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Restaurants & Bars 4


Bill Foss | Dec 10, 200111:24 PM

Tonight my family didn't want to go to any of our neighborhood restaurants, and our children couldn't even agree on a nationality of food, much less a specific establishment. As she drove aimlessly down Artesia my wife suddenly said, "I know where to go!", and drove madly towards the Del Amo Mall. We pulled into the new Lucille's Bar-B-Que, located at 21420 Hawthorne Boulevard (where Houlihan's used to be). Lucille's just opened up three weeks ago, and no one who we knew had tried it. Upon entering I was immediately skeptical, because I couldn't smell smoke - that was a bad sign in a barbecue place. However, we were soon seated next to an enormous mechanical smoker such as I've seen in the South before but never in California, and when one of the servers opened it a welcoming perfume of hickory drifted out. At some places they have a smoker on display but don't actually use it much. This one was in constant operation, and the only reason I didn't catch its aroma on arrival was because of a powerful but quiet exhaust system. The appetizer list was more varied than expected, and the food choices were intriguing - not only barbecued ribs and chicken but Tri-Tip, catfish, jambalaya, and black tiger shrimp (to name a few). I ordered a Caesar salad and one of the BBQ combinations - they have them ranging from $13.95 to $139.95 (don't panic, it feeds ten people). The Caesar salad was small but tasty, and was accompanied by some of the best homemade-tasting biscuits with apple butter that I have ever laid lips on. The service was attentive, and the food came quickly. My "St. Louis" style pork ribs were excellent, although my wife's were slightly too blackened for her taste. She sent them back, and a properly done replacement set was at the table in moments. The ribs had a good smoke flavor, and the sauce basted on them during cooking had a pleasant, if slightly sweet, flavor. The Tri-Tip was tender and wonderfully smoky, and the chicken was excellent. The combination that I just described came with a choice of any two of eleven different side dishes. I chose the garlic mashed potatoes, which were excellent, and the BBQ beans which were too sweet for my taste. My wife chose hot links as an ingredient in her plate, and they had a fine peppery spice to them. I like my hot links coarse-ground and these were fine-ground, but I would cheerfully order them in a future visit. The plates for all of the family had more food than we could possibly eat, and every bit of it was good. The wine list is short but that is in some measure made up by a good beer selection, some dazzlingly described specialty drinks, and a full page of mint juleps...and another full page of martinis. I can definitely see Lucille's as a place for some fine food and drink, even more so since they offer live blues sessions in the nightclub-like area next to the dining room. Pricing on all of this is a bit higher than your average 'cue place, but they have to pay the rent at the mall so I guess a few bucks of my check went to that. I consider it money well spent, and if you want to disprove the old adage that "You can't get good barbecue in a good neighborhood" this is a fine place to do it. My hope is that they keep up the quality, which will be a challenge with the traffic that their location is likely to generate. I will follow up with a report if there any changes, since my family will definitely be going back. Restaurant phone: (310)370-7427 They also have locations in Long Beach and Brea.

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