Menu Please: A Tale of 2 BBQs

On a hot July day Femme de Joie and Amice del Signore took Highway 99 toward Chico, blithely ignoring the “expect 20 minute delays” signs. After what seemed like two weeks in a hot oven, they popped up in Los Molinos – irritable, sweaty, and hungry. It was 1:00 pm and Chico was still at least an hour away; realizing that Celestino’s Pizza for lunch wasn’t an option anytime soon, they decided to take a chance on the offerings available.

Los Molinos has never been known for being a hotbed of nouvelle cuisine, or any kind of cuisine for that matter, but they were willing to down a gut bomb to fuel the rest of the trip. A bright red building with a sign out front advertising barbecue seemed the most likely prospect, and indeed the smell of wood smoked beef drew them into Roxie’s Deli & BBQ. There were the usual deli sandwiches offered, but the counterman recommended the special tri-tip sandwich. He knew what he was talking about.

Roxie’s Tri Tip Sandwich ($6.99)

Roxie’s owner made our sandwiches – loads of smoked thin-sliced tri-tip on large Dutch crunch rolls, piled with our choice of condiments – $6.99 for a sandwich made in heaven. The outer edges of the beef were crisp, near-burnt lacy shards of barbecue goodness, smoke flavor permeating the entire piece of beef. True barbecue taste shone through the sauce and condiments. Good God, how fine those sandwiches were. We still dream about them.

We spoke with the owner a bit. His ambition is to open a 50-seat restaurant in Redding. We assured him with this kind of food, he’d have no problem packing in the customers.

On the return to Redding, Femme de Joie still hungered for barbecue, so she gave Fatboy’s a try, first checking out the location next to Need to Speed. It’s an industrial interior with red walls, a black-and-white checked floor, and the door open to the racetrack. On a weekday at noon, Femme de Joie pretty much had the place all to herself, which was a distressing sign. She ordered pulled pork – a Fatboy bun, served on a Kaiser roll, $6.49, as well as a trip through the salad bar ($2.00).

Fatboy’s Salad Bar ($2.00)

The salad bar was bagged spring mix that wasn’t quite fresh. Most of the toppings -beets, carrots, beans – were from water-pack cans or pre-shredded. Dressings were industrially-produced including a viscous glue-thick honey-raspberry. The Italian dressing was the least scary; it was watery and flavorless.

Fatboy’s Pulled Pork ($6.49)

Unfortunately, the salad bar was not the low point. The pulled pork had been pot-roasted with no seasoning or flavoring except perhaps a minute pinch of salt. It simply had no taste at all and was on the dry side. It was like eating damp drywall on a Kaiser roll. Barbecue sauce was brought to the table in a squeeze bottle, but it only gave the drywall a sweet fake-hickory taste. After eating half the sandwich, M. de Joie had to make a decision. She surely did not want to eat any more and she knew Amico del Signore wasn’t going to like that sandwich any more than she did. Neither of them has a dog that would be happy to eat it. The other half of the sandwich went in the trash.

But how could this be? The location on Twin View was successful enough to open this satellite shop. Maybe, she thought, the tri-tip will be better.

Fatboy’s Tri Tip Sandwich (Market Street)

So on her next visit, Femme de Joie ordered the tri-tip bun. She was offered choice of toppings – lettuce tomato, pickles, onions, cheese (80 cents)- why was this option not offered for the pulled pork? The tri-tip was cooked medium by some method – steaming, perhaps? – that added no taste. Sliced very thinly, there was about 2 or 3 ounces on the bun plus toppings. It was better than the pork but not any better than a deli roast beef sandwich. A side of potato salad, made with red-skinned new potatoes, was house-made and adequate but nothing really stood out about it.

Well, M. de Joie thought, maybe it’s the location. She made a trek up to the Fatboy’s on Twin View Boulevard, the old Midway Inn. Walk in, order at the counter, they give you a number; take a seat and they’ll bring out your food. There is a salad bar but also an extensive condiments bar with all kinds of spreads and garnishes.

Fatboy’s Tri-Tip Sandwich (Twin View)

Once more she gave the tri-tip bun a try to see if it was any better – asking first if it was barbecued there and receiving an affirmative answer. It was modestly more smoky, but the medium-rareness indicated it was not barbecued for very long. Topped off with sauces and condiments it was tasty but not really outstanding and not worthy of the name barbecue. Crunchy coleslaw with tart vinegary dressing, however, was really quite good.

Fatboy’s Chicken Pesto Sandwich

On her final visit to the Twin View Fatboy’s, Femme de Joie ordered the chicken pesto sandwich with a side of house-made baked beans. A Dutch crunch roll was filled with sliced grilled chicken breast, then slathered with pesto. To be fair, Femme de Joie finds chicken breasts to be the least tasty part of the bird: bland, dry, usually overcooked. In fuller fairness, though, this chicken was dry, bland, and overcooked. Adding some sauce and condiments helped, but not a lot.The second half of this sandwich was discarded like the pulled pork. A brown-sugary sauce made the baked beans stand out.

