So. Much. Meat. Before you're even a quarter of the way done with your order at the Smoking Ribs in Garden Grove, a knowing waitress will ask if you want a to-go box. She knows that your puny gut can only whittle down a pound or so of pork or beef in one sitting. And she also knows you loved your meal so much that you're going to feast on the meat in front of you for days, accompanied by sides you barely put a dent in.
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The meat! Angus-beef brisket, redolent of a citrus rub and with a bold pepper crust, is so tender you can sip it with a straw and comes in slabs so big I was able to make brisket burritos for a week. A dish of pulled pork, fatty and luscious, resembles the porcine mountain version of Richard Dreyfuss' mashed-potato Devil's Tower in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Ribs, whether beef or pork, are out of The Flintstones; the buttery tomahawk steak could knock a person unconscious but works better as a meal for eight. Indeed, most people come to the Smoking Ribs in groups, the better to lay waste to steer and pound craft beers.
But don't think this small, loud spot is the Viet-Am version of the Claim Jumper. You know it means business with the logs out front and inside and with a kitchen that's nearly three times the size of the dining room and mostly ovens, grills and smokers—a modern-day Industrial Revolution. Owner Kenny Tran's many barbecue trophies are on display, though not so conspicuously, showing a man who's proud of his craft but would rather let the dishes speak for him. He doesn't claim barbecue tradition in general, but I'd call it SoCal-style: more of an emphasis on beef than pork, sauce on the side and Mexified (spiked with habanero, it'll sweetly burn), thrown on fries and tacos as appetizers, the kind perfected over numerous weekends with the cousins.
The Smoking Ribs needs 'cued links, and the candied bacon sells out too fast. Otherwise, here's the future of barbecuing in Orange County. Now, lemme sleep off my grub for a day or 30. . . .
The Smoking Ribs, 14211 N. Euclid St., Garden Grove, (714) 867-6057; www.thesmokingribs.com.