Friday, June 25, 2010

The Good and the Bad of Bad to the Bone BBQ

Bad to the Bone BBQ
31738 Rancho Viejo Road, #E
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

I have been on a self- imposed sabbatical from barbeque since I got back from Dallas in April. I did not think it would be fair to anyone if I was judging barbeque, not after having some of the best that the Lone Star state had to offer. But the old cravings have resurfaced, and I was ready to come out of my barbeque furlough. To mark this occasion, I went to the highly regarded Bad to the Bone BBQ, in San Juan.

Bad to the Bone, has been around since 2005. They were opened by two guys that have a passion for the meaty arts. They smoke their meats over hickory wood, for many hours. They have since opened one other location in San Clemente. Let's see if this was a great place to break me back into Orange County barbeque.  

For an appetizer, we started with the Stuffed Potato Skins. These were nothing like the menu described them. The menu said that these would have guacamole and bacon, but these came out with barbeque sauce and slices of beef on them. They were not bad, but not what we were expecting. They were missing the saltiness of the bacon. The beef on these was good, and hopefully, that was a sign of things to come.  

Starting off our meat-a-palooza, was the BBQ Tri-Tip Sandwich. This was served on a French roll with BBQ sauce on it. Katie ordered this with cheese and onions, but like the potato skins, this is not what she got. The sandwich was good anyways, but the onions and cheese probably would have put it over the top. The meat was very tender and smoky. The sides that she chose were potato salad and sweet potato fries. Both her and Richard loved the sweet potato fries, and I will yield to their opinion on these. The potato salad was average and was lacking in big flavor.

Richard, the birthday boy, ordered the full rack of Baby Back Pork Ribs. The ribs had a very smoky flavor, almost too much. The meat did not fall off the bone like the ribs did in Texas, but the meat did taste good. The ribs were also smaller here as well, not sure why that would be. For one of his sides, Richard got the Ranch Beans. I liked these, but they came out lukewarm at best. The flavor was fine but was made better with a few drops of hot sauce. One other point I wanted to make was, why would they put that piece of watermelon on the plate? That was one of the sorriest fruit garnishes that have ever appeared on this blog. They should have just left the watermelon out because serving it is just embarrassing.

I went with the Four Meat Combo Plate. I wanted to try as much of their menu as I could. The worst part of this plate was the Tri-Pepper House Sausage. The temperature issues resumed with this item. The sausage was not even close to being warm. The flavor was good but was hard to eat not being warm. The brisket and tri-tip were very tender and had great flavor. The winner of this plate was the pulled pork. They say that this is slow smoked for 14 to 16 hours, and after tasting it, I can assume they are correct. This was some of the best-pulled pork I have had around here, and I am looking forward to coming back and trying it on a sandwich. For a side item, I got the Garlic Mashed Potatoes. These did not have a lot of garlic on them, and some of the chunks of potato were not cooked all the way through. Not too impressed by these.

The consensus of our party was that Bad to the Bone is a good barbeque joint, but there is plenty of room for improvement. The meats were really good, and tender. They have a few temperature issues to work out. The meats are really the highlight here, but the side dishes are just mediocre or worse. The way that you order at a counter, then find your seat, and have the food brought out to you, is an awkward way of doing things for a barbeque joint like this. The guys were very slow to clear plates, and they were not very friendly. Also, there was no sauce on the table. It would have taken a while, to get someone's attention, so we just made do with what we had. So I am still looking for a barbeque place to make me forget my Texas adventure. If you know of anywhere, let me know.

Out of five George Thorogood albums, (because he sang the song, Bad to the Bone), five being best to zero being worst, Bad to the Bone barely gets 3 George Thorogood albums.

For more information about Bad to the Bone, click here:

Bad To the Bone BBQ on Urbanspoon


  1. I think you were there on an off night. This is my go-to BBQ place in OC. I think it ranks right up there with Blakes. My favs are the sliced brisket and the pulled pork. Also, the ranch beans are awesome.

  2. Anonymous - Thanks for taking the time to comment. We could have made it here on an off night. I have been back a few times, and it has been better, but still a little hit or miss. The pulled pork is always good, but their tri-tip needs some help. Still an above average spot for BBQ, but not as good as Blake's Place, or my new favorite, Fred's BBQ in Orange. Thanks for taking the time to read our blog. I appreciate it.