Restaurants & Bars

Terry’s Southern Style Fish and BBQ - Santa Rosa

Charlie T | Oct 10, 200206:28 AM     8

My mom has a BBQ fetish. When we lived in Virginia, driving in the summertime, she'd be able to zero in on perfect barbeque, usually a little shack 10 miles away from anywhere that'd be listed on a map. So I was excited when she called to let me know a few months ago that she'd finally found "good barbeque" in Santa Rosa. Terry's BBQ has been around for a while, but the location they moved into a few months ago is an out of the way place you wouldn't find too easily – it’s hidden inside the Days Inn on Santa Rosa Ave.

I finally made it up to Terry's for dinner about two months ago. We had a party of six, but my mom and dad, having had more than a few meals there, talked most of our table into getting the pork sparerib dinners. The ribs are really almost perfect. The meat is fall-off-the-bone tender with a satisfying smokiness penetrating clean through it. The meat had a nice texture to it, not too fatty, and just the right amount of caramelized flavor. The bbq sauce, (not too thick, not too sweet, pleasant spice, not much heat) played a nice hide-and-go-seek of flavors with the meatiness of the ribs. Ma said she usually gets the “hot” bbq sauce, but she skipped it saying last time someone had made it way too hot, to where you couldn’t enjoy the food.

We also had a fried catfish dinner and a smoked chicken dinner at the table. The catfish wasn't bad at all - whoever was working the fryer did a good job keeping it from getting too oily. But the pieces were kind of small - like nuggets, and not the large moist pieces I'd expected. I can't remember how the smoked chicken was, but I do remember staring at it (smoky pink inside, deep dark outside) while stuffing myself with the sides:

collard greens – I really like collard greens. These were not bad – but a little too watery for my taste. Greens were chopped small, floating with one or two little pieces of saltpork in a broth that I drank from the bowl when no-one was looking. Given the choice, I do prefer the greens more in ribbons, and the pot likker cooked down thicker, with a dash more vinegar bite to it. Whatever though - they weren’t bad greens.

green beans - same brothy mix as the collard greens. I liked these.

coleslaw – a very good coleslaw with a bit of crunch to it, not too watery, not too dense, clean clear flavors, and spiced with a little bit of heat

french fries – thin cut, fried to a good crispiness, also well spiced

baked beans & potato salad – can’t remember, but I do remember someone saying the potato salad was the best they’ve had in a while.

hush puppies – memorable – again, someone’s working magic with the fryer in the kitchen! Perfect crisp outside, not greasy at all, moist insides, good texture, nice heat from Jalapeno shreds inside.

Corn bread – a little bit dry.

Saved room for dessert too –

Homemade sweet potato pie – another winner – a truly great pie where the ingredients shine through proudly. Moist filling, not too sweet at all, distinctly sweet potato, not a “wannabe pumpkin”. Flaky crust.

Peach cobbler – a homey cobbler, ample and cushiony, I’d get this one smothered a la mode to make the experience complete.

Barbara (girlfriend) and I made it back to Terry’s last Friday evening for a late dinner. This time we noticed the Combination Dinners (any 2 entrees $15.50, any 3 for $17.50, and any 4 for $26.50, with 4 sides). So we ordered a ribs & pork chop combo, and a ribs & fried chicken combo.

The ribs were a just as good as I’d remembered. This time though, the very edge of the end pieces were overcooked to leave a crust that was too hard to chew through. This is a small complaint though. The rest of the meat was so flavorful and moist, the sauce so tasty, and the portions so generous that we’d already decided to go back the next day for lunch.

Anyway, back to dinner: the pork chops were well seasoned - peppery with a true grill flavor. The chops are pretty thin (maybe ¼ inch at the most), but completely moist and tasty. I’d definitely try these again. It’s too bad Terry’s no longer serves breakfast (pork chops, fried chicken, pancakes, eggs & grits!), but “we can’t compete with the hotel giving that continental breakfast away for free”.

Fried chicken - that fryer alchemy at work again! Crisp savory shell of skin (not too oily or greasy at all), encasing perfectly moist and tender meat. This is classic full-flavored homestyle fried chicken enjoyment without either the dryness/ blandness of “upscale fried chicken”, or the palate numbing, clearly-arteriosclerotic fat dripping, chemically marinated, quick-fix “fastfood chain chicken”.

Lunch the next day involved more ribs and the tri tip. There’s a separate lunch menu (served 11a – 4p), with lower prices and a BBQ sandwich and burger that I didn’t see on the dinner menu (but I did see someone eating a burger the night before). Also, the lunch menu didn’t have combos listed, but I could order the dinner combo anyway.

On to the tri-tip. The tri-tip was the perfect way to end a visit to Terry’s. Like so many of the treasures coming out of the pit here, the tri-tip was marked by a toothsome and satisfying true meat flavor slow-cooked throughout the moist slices of beef. We also requested a side of the hot sauce for the ribs, but ended up preferring the “regular” for its more balanced and complex flavors.

We were hoping to get a piece of the coconut cream pie, but it turns out the family coconut cream pie specialist has just started school at the JC and hasn’t had time to make the pies or pass on the recipe. Look forward to coming back to try it.

Terry’s Southern Style Fish and BBQ is located inside the Days Inn at 3345 Santa Rosa Ave. From the 101, as you’re getting into Santa Rosa (northbound), take the Todd Road exit (east), and take a left (north) onto Santa Rosa Ave at the light. The Days Inn is on the left, about 0.6 miles up. Either go in the front through the lobby, or drive left around the building, park in the rear and walk directly into the restaurant. Terry’s is a family- run operation, and everyone we met was really hospitable and friendly. Portions are generous, refills were free, and most importantly, the food is good!

Call them for their current hours (707) 526-9090. I think they’re open all day Sat/Sun, closed Mondays, and open for lunch and dinner with a break in the afternoon from Tuesdays to Fridays. I think they just started offering wine (limited selection), but you can byob with a corkage fee ($6?).

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