Mr. Cecil’s California Ribs

Mr. Cecil\'s Sign

Through my powers of persuasion I was easily able to convince some co-workers to join me in the 7in7 and participate in an evaluation of Mr. Cecil’s California Ribs BBQ restaurant. We had two criteria to meet; it had to be near our job in Santa Monica and have good BBQ. Having previously visited Mr. Cecil’s, I knew that it would meet both criteria without a problem. I called ahead to see if they offered any vegetarian dishes. You can stop laughing anytime. It wasn’t for me, but for my carpool partner who is a recovering meat eater. I was told that they have a couple of vegetarian items, kabobs and such, but to avoid the fries because they were cooked in lard. I give them props for that alone. So on we went.

First, let me start by saying that the restaurant is going through a remodel. Although I don’t believe that it affected the quality of our food, it did detract from the ambiance. I was pleased to see that they offered BBQ spare ribs on the menu, but disappointed to see that they weren’t available on any kind of lunch special. They did offer a 1/3 of a rack of ribs for $7.95, but no sides came with it so I had to order a serving of fries. The 1/3 rack of ribs did just fine for lunch; I didn’t want the 7in7 BBQ restaurant review to turn into a “Super Size Me” documentary. The BBQ ribs were pretty good; they serve them up without BBQ sauce, the way good BBQ should be served. I take this as a sign of pride when a BBQ restaurant does this.

Most of my posse ordered the BBQ brisket sandwich that is probably the best lunch deal on the menu. I’m not sure how much it costs, but I’m sure they will add this information to the comments section of this post. I have had this sandwich combo before and would say that it is extremely messy and tasty. One of our cohorts ordered a burger and would have done anything to re-order after seeing the ribs. Regrettably, I only ordered a 1/3 rack and was in no position to share. Sorry Pete.

After leaving the restaurant no one was cheering or slamming the meal. We were all a little indifferent; perhaps it was the food coma taking hold? I am always left feeling a little disappointed in a sit-down restaurant where my iced tea is never refilled and I am not offered a dessert menu at the end of my meal. Not that I want or have to have dessert, I would just like to know if they are trying to meet the customer’s needs. This is probably just me being a little bitchy.

All in all, it was an o.k. BBQ restaurant. Hopefully this will improve after the remodel. In regards to their BBQ, I would say give them a try. If you have the money you should splurge on the BBQ spare ribs otherwise order the brisket sandwich combo. Try the French fries if you dare… they are just plain old-school-deep-fat-fried-in-pig-lard good.

Mr. Cecil\'s BBQ sauces
Two types of BBQ sauce, regular and spicy

BBQ Friends
The BBQ posse

Black cherry soda pop
Black cherry soda pop

Mr. Cecil\'s BBQ ribs
BBQ spare ribs, St. Louis style

Mr. Cecil\'s BBQ sandwich and sides
BBQ brisket sandwich, hush puppies and cornbread

Mr. Cecil\'s BBQ french fries
Super-delicious french fries

Mr. Cecil\'s BBQ vegies.
Vegetarian something?

Mr. Cecil\'s BBQ corn
Corn on the cob was a little undercooked

Mr. Cecil\'s Baked Beans
Baked beans with nice chunks of bacon

Mr. Cecil’s California Ribs
12244 W. Pico Blvd, West L.A.

13625 Ventura Blvd. Sherman Oaks

22 thoughts on “Mr. Cecil’s California Ribs”

  1. “Finishing-off” ribs on a grill is only to do two things….heat them up, and to diguise non-barbequed meat with phoney charring and sugary sauce. I really get ticked-off when these folks try to pass off meat done the easy way as barbequeing. Grrrr! 🙂

  2. I just don’t get it…how can someone give this place a favorable review?….oh, wait…got it. They have never eaten real BBQ before. I know from appearence and taste exactly how a piece of meat is cooked. The ribs here are not boiled, but rather, like most places in town, they are baked in a large, rack-stacked oven, like at Chitwood brand oven (they have one of those at Baby Blues) and then finished with a load of sugar-laden sauce on a grill. PHONEY. Ask yourself this… how can you cook a rack of ribs 4+ hrs (or even 2 hrs) with a sauce loaded with sugar and not end up with a charred, burnt-up rib briquette? You can’t. BUT, they bake very nicely.

    >>>This is the only way to BBQ: dry rub the meat, place it over burning wood coals or a combination wood/charcoal, cook low and slow (maybe use a water pan), pull the meat off, wrap it up and let rest an hour to draw moisture back into the meat fibers. That’s BBQ, no matter what style. BBQ is cooking with HOT SMOKE on an ENCLOSED smoker. Done.

