Joey’s BBQ, 3689 Riverside Drive (at East End), Chino; closed Mondays
Joey’s, established in 1978 by a couple of transplanted Texans, had a mini-empire at one point in the ’00s, with locations in Rancho Cucamonga, Pomona and Upland, but those have closed, in that order, leaving only the original in Chino.
I enjoyed many a meal at the Pomona Joey’s but had never been to the original, and didn’t even know where it was. When a friend suggested eating there, I was all for it.
It’s off the beaten path on the western end of the city, an area I’d never seen and which feels somewhat country. It was strangely thrilling, as if I’d driven through a wormhole into an alternate Inland Valley. This visit was after dark, increasing the mystery factor. I’m interested in returning during daylight hours for a better look, although I wonder if the sun will reveal a much more prosaic view. [Update: It did, but it still had its charms.] I drove home up East End, itself alternately rural and old industrial.
Joey’s occupies a corner and it’s a neat old wooden building, a kind of roadhouse, said to date to 1929, with a giant smoker out back. The interior has a Texas mural, below, and several dining rooms.
They smoke their meat over mesquite charcoal here. The menu has salads, a range of barbecue (beef and pork ribs, brisket, ham, tri-tip steak, turkey and chicken), steaks and sandwiches, with a range of sides and, for dessert, peach cobbler and bread pudding.
I got a half-order of St. Louis-style pork ribs, a dinner that came with two sides, from which I chose a baked potato and red cabbage slaw ($23.50). This was good, tender barbecue, and the sides were tasty too. I ate it all and could barely breathe.
My friend had an 8-ounce tri-tip with baked potato and potato chips ($19); she loves the tri-tip but the highly touted chips were a letdown.
The place has a lot of character, and a walk around afterward showed a fenced-in patio with picnic tables, strings of lights and a small stage for performers, with cowboy music taking place on weekends in warmer weather, I’m told. Looks like a fun place and I’ll be back.
(Joey’s might want to update its cash registers: My receipt still lists phone numbers for Upland and Pomona.)