Famous Dave’s, 11470 4th St. (at Richmond), Rancho Cucamonga
This is a Minnesota-based barbecue chain that recently opened a location across from Ontario Mills. The large-ish dining room has a high ceiling with rafters, wavy tin trim and silly signs, such as, in neon, “Eat like a pig.”
I like barbecue as much as the next person, but I’m not one of those people who know the difference between the styles of St. Louis, Texas, Memphis and wherever. What I can tell you is that I went in for lunch on Tuesday and ordered the Dave’s Favorite Burger ($8.99) with a side of slaw. How could this Dave resist?
The burger took a while but the server said that’s because the beef is ground only when ordered. It’s not this Dave’s favorite, but it was a darn good burger, a fine pile of beef chargrilled medium well until crunchy. Too much barbecue sauce, though. Oh, and the slaw was above average, dry and crisp.
My friend had a pulled chicken sandwich ($7.49), quite tasty, and a side of sweet potatoes with brown sugar on top. I’m not a sweet potato fan but I could have eaten more than the bite I sampled.
Is Famous Dave’s better than Lucille’s, the chain at Victoria Gardens? Is it better than the local places, like Joey’s or Red Hill BBQ? Ask an aficionado. But I’d eat at Dave’s again. Or any of those places, for that matter.
Weird trivia: Famous Dave co-founded Rainforest Cafe and is a former assistant secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
* April 2012 update: I returned for a St. Louis-style pork rib half-slab combo with corn muffin and two sides, cole slaw and baked apples ($18). For corporate barbecue, it was all pretty tasty. The restaurant’s kitschy ambience is, like Lucille’s, too styled, and the atmosphere too loud and quote-unquote fun, but the food almost makes up for it.