  3. BBQ at corner of Crenshaw/El Segundo Blvd is a waste of money too. Ribs do not taste barbecued, but boiled, with sauce on top. Specifically asked whether beans and potato salad was homemade, and was ensured that they were both. Ordered and discovered that the potato salad was nothing more than slightly “doctored up” store-bought premaid stuff, and the beans were straight out of the can with nothing at all added. Threw that mess away too after trying to eat about half of it. Waste of money too.

  4. What happened to Hogly Wogly’s in Van Nuys? Used to be, in my opinion, the best BBQ place for years that I had found. Went there recently after quite a while and all of the ribs were just awful. tried to eat 1 or 2 and then ended up throwing them all away after spending top dollar on them. Same with the beans…they used to be deliciously unique, but even they didn’t taste the same anymore. Previously delicious sweet BBQ sauce on the ribs was not the same anymore either. Do they have a new owner or something in the last couple of years or so? Big waste of time and money now…..

  5. I’ve had bbq all over the country, this place had to be one of the worst. We went to the one in the valley. They weren’t busy. We sat, waited and finally ordered, after about half an hour of not being served or even having our drinks refilled, I flagged down our waiter to see why people who came in after us were served and halfway through with their dinners.

    Finally the Manager (or owner, not sure) came by and told us that the ticket had fallen and he’ll rush our order. We got the order a few minutes later. Can you say “Microwaved”. The meat was gummy,the sides sucked, and the manager never came back to see if we were okay. Finally when the waiter brought our check I could see he was a bit uneasy. No wonder, they charged us full pop! The manager had no interest in coming out to right their wrong. I’ve never gone back there since.

  6. All worthy has been said. Great Baby Back and Beef Ribs (never tried the St. Louis). Service is pretty non-existent (Ask them to leave the pitcher of iced tea at the table else you may not get a refill). The sandwhiches are tasty, coleslaw is good, I like the beans though they are a bit sugary, hush puppies have been inconsistent, fries are fantastic. Price is a bit high but for outstanding ribs without need of sauce its pretty darn tasty. Sauce is also good, if you need it.

  7. anyone who doesn’t love this restaurant is crazy! the food is to die for! the restaurant is adorable and the service (especially the waitresses- they are adorable) is great. The best items are the babyback ribs, the hushpuppies, french fries and if you are looking for a sandwich may i recommend the brisket or short ribs sandwich! I give them a 100 out of 100!

  8. I ate here last night. I had the rib plate. 1/2 beef, and 1/2 St. Louise. They were incredible. I am not enough of a snob to know how they were cooked all I know is I liked them, but at $24.00 it was too pricey for me to do again. The beef ribs showed up and the meat was falling off the bone and with a slight tug the meat came off clean. Same with the pork ribs. The hush puppies are addictive. All was really good without sauce. Over all the food was incredible, the price and the parking was aweful and makes returning hard to consider.

  9. Next time you review a restaurant, consider describing the FOOD!! What style of barbecue; are the ribs smoked or just boiled and grilled? What side dishes are offered? This is the kind of information people seek in a BBQ restaurant review.

  10. Ate at Mr. Cecil’s tonight on a whim. Looking for something yummy and Don Antonio’s was packed, so we drove on. Hmmmm… BBQ? The hubby said, “Why not?” So, we parked (no small fete — Mr. Cecil’s is not parking friendly during the last half-hour of rush hour). I had the BBQ brisket sandwich with the fries and both met my yummy criteria. My husband is a chicken man and, sadly, Mr. Cecil’s is not the place to eat chicken. BBQ beans were average — kinda pork-n-beany, just sweet. Cole slaw was much better than most and fresh. The hush puppies are out of this world! So, we decided: Let’s try the catfish nuggets to determine if we’ll ever return. *sigh* As my husband took his first bite, I almost reminded him, “Don’t think of Creole Chef!”. He did and the catfish came up wanting. Badly. So sad, because a $15.95 catfish plate with 2 sides is a good bargain. We may come back for lunch, but only for the bbq sandwich & fries. For *great* beans and a much better job with chicken, try J.R.’s BBQ on La Cienega, where Fairfax intersects.

  11. Just came back from Mr Cecils and I disagree with the bad review on here. I’m from Texas, that alone qualifies me to be a BBQ knowitall, and I’m telling you- Mr Cecils is DA BOMB! The ribs are melt in your mouth and don’t need the BBQ sauce; yet the BBQ sauce is like liquid heroin. The hushpupies with honey are amazing; as is the coleslaw. What was an awesome suprise for me was the new salad on the menu- BBQ chicken with tortilla chips, corn, salsa and a BBQ ranch dressing they make in house with their sweet sauce. The chicken on the salad is gilled and juicy; the dressing they make there is a fantastic BBQ ranch thats just downright fantastic. A half salad of this with some tasy cornbread is less than $10 and very filling. You can also order this salad with no meat. Mr Cecils is small, with limited seating- tonight it was packed and there was a line out of the door for people picking up their take out. The other great BBQ place on the Westside is the Smokehouse on Overland. In the valley try Grandpa Freds.