Apparently Fatboy’s fans see something in the food that Femme de Joie does not. You do get an appropriate amount of food for the money, service is friendly and fast, and the restaurants are clean. But the next time you get a craving for barbecue, head down Highway 99 to Los Molinos for Roxie’s special of the day.

Roxie’s Deli & BBQ, 7810 Highway 99, Los Molinos, CA 96055. 530-384-1455. Open every day. Cards, no checks. Limited parking in front or around on the side.

Fatboy’s Rotisserie and Sandwiches, 829 Twin View Boulevard, Redding, CA 530-244-7754, also 1501 Market Street (in the Promenade), 530-247-1676. Twin View open daily for lunch and dinner; Market Street open for lunch. Cards, no checks. Twin View location has a parking lot; Market location has Mall parking. www.fatboysredding.com

Femme de Joie’s first culinary masterpiece was at age 4, when she made the perfect fried bologna sandwich on white bread. Since then she has dined on horse Bourguignon in France, stir-fried eel in London, and mystery meat in her college cafeteria, but firmly draws the line at eating rattlesnake, peppermint and Hamburger Helper. She lives in Shasta County at her country estate, Butterscotch Acres West. She is nearly always hungry. Visit MenuPlease for more or send her an email at femmedejoiefood@yahoo.com.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.

Femme de Joie
Femme de Joie's first culinary masterpiece was at age 4, when she made the perfect fried bologna sandwich on white bread. Since then she has dined on horse Bourguignon in France, stir-fried eel in London, and mystery meat in her college cafeteria, but firmly draws the line at eating rattlesnake, peppermint and Hamburger Helper. She lives in Shasta County at her country estate, Butterscotch Acres West. She is nearly always hungry. Visit MenuPlease for more or send her an email at femmedejoiefood@yahoo.com.
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32 Responses

  1. Avatar Chris B. says:

    I have passed Roxie's many, many times on my way up to visit Lewiston and Redding even though I was attracted by the adorable building they're in (nice job they did with it!). I'm convinced, the boys and I will definitely have to finally stop and have a simply fabulous lunch on one of our road trips. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Avatar jacki g. says:

    Good review, as usual, Femme de Joie…but please folks, do not confuse Fatboy's with Fat Daddy's (over by Jose Antonio's) which is really quite good!

  3. Avatar Laurie says:

    I second that, Jacki G — Fat Daddy's is by far the best BBQ I've had in this town and several others. Everything's fantastic there, but I love the country ribs the best.

    Nice local family-owned business, and the onion rings and slaw are great, too!

  4. Avatar Bea says:

    Fat Daddy's bbq pork ribs-YES!

  5. Avatar Grammy says:

    I totally agree about Fat Boy's chicken sandwich. Taste less and dry. I do like their tri-tip though. And love their barbeque sauce. Cold slaw, nothing good about it. Was welted and taste less, would benefit from a little sugar added to the mayo. I love a good snack bar but can pass up a bad one easily (Home Town has a great one.)

  6. I'm drooling for some BBQ! Makes me want to make a trip to Los Mos.

  7. Avatar Melissa says:

    The cat is finally out of the bag! Roxie's is a North State gem well worth the drive from anywhere. I try to get there on Mondays, when tri tip is the special, but I have been happy on any day I've eaten there. Try a sandwich on their sourdough roll and let them put a little horseradish on it— even if you don't usually like horseradish. It is an amazing combination. As I once told a friend, "It's cult-like good!"

  8. Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

    Whenever I go to Chico I always take I-5 to the Woodson Bridge cutoff, but I think Roxie's might make me go through Los Molinos instead.

    Wonderful review, as always!

  9. Avatar DaveR says:

    Since when is it over an hour from Los Molinos to Chico? Exaggerating that for the sake of the story makes me wonder what else was exaggerated just for the story.

    • Femme de Joie Femme de Joie says:

      Dear DaveR,

      Clearly you have never had the misfortune to drive behind Femme de Joie in her flivver through "expect 20 minute delays" construction zones.

      Cordially,

      Femme de Joie

      • Avatar gamerjohn says:

        We drove up and down 99 this summer and got stuck for an hour south of Chico one night and got devoured by mosquitos. After the pavement is laid and before the lines are painted, driving on the pitch black road in the pitch black night and then dodging on coming cars is scary.

        I agree that Fat Daddy's is the best. Brick's is closer to me and does some things great, but there is something about their perfectly square cut ribs that is not quite as good as Fat Daddy's more natural ribs. I know about trimming the top and the belt of cross muscle, but Fat Daddy's is best.

        What I don't see around here is the dry rubbed BBQ and more vinegar based sauces from parts of the South. Sweet, spicy sauce is fine, but there is more out there.

