Barn Burner Texas Barbeque

Barn Burner Texas Barbeque

My wife and I were out in Pasadena a few weeks ago when we noticed a new addition to the Fair Oaks Avenue landscape. A large bright red barn with the words “Barn Burner Texas Barbeque” sat there in front of us. I was actually trying to get over to Zeke’s in La Cañada but when the wife asked me if I wanted to give it a try, I couldn’t say no.

As we turned into the parking lot we noticed all of the antiques and vintage paraphernalia spread over the landscape. There was also some old-school-drive-in-hang-on-your-window styled speakers fastened to some poles in the parking lot. I’m not sure if they are actually functional. They have outdoor seating as well as indoor. The antique/vintage look from the exterior is carried into the interior.

The restaurant interior is pretty spacious, similar to a large dance hall. There is plenty of seating especially for large parties. We sat down and ordered our drinks, iced tea and lemonade, and were given a basket of peanuts. The drinks were served in a very large mason jar, perfect for washing down the huge amount of peanuts that we were consuming. The floor is littered with spent peanut shells so we figured that was the thing to do. So there we were shucking peanuts and sipping our drinks while we planned our order strategy (usually consists of getting the largest sampling of the restaurant’s BBQ without ordering the entire menu).

They tried to create a simple menu but it was still a little overwhelming. The combinations are sold in half-pound-of-meat increments with a choice of two sides and a roll (or two rolls, depending on the combo). The combos start at half a pound ($9.25) and go up to two pounds ($27.95). Simple enough unless your order includes tri-tip, in which case you would have a surcharge of $3.00 per half pound of tri-tip. Or, if you add baby back ribs the surcharge would be $4.00 per half pound. As you can see things can add up pretty quick when you read the fine print. There are also a couple of chicken combos that are sold by the quarter and not the pound. They also have a surcharge of a buck-fifty for all white meat.

We ordered the “Get it Straight George”($19.95) which was the one-and-a-half-pound combo. This would give us a sampling of three meats and two sides, which is plenty of food for two people. For our meats we ordered the baby back ribs (+ $4.00), tri-tip (+ $3.00) and the brisket (whew! No surcharge, but now with the running total of $26.95). For the sides, we did the beans and the coleslaw.

Our order came and we weren’t impressed with the presentation, the meat was thrown into these paper-lined plastic trays. Our waitress had gotten our meats confused and called the brisket, tri-tip and the tri-tip, brisket. The meat also came with pre-applied BBQ sauce, which I had asked her not to do. It wasn’t that much sauce, but I didn’t care too much for it. Overall the meats all had good smoke flavor from the mesquite wood but it seemed as thought they didn’t season the meat on the outside at all.

The tri-tip was not as good as I would have expected. It was dry and a little tough. The BBQ sauce didn’t even help it out. The baby back ribs were overcooked and disappointing as well. The brisket was the big surprise; it was tender and full of beef flavor… and no surcharge. I just wish that they had seasoned it better. The coleslaw was pretty tasty along with the beans. The sides ended up being the real hit at the table.

After all of that BBQ that we didn’t finish, we ordered dessert for a change of pace… peach cobbler of course. That might have been the biggest disappointment of the afternoon. It looked really good on the outside. But, once inside we discovered far too much pectin and not nearly enough peaches. Barn Burner Barbecue just opened for business this summer and is still an infant as far as BBQ restaurants are concerned. They still have plenty of time to work some of these kinks out. Hopefully they will do it sooner than later.

Barm Burner Texas Barbeque smoker
Barn Burner’s smoker.

old-school window speakers
Old school drive-in movie speakers.

interior space
The inside.

lemonade
Lemonade.

peanuts
Basket of peanuts. They started sweeping up the shell and kicking up dust while we were eating.

BBQ brisket
BBQ brisket.

BBQ tri-tip
BBQ tri-tip.

BBQ baby back ribs
Baby back ribs.

peach cobbler
Peach cobbler.

Barn Burner Texas Barbeque
1000 South Fair Oaks Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91105
(626) 403- RIBS
web site

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37 thoughts on “Barn Burner Texas Barbeque

  1. Ate at this restaurant and was very disappointed. The food was fair, the prices were high and the service was fair.

    If you want to try some real mouth watering BBQ you should try Canyon City BBQ in Azusa. It’s on the corner of 4th and San Gabriel Blvd.

