Temecula’s Famous Dave’s Showcases Wilbur in All His Glory
By Derek Obregon
I know that this restaurant is called Famous Dave’s but it felt more like Uncle Dave’s because the atmosphere perfected its laidback mood. On Tuesday, Sept. 4, I visited the newly opened Temecula location. The walls are full of old fashioned, colorful décor and the bluesy music to kept the mood relaxed and comfortable, almost like you’re eating in your own home (which is probably part of the reason why the food tasted so good). Atmosphere can make or break a place and this theme of backyard BBQ, old signs, good times and pigs . . . lots of pigs . . . really does the job.
There were pig drawings, pig sculptures, a pig mascot named Wilbur wandering around and the servers had BBQ/swine-related shirts with sayings like, “Yes I smoke (Got some hickory?),” “Doing our part to help pigs reach their full potential” and, my personal favorite, “Is loving a pig really so wrong?” The answer is: No, loving a pig is not so wrong because it tastes so good! Pork may not have been on the radar because my original intention was to sink my teeth into some juicy Beer Can Chicken, but unfortunately, that tantalizing item was not on the menu for the grand opening of this Famous Dave’s in Temecula.
After thinking about nothing but Beer Can Chicken all day, I was unsure if I would be able to find anything else that sounded as satisfying but my attention was quickly drawn to something that sounded both threatening and promising (in a good way.) It was called the Feast for Two. Some places may claim to give you a feast only to disappoint you time and time again by bringing out sad portions that are nowhere near the bold advertisments. This feast was not one of those occasions as my dining partner and I would soon find out.
As we anticipated the arrival of our feast, our server took us on a quick tour of Famous Dave’s award-winning sauces so we’d know which sauce was the right one to smother our food in later. After munching on the BBQ chips left behind from sauce tasting, our meal literally announced itself as our server bursted out of the kitchen door. Every server started chanting in unison, “feast, feast, feast,” as our food was brought to the table in one of the loudest entrances I’ve ever seen an entrée make in a restaurant. It was placed on its own tripod atop a plate that was shaped like a trash can lid because that was the only thing capable of carrying so much food (I should’ve gotten the hint earlier that any place with a giant inflatable pig greeting you from the parking lot would serve up huge portions). St. Louis ribs, chicken, beef brisket, macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob, baked Wilbur beans, French fries and cornbread were all a part of this feast.
The ribs may not have fallen off of the bone, but they were flavorful with just the right amount of sauce. The chicken was no beer can chicken, but it was still pretty tasty. The brisket was good and only enhanced when taken to the next level by finding the desired flavor and ratio of sauce to smother it in (I preferred the sweet and zesty sauce myself). The real surprise of the night for me was the macaroni and cheese. Usually it sits as a sideshow to the main course, but this could have been a satisfying meal in itself because Dave really knows how to make some mac and cheese! With practically enough food to feed a small village in one serving, a take home bag is definitely necessary. And for those finicky eaters out there, the food is just as good warmed up the next day as it was the night it was made, trust me on that one.
Famous Dave’s, 26478 Ynez Rd., Temecula, (951) 296-9232; www.famousdaves.com/temecula. Sun-Mon, 11am-10pm. Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm. AE, D, MC, V.