  12. A few years back my company moved me from South Carolina to CA and I have been searching for good ribs ever since 😉 I was happy to find Mr Cecils, the beef St Louis style ribs were fantastic and I enjoyed the fries with cajun spices. Most of the other rib places I have tried in LA, just plain suck friends.

    I have only been to the Sherman Oaks location, but I intend to bring my friends from the South there.

  13. If’n it’s got veg-i-terrorist dishes on the menu, it cain’t be a barbecue joint. No way. No how.

    I know this is SoCal, but rules is rules, bbq brethren. The laws of physics don’t change somewhere betwixt 18th & Brooklyn in Kansas City and West L.A., and neither does The Laws of Barbecue.

    Dishonorably Disqualified. The Hammer shan’t set foot in that establishment.

  14. I’m thrilled when I read a bad review of Mr. Cecil’s. It means that less people will go there and I will be able to get a table faster! This place has the best ribs! I suggest the St. Louis which are meatier and more delicious than the Baby Backs. Who goes to a rib joint and orders a hamburger??? Or worse,a vegetarian meal??? Oy.

  15. Some people just like homoginized food. Mr Cecil has to be the worst example of something trying to pass for BBQ. Boiled ribs.. then grilled… IMHO it is a step down from Tony Romas, and that is not a compliment to Tony Roma’s. It may be sweet and tasty to some, but it aint Q!

    Real good bbq in LA? try the brisket sandwich at Mom’s on Imperial Highway a bit west of the 110. I dont recommend going at night, the joint looks like a crack bunker and the neighborhood is tough.

    Someone mentioned the Pit, and I used to love going there, but I think they are out of business. They were in an all black neighborhood that gradually turned almost all Hispanic.

    The ribs at Western Smokehouse on Overland just north of Palms in Palms are good, though a bit pricey. Also excellent rib tips. BTW they have amazing pan fried to order fried chicken.

    Previously mentioned Phillips Jaybees, and JR (best beans) are good too. BBQ king is reasonalbly good as is MOM’s in the valley. Spring Street Smokehouse can be good if they dont give you something dried out.

    Just a reminder, always ask for you Q with the sauce on the side. By doing so, they cannot give you old stuff covered with sauce.

  16. First time here. Mr. Cecil’s is a place I love so was interested to hear your thoughts.

    I might add, there is a second location in Sherman Oaks at Ventura and Woodman. It’s a trendier atmosphere, that I like to call “California BBQ”. And every time I’ve been there (a dozen or so times) an older gentleman has always come by to check on how our experience has been. I don’t know if this “gentleman” is Mr. Cecil, but I always pretend he is.

    Other food suggestions (I think the menu’s the same at both locations)…
    the beef ribs are possibly the best I’ve ever had at a BBQ joint. Most places are too tough and often don’t have enough meat for your money. However these are comparatively tender, and the fat is that greasy edible kind of fat rather than the stringy fat you find in most beef ribs that becomes more of a nuisance than it’s worth.
    My wife loves the tri-tip tacos. For someone who’s looking for something different in a BBQ joint, those are worth trying.
    The baby-backs are wonderful! Some of the best in town.

    My one gripe about Cecil’s is that it can be a little pricey and sparse on the quantity of food vs. what you are paying.

  17. Just to add, I’ve been to Phillips at both the Leimert and Crenshaw locations. Both are the same quality.

    The Crenshaw location is about a mile south of the 10 freeway.

    Oh the red velvet cake is soooooo good for dessert the next day. They give you a lot of food, you can eat it there.

  18. BBQ Junkie,

    Phillip’s has another location on Crenshaw just south of Adams. (They also have another location near LAX)

    2619 S Crenshaw Blvd.
    Take out only.

    If you and your group want to compare BBQ, there is another BBQ place about 3 blocks down called Tasty Q.

    Tasty Q
    2959 Crenshaw

    The building is an old style Taco Bell and has a few tables.

  19. Mr. Cecil’s is the bomb. I’ve never had a bad meal there. Additional points you may not know:

    1. Mr. Cecil uses “special” extra thick napkins that don’t tare when you wipe your hands and face.

    2. Mr. Cecil is disappointed if you add BBQ sauce before you take a bite. Try it first, you may not need to smother the delicious meet in sauce.

    3. I beleive Mr. Cecil speaks French or Cajun French anyway.

    4. Tom Hanks has been seen eating here. Enough said.

    I’d give this place 15 out of 17 stars.

    – Peace, Messy Face & Sticky Hands

  20. hamburger? vegetarian cucumber salad?!? damn, bbq junkie, your posse is killing your street cred.

    (the bbq brisket sandwich costs $9.95, which isn’t too bad when the junkie reaches in his wallet and loans you a couple bucks.)


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