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Finally Great BBQ in Orange County!!!!!!

The place is called "Smokin' Fred's BBQ" and it's in Orange.

They said the best I could get was at Rancho a No-NO. They said I could choke on that or drive all the way to Compton. I was starting to think they were right.

This new place is not just "good for OC." It's the real deal. I like it WAY better than Bludso's.

The brisket is Texas level. No joke. I also got the pulled pork (amazing) and the hot links.

The guy who owns it is very nice and is clearly a stud on the smoker. Food was excellent at 4pm on a Thursday with nobody inside, so hopefully no consistency issues (when food's good at a lull hour, it generally points to consistent quality.) Run, don't walk. You're welcome, OC hounds.

PS: sides are off the hook and the three meats plus three sides was 15 dollars.

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  1. Good to know. I literally planned on going tomorrow for rib tips. Had a feeling it'd be about Smoking Fred's when I read your post subject.

    Speaking of rib tips: is it true they're often out?

    Rancho is a farce, so is Handy's. That 3-meat combo is $3 less than Robert Earl's Real Deal 3-meat dinner which is pretty amazing if the quality is good.

    1 Reply
    1. re: TonyC

      I don't know about any of that, it was my first time there and I'm not a rib guy. I'm just crazy about brisket, and it's such a hard thing to smoke a brisket perfectly. And if it's not perfect, it may as well not be done at all.

      This place is just the best. Even Bludso's, which is widely considered the best in the area, to me was always a "close enough" approximation of good BBQ. This was the first truly satisfying plate of que I've had in years. Rib tips or not, just go. And yeah when he told me the price I was pretty stoked, and I hadn't even tried the food yet.

    2. Liked the pastrami at Rancho. A lot.

      Will give Fred's a try. Thanks for the tip!

      1. what sides did you get? do they have collard greens?

        7 Replies
        1. re: raizans

          No collards, no mac; smokey, porky baked beans, chili. Try it out this wknd?

          There's a small renaissance of bbq going on in Southern LA with Hambone's, Smoking Fred and Robert Earl (not counting Tony's, obvs).

          1. re: TonyC

            Robert Earl looks really good in the pictures, but it's pretty far from me. Let me know if you think it's better than Fred's and I'll give it a shot. I mostly just care about the brisket though.

            1. re: Eater15

              Different beasts.

              Smoking Fred's brisket is like.. a piece of braised short rib, cut into 1" thick squares instead of slices, and plated with heavy sprinkles of PAPRIKA (what in the fuckery is that about?). It's bouncy and very buttery. Though tasty, it's not very smoky; great if replated and complemented by a side of arugula and 2 glass of acidic wine to cut the fat, which is what I'll be doing for Sunday dinner. Perhaps I just went on an odd instead of even day.

              Robert Earl's tastes like pastrami, far saltier (brined?), light on the spice rub, well trimmed, no need for sauce. It's sliced thin and makes for a fantastic sandwich on rye, which is what I'll be dong w/ the rest of my 1/2 lb of RE's for Sunday lunch. Reminds me of Big Mista's pastrami. I don' t know my Texas from Carolina, but it's safe to say this is very, very far from TX brisket.

              Bludso Compton's "style" is far my cup of tea w/ Horse Thief barely behind, depending on my current location. I'm often equidistance from Bludso and Fred's, so Orange will probably not get a second visit unless someone tells me Fred has outrageous rib tips.


              1. re: TonyC

                That's weird because my brisket wasn't cut into cubes, it was sliced, and had noticeable if not strong smoke flavor. Paprika???

                1. re: Eater15

                  Yup, paprika. My brisket looked like this guy's:

                  That ungodly orange sprinkle is clearly paprika. My brisket was cut into LARGE squares, perhaps 3"x3"x1". Again, like 2 pieces of short rib. Totally weirded me out. But it was plenty tasty, and super cheap.

                  Maybe I got reverse-whited.

                  1. re: TonyC

                    Is this in the old location that Scottie's BBQ was at ?????


                2. re: TonyC

                  Tony C -- Your great description of the brisket from Robert Earl's makes me want to call it "Texas Pastrami" and get some dark, crusty Jewish rye and make me a sammich. Also Texas-esque is the name "Robert Earl" --- c'mon, why don't they just call themselves "Bobby Earl" and be done with it?
                  No, it ain't Texas brisket, but Texas Pastrami sounds spot-on to me...

          2. "Smokey Fred's BBQ" I believe?

              1. re: Servorg

                The website is almost completely useless.

                1. re: kevin

                  Just proving how authentic they are..."We don't need no stinking useful website! We got BBQ!" ;-D>

              2. Well, I'll cop to definitely not being a BBQ afficianado, but I really liked the items I've tried from Rancho a Go Go/ Ranch to Go.

