Dining on a budget:
Diners looking to find a little more of the South in Southern California can look to Azusa’s own Country Chicken & Ribs Bar-B-Q.
Few foods inspire such vigorous debate as barbecue – is Kansas City, Memphis or Texas-style tops? – and this little eatery holds its own in a hyper-divisive culinary field.
Of course, some barbecue purists may have a bone to pick, since the restaurant doesn’t serve pork, just chicken and beef ribs. But what it does, it does well and at a very affordable price.
The best time to visit is between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the lunch special is served.
For $4.65, you get to sample a little bit of everything – a chicken wing and breast, two beef ribs, coleslaw, rice and gravy and a dinner roll. After 4 p.m., the price of the special goes up to $7.55, so the lunchtime discounts are pretty steep.
The barbecue ribs here have plenty of meat on their bones, but they are a little tough, especially compared to traditional pork ribs, which are smaller and more tender. The provided steak knife comes in handy when dismantling these ribs for consumption.
Consider asking for a side of the house barbecue sauce to give them a flavor boost.
The real star of this blue-plate special is the delicious barbecue chicken. The meat falls right off the bone, and you’ll find yourself picking away at the last scraps. The chicken is perfectly juicy with just the right amount of seasonings and sauce.
For $10.40, you can forgo the beef ribs altogether and order the Country Cluck, which includes all-you-can-eat soup or salad bar, three pieces of barbecue chicken, fries or house rice and a roll.
The side dishes, which come included with all specials and dinner plates, are a treat in themselves. Savor the rice smothered in gravy, Southern comfort food at its finest.
Only the side of coleslaw misses the mark. It lacks that sweet, tangy creaminess that’s a hallmark of all the best coleslaw recipes.
The ambiance at Country Chicken & Ribs Bar-B-Q is a bit unusual, but comfortable and cozy nonetheless.
The wood accents and old-timey decor harken back a general store from the gold rush era, but with a few amusing anachronistic touches – the Mortal Kombat arcade game in the corner and Day-Glo plastic toys in the display cases.
Still, it’s hard not to feel connected to the Canyon City’s rich gold-rush history. Though you may wonder if the restaurant’s designer got carried away with the old-fashioned theme and left out crucial modern facilities, the restrooms are actually located just outside.
And while this carnivore’s delight accepts only cash, an ATM is available inside, if you’re willing to pay the rather inconvenient convenience fees.
Even with that extra cost tacked on, Country Chicken & Ribs Bar-B-Q offers some great lunchtime bargains and value-priced family dinners, which are available dine-in or carry-out from the drive-through.
In Southern California, barbecue-starved beggars can’t be choosers – or picky eaters.
So next time you have the urge to hop aboard the soonest flight to a Southern destination of choice, try getting that fix at Country Chicken & Ribs Bar-B-Q instead. At the very least, it will take the heat off your wallet and put it back where it belongs – on your meal.
Country Chicken & Ribs Bar-B-Q is located at 994 E. Alosta Ave. in Azusa. For more information, call (626) 334-8220.
Written by Evelyn Barge.