On our way home from the local Honey Baked Ham store the wife and I paid our first visit to Eric's a couple of weeks ago to check the comestibles out. Why, you ask, would someone with forty dollars worth of porcine succulence nestling right there, on the seat next to him (no not the wife, the spiral sliced pinkness) have any need to stop for chow? Because as any good Chowhound knows, no sacrifice is too great in the never ending quest for barbeque nirvana.
I had just read about Eric's in the Inland Valley edition of the L.A. Times the day before. Normally I don't pay too much heed to the woman who does the restaurant reviews in this local edition, but I think the enticing photo of a brisket sandwich took control of my subconcious.
Eric's is tucked away in one of those ubiquitous "distribution center" parks that seem to be the contemporary industry replacing the cows, citrus, grapes and other agricultural products that used to proliferate around here. Although, I can assure you there are still plenty of cows around here. At last count there were 350,000 of the bovines in the neighborhood, and believe me, the number one manufacturered product here is not what comes out of an udder, but rather another orifice.
But I digress. So Eric's is sharing space in a warehouse like building on Schaefer Avenue, a couple of blocks east of Central Avenue in Chino. His posted hours are Monday through Friday, because I believe most of his business right now is at lunch time from the local labor pool in "Distributionland". But each of the two times I have visited his establishment it was on a Saturday afternoon. Each time I entered a neat, clean, utilitarian establishment and was greeted by Eric and two or three of his helpers. The first foray we ate at Eric's, this afternoon I brought it home.
So on the first ocassion we had a baby back ribs/chicken combination plate and a beef ribs/brisket combination plate. The plates came with a side salad (your choice of cole slaw or potato salad), a side of beans and a couple of slices of garlic toast. Today I brought home a slab of baby backs, a half slab of spare ribs, a double meat brisket sandwich and sides of cole slaw and potato salad.
Eric knows his 'que. The baby backs passed the wife test (she is picky about her barbeque). The beef ribs were very meaty. The spare ribs were meaty, very porky tasting, and falling off the bone. So much so that when I lifted a rib off the table, the bone slid out of the meat, clean as a whistle, the bone in my fingers, the meat still on the table.
Eric's brisket is the best I have had in my recollection. He told me that it is in the pit for about 14 or 15 hours. It is very tender. I liked the brisket so much on that first visit that before we left, I ordered two pounds to take home. Then like the true Chowaholic that I am, I hoarded the brisket in the fridge for as long as I could hold out, about two days, and then scarfed it down. Well not all of it, since I did sneak a few nibbles here and there before then. It was so good I did not even bother to warm it up, just ate it cold out of the foam container, with some of Eric's sauce, also cold.
Eric is partial to a sweet sauce, but it has a nice flavor, and he has plenty of bottles of Tabasco on the counter if you want to perk it up a bit. I had the sauce straight when we ate at Eric's. Today I woke it up with a dribble of Stubbs' Inferno Wing Sauce. If you have ever had Stubbs' sauce, you know that all you need is a dribble. I never tried it, but I'll bet Stubbs' Inferno Wing Sauce will burn through steel a lot better than hydrochloric acid.
Eric's cole slaw is not bad. I have had better, and I have had a lot worse. (Boy do I long for some Love's cole slaw.) The potato salad is nothing to write home about. The family compared it to the take out potato salad we get from Stater Brothers in Upland, and Stater Brothers beat it out.
The cole slaw is good for slathering on your sandwich though. The brisket sandwich comes on a non-descript french roll with pickles and thinly sliced bermuda onion. I had them hold the pickles, and as mentioned above, upgraded to a double meat portion, then added some extra sauce and layed on the cole slaw. Very nice.
The meat is what Eric specializes in and it is definately what he does best. All of the meat was tender, not too smoky, and had that nice pink tinge around the edges so you know that it comes from a pitmaster.
Eric's also has free delivery for orders over $10 and does catering.
If you try out Eric's please post your findings here, I'd like to know how Inland Empire Chowhounders feel Eric's stacks up against any or all of the other local places. And if you know of good 'cue in the Inland Empire, please post that. I am so tired of the chain restaurant dullness around here, and the whitebread emporiums they call Chinese restaurants around here.
Here is the perinent info on Eric's:
Eric's Cafe - Pit Smoked BBR - Catering
5670 Schaefer Avenue #A
Chino Wayne (Ah sweat hometown Chino, famous for cow shit and convicts.)