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What's Cookin' Behind the Curtain - BBQ in the 'Burbs

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Every Friday, LAist is taking you on a trip down to Orange County to uncover the unique dining experiences that await adventurous eaters willing to explore beyond the county line.

With the holiday weekend and the news that The Pig was closing down, I was in the mood for some barbecue. I wanted that heavy feeling in your stomach that you get when you’ve ingested a whole cow and/or pig, when your fingernails reek of barbecue sauce, and your body yearns for something, anything green.

Of course, finding true Southern-style barbecue is difficult out here. While there certainly is good-tasting barbecue locally, it’s more difficult to reproduce the overall smokehouse environment with sawdust floors, wooden benches, and big-ass cuts of meat served on wax paper with white bread. So I decided to go the opposite direction and cased out The Beach Pit BBQ (and no, it’s not the Peach Pit like BH90210 – that was my first reaction as well) in Costa Mesa. Angel fans will also recognize Beach Pit as the new barbecue concession in right field at the Big A which opened this season. In fact, the restaurant is owned by Tim DeCinces, son of longtime Angel third baseman Doug DeCinces. He’s managed to create a restaurant which I consider California-style barbecue.

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What exactly is California-style barbecue? The best way for me to explain it is to describe Beach Pit. On the surface, it certainly qualifies as a BBQ joint, with wood-smoked pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked sausage, and ribs among the available cuts of meat, its own special barbecue sauces, and usual sides like baked beans, slaw, and cornbread on the menu. And unlike most of the rib-centric BBQ restaurants in SoCal, it’s counter service. But then there’s this weird section on the menu for salads and pizzas. Huh, what’s that? And they serve wine?!? Which should be mentioned, is offered at a 25% discount on Thursday nights (as well as a no corkage fee if you BYOB).