If it were a group of locals, I'd not have minded and might have probably agreed with them to a point. But since the criticism came from out-of-towners, home-field pride kicked in — and it stung. The truth is that despite the fact the 12-year-old Long Beach-borne chain is the brainchild of Craig Hofman of Hof's Hut fame and doesn't have the history of a hallowed barbecue temple (the scrappy downhome story of founder Lucille Buchanan is as manufactured as Lucille herself), of those who have attempted to mass market barbecue, Lucille's is the shining example. Unlike other chains, complacency hasn't set in. Even at its Happy Hour, during which rib tips and fried green tomatoes are featured at a substantial discount, you get fluffy biscuits hot out of the oven for free.
Then there's the drinks. A house amber ale is excellent and can compete with the best microbrews. And the cocktails are as comfortingly uncomplicated and refreshing as summers spent on a porch swing. The newest drink is the Dixie Sweet Tea: nothing more than a tall glass with a two-toned mix of lemonade, sweet tea, Seagram's vodka and Triple Sec. It sips clean like an alcoholic Arnold Palmer should, with the tea's tannic notes taming the sugary bent of the rest. Is it the kind of drink a fictional Southern marm might whip up for you when you drop by for a visit? Who knows. But it sure goes well with barbecue.
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