  2. Ate at this restaurant and was very disappointed. The food was fair, the prices were high and the service was fair.

    If you want to try some real mouth watering BBQ you should try Canyon City BBQ in Azusa. It’s on the corner of 4th and San Gabriel Blvd.

  3. I wanted Barn Burner to be good-I live right near it and watched while they built it. I am sad to say it was less than good and I tried it several times.
    Tough brisket, Tough tri tip, hardly any smoke flavor et al.
    In L.A. you have to go to South Central to get good ‘cue, period.
    My new requirement for a barbecue joint is bullet proof glass at the front
    counter, wood stacked outside and a paper towel dispenser by the picnic tables.
    I’ll see you at Jay-B’s on Avalon and Alondra…you’ll smell the smoke.

  4. Our boos took us there in August of 2006. The experience was so so. Great brisket. Very dry ribs. Ok chicken. Hight prices.

    Ok if you are in the area and REALLY want some BBQ, but SoCal has many better offerings.

  5. Sucks! Had the chicken, tasted like boiled chicken with BBQ sauce on top. And they ask you the most awkwardest question, “would you like a waiter ot to serve yourself?” I don’t know if they have changed this rule but it was kinda weird trying to decide. Food was not impressive at all. I went when they first opened so I don’t know if things have changed.

  6. What do I know about Texas bbq? I was born in Iowa. I too have always thought the prices at Barnburner to be on the steep side, but I usually order the tri-tip sandwich which has been uneven, in terms of the amount of meat on the roll, but it’s always had good flavor. And it’s alot cheaper than buying bbq by the pound. (Since the first time I went to Barnburner I thought that was a stupid way of expecting people to order food. What if you’re dining solo?)

    However, the real reason to go to Barnburner has nothing to do with bbq. You go for the house-made potato chips! They used to give you a good-sized sample when you sat down, but now you have to order them. Kinda greasy, but hot and crunchy.

  7. this one i’ll have to agree with the review
    this place it pretty much awful
    super dry meat and not much flavor

    except for the comment about the presentation
    honestly who cares about that when you are reviewing bbq ?
    you are sitting in a room at a picnic table throwing peanuts on the floor

    i had no problem with the presentation
    and i rather liked hucking peanuts across the table at my wife

    to bad the food sucked

    – jru

  8. I love BBQ and have eaten at most every joint in LA. I stayed away from the Barn Burner for a long time in favor of Hogly Wogly’s and the like. Finally one night I trudged over there and was actually pleasantly surprised. I have been back several times since and each time things are a little different and usually a little better. It seems a year or so after opening they are still figuring the BBQ game out. The last time I was there the beef ribs were literally flopping off the bone and the brisket was tender and tasty. Their regular sauce is so-so, but they have a pretty good spicy sauce that you can request, and it make a difference.
    In the end I’ve put the Barn Burner on my regular rotation and enjoy going there with the wife. It’s getting better and I strongly suggest everybody try it at least once.

  9. I’m also a Texan, and I was sorely disappointed in the Barn Burner BBQ. There’s no self-respecting barbecue joint in Texas that would hang “Texas-themed” stuff on the walls and throw peanut shells on the floor. Of course, no self-respecting Texas BBQ joint would serve what the Barn Burner calls barbecue, either. I go all the way to Red’s in Simi Valley for my BBQ, ’cause it’s a shorter trip than back to Texas.

  10. to explain why this place is sooo cavernous and friggin’ HUGE is that this really used to be a big ol’ RED BARN!

    back in the 80’s as I recall it was a feed store specializing in horses and large animals, selling things like bales of hay.

    this structure has been in Pasadena since DIRT ROADS. and for years was practically vacant till this restaurant came into the fray.

    I agree w/ all of you’s that it’s not the best barbecue, but you cannot blame a business for trying to make money. If I had a choice and money I would open up an extravagant and flashy Japanese Restaurant like Tokyo Delve right across the street! What this place has is TRAFFIC, and the best traffic! You cannot miss this place!

    Remember the place that is now El Cholo was for many many years an English Pub Restaurant “The Pub & Bull”

    So the true test is how long a business can survive in that location before it closes down and becomes another place of business. But as long ass events like The Rose Bowl and Parade is here, I think these places will be here for a long time.

  11. I was very disappointed in the Barn Burner. The food was nothing to write home about and the service was also lacking.

