Smalley's in Salinas
Last week Mom and I headed to Smalley’s new location for lunch. We’d heard about the lines so arrived at 11:15am to beat the crowd. Good thing, as the place was packed by 11:45 and people were waiting outside as well by the time we left.
Mom had the burger, $7.99, that comes with fries (or salad or clam chowder) and chili beans with ground beef. The bun was toasted, as evidenced by the grill marks, but was stone cold. She was happy with it other than that even though it was cooked a bit more than the “medium” she ordered, and said she’d get it again. It didn’t have the juiciness of a patty that’s fresh off the grill and I wondered if it might have been par-cooked ahead of time and held for too long. Next time I would order “medium-rare” to make sure it’s cooked to order.
I went with the rib lunch special, $11.99, with clam chowder, chili beans with ground beef, baked potato (or fries) and garlic bread. The clam chowder is the same with good flavor but still overly thick for my druthers. I still love the beans here. The ribs were not as good as I remember but that’s often the luck of the draw with barbecue. The meat was somewhat stiff and lacked juiciness, seeming as if they’d been reheated. But they had good smoke tones and seasoning.
Both our lunches included dessert of rainbow sherbet. Nice and light, ages since I've had this.
As always here, this was a ton of food. We both took more than half our meal home to finish up for dinner. I’m not in a rush to go back, but I will return to try the ribs again when the kitchen gets more comfortable in its new quarters.
I've loved Smalley's. I was one of his first customers about the second day he was open. The old man used to go to the wholesaler and pick his ribs. He told me the thing he looked for was that the cross-section of the rib bones should be round rather than flat. I've followed that ever since, and he was right. Meatest, best ribs have small round bones.
I guess they had to move (lost lease), but I hate to see it. Like chow-eb says, moving is bad...often starts a death spiral...... But here's hopeing that doesn't happen to Smalleys.
re: Melanie Wong
Thanks for the info. Sounds like it's time for a trip to Salinas.
The only thing I worry about is that the history of successful restaurants moving to a larger location is filled with failures.
We really liked Central Texan in its previous, small location (across the street a few blocks east). The current large location not so much.
I haven't been there in quite some time.
Basically this is a meat joint. A lot of meat. Grilled, barbecued and tasty. I recalled feeling like meat particles were floating in my veins when I left. But not to complain. It was tasty but the portions are huge.
I think it is still being run by the same family, but I could be out of the loop on this one.
re: Food Tyrant
I had dinner at Smalley's in October of last year. Portions are huge, but for the most part, I didn't feel I was sacrificing quality for quantity. The servers wear t-shirts that say "Vegetarian - Indian word for lousy hunter".
I liked the beef chili beans a lot. The leftovers were even better the next day. The pork ribs were great, very succulent and meaty with a deep smoke ring. The small NY steak was average, cooked a little more done than ordered and on the chewy side. We had a ton of food to take home.