[This Hole-in-the-Wall Life] Cue the 'Cue at Big B's BBQ

Twenty-nine years living in this county, and I had never heard of BIG B'S BBQ until last month. When a friend raved about a 'cue joint in a hidden area of Fullerton, I assumed he meant a bar in an industrial strip on State College Boulevard marked only by a sticker-laden pickup truck parked outside. Instead, Big B's is down the street from Cal State Fullerton, in a boring shopping plaza that doesn't seem a day removed from the early 1970s. Inside, the place seems more from the '60s—faux Western motif, soaps airing on the television during the day, retirees spending an afternoon gnawing carefully on meat and fried delights.

Most of the customers come in for ribs, and for good reason—baby back, meaty, tender, with the chewy consistency that ensures you'll gladly spend a good five minutes with a toothpick after eating. But here also is the perfect barbecue-beef sandwich, with chunks of roast beef chopped into thick-but-manageable pieces, then piled onto a toasted bun. The meat is medium-rare, a setting my Mexican taste buds usually disdain, but which functions perfectly, as each bite possesses a distinct bovine charm. This is not a sandwich of excess—if you want that, hop on nearby Associated Road and head to Lucille's Smokehouse in Brea. The sandwich at Big B's fills but doesn't eliminate the rest of your meals—you'd order another one if not for the side of Beckett's Beans (pinto, white and navy) simmered with bacon and jalapeño. And the barbecue sauce! Skewing more toward sweet than spicy, it's applied judiciously so that the stuff doesn't dribble on your shirt or even stain your fingers, but is nevertheless memorable.

Big B's is Spartan in its offerings—barbecue pork, chicken, beef and a couple of delicious sausages. While the buffalo wings aren't the county's best—they could be a bit meatier, there should be more drumsticks included, and I prefer more char on the skin instead of crackle—the sauce is the stuff of a Food Network special, a blood-red potion that burns, but not to the point its cayenne pepper base becomes indistinguishable from fire. Rather than just dunk each drummette in the sauce, Big B's ladles it on your paper plate so that the chicken sits inn a pool of the stuff—much to your ulcer's delight. And the best part about B's? Brian's Beer N Billiards next door is its sister operation. You can't take alcohol into the restaurant, but you can take your lunch into the bar and root for your amazing Anaheim Angels while getting plastered with no annoying usher in sight.

Big B's BBQ, 1948 N. Placentia Ave., Fullerton, (714) 528-7427; www.bigbsbbq.com.

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