Chef Tim’s BBQ With Spices, 10431 Lemon Ave. (at Haven), Rancho Cucamonga
Soul food, it must be admitted, is not my area of expertise. Nevertheless, I’ve heard good things about Chef Tim’s, a barbecue and Southern-style food joint in Alta Loma right off the 210 Freeway.
It’s a small operation, seating for about 20, in a neighborhood plaza next to a used textbook store and a Tio’s Mexican restaurant. The eccentric decor includes a Toybox novelty vending machine. It’s comforting to know that even in the sophisticated 21st century, you can buy a whoopie cushion in Alta Loma.
The menu has staples like ribs, pulled pork, fried chicken, shrimp, blackeyed peas, red beans and rice, po’boys, and chicken and waffles. This first-timer went in for lunch on Tuesday and got a two-piece entree with two sides for $8: catfish, greens and fries.
The catfish had a light, crispy batter, the greens were speckled with pieces of pork. Only the too-salty fries were left unfinished. The chef had just made cornbread and brought me out a square just to be neighborly. Unlike the crumbly cornbread commonly found, this version had a crunchy top. It’s the best cornbread I can remember eating.
You won’t be a stranger long at Chef Tim’s. “How are you doing, Mr. Dave?” Tim Hanson called across the room as I ate. Uh-oh, there goes my anonymity. But it turned out he had no idea how he knew me or my name; he was sure that I’d been in a couple of times before and didn’t know what I do for a living. He must have a great storehouse of names and faces in his head; either that, or there’s another guy named David who looks like me roaming around (the poor sap).
The meat is cooked over oak and mesquite in two drum-like smokers out back. Hanson has 20 years of restaurant experience, but Tim’s, which opened in January 2009, is his first venture. I’ll have to go back for a po’boy sometime. Especially since he already knows my name.
Here’s a charming YouTube video about Chef Tim’s. Dig his puffy hat.