    I think Canyon City BBQ in Azusa (the old El Patio Restaurant)is one of the best BBQ places in the San Gabriel Valley. The food is excellent, service is good. It is a family owned and run restaurant. The owners are friendly and you always feel welcome. You better go early as they run out of food sometimes because it is awesome.

  12. Just thought I would add my 2 cents. I’ve grubbed on a lot of Texas cue in Dallas, Ft Worth and Austin and let me tell you, this place would not survive out there. It isn’t even as good as Dickey’s in Dallas.
    Also, the service is HORRIBLE! The servers are friendly enough, but while we sat there and waited and waited and waited, we had an uncoordinated series of no less than four waiters/waitresses. It took forever to get our iced tea, our orders taken etc. A few times we would get the courteous “I’ll be there in a a minute to take your order” but the person never came back. And then another one would come by and say the same thing. Eventually we got our meal and it’s not just because of the effort it took to get the food, it was just so-so. The smoke flavor caould barely be perceived (and they use mesquite in Texas not hickory. Mostly because it grows like weeds out there). Don’t know what kind of wood they use here. At least it had a faint smoke ring. And true, the peanuts were stale. I thought maybe someone had spilled something on them, but when I went to the cart and got some more…. same thing.
    Will I go here again? Probably not.

  13. My experience at Barn Burner in Pasadena was also not one for the books. The food was underwhelming to say the least, and the service was abysmal. My entree allowed me the choice of two sides, I picked beans and a lettuce ‘wedge’. My bill came with an added cost for the wedge, after some squabbling with my server (I really wouldn’t have sweated $2 extra but since I was getting no service I didn’t feel like getting screwed twice), the manager was called.

    She explained that even though the wedge was listed under ‘sides’ in the menu and the HUGE board above the counter it really didn’t count as an option that could be added to my entree that allows me two ‘sides’ – my server should have told you that, she said, but I’ll go ahead and take this off your bill this time.

    Gee thanks.

  14. There is nothing Texas about this place. What happened to Big Tex?? At least when he was there the food was decent and the place was entertaining. Now no one speaks english and no one has a clue on what BBQ is. Who has ever heard of Texas spaghetti?? Maybe they should consider putting up a For Sale sign and stick to their El Cholos.

  15. Save your money, I took my family there. They are still working out there kinks. I’m still trying to get me teeth back in my mouth pray for me

  16. I’ve been to Barn Burner twice. The first time was shortly after it opened, and it was awful. The second time was on a whim about 4 months later. They told me they were still working on the food the first time I was there, so I went back to see if they had made progress. I got Brisket, Baby backs and Links. The brisket was tough, the Baby backs weren’t tender, and the links were really grainy. The manager stopped by to see how I was doing. I told him I was from Texas, and this is not Texas BBQ. I asked him how they were cooking it. He didn’t know, so he led me back into the kitchen and asked around. Turns out the ribs were in an industrial smoker for about 4 hours. I told him I wouldn’t think of taking them out before 6 hours. I also told him to get a better quality of meat product, and he said they were already looking for other vendors. I surely hope they get better, but until they do they should take the Texas off the sign, it’s insulting.

  17. This place is terrible. My rule of thumb for bbq joints is always look for wood stacked outside before I even go inside. I’m convinced that Barn Burners uses a gas smoker. That disqualifies it from being considered real bbq in my book. Even so, I was willing to consider it on its own merits as restaurant, but they, too, were lacking. Call it what you will, but the food here is not very good. I do like their spicy sauce, but any place that has to hide behind their sauce (especially one claiming to be “Texas” bbq) should make one think twice about eating there in the first place.

    If you’re in the San Gabriel Valley (or, for that matter, anywhere in So-Cal) I HIGHLY recommend you drive to Canyon City BBQ in Azusa. It is by far the best Texas bbq I’ve had outside of Texas. (And, yes, they have a cord of wood stacked outside.) Lately I’ve been going fishing and hiking up in the San Gabriel mountains just as an excuse to hit this joint on the way back to the freeway.

  18. I have to agre with the majority of the people and their comments.I had a craving for BBQ and I saw this place on my way home and pulled in. I was disapointed in the food and prices. If I am paying $24.00 a pound for ribs,I was expecting a lot better.

