Beware the Subpar-beque: Chuckwagon at the OC Fair

Categories: Local Eats
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Barbecue is expensive.

In case you haven't noticed, restaurants serving barbeque often use phrases describing quality ("hickory smoked," "slow cooked for x hours") or offer family deals emphasizing quantity to make your conscience easier to swallow. On one hand, there are local barbecueries whose ribs you would gladly drive a stake through your wallet to pay for, like the local Tulsa Rib Co. or any of the Lucille's in OC. On the other, it's achingly disappointing when you've stumbled onto subpar-beque. Beware, the OC Fair, after the jump.

Beware: set up a few steps from the Fair Square is Chuckwagon. If you don't already know, the most dangerous quality about barbecue is its smell. If you wander within a 15-20-foot radius of this abominable meatstand, you will end up smelling--and buying, like I did.

A little over $10, the pulled pork sandwich is a relatively hefty commitment of your money. As I picked up the food within five minutes of forking over my cash, I was shaking my head at the size of this thing, it could have been a slider. Ten bucks in five bites. Quantity fail.

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I sat down, a little distraught, but hoping to be reimbursed with a taste that matched restaurant-quality food. With the first bite, I lost faith in humanity as my taste buds found cold buns and pulled pork slathered with sweetly cheap barbecue sauce. Strike two--quality fail.

Virtually all worthy barbeque joints in the OC are well-known because there just aren't that many of them. Falsely hyped phrases and saccharine smells will only get you so far. Earth to OC Fair: It's time to chuck out Chuckwagon.

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20 comments
mouse033
mouse033

Dear Mr. Charles Kong,  I am very disapointed with your review.  My husband and I own the Chuckwagon and have been in business at the OC Fair for over 37 years.  We have never, and I mean never had a review like this before.  I do not know what you did to the sandwich that you purchased from the Chuckwagon, but that is not the product that we put out.  You took half of the meat out and ate half of the sandwich then turned it around to make it look half the size.The BBQ Chopped Pork Sandwich cost you $7.50 including tax and the water was free, it did not cost $10.00. 

 

 We sell authentic Texas Style BBQ that we smoke with Hickory Wood which comes from Oklahoma or Texas.  The Gentleman that smokes all the meat that we sell has been smoking meat for over 50 years.  Most of our items are home made.  We make our own BBQ Sauce, that everyone loves.  If you did not like the sandwich you should have returned it for a refund.  Misrepresenting the way the sandwich looks and the price is reprehensible!  Shame on you!!!          

The BBQ Expert
The BBQ Expert

 Here is what I got when I ordered two bbq beef sandwiches at the fair last year

OC Food Critic
OC Food Critic

I had the BBQ beef sandwich from Chuckwagon this Sunday and it looked nothing like the picture you put up my friend. It was a decent size and the best BBQ beef sandwich I ever had!!!! 

Kris East
Kris East

Man, it's disappointing as a chef to see people like this slamming the barbecue community. I too have great disdain for large-event food stands, charging Disneyland prices, and serving mediocre food in small amounts, but seriously, is this your first rodeo? That's why I generally avoid these kinds of places to begin with! You're just complaining, and sound like a spoiled whiney brat, who like most everyone else these days, has enormous entitlement issues. You should know by now what you are going to get at a place like this. But what really bothers me is, yes, barbecue is expensive! Not because the people who make it just think it should be inherently, but because those touted factors like slow smoking and hand-pulling, etc. do actually require more time, and a human being, not a robot, which ends up equaling much more money spent on food costs for the owner, who usually is doing much of work also. Not to mention, barbecuers deal primarily in meat, and talk about expensive. Wholesale cost for just 70 lbs of Tri-Tip (that's about 225-250 sandwiches) is just over $300. This leaves little wiggle room to pay a great deal of attention and spend the time necessary on the product when there are all the operational costs, such as all the never-ending prep time involved in barbecue, all the wasted meat that comes into play do to sanitation guidelines, wages, employee benefits, etc. The people that own these places are hard-working people, practically ripping themselves off so that they can carry on a tradition that is waaay too under-appreciated. My advice to the author of this article, stick to top ramen!

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

Burrell's BBQ -- as long as you don't mind risking your life going to Santa Ana. 

zach
zach

Need some reqs for GOOD bbq at the fair (if any)!

mouse033
mouse033

Thank you for your support.

mouse033
mouse033

Thanks for the telling the truth.

Makesnoise
Makesnoise

I have been going to downtown Santa Ana for 6 years, and never once have I feared for my personal safety.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Funny how Burrell himself doesn't have a problem with the area...

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Don't bother with this troll--I at least get paid to deal with his racist stupidities...

Fatlamb
Fatlamb

 Preach On Mr. Gustavo... I hear you.

Bill T.
Bill T.

Maybe best Troll response ever, I woke up half the office laughing. The rest are unwakeable.

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