Semi-buffet. 6/3/99

Dickey's Barbecue Pit 5/28/99
23601 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance CA 90505
phone 310-325-6678, fax 310-325-6615
web sites or

6/2/99 Update - I want back for the all-you-can-eat pork ribs and was disappointed. The ribs were like the country ribs you get in the market, with the cartilage section removed. Many ribs were all fat with just a thin sheet of meat over the fat. Few had much meat between the bones. The cooking process was long enough to dry out the meat but not long enough to melt out the fat. No or little flavorings were used during the cooking process which resulted in a bland rib. Yes, they have sauces you can add, but it's not the same as cooking the meat with the sauce. I can't see returning for the pork ribs, and I'd rate them as only marginally acceptable. But, I admit I prefer grilled to BBQed foods. I did try all the side dishes except the overcooked corn-on-the-cob, and they were all ok. My favorite now is the au gratin potatoes with more and better tasting cheese that the mac and cheese. I might return to try the links or sausage or the veggie dinner as described below.

Location. West side of Crenshaw Blvd., between Sepulveda Blvd. and Lomita Blvd., just north of Hof's Hut.

Hours. The menu says they open at 11 a.m. daily and they say they're open Monday thru Thursday and Sunday till 8 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday till 9 p.m. But check with them.

Introduction. I ate here twice and had the same thing, the veggie dinner at $3.95, both times. This includes bread and your choice of any three side dishes. First, as take-out, it was a rip off, cause they fill - or rather didn't fill - my container. Also I missed some stuff that was included in the price. Next, as eat-in, it was ok cause I filled the plate, and I almost asked enough questions to get all the stuff. It's tuff being a first or even second timer cause they don't explain anything, unless you ask the right questions.

Service. This is a cafeteria-style restaurant where they serve the meat and bread and, for eat-in, you help yourself to the other items. When you eat-in, they say you can take as much of the sides as you want; except your choice of packages designates whether you can have zero, one, two, or three different sides. And, you can only go through the line once. For take-out, they fill the container, and the guy was very stingy with my order.

Choices. There is toast/roll, 10 typed of meat, 16 side dishes (these are called "vegetables" on their menu), desserts, condiments, BBQ and hot sauces and gravy, and beverages like soft drinks, bottled water, beer, wine, and tap water. They have to-go packages, meat by the pound, and sides by the pint, quart, etc. For eat-in or take-out they offer five packages: sandwiches, dinners, daily specials, sandwich specials, and all-you-can-eat specials. There aren't any lunch specials, the prices are the same all day.

Packages. Other than the to-go packages, these are the available options. (1) Sandwiches. The hot links sandwich is $3.95 and six other sandwiches are $4.45. A sandwich plate with any meat and any two sides is 6.95. These are a quarter pound (cooked weight) of meat. (2) Dinners. The dinners, served for lunch and dinner, start at $3.95 for the three-side veggie dinner. Nine other dinners with meat range from $5.95 for a "lite" to $8.95 for pork ribs, with six at $7.75 or $7.95. Combos with any two meats are $8.95, three meats are $9.45, and the all-the-meats platter is $12.25. The dinners include two sides and bread or roll. (3)Daily specials. The daily special ranges between $5.75 for links to $7.95 for pork ribs, with five at $6.95. These also include bread or roll and two sides. Five are just a $1.00 less than the dinners and the others two aren't listed as a dinner. (4) All-you-can-eat. On Monday and Tuesday it's beef ribs at $6.95. On Wednesday and Thursday it's pork ribs at $8.95. They start you with five ribs, and I believe you also get all the bread and all of the sides you can eat. They have rules like no take home, no sharing, etc. (5) Sandwich specials. I didn't take notes, but I think you get a choice of two sandwiches and one side for $4.45, so the side is "free."

Bread. The first time, to go, they gave me two slices of thick, dry toast and offered no options. I asked for butter or something and was told nothing was available. The second time, eat-in, they gave me a roll and a slice of toast. I almost told them to keep it. I asked the cashier for butter or something and was told there was butter in the dessert case. They can keep the toast, but the roll was very soft, very fresh, and very good. Later I asked and was told I could have two rolls.

Meats. Eight meats are available every day: beef, sausage, turkey, pork ribs, ham, pork, chicken breast, and hot links. It looks like the half chicken is only available Monday and beef ribs are only available Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday. But check with them if availability is important to you. Only one type of pork rib is available, not baby backs, but a good looking smallish rib. Remember, I haven't tried the meat yet, but I'm looking forward to a Wednesday or Thursday for the all-you-can-eat pork ribs.

Side dishes. They call them vegetables or veggies on the menu, and they have 16. There's macaroni and cheese, three bean dishes, five potato dishes, five vegetable dishes, a pasta salad, and fresh fruit. I'd guess that 14 of them were high in fat and/or calories. As a true side dish I'd try them all. But, remember I had the veggie dinner where the sides are the meal, so I had to select the more substantial items. (1) The macaroni and cheese was better than average, but the pasta was slightly over cooked and I would have preferred a slightly sharper cheese. There was only a little left and just as I asked them to restock it, a new container arrived. (2) The barbecue beans were average, but a little soft and lacking kick. (3) The cool cucumber salad is stated to include cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and olives. I picked through to find the few remaining tomatoes and olives; not much left. I should have asked them to restock this item or tried something else. But, worse, the dressing both days was 99% water with a drop of vinegar. I got a worker to taste it and say they'd check on it, but who knows.

Condiments, etc. As you pay the cashier, behind you and to the right is a station with soggy pickle chips, the good Italian milder hot peppers, sliced jalapeno peppers, lemon wedges, and sliced onions. Behind the cashier, behind a wall, between the soft ice cream machine and the soft drinks, are gravy and two sauces: hot and BBQ. Use these as you will, but it would be easy to overpower this food with the hot condiments. I missed this stuff the first time and no one mentioned them to me.

Desserts. There's a machine with "complementary" free soft ice cream behind the wall, behind the cashier. Cones and cups are available. I missed this the first time. In the cafeteria line is a dessert case with pecan pie and a few meringue pies. The pie prices were not posted, and I didn't ask.

Beverages. I only saw one sign that said the soft drinks were $1.25 with free refills. I also saw milk, bottled water, beer, small bottles of wine, and coffee but didn't see any prices.

Summary. Follow my buffet hints. One day I arrived about 3 p.m. and another day about 7 p.m., and that may have been outside their peak hours. I haven't tried the meats, but everyone else did, and I'm looking forward to trying the all-you-can-eat pork ribs. With meat I would be more willing to try the other side dishes. The three sides I have tried ranged between marginal and ok. Ask for rolls. If you're thinking about getting an order to go, ask to see the to-go container. Note that one compartment is large, but the other two are very small. Remember the server, at least the one I had, won't even fill the compartments. I can't recommend a to-go order since I didn't get much food.

Complaints. The staff or the posted signs don't explain in detail what is included with the meal or the options. Thus, I got dry toast with no butter, no condiments, and no ice cream on my first visit. The food portions with my to-go order were substandard. The food server seemed inexperienced; perhaps he should have tried to cram more food into the small container. Perhaps I should have refused to pay that much for so little food. Also, I'll have to modify my buffet hints to cover a place like this. It's too easy to get screwed on the first visit and never want to return.