ joints I generally go for the pork ribs or tri-tip also. Chicken is kind of boring. I don't think beef ribs show the true character of a good Q.

      2. Good review.
        The amount of beef on those ribs is just ridiculous. I've never been to a place where there is so much tender goodness.

        3 Replies
        1. re: JR

          You should check out Joey's BBQ in Pomona, with two other locations in Chino and Upland. That place had beef ribs with a higher meat-to-bone ratio that was even more ridiculous. :-)

          1. re: Wonginator
            r
            Reality Check

            I know this maybe out of your area but the best beef ribs are at Grandpa Fred's in the Valley. The beef ribs are soo good. Not much fat, very meaty and the sauce is good too.

            1. re: Reality Check

              Thanks for mentioning it. I've had Grandpa Fred's on my list for the next time I'm visiting in that area. I've hit almost every OC BBQ place now, but have just begun to scratch the surface for all of the delicious Q located in LA County.

        2. thanks for the memories ! i lived in orange for 8 years and i would frequent tulsa rib once/month - i must admit - i found the commercials corny too but i felt the food was good - not great but damn good - and i'm the type of person that tries to frequent mom and pop places over the chain restaurants - thanks again !

          1. Beef ribs as the basis for a bbq sampling? Oh my, my father just rolled TWICE in his grave.

            BBQ is pork, son (that is why Burrell's BEEF ribs weren't great... they are an after thought). Sometimes chicken if it is a "must have", but rarely beef. Beef only works in brisket, and even that is left to those folks in Texas.

            No no, low country people didn't have room for a cow but had plenty of pigs. How much roamin' room is there for a big ole cow on a share cropper's land? Nada. Oink!

            1 Reply
            1. re: oc climber

              Well, when I went to Burrell's, I ordered a combo platter with the baby back ribs, along with the beef ribs. Everything was OK, but nothing was outstanding to make me want to go back anytime soon. The pork ribs were about on par with the beef ribs in terms of taste, tenderness and quality.

              For me at least, when done right, BBQ beef ribs are far tastier and more satisfying than the best and tastiest pork ribs. I've eaten enough pork and baby back ribs than I don't get excited about going to a new BBQ place to try them out. For beef ribs, I do get excited, and that's why I've chosen them as my standard item to order and measure BBQ.

              I guess I've never had outstanding brisket because I've never been impressed enough with it at any place to make me want to order it ahead of the beef ribs.

              It's all a matter of personal taste. I prefer French Dips over pastrami sandwiches, lasagna over spaghetti, duck over chicken, rack of lamb over filet mignon, and scallops over fish. I will eat all of them, but when two items are staring at me on the menu, personal tastes will kick in to determine what I choose to eat.

              I imagine the same goes for every other Chowhounder on this board.

            2. Next time try the boneless short ribs. Tender, juicy and thick! Excellent!

              1. I went here about 6 years ago and thought it was excellent. I have only recently found the name.

                Is it still tasty?

                6 Replies
                1. re: ns1

                  I've been to almost every BBQ place in OC except for 2 or 3 of them (like the really southern OC ones, Rick's Secret Spot in San Clemente, Bad to the Bone in San Juan Capistrano), and I still rank Tulsa Rib at the top of the list. I've only been to 10-15% of the BBQ places in LA, so I still have lots more BBQ to find and try out. But of that short list of LA BBQ places I've been to, Tulsa Rib is still better than most of them.

                  I was like you: I tried Tulsa Rib about 10 years ago and thought it was great, but I didn't remember the name of the place. 6 or 7 years went by when I finally found Chowhound and figured out that it was Tulsa Rib that I had that fabulous meal. I've been going back regularly ever since whenever I'm not exploring other BBQ places.

                  -----
                  Rick's Secret Spot
                  26621 Calle Lago, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624

                  Bad to the Bone
                  31738 Rancho Viejo Rd, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

                  1. re: Wonginator

                    thanks! tried tastyq, bbq king, and a few others, and tulsa rib co was definately more tender. i remember vividly my baby back ribs being fall off the bone tender.

                    looks like I know where I'll be going this weekend!

