Famous Dave's, for all intents and purposes, has taken over the mantle of America's BBQ joint as Tony Roma's slowly fades away. There's now a Famous Dave's nearly everywhere, especially in those areas of our nation whose residents don't already bleed BBQ sauce. When you come, you expect your typical country-style, down-home, finger-lickin' grub you already know you're going to get.
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But the best time to come is during a Happy Hour where you can have the BBQ in the form of rib tips for $4, a mess of onion strings for $3, and excellent cornmeal-breaded catfish fingers for $6 on weekdays at the bar before 7 p.m. And to drink: there's a big honking "Dave's Famous Margarita" that's so out of place, you kind of have to order it on general principle. It's the first thing listed on their "Award Winning Beverages" list and also happens to be the most popular drink to guzzle with their sticky-sweet-and-smoky meats.
It's a normal margarita, made with Sauza Gold and Cointreau and off-the-shelf margarita mix, but it's served in a thick chalice that could double as a sports trophy that's rimmed with enough salt to season a medium McDonald's fries. Most importantly, it's a lot of margarita. As a finishing touch, it's also topped with a shot of brandy that disappears into the drink as fast as your cynicism about chains like this.
3608 S Bristol St., Santa Ana, (714) 957-1857; also at 13122 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, (714) 462-9179.