I finally got a chance to try this newish place downtown last night with my 4 1/2 yr old daughter, Sonja. We got there about 5:30 pm and I noticed a sign on the door that said "Happy Hour 4-6 pm: Ribs: $1.25 each" Now the decor is a little on the "sports bar" side but has a few nice touches including a large indoor water feature in front of a bar seating area that Sonja loved. After we sat ourselves down, a nice man brought over some water right away and our server Faye came over and asked us about drinks. We ordered lemonade (which was Ok) and she was kind enough to suggest adding raspberry syrup when Sonja wanted Raspberry Lemonade (sweet but pretty tasty). We decided to share a 1/4 BBQ Chicken Dinner with fries and "spicy"(not really) cornbread and have two ribs as well.
Since it wasn't crowded we didn't have to wait very long for our meal (10 minutes? Time is always hard for me to keep track of when I'm trying to herd little ones)
My goodness, what a lot of food! A big 'ol chicken thigh & leg, hearty serving of seasoned wedge fries (skins on), a dinner roll (ok), butter pats at the right temp., two good-sized ribs and I think the piece of cornbread was about 4" square. Here, the meat has a dry rub it (which I liked) and you have your choice of 4 sauces on the side (located on each table): Texas Spicy (I think that was the vinegar-based sauce, good flavor & texture), Girlyman (I didn't try), Kansas City Mild & Kansas City Spicy (my favorite, sweet with a little smoke & spice). My chicken and ribs were good and still moist, (I couldn't tell you about how smoky things were because I was just too hungry to notice) the fries were decent and the corn bread was fairly moist and a great vehicle to sop up the yummy sauce. I could only finish about half of the chicken after devouring the ribs (beef I think), so I asked for box for the rest. After Faye brought the box, she also brought out a sample of their Bread Pudding w/Whiskey Sauce. Man! Big chunks of bread, a sprinking of pecans, eggy/custardy stuff towards the bottom and the sauce was pretty good too. It was so hard to stop eating it, but I had to surrender after about halfway through.
Now I'm not a BBQ expert, but I love tasty food and a good deal. Our meal, including tax was $15.48 (with enough food leftover for another meal). Ok, this place ain't no "joint", has a number of healthier options like salads, grilled fish and broccoli & asparagus for sides
(it is in downtown Berkeley after all), but its definitely better than corporate BBQ fare IMO.
I'll be taking some of my extended family back on Sunday for a dual birthday bash for my husband and younger brother. Once I try the brisket and get other opinions, I'll report back
Looney's Smokehouse: 2190 Bancroft Way (@Fulton) Berkeley, Ca 94704
(510) 649-0628: www.looneysbbq.com