Restaurant of the Week: Phillips BBQ

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Photo above by Thomas Cordova

Jay Phillips tends to chicken, ribs and links cooking in the restaurant’s brick oven Wednesday. Below, the rib tip dinner.

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CLOSED MAY 2011

Phillips BBQ, 11798 Central Ave. (at Francis), Chino.

Phillips is a big name for barbecue in L.A. and my column today is devoted to the chain’s surprising arrival in Chino, in a strip mall in north Chino perhaps a mile or two south of Mission Boulevard and formerly home to Clark’s BBQ.

If you’ve had Phillips’ food in L.A., this seems to me to be a comparable experience, although I’ve only been to an L.A. location once, about six years ago. I’ve had two meals in Chino so far. (I paid for both, as per my policy.)

The rib tip dinner ($10.55) comes with two sides and two slices of white bread for mopping up the sauce. I got two meals out of it; also, two small stains on my shirt. The pulled pork sandwich ($3.52) has meat chopped so fine it’s like a sloppy Joe; the sandwich had to be scarfed down quickly before the bun fell apart, although this was no chore. Both meals were delicious.

(My only problem with the sandwich was when I later realized I’d been charged 89 cents for my sandwich’s side of cole slaw, which is supposed to come with. Even at that, my lunch, including a soda, was a mere $5.48 with tax. The same combo at the Dickey’s chain costs $7.07 and, while acceptable, isn’t nearly as good.)

This is the first Phillips location with a dining room. It’s a little bare, but clean and bright, with new tables and chairs. All food comes in a takeout container. This isn’t the full restaurant experience, like at Joey’s or Lucille’s, but the prices are cheaper and you can box up your own leftovers to take home just by closing the lid.

The menu has sandwiches, dinners, the standard sides, small and large trays for parties or events and individual desserts such as 7-Up cake, red velvet cake, peach cobbler and sweet potato pie.

One note about the prices: They’re all odd. A rib dinner, for instance, is priced at $13.18, baby backs will run you $14.66 and a beef link sandwich is $9.37. Manager Jay Phillips says tax is included in all purchases, accounting for the creative pricing.

Candidly, I’m not a big barbecue guy, eating the stuff a couple of times per year. Some people, or at least some men, like arguing the finer points of various barbecue styles. I don’t know one from another. So I’m no expert. Disregard my opinion if you like. But for whatever it’s worth, Phillips’ barbecue is very good, certainly the best I’ve had, and I will be eating a lot more of it with them in the neighborhood.

If you’d like a more knowledgeable recommendation, read Jonathan Gold’s take here (but scroll down a bit to find it on the page).

For the record, The New Diner blog broke the news about Phillips’ arrival in Chino. My bib is off to them.

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  • Desdave

    This is weird: The other night I drove by this place, saw it and thought to myself, “I wonder if that is any good?” Then the next thought: “I wonder when Dave Allen will review it?” This was literally Wednesday night.

    So, I guess what I am getting at is thanks for reading my mind. That 2/26/77 GD show I gave you opened up our ESP ports apparently!

    I will give it a try now that it has the DA stamp of approval!

    [Let us know what you think. Also, let me know what I'm writing about next week because at this point you may have a better idea than I do. -- DA]

  • Jai Forney

    The power of the press. I just went down there for lunch, because I read about the restaurant on your blog and in your column. The place was packed. People standing against the walls. As I walked in I heard someone comment, “A lot of people must have read the paper.” While I was waiting for my order I sat with some friendly strangers who had also come because they read about it in your article. Did you give the management a “heads up”?

    [I told them Wednesday my piece would probably appear Friday, but I wouldn't presume to suggest, or even to imagine, that they'd be packed. I appreciate the report. It's heartening to know some people still pay attention to newspapers! -- DA]

  • DebB

    My niece got out of school early today, so on your recommendation we decided to try Phillips, as we love good BBQ. The few tables were taken when we walked in, but by the time we ordered someone had left and we grabbed their table.

    She ordered the sliced beef sandwich, I ordered the pork rib sandwich. They interpret the word sandwich a little loosely — mine was actually 4 large, meaty ribs with a couple slices of bread on the side, along with a side of macaroni salad. The generous amount of sliced beef came on a roll.

