Ah beautiful Santa Ana, California, the sun, the breeze, the Burrell’s BBQ?!?! Barbeque isn’t normally the first type of food that anyone thinks of in Santa Ana, it’s not normally the first food on the mind when you speak about California, but that doesn’t mean Californians can’t do BBQ. Tucked away deep inside Santa Ana is Burrell’s BBQ. Hidden inside a neighborhood, and disguised as a house, Burrell’s is quite unassuming, except for the 3 or 4 catering vans, the smokers in the driveway and the cuts of wood on the side. After playing nearly 2 hours of racquetball I wanted to reward myself for getting back into the swing of exercise with the reward of completely healthy all American BBQ. Ok maybe the healthy part is a stretch, but I think most Americans agree that BBQ is right up there with apple pie.
I arrived right at opening; in fact I even helped the lady running the counter put out one of the rugs. After she had everything situated I asked her what was good today, and she laughed and said everything. I went on to tell her I had the tri-tip my previous visit and that I liked baby back ribs, she said the baby backs are good and juicy, which sold me.
Being that I’m a food connoisseur and that I have to appease my adoring fans (actually I think only the voices in my head really read my reviews) I decided to not only get a lunch plate of baby back ribs ($8.95), with macaroni and cheese and a slice of cornbread, but I also toughed it out and got a side of collard greens ($2.00). The lunch plate consisted of ½ rack of ribs that were deliciously smoked and then smothered with a sweet sugary BBQ sauce. This is where Mr. Burrell and I will agree to disagree. I’m much more of a fan of the slightly sweet with a good amount of spice BBQ sauce, while Mr. Burrell coming from the Carolina’s appears to prefer a couple more cups of sugar then what I’m used to. It’s not to say that the sauce is bad, it’s just in BBQ there are so many differences of philosophies as to what’s the best.
I think next time I’ll get something without the sauce and just appreciate good smoked meat. But for someone who really likes SWEET BBQ sauce it’s not bad. Another thing there was a pool of watery liquid that formed under the ribs, I’m unsure if that was from the sauce or just condensation. On to the sides! The macaroni and cheese was just as good as it was my last visit months ago, elbow macaroni puffed up and surrounded by gobs of cheese, my favorite part was the slight dried crunch that the top of the dish gets because of it being baked. The cornbread was ok, I love cornbread, but it was a bit dry unfortunately. Lastly the collard greens… Being born and raised in Orange County my whole life the only collards I knew were the ones on my shirts, and the only greens we ate were of the canned or frozen green bean varieties. I really want to like collard greens, in fact I think for the most part I do, they really are a southern specialty and I want to keep trying different recipes till I find one I really like, Burrell’s were ok, but not the best I’ve had.
So there you have it, Burrell’s BBQ in Santa Ana, a Santa Ana mainstay for nearly thirty years. Order yourself some food, have a picnic, and enjoy some fresh air.