Kid Hit Menu Items: Mr. Cecil’s Ribs actually isn’t just about ribs, fortunately, because that’s a tough food item for smaller mouths to deal with. But if it’s ribs they want, it’s ribs they’ll get, since baby back, St. Louis rib rack ($6.50) or single organic beef rib ($7) are included in the list of kids’ meal options. Other choices include a mediocre grilled cheese sandwich, Hebrew National hot dog, quarter chicken (white or dark meat) and organic meat burger ($6.50 without cheese, $7 with). Then pick a side and drink to go with your protein, such as hushpuppies, baked beans with bacon, coleslaw, cornbread or glazed carrots. I think it’s weird to charge another $1 extra for fries. Anyway, we passed on the soda options because my kids are too young, but when I was a kid I would totally insist on having a Coke with this kind of food. And BTW the kid food combos are eat-in only.
Adult Perks: Sports fans can watch games on the flat screen, and there’s a full bar at the Sherman Oaks location with a happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. This being an eclectic California style kind of place, Mr. Cecil’s has a few salads, and lots of various-BBQ-tradition meat combo possibilities, and not just the three types of ribs. Or skip the animal mains and catfish dishes all together with a veggie kabob plate ($17.50).
Pros: Kids eat FREE on Tuesday! Deal is one free meal with each full-priced adult meal during lunch and dinner. The children’s menu is also printed on a placemat with silly pictures and games to occupy the kids. Mr. Cecil’s is a BBQ joint with goofy imagery and props all around; we admired the cow-shaped seat in the outdoor waiting area and the model train displayed above the kitchen. The enclosed front patio area facing Ventura Boulevard is a great option for families.
Cons: If you’re one of those Calvin Trillin reading, Steven Raichlen worshiping types, the three locations of Mr. Cecil’s probably don’t rank high or appear at all on your list of go-to BBQ restaurants in Los Angeles. Despite skylights in the “shack”-inspired dining room, it still feels dark during the day.
Changing Station: Yes
High Chairs: Yes
Parking and Access: Street parking along Ventura and side streets.
Other Tidbits: Boneyard Bistro down the street is a more serious (and expensive) destination for complex matters of open-flame cooking, where they “welcome your well behaved children” to feast on Santa Maria-style red oak BBQ and fried (!!) mac and cheese, plus craft beers and quality cocktails for the adults. Mr. Cecil’s tri-tip had the definite markings and flavor of smoke, but the meat was too chewy and the flour tortillas that came with the meat were stiff with the sheen and flavor of commercially made tortillas designed for storage. I nostalgically flashed back to the Mission flour tortillas eagerly eaten with butter and cinnamon throughout my childhood, which isn’t exactly the sensory experience I want in a restaurant that “infuses California freshness and the highest quality ingredients.” Still, kids eat free on Tuesdays makes it a good early week option, chances are everyone will agree on something they want to eat, service is courteous, and the train and animal props help. That’s something, right?
13625 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks (also in West L.A. and Manhattan Beach)
Hours: Monday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Saturday Noon-11 p.m.; Sunday noon – 10 p.m.