    We absolutely loved our food, and would go back again anytime we’re not in any hurry, because that’s the down side — we waited 30 minutes for our food! Maybe this was an off day, but we sat there smelling BBQ for half an hour before we could eat. It was torture! Torture that resulted, however, in some wonderful food.

    [I'm pleased you liked it, Deb. The two times when I was the sole customer, my food came in under five minutes. -- DA]

  • Jeff Gaul

    I went in there today and everyone that was in there mentioned your article. The power of the press combined with hearty appetites. The food was great. Thanks for another good tip on local cuisine.

    [You're welcome, Jeff. -- DA]

  • Lisa

    Thanks for the tip! We’ve been looking for another BBQ takeout place since two have closed in the Chino Valley. It sounds delicious.

    BTW – We’ve been to Riverside Grill twice since your review and it was great each time. This last time Chino PD even provide a “show” with a speed trap set up on Riverside. At least that what I think caused all the action.

    [Good food and a free show, eh? Can't ask for more than that. -- DA]

  • The New Diner

    Thanks for mentioning my blog, The New Diner, in your review of Phillips.

    The hot link, both chicken and beef link, are awesome, full of meat not fillers!! I always get the pork ribs, these are spare ribs, when I go to Phillips, nice beautiful bark, great smoked flavor, so tender, and little fat. Don’t pay extra for the baby backs or the small ends, the pork ribs are so much better.

    If you like hot and spicy BBQ sauce, try the hot BBQ sauce. But order the sauce on the side, an extra 25 cents charge, it is HOT.

    [You're welcome for the mention. Credit where credit is due and all that. -- DA]

  • sandra plelfka

    thank you so much for your review, i didn’t like the food when it was the other owner, clark, so when i saw the new name i was still afraid, but thanks to the review i will try it tomorrow. i wasn’t happy with dickeys price too high wasn’t enough food for the high price. thank you, sandra plefka

  • JohnTee

    I think those LA people and your commenters above must be pretty easy to please. Or, on the other hand, I may have had the ill luck to choose the only bad thing on the menu.

    Since I was financially challenged at the moment, I decided on the beef rib sandwich with a side of potato salad ($9.37). I took it home, opened the bag, and found two slices of stale white bread, three apparently meaty ribs slathered in sauce, and an amazingly small paper cup of potato salad. Thinking that I would make a sandwich of it, I tried to carve the meat from the bones, only to find that it was about half gristle. I separated the meat from the rest, ate it with the sauce, and searched the fridge for the rest of my dinner.

    The meat and sauce were very good, but didn’t add up to a sandwich. Maybe I should take more cash with me, have something pork, and see how it goes. Maybe not. OBTW, I was the only customer there at about 6 p.m.

  • darryl stone

    I spent my birthday dinner at Phillips on Dec 3, 2009. Your readers must be easily pleased. Me and my family thought it was terrible. The meat was fine, but the the service is terrible. The bullet proof counter glass should have been the first clue, someone forgot to tell the owner that Chino isn’t the Ghetto.

    My main beef was with the service. My father has been eating BBQ for over 70 years and has never had a sandwich with 2 pieces of cheap white bread. Not even when we lived in Compton. When my father expressed his displeasure with his so-called sandwich with the staff, they were rude. All they had to do was offer him a sourdough bun or maybe a little extra BBQ sauce. They made no effort to try and please him. They were disrespectful to my father and we will never go back there.

  • Shannon

    I’ve been eating at Phillips for about 15 years. In the past I frequented the Crenshaw location. The food has always been good and tasty. I prefer to eat the bbq chicken without the sauce. The flavor is great and the meat is juicy! I love the sock it to me cake and the peach cobbler. Sometimes I drive over there from Upland just to get the dessert! Just go …order…pick up…take home and ENJOY!

    * For those who aren’t familiar with this bbq style, it is customary to include two pieces of white/wheat bread with order. Mr. Darryl Stone, no disrespect, but no TRUE resident of Compton has ever NOT experienced the “cheap white bread” when eating at bbq or fried fish places. It’s simply part of the South LA food culture, and I love it. Lots of sauce with white bread to soak it up….yummmy! Sourdough bun….PUHLEEZE!! You better stick with Wood Ranch, although the flavor simply does not compare. In regards to the bulletproof glass. I’m sure you are aware of the little institution that located just a few miles away. Families and friends of the “residents” frequently visit the area, so the bulletproof glass wasn’t a bad idea.

    [Thanks, Shannon. -- DA]