  19. MY wife and I spotted this place yesterday and decided to give it a try. BIG MISTAKE! I wish I had seen the reviews before we went.
    This was one of the worst places I have ever eaten. The food is worse than food-court mall food. The service was horrible, my waiter didn’t understand english, made mistakes on the order and the manager acted like it was my fault. We walked out feeling so ripped off and I yrge anyone that reads this to drive on by and don’t even think about stopping.

  20. “Movies projected against the wall” and a “tub washing station” do not a bbq pit make. It’s okay to really like this place, for whatever reason, but it is impossible to like this place for its food, service, or soul, because it has no soul, lousy service and overpriced bad food. And I don’t think adding salads and better desserts will make the meat any better or the food nearly worth the price they’re charging in this “great looking” gilded warehouse of a bbq pit bad dream. Movies on the wall . . . tub washing station . . . is that what makes a Texas-style bbq pit great? Why not dress the waiters and waitresses up like clowns and call um rodeo decoys, cause there’s a whole lot of bull going down at the ol’ Barn Burner.

  21. I really liked this place. They have a great looking space and the food wasn’t too bad. Give it some time to work out the menu, add some salad and better desserts and it could be better. Definitely like the “casual” atmosphere and touches like movies projected against the wall and tub washing station.

  22. Okay folks, I am saddened to say that my experience was not very good. I went on a neighbor’s recommendation and reading the top part of this page. Unfortunately I did not read the people’s comments. I love them, from political to food.

    So here is my opinion. I had just had Barbeque at a wonderful place called Dante’s on Colorado Blvd in Eagle Rock, and had wonderful dinner and a lovely time the staff is friendly and the owner was very gracious. He kept bringing things for his clients to taste. He is a fantastic cook. The place is a bit small is the only negative thing I can say.

    On the other hand:
    Barn Burner is way too big, unfriendly and dirty. That custom of throwing the peanut shells to floor should be nixed this day and age. It’s a bad habit that should not have followed us into the 21st century.

    The staff was in Zombie mode; this leads me to believe that they are being treated like employees in a big corporation. They were fake friendly and not very good with service.

    The food was very disappointing and not memorable at all. I really can’t say that anything stood out as really great. But I can say that the mac and cheese had to be the worst I have ever tried.

    The worst part of the evening was when the lady in the table behind me fell against the back of my chair and onto the floor. Her chair broke after she had repositioned herself. I have to mention that she was not large in weight or height. The staff was not very attentive with this matter and neither was the manager. She just asked her if she was fine and the moved away as if the problem was going to go away. She was not fine, she was embarrassed and startled, and needless to say that she could have hurt herself badly against the corner of my table and against my chair. Their waiter was awful. He did not attempt to make their experience any better, when she ordered the potatoes a certain way the least you can do is serve her the way she likes even if the restaurant doesn’t serve it that way on a regular basis. By the way this was San Valentine’s. We picked the place because we wanted barbeque and the building was red. lol. The lady that fell and her husband were not even offered a free dessert or drink or anything for the embarrassing moment that she went through. I repeat not good service.

    Now as far as the Texan theme goes… well yes, a little distasteful here in California. It looks like only Texans like the food there. But I think they are just being proud because I have eaten at other Texan Barbeque restaurants and let me tell you that it was really good, but not this one.

    My last note is to the proud Texan bragging about “Barbeque is from Texas”, etc. Well big news, read history books and you’ll find that Barbeque is from Cuba! The indigenous people had invented it and the Spaniards brought it to the Americas. So being Cuban I can honestly say that I know Barbeque and this restaurant should be skipped.

    Cheers,
    Mitch

  23. Having been to this restaurant three times in the last couple of months, I’ve noticed that the pulled pork and brisket are consistently dry. Always need the side order of bbq sauce just to wash it down. The sides are okay except for the rolls; you could break a window with them. The Shiner Bock beer is the best thing about the restaurant.

    If this is authentic Texas barbecue, then I don’t think I’ll waste my time flying to Texas.

  24. I would agree to most everything that’s been said about the tenderness AND the prices. It’s hard to accept an original “soul food” like ribs at such inflated prices.
    However, we were utterly baffled by both the beef ribs and brisket; there appeared to be a smoke ring on both the brisket and the ribs, but they were both missing and had absolutely no smoked flavor. Upon asking about it, we were told that they use apple wood instead of hicory because it produces a milder smoke and is more agreeable to Californian’s tastes. Huh? Very dissappointed. I still can’t figure out what went wrong. Perhaps it was mishandled when it was put on the smoker without any seasoning, or someone forgot to throw the wood chips in. It wouldn’t be a surprise if someone made a mistake or didn’t know what they were doing as we later dropped by Robin’s barbecue in Pasadena and inquired what kind of wood they used to smoke their meats, and the mini chef answered: Pine! LOL I kid you not.

