surprisingly tasty barbecue at Famous Dave’s

I admit, I’m not a big fan of barbecue, and it takes good barbecue for me to like it. One of my favorite places is Phil’s down in San Diego.

We visited Famous Dave’s BBQ (where South Coast Winery used to be) recently and I walked in the door filled with skepticism. The place smelled good, but can the food REALLY deliver, that was the question weighing heavily on my mind.

The manager suggested we order the All American BBQ Feast ($74.99) which feeds four to six people, and showcases a wide array of the best on the menu. Served on the lid of a garbage can — so imagine how big this feast is — there is something for everyone here.

I started with St Louis style spareribs ($23.99 a la carte) — you get a full slab when you order the feast — and I was really surprised by how moist, tender and fall-off-the-bone delicious it was. I immediately felt more positive about the rest of the items.

Whole country-roasted chicken ($13.99 half chicken a la carte) marinated with lemon pepper marinade, roasted and then chargrilled is again moist and flavorful. I usually don’t like chicken at a barbecue place, but it was very good.

The half pound of Texas Beef Brisket ($14.99 a la carte) was seriously good. Usually, I find this dry and tasteless, but here, the brisket is rubbed with brown sugar, coarse black pepper and Dave’s secret spices, then smoked over hickory, giving it really good flavors throughout the meat, not just on the outside.

With the feast, you can choose the brisket or half a pound of Georgia Chopped Pork ($13.99 a la carte), smoked up to 12 hours and chopped to order. This was my least favorite item of the night.

Several sides (sides are all $1.99 a la carte) come with the feast. Creamy Coleslaw, a zesty slaw sweetened with pineapple and a hint of horseradish for spice was rather pleasant. It wasn’t overly sweet and not too creamy. Just the way I like it.

Famous Fries were quite well done. Russet potatoes are cut thick into wedges and then crispy fried. They weren’t greasy at all  and the kids will love them.

Usually, beans are too sweet for me. However, Wilbur Beans only had a hint of sweetness. Loaded with smoked pork, brisket, hot link sausage and jalapeno peppers, these are some of the best beans I’ve had in a long time.

You get six buttery corn on the cob with the feast and they use fresh whenever in season.

You also get four corn bread muffins with the feast but you won’t have enough space in your stomach for these, so just take them home! They’re great with butter the next day.

Other than the items on the feast, we also tried other items from the menu. I love chicken wings and Traditional Wings ($9.49) were pretty good. They are seasoned and tossed in your choice of sauce, although I asked for them not to be tossed so I can try all the sauces individually. Rich & Sassy, Buffalo, Devil’s Spit, Pineapple Rage, Wilbur’s Revenge (in order of heat) are available as well as as others on the table. My favorite were definitely Devil’s Spit and Wilbur’s Revenge.

Hot Link Sausage ($12.99) was a must since I love anything sausage and this was really tasty. You get 12 oz of link with cold beer for the price. Make sure you dip it into the sweet mustard sauce! SO GOOD!

The potato salad consisted of potatoes and red onions, celery, hard cooked egg, mayonnaise with a hint of mustard. This is potato salad I can wrap my head around. Not too mayonnaisey and enough onions and celery for crunch!

We’ve been coming across pretty dismal mac and cheeses lately and were a bit concerned our bad luck would continue. Luckily, Dave’s Cheesy mac & cheese is a good consistency. This home-style version is blended with four cheeses and mixed with corn and jalapeno. My son loved it!

Not that you’ll have enough room to spare after your meal, but if you do, Dave’s Famous Bread Pudding ($6.49) is not bad at all. The bread pudding is made from scratch and topped with pecan praline sauce served warm with vanilla bean ice cream. Surprisingly, the bread pudding isn’t overly sweet, although the pecan praline adds more to it if you like it that way.

You will no doubt be rolled out of here with your bellies so full you wouldn’t know what to do with it. This week, I have some fun surprise gifts for my readers. These flip-open prizes are all at least $10 but you won’t know what you’ve won until your server opens the envelopes. I have four pairs to give away and they are valid until the end of the year. Leave me a comment and tell me what your favorite barbecue item is. Good Luck! Winner will be announced on Monday.

Famous Dave’s BBQ
3608 S Bristol
Santa Ana, CA 92704
Tel: 714-957-1857

Famous Dave's BBQ on Urbanspoon


  1. Daphne says

    My absolute favorite used to be pulled pork, but now I’m starting to move into brisket. Smoky and slightly charred – drool! Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Chris says

    I’m really picky about my BBQ also and am often disappointed when eating out at restaurants that serve it. LOVE brisket done properly so that it’s still juicy and not dry.

  3. Nancee Richardson says

    I love Famous Dave’s! One of the best dinners I “shared” was when the girls and I headed over there after work and enjoyed the All American BBQ Feast! Every bite was delicious. It was a fun night which consisted of great comfort food and friends!

  4. Christi Galuppo says

    I think the ribs and Mac and cheese would be amazing! I can’t wait to try this place. Thanks for letting us know about the good food here.

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