Famous Rib Shack

Pub date October 23, 2007
SectionFood & Drink

REVIEW Some people might tell you that when it comes to barbecue, it’s all about the sauce. But to paraphrase Dr. Dre: sauces ain’t nothin’ but hos and tricks. Which is to say, even the most powerful sauce is destined to be turned out by the true pimp in the grilled-meats game: the smoke. The folks at San Bruno’s Famous Rib Shack are above passing off mere flash-fired meats as smokalicious BB-to-the-m-f’in’-Q. I walked in with my daughter, Dolly, and ordered the Tailgate for Two combo: three pork ribs, three beef ribs, a quarter chicken, one hot link, two pieces of corn bread, and two sides (I chose mac and cheese and collard greens), all for a measly $26.95. These were not teensy little ribs; they looked like they’d been cut off the local 4-H club’s prize sow and cow. The pork fell off the bone, and the beef was flavorful, though a tad chewy in spots. Hot links often come direct from the factory, but this one was spiced to perfection and purportedly hand-made by the owner, Isaac Mejia. The chicken was good too, but poultry is more of a cleansing palliative in between ribs than real barbecue — chicken is a vegetable with wings.

The sauces? Mild, hot, and maple, and all good, though Mejia has his priorities straight and got the meat right first and foremost. His corn bread was bangin’, which is important, as I’m not a fan of joints that slap a slice of flimsy white bread on a paper plate and call it authentic. That’s cheating. Greens should not taste like stewed lawn clippings either, and the shack’s tasted like, well, pork — the Cadillac of meats. Finally, nothing makes a kid happier than a brownie for dessert, especially when it’s covered in nuts and marshmallows.

The word on the Internet is that the Famous Rib Shack used to be called Jimmy’s Famous Rib Shack. No disrespect to Jimmy, but unless he was St. James of the Rib Rack, his food could not have been better. Long live Isaac’s Famous Rib Shack.

FAMOUS RIB SHACK Mon.–Fri., 11 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sat.–Sun., 11 a.m.–10 p.m. 223 El Camino Real, San Bruno. (650) 952-2809