                    1. re: Wonginator

                      Could you tell me what BBQ place in OC served the most "vinegary" of sauces? I'v

                      1. re: HBfoodie

                        Probably Burrell's, which has been described as Carolina BBQ. Most of the OC BBQ places tend to serve a thicker type of BBQ sauce, reminiscent of Kansas City-style BBQ.

                        http://www.washington-square.org/Rest...

                        Edit: Meant to say Kansas City-style BBQ instead of Texas-style BBQ. Found an educational link to different BBQ styles on Cattleman's BBQ sauce website:

                        http://www.cattlemensbbqsauce.com/Aca...

                        -----
                        Burrell's BBQ
                        305 N Hesperian St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

                        1. re: Wonginator

                          Thanks...I've been wanting to try Burrell's for many years but always put it off because of its distance from Huntington Beach and its apparent lack of comfortable seating. But its time for me to finally go!

                          1. re: HBfoodie

                            I haven't read any descriptions, but with visiting Burrell's, "vinegar" has never come to mind.

                  2. What about Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach. I've been back several times and I think since they first opened the food has just improved in quality and consistency. What I like is both the BBQ and the incredible beer selection that compliments the food.
                    I would recommend giving it another try and make sure to talk to Gabe, he's really knowledgeable about what it takes to make good BBQ.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: chowaway

                      I thought Beachwood BBQ was good, but not great. Only pork ribs, though, no beef ribs.

                      When I ordered the full rack of ribs, it tasted a bit overcooked, as the meat was a bit dry, and the sauce really caramelized onto the meat, looking like it was burnt. I ended up sampling each of the different bottles of BBQ sauces that they had on each table.

                      1. re: Wonginator

                        Back to the original post, I felt that the ribs at Tulsa Rib Company were the best ribs that I've had in Southern California, bar none. The Tulsa Potatoes were great as well. I just didn't like the corn bread, and I was a bit disarmed by the fact that only high school students were out on the floor with no adult. I'm a high school teacher, so I felt as if I were back in school. But I'd DEFINITELY go here again, despite the fact that I live so far away.

                        1. re: nomo_fan

                          Concur 100%. I've written about TRC in several posts here on CH and it remains my favorite ribs in all of SoCal. The Tulsa potatoes, especially dipped in their BBQ sauce, are highly addictive. I can't say I'm a fan of their other sides (I'd prefer a great grilled corn on the cob to creamed corn, not a beans or tabouli fan, my wife loves the cole slaw but I don't like it in general, and the corn bread is too dry), but the ribs and potatoes are simply the best. Good kids meals as well and maybe the best bargain there is the country pork rib sandwich.

                          1. re: nomo_fan

                            What are "Tulsa Potatoes"? I lived in Tulsa for several years (long ago) and never heard of them.

                            1. re: Cubancoffee

                              I described it as a fat potato chip in my post. It's like a criss-cut French fry, in a flattened oval shape. Here's a pic I found on the OC Register's food blog site. I don't think it was something invented in Tulsa, but just an item named after the restaurant itself.

                              http://blogs.ocregister.com/foodfrenz...

                              1. re: Wonginator

                                I tend to rate rib joints according to their baby backs, but at Tulsa Rib Company, the pork offerings definitely take a back seat to the beef offerings. The beef ribs are meaty and juicy, and the short ribs are tender and flavorful. It is probably the only place where I will go for the beef more than their baby back and country pork cut offerings.

                                1. re: nomo_fan

                                  Yeah, the last time I ordered the baby backs at Tulsa Rib, I wasn't overly impressed. They were pretty good, but not outstanding. I think their beef ribs are among the best in OC.

                                  Best baby backs I've found in OC are at Chicago's Best. I've ordered it about 4 or 5 times so far, and it's been consistently fall-off-the-bone excellent.

                                  -----
                                  Chicago's Best
                                  2540 Main St, Irvine, CA 92614