Having gone almost 3 weeks since my last dosage of BBQ, I was craving beef ribs pretty badly this afternoon. A slight road trip took me to southern OC, where there are still a couple of BBQ places I haven't tried yet. I decided to check out Ribs on the Run in Laguna Hills.
Now I don't clearly remember whether it was on Chowhound or somewhere else on the Web where I read less-than-mediocre reviews of Ribs on the Run. Of the few people who've tried the place and written a review on it, none of the reviews ever praised this place. So why the hell would I even go? Because I'm a BBQ lover, and sometimes, I feel the need to check out a place myself to confirm opinions of others or to refute them. Would I agree with all previous opinions, or go against the grain and give them positive praise?
Located in the middle of an outdoor strip mall, it was a bit hard to locate, as you can't see the sign easily from the street. But once I found it, I eagerly scanned the menu to see what they offered. I ended up going with my standard BBQ beef ribs, with sides of a bowl of chili (which seems rare at most BBQ places nowadays), mashed potatoes, and two pieces of cornbread.
When I got my order, it was a good sign when the rib bones were hot to the touch. There were also generous portions of meat on the bones, about 25% meat-to-bone ratio (where I consider 20% to be normal, and 30% to be extremely meaty). This meal plate was advertised as offering 3 beef ribs, but I got 4 on my order, which I wasn't going to complain about. :-) Not much sauce on it either, which is also another good sign. The ribs are slightly small for beef ribs, maybe in the 8" range, but there's a lot of meat on them.
I bite into the first rib, and wow, this is pretty good. The meat is almost falling off the bone. Another good sign. Meat is pretty tender, not much effort to chew through. Wow, this is turning out to be a whole lot better than I expected.
Let's sample the sides. Mashed potatoes, there's no gravy, so let's see how it is on its own. Decent, pretty good, little dark red pieces, probably bits of the potato skins mixed in. Sampling the chili, fair amount of meat mixed with the beans, some cheddar cheese mixed in that is melted on top, hey, this is good, too. Not piping hot, but pretty good taste, better than the canned stuff.
OK, let's try the cornbread. Cool to the touch, so it's not fresh out of the oven. Take a bite, it's slightly sweet, and it's not crumbling apart in my hands. It's somewhat soft and not hard like a brick as I've had at some places. Not among the best, but much better than at most places I've had. I end up eating both pieces of cornbread, which is rare for me, because I'm usually not a big fan of the stuff.
Back to the ribs, as I eat and eat and eat every last bit of meat off the bones, I keep thinking it can't be this good. Maybe I caught them on the right day where the beef ribs are great. Maybe the beef ribs are the only thing they do right, and all the previous reviewers sampled other items that were less than stellar. Maybe my taste buds are way off, but others seem to agree with my Chowhound reviews, and I agree with most others when it comes to BBQ.
Maybe all the stars were aligned during my lunch, as I ordered the right item at the right time on the right day, because this was a pretty top notch BBQ lunch I just had. Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a praising review of Tulsa Rib Company in Orange and ranked it the best BBQ in OC I've had so far. Dare I say that Ribs on the Run comes a very close 2nd, maybe even a 1-B ranking next to the 1-A for Tulsa Rib for their beef ribs?
These beef ribs easily blow out the other OC BBQ competition, like Johnny Rebs, Mike's BBQ, Chris & Pitts, Burrell's, Lou's Oak Oven, Clayton Shurley's, Beach Pit BBQ, Texas Pit BBQ, and Claim Jumper. It also passes a few of the LA places I've been to like the Rib Nest and Mom's BBQ. Joey's BBQ still receives my #1 ranking, but Ribs on the Run sure gives them a major run for the money.
After such a great meal, I know I will visit them again in the future. Hopefully, I can determine then whether today's lunch was a fluke, or Ribs on the Run is really a major BBQ player in OC. I'm glad to have another BBQ option relatively nearby that I can visit regularly.
Other items they have on the menu that I didn't sample: St. Louis-style BBQ pork ribs, baby back pork ribs, BBQ chicken, fried shrimp, beef tri-tip, buffalo wings, pulled pork sandwiches, etc.
Ribs on the Run
Original New York BBQ
24881 Alicia Pkwy #C
Laguna Hills, CA