                I've also been to Bludso's and that was super-good, without a doubt. So, it's not like I've only been to Tony Roma's so don't have some kind of reference point.

                Please educate me, if you would, on the strengths of Smokin' Fred's vs. Rancho, as an example.

                1. Amazing tip.

                  I went today with girlfriend, and got a brisket + rib tip plate.

                  Fred is an awesome guy. Gave us extra potato salad, and chili sides for free. Heck, he almost forgot to charge us!

                  The brisket is insanely good. He threw some sauce on the rib tips and let it cook into a HUGE rack of them for us...I thought for sure when he brought the rack out we'd get maybe 1/4 or 1/2 of it...but he cut up the whole thing and served it to us!

                  Girlfriend was blown away. Had never had good rib tips before haha

                  Sauces were awesome. The Kansas City on the tips was beautiful, but I also loved the mustard-vinegar Carolina sauce on the brisket.

                  Everything tastes incredibly smokey. The fat on the brisket melted in the mouth...absolutely ridiculous.

                  The chili and potato salad were not spectacular, but pleasant. Tip: if you throw the vinegar BBQ sauce into the potato salad, it becomes incredible.

                  All this incredible meat was like $12... I felt like we robbed the place even after paying. I hope he gets more customers and stays open, because this is one of the most magical places in OC right now!

                  Will definitely go back for more brisket...and to try the hot links and pulled pork!

                  Would also be interested to see him do beef ribs.

                  Honestly, the place is crazy. In terms of price-to-quality ratio, this has to be the best meal in OC!

                  1. I thought that the brisket at Smoqued in Orange was excellent. Smoky and fatty and beefy. Really good. The rest of the dishes were average.

                    4 Replies
                      1. re: matcohen

                        Brisket at Smoqued is probably the only meat worth getting.

                      2. 5 stars for the pork.
                        4 for the brisket.

                        The pork ribs were really, really good. My only complaint was that they were slathered in overly sweet sauce. The ribs had very good flavor, from several hours of a pre-smoking dry rub and a nice smoke ring. The meat is good enough that no sauce is really needed.
                        The pork shoulder was also very good.
                        Brisket was good but not great. The smoky flavor was not consistent bite by bite.
                        Beef ribs were good.

                        Potato salad is A+. Egg, scallion, mayo, yum.
                        Cole slaw needed more mayo but was good.

                        I think that if they serve the meats with sauce on the side and improve the sauce so that it is less sweet and more acidic, this could be hands down OC's best BBQ.

                        Very impressive given that this is a new place. Owner really knows his Q.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: matcohen

                          I believe you can request ribs without sauce.

                          Did you try any of the other sauces with the other meats? (I think the Kansas City sauce probably is the one that comes on the ribs).

                          1. re: Stravinsky

                            I had a long conversation with the owner. He is going to start making a rack a day without sauce because he has gotten requests. When I was there, it was all sauced.

                            He buys commercial sauce and doctors it up. Needs a sauce with less sugar and more cider vinegar.

                            He's off to a good start so I'll cut him some slack. He's working hard at his craft.

                            Glad to see you weren't booted from the Board Stravinsky. Why is that your name? Is it your real name or are you a Rite of Spring fan?

                            1. re: matthewlcohen

                              Hmm, the straight vinegar sauce I had when there seemed pretty vinegary. I also liked the mustard-vingegar Carolina sauce.

                              Would be cool if he had time to make his own sauce from scratch though.

                              I'm a fan of classical music in general, mostly stuff no one listens to, but Stravinsky is just about the best name ever. Perfect for when one requires a pseudonym.

                              1. re: Stravinsky

                                I don't think he used those to baste the q prior to its final smoking.

                                He'll eventually make his own sauce, I'm sure.

                                1. re: Stravinsky

                                  I think that more pseudonyms for the Boards would be Benedick or Beatrice. :-)

                          2. We had the Rib Tip plate and Brisket. Enjoyed the rib tips more than the brisket. Brisket was tender and a little too fatty but it needed a sauce and we didn't receive any. Next time we will try the pulled pork. Thanks for the tip.

                            14 Replies
                            1. re: mrsjoujou

                              If bbq brisket needs sauce then it is not well made.
                              At some places in Austin (brisket bbq capital of the world) they refuse to serve it with sauce.

                              1. re: matthewlcohen

                                "At some places in Austin (brisket bbq capital of the world) they refuse to serve it with sauce."

                                I didn't know Sang Yoon had a BBQ place in Austin?

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  btw, i tried that green tomato soyrizo bowl thing, not half bad.

                                  They are going for a healthy spin i think and i'm not sure which thread you posted about it on.


                                  1. re: kevin


                                    Good thing you ate something fucking healthy for a fucking change! Fucking A! (g)

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        Hey, you are sounding a bit too much like me. !!!!!!!!!!!!