  25. thanks for your very detailed review. i drove by and was wondering about this place. guess i’ll save some money by not trying it. appreciated your review!

  26. Correction: it’s Sonny Bryan’s in Dallas. The Texan knows bbq. Listen to him. These other fussy folks seemed to expect a she-she restaurant. That’s not real bbq. This place is a total experience. Sit back, relax, have a beer in the mason jar, enjoy the bbq and don’t be so fussy.

  27. The baby backs and the brisket were fantastic. As good as I had at Arthur Bryants in Kansas City or Sonny Bryant’s near Parkland hospital in Dallas. The sweet potato fries were great. What a nice flavor change. Prices weren’t cheap, but worth it for this quality level. The decor was extremely appropriate. Like a real bbq joint in the south. Have these other reviewers had bbq in a place in the south? Doesn’t seem like it. This is how bbq is supposed to be.

  28. I have to agree that BarnBurner BBQ was completely underwhelming in food, presentation and price. Nothing was memorable expect the high prices and small print add-on’s. I like Robin’s Woodfire BBQ on the eastside of Pasadena. I think the BBQ they serve is as good as anything served in Los Angeles and definately far superior in every facet to BarnBurner BBQ. The baby backs are tender, well smoked and very good. The sides are very good as well. It’s just a more seasoned, more established restaurant and it shows in the quality of their operation.

  29. How do you kill bbq? Serve it in a huge theme restaurant and charge a lot for it.

    I tend to judge a bbq pit by its brisket, so I was glad to find a place that serves brisket. I’ve tried the Barn Burner twice – the fist time about 2 months weeks after it opened and then last week. Little and much has changed over the last several weeks.

    First for the stay-the-same. The dining room is extremely large and hollow, with a very high ceiling. Such a cavernous place feels contrary to the down-home, cozy welcome usually served at bbq joints. The walls are littered with glittery canned Texas ephemera having little reference or meaning to a local diner. Generally, only people from Texas like to have Texas shoved down their throats while they eat, especially these Bushie days post-Enron. After all, this is Pasadena, CA not Pasadena, Texas – there is such a place, if you can believe it. (Go Trojans, crush UT).

    Clearly, this is one guy’s “concept” of a bbq joint, with a lot of design committee mixed in. However, the Barn Burner will long be remembered as a concept after it is forgotten as a bbq pit. This is because the prices are high, the food is mostly forgettable and the experience is not quite genuine enough to support a “big box” warehouse-style bbq restaurant. Interesting how the food seems small and insignificant when served in such a huge theme-driven space.

    Now for the shat’s changed. The prices have already gone up – this place was only opened in August. The complementary peanuts which were so fresh before are now stale. The manager disagreed but he was wrong. the peanuts were stale last week. On both visits I ordered a brisket sandwich, which comes with a small side of cole slaw. I added a side of beans. The first time around, the brisket in my sandwich was ample if somewhat dry with a faint bbq smoke flavor, requiring lots of sauce to get the meet down, and the sauce overwhelmed the bbq smote flavor of the meat. The cole slaw was quite good, crisp, fresh and well seasoned. Last week, the sandwich was lighter and while the brisket seemed fresher and juicier, wow was it a whole lot tougher to chew (“It takes teeth to eat this beef!”). This time the cole slaw was pretty tired and limp. The house-made bbq beans were the same as before: adequate, not too distinctive.

    In sum, I cannot imagine paying Barn Burner’s price for chicken, tri tip or links – meats we can make at home or get anywhere else for a better price. Surely the Barn Burner / El Cholo folks realize that the drinks float their “historic” Mexican retaurant up thre street, not the food. A bbq pit runs on soul and soulful food, not concept. In the end, Barn Burner boils down to a corporate concept aimed at corporate expense accounts, office parties perhaps some San Marino slummin’ if they are lucky. Oddly, Pasadena still starves for a true and reasonable bbq pit to call home. (BBQ King is just down the 110 at Cesar Chavez (Sunset) and Figueroa, in Los Angeles.

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