What makes a great plate of barbecue is hotly debated. Some say it's all about the meat — that tender and tasty bite that's a cut above. For others, it comes down to the region, rubs or sauces lending a distinct flavor to your plate.
So, where can you find the best barbecue in Surf City USA®? Here's your answer to that burning question. From prime cuts grilled California-style to slow-smoked Texas brisket, these five barbecue restaurants in Huntington Beach offer mouthwatering feasts with all the fixings.
Old Crow SmokehouseBack to Top of List
Live country music every Friday and Saturday night sets the mood for digging into a full slab of baby back ribs. Hailing from the Midwest, this Pacific City honky tonk brings a bit of old fashioned barbecue to the beach. Pork and beef cuts are dry-rubbed with a signature “Scrugg’s Rub” developed by Tony Scruggs, Old Crow’s chef who competed on season two of “MasterChef.” Though he specializes in Chicago-style barbecue, you’ll find a medley of regions represented on the restaurant menu, including Memphis, Kansas City, Texas and the Carolinas. Try the 12-hour beef brisket or pulled pork country nachos piled high with house-made Worcestershire cheese sauce and baked beans.
Beale's Texas BBQBack to Top of List
Up at Peter’s Landing Marina, chef Brett Beale brings the skills he honed in his Santa Ana backyard to his waterfront restaurant known for its slow-smoked meat. A former competitor in the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest, he has created Beale's unique menu of homemade recipes featuring a collection of different rubs he blends himself. From straightforward St. Louis ribs and pulled pork slow-smoked with the Grand Champion rub to “Flinstone-style” short rib playfully plated on the bone, it’s tough to choose just one — so make it a combo plate with up to three meats and sides like honey cheese cornbread and collard greens. Don’t skip the famous 24-hour smoked brisket for a melt-in-your-mouth bite of perfectly seasoned meat.
Santa Maria BBQBack to Top of List
The Golden State has its own kind of barbecue that hails from the Central Coast, and you can sample this California tradition at Surf City USA’s Santa Maria BBQ. Located at Edinger Avenue and Goldenwest Street, the casual eatery serves up meats barbecued on-site over signature red oak wood. The beef tri-tip sandwich, featuring thinly sliced meat piled generously in a soft bun, is an excellent pick, as is the “cheesy porker” — a delight for meat lovers who just can’t get enough. Between two halves of a buttery sesame seed bun, slow-smoked pulled pork is topped with andouille sausage, homemade maple-cured bacon and, of course, cheese.
Chicken in a Barrel BBQBack to Top of List
Chicken in a Barrel is serving up a special kind of barbecue to downtown crowds, bringing its one-of-a-kind cooking style from the shores of Kauai to the beaches of Surf City USA. Using a custom drum barrel to grill each cut of meat, the laidback eatery prepares juicy, flavorful rotisserie chicken that’s fall-off-the-bone delicious. Smokey and tender, the chicken goes great with homemade chili beans prepared with a secret spice. While the chicken is a standout, there are also baby back ribs, pulled pork and pulled beef on the menu served a la carte, between buns or as an entree plate.
Hambone's Bar & GrillBack to Top of List
If you’re in the mood for a good old family-style cookout, this barbecue joint on Adams Avenue at Brookhurst Street is a local favorite. Serving California barbecue with wood-smoked prime meats cut to order, Hambone’s offers a loaded menu with specialties like baby back or beef ribs, meats like tri tip, hot links, brisket and pulled pork by the pound, and combo plates that come with traditional sides like collard greens and cornbread. Signature sauces range from a sweet and smooth mild to a creamy remoulade prepared with a California twist (a great pick if you’re mixing it up with some seafood dishes like the fried catfish nuggets or po’ boy with shrimp or filet of sole).