Restaurant of the Week: Lucille’s BBQ

lucilles1

Lucille’s BBQ, 12624 N. Mainstreet (at Eden), Victoria Gardens, Rancho Cucamonga; also 4611 Chino Hills Parkway (at Ramona), Chino Hills

Lucille’s, a barbecue chain, was one of the original tenants when Victoria Gardens opened in 2004. And it’s still there, while adding a location in Chino Hills. Did you know the Signal Hill-based chain is owned by the same people behind the coffee shop chain Hof’s Hut? The gauzy story on the Lucille’s website about its origins under “Lucille Buchanan” is actually fiction, as the company admits. Ha ha!

I don’t feature chains here very often, but when there’s only one or two local locations, I’ll do it. In this case, a group of friends was celebrating a couple of birthdays recently at the VG, so I was there anyway. It was a Saturday night and the place was jammed.

Lucille’s is colorful and corporate-kitschy, with neon signs outside and quaint-looking advertising-type signs inside: “Good choices: FDR & BBQ,” “Was one mint julep the cause of it all?” The booths have coat racks and hanging lamps reminiscent of mid-century diners. But many employees wear earpieces to receive orders from their BBQ Overlords, or maybe Memphis, so it’s not quite cozy.

The food’s pretty good, actually. One of my friends swears the jambalaya is the best he’s ever had. My experiences there have been solid. The menu has barbecue, Southern specialties, sandwiches and salads.

That night I had a decent half-rack of St. Louis ribs ($24, below) and two sides: cheesy grits, boring, and collard greens, surprisingly good. When you’re done, they give you a hot towel, like at a Japanese restaurant, and that’s a nice touch, and better than Wet-Naps, for cleaning sauce off your hands.

I went back for lunch a few days later to try something else, getting a pulled pork sandwich ($12, below) with more of those greens. It was a meaty sandwich and I ate some of the pork with a knife and fork. This was a good choice.

There’s an adjoining bar, the Flying Pig Lounge, where they have a band every night playing blues. Otherwise, the sound system has blues, of the sleek B.B. King and Eric Clapton variety. They probably don’t know who Peetie Wheatstraw is.

We don’t have a lot of true Southern restaurants out here (J&J’s in Pomona is my favorite), making Lucille’s a credible barbecue spot by default. It’s a cartoon version of the South, sure. But so what? Cartoons are entertaining, and as chains go, Lucille’s is benign, and even fun.

lucilles2

lucilles4

lucilles3

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email
  • DebB

    You have to be ready for lots of noise when you go to Lucille’s, at least at dinner time. I’ve been there for lunch when it wasn’t too bad. I like their food, although in our family there is some discussion as to whether Lucille’s or Famous Dave’s is better for BBQ. Next time, try a side of Lucllle’s mashed sweet potatoes – so delish!

    • davidallen909

      I agree, lunchtime is quieter. It was no problem reading by myself at lunch. I prefer Famous Dave’s barbecue but it’s possible Lucille’s is better overall.

  • Joanne Dallas

    This is a favorite fun place. We like to choose and share lots of appetizers. Fried pickle we thought a joke but found very good. As you say, it’s corporate kitch, but done with some charm. Staff is also friendly.

    • davidallen909

      I was secretly worried someone would criticize me for writing about Lucille’s so having three comments so far, all positive, is nice to see.

      • Joanne Dallas

        We enjoy your recommendations. For instance, we tried 7th Heaven in Upland and like it. We might never have noticed it but for your column.

  • Ramona

    Lucille’s is a special place for us. Noisy, but the good music filters through. Staff is great. The only problem I have when going there is trying to choose something to eat. It all looks so good. We usually end us sharing plates. So much fun when someone hauls a large chunk of meat out of the barbeque thingy in front.

    • davidallen909

      Love the giant barbecue cooking thingy. (I don’t know what it is either.)

  • Steve Morris

    Dave, EXCELLENT new bakery in Chino: a Chinese bakery. Found out about them via my dentist whose office is in same center. I would call it a Chinese/French fusion bakery. Jia Pon Bakery & Cafe, 12570 Central Ave, Chino, 909-590-2388. [South of Walnut, west side of Central, in the small center immediately behind Big Lots]

    • davidallen909

      I’ve made a note of it. Thanks, Steve.

  • David Austin

    One of these days, I’m going to have to tear myself away from the jambalaya and try something else………but I just can’t seem to do it. 🙂

    • SAWZ

      I get in ruts like that too–and it really kills me when a restaurant discontinues a favorite meal or side dish. The thought of jambalya is very enticing, but how can I not order tri-tip!

  • SAWZ

    It is a very expensive place–the tri-tip is the best! I am not surprised to learn that Lucille’s belongs to the same company as Hofs Hutt–I had eaten at Hofs Hutt in Belmont Shore–and it was a very popular place there and very good.

  • Suzanne Watte

    Love their food! Another great review, David!