        • Avatar Linda Masterson says:

          Gamer john, have you tried the ribs that Tops Market (used to be sunset market-eureka way and Buenaventura) bbq's outside along with chicken and tri-tip? They use a dry rub that we really enjoy.

      • Dear Femme de Joie,

        I enjoy your replies nearly as much as I love your columns. (Your word choice of flivver made my day. )

      • Avatar DaveR says:

        Yet those delays were due to work between Los Mos and Red Bluff. Once you reached Los Mos, no more delays…. my point stands.

        • Avatar gamerjohn says:

          Who cares? The lady was hungry and stopped in Los Molinos and reviewed Roxies. Give it a rest Dave.

  10. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Oh, Yes, Fat Daddy's is the best!

  11. Avatar Budd Hodges says:

    Excellent review Femme de Joie. The downtown Fat Boy's has now closed and a note on the door blames the economy as the reason.

    Could it also mean that the food served there wasn't that good and held back droves of folk from going there to eat?

    • Femme de Joie Femme de Joie says:

      Dear Budd,

      You pose a good question.

      Femme de Joie couldn't say if the economy was to blame for downtown Fatboy's closing, any more than she could say if the economy is to responsible for the continued success of nearby Grilla Bites, La Cabana, Los Gordos, Sandwichery, etc.

      Cordially,

      Femme de Joie

  12. Avatar KarenC says:

    When are new restaurants going to "get it". Redding has lots of foodies, folks who know how to cook, want fresh, healthy food, prepared well. Even a BBQ on a Dutch Crunch can be healthy, prepared right and served with healthy ingredients from a salad bar. If you give us good, flavorful food, we will come. If you can't cook and don't know how, do not go into the restaurant business….no one will become a steady customer. I try a restaurant once.

  13. Avatar Liz says:

    LOVE Roxies, they have the best sandwiches ever and I am not a sandwich girl 🙂

  14. Avatar Marilyn M says:

    Try the best….Brick's Bar-B-Q on Eureka Way…..yummy!

  15. Avatar mike says:

    Love bbq/grill/smoked anytime and all the time. Another great option in these here neck-of-the-woods is found out Palo Cedro way @ Grandmas BBQ. They do it low and slow with local oak, and although the smoke isnt the same as say hickory, their brisket sandwich is as good as any I've devoured in the south.

  16. Avatar gamerjohn says:

    Has anybody else tried Sweetie's BBQ? On Friday they were cooking outside Eddy's on Market near the Safeway. I ordered a full rack of ribs. They were not just the normal ribs, but also the top strip of baby backs. They use a dry rub and then add sauce as requested. Very good quality. Full smoky flavor. Since I like them fall out the bone done, they weren't quite as well done as I like. (Brick's is also like that.) But my wife likies them that way.

  17. Avatar lee riggs says:

    I have yet to eat pulled pork in Redding. If any can find the genuine article, Let me know. What I have had is usually cooked in water and slathered in sweet bad sauce. I don't care if it is healthy or not and while I prefer fresh. Good trumps them every time.

    • Avatar gamerjohn says:

      What do you consider real pulled pork? My wife learned the secrets from a BBQ stand owner in Mississippi. She uses a crock pot for 10 hours with a little vinegar based sauce. There are several places in Redding that place the pork roast in the smoker for hours before shredding it. I like both ways.

      • Avatar lee riggs says:

        Your wife's would be close. A pit is the best. As far as places in Redding I am willing to be surprised, and I certainly haven't been to all of them, but the ones I have been to have not been the real deal.

  18. Avatar gamerjohn says:

    I went to Roxie's a couple of days ago. It was pretty good. I asked the cashier if she knew about this article and she said no, but it had been a bit busier than usual.

  19. Avatar MAC says:

    The Fatboy's (Twinview) Italian Meatball sandwich is the best I've found anywhere, and thier Mac salad is magic! Thier Ranch Chicken sandwich, sub sandwich, and their burgers are also very good. Don't give up yet Femme, you just have to try again!

    Also, Sweeties BBQ is very good too…as well as Eddy's in the evening….yum!

  20. Avatar Adrienne Jacoby says:

    Well, at your behest, I tried Roxies. I drove to Los Molinas to meet a girlfriend from Paradise and suggested we go there. Well, I want you to know that although I am not a huge bar-b-q aficionado, you may find me on the road to Los Molinas more often now. The young owner waited on us and yes, he was well aware of the article. He was so personable and ready to share answers to any questions we had. Even now I can still taste that sauce and I've never had such a tender cut of tri-tip. . . . hmmm . . . maybe dinner tonight? . . . . lunch tomorrow? . . . .

  21. Avatar ClosetRedneck says:

    Hm. I found the downtown Fatboy's lacking, but our family loves the food from the Twinview location. Looking forward to a road trip to try Roxie's.