                                        1. re: kevin

                                          I'm just waiting for you to start using the word "shmucking" a lot more in your posts...

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      re: servorg.

                                      i heartily endorse this joke.

                                    2. re: matthewlcohen

                                      Well yes if the brisket is well made and the only reason I mentioned the sauce because Stravinsky mentioned it "Sauces were awesome. The Kansas City on the tips was beautiful, but I also loved the mustard-vinegar Carolina sauce on the brisket".

                                      1. re: mrsjoujou

                                        I personally thought the brisket was good without sauce, I just really loved that Carolina sauce. I also loved how fatty it was. The fat was of excellent quality, melted in my mouth. Really nice I thought. But perhaps I just got a good cut, or prefer it that way.

                                        The sauces are all in bottles on a counter to the left of the main counter (where you order) for self-service. Were they just out of all of them when you went? Or did you not see them/weren't directed to them?

                                        1. re: Stravinsky

                                          There were a couple of guys standing on the left side, so I didn't see it and I was not directed to them either. I will look for it next time. He was busy on Sun around 2 p.m. and he looked like he needed a help. Taking orders and making and packing food at the same time was not easy for him.

                                          1. re: mrsjoujou

                                            Yeah, you have to expect things to be a bit slow-paced there as it's a one man operation.

                                            Still, worth it IMO.

                                            Hope you return and do sample some of the sauces =)

                                    3. re: mrsjoujou

                                      looks like I'll be returning only for the rib tips. the rest of the 'cue was fine, but still no Bludso's.

                                      1. re: mrsjoujou

                                        Finally got some rib tips here. They run out early (say, by 2pm).

                                        To conclude: this place may be good for N. OC, but the ribs/tips comes nowhere close to Bludso's, Hambone's, Randolph's, Philips, etc.

                                        The brisket is great as a roasted shortribs dish yet it's so far off "barbecue brisket" I can't bear to ever try it again. Great effort, fantastic chili, nice gent, wayward location, odd product (way too much meat on rib tips, awkwardly chunks, not enough char, etc.). G'luck.

                                      2. Thanks for the heads up!

                                        Stopped by today. Delicious stuff. Business is so good they ran out of ribs and had to substitute tri tip for the pulled pork.

                                        Got the brisket, tri tip, coleslaw, and chile.

                                        Brisket is very tender, good flavor, nice crust. The tie tip was awesome. Very tender and flavorful. Sides were also good. Chile has 3 kinds of meat and big chunks of Italian sausage. Great addition to the area.

                                        1. Picked up some bbq, I will say that it is pretty darn tasty. Got a half rack of spare ribs and a pound of brisket. The brisket to me is superior to Bludsos, tender, fatty and a great smokey flavor that was just enough before become too overpowering. The ribs were also fantastic although I do think that I slightly prefer the ones are Bludsos. Don't get me wrong, these ribs were very good and I have no problem getting them again. I just think that the smoke and sweetness of Bludsos stands out for me personally. Again, Smokin Fred's has some amazing bbq and I highly suggest checking this place out, it is a destination spot for sure and not just an in the area place.

                                          Can't wait to try the other meats.

                                          12 Replies
                                            1. re: Stravinsky

                                              nope, just picked it up yesterday for lunch.

                                              1. re: A5 KOBE

                                                Does Smokin Fred's have a website ??????


                                                1. re: kevin

                                                  I'm thinking the OP (although a little hard to say for absolute sure since the OP also didn't give a street address in their post here either) got the name a bit fouled up. It is actually "Smokey Fred's" and the website was posted up thread by me and promptly dissed by you (although now the menu part is useful, so it's getting better).

                                                  See this article: http://eatinoc.com/oc-food-reviews/sm...

                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                    I believe it is on the corner of Collins and Glassell.

                                                    My mistake too, it is Smokey Fred's.

                                                      1. re: A5 KOBE

                                                        Got it.

                                                        It's in the old Scottie's BBQ space ?

                                                        So you liked it much better than Bludso's ?????

                                                      2. re: Servorg

                                                        Oh my bad. This was the joint with the useless website.

                                                        Btw. What's that bar looking place that just opened next door to La Serenata Gourmet ?

                                                        1. re: kevin

                                                          "Btw. What's that bar looking place that just opened next door to La Serenata Gourmet ?"

                                                          http://www.eastsideluv.com/ (And it's across the street - not next door - if you are looking for it while driving by)

                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                My bad. Meant the location on Pico.

                                              2. We went back this past sat. Enjoyed the Rib Tips just like last time. The Pulled Pork was pretty good. We also got the Chili and it was tasty but on the salty side and unlike the one Porthos had, ours didn't have that much meat. Looked like he has a helper now.