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[whitespace] Cheap Eats

By Traci Vogel

1711 Branham Lane, San Jose; 408.266.1855
Tue-Sat 11:30am-9:30pm; Sun 2:30pm-9:30pm; closed Mon

UTTERLY SNUBBING its strip mall location, Mr. BBQ recalls the heady season of backyard barbecue. Red-checked tablecloths match red-checked wallpaper trim; faux wood-grain booths line the walls; and a homey, if homely, mural depicts a hardy father figure fanning a fiery pit. No such bucolic pit can actually be seen in Mr. BBQ's kitchen, but the barbecue that emerges gets down with down-home.

Three juicy pork ribs ($6.49 lunch special with side dish, soda and garlic bread), slathered with a nicely spicy tomato sauce, strained the plate's capacity. The meat was falling off the bone as it arrived, which made for messy pickings; fortunately, Mr. BBQ provides a well-stocked napkin dispenser right at the table. The barbecue chicken with rice ($6.25) came perfectly crisp-skinned, tender and smoky tasting. Side dishes ($1.39-$4.75) include homemade barbecued beans, with a rich, toothsome finish, beer-batter onion rings and potato salad. Green salad is also offered, but didn't seem entirely appropriate to the barbecue theme, nor entirely fresh.

For those who like their meat off the bone and floating in broth, the menu also offers the traditional Vietnamese soup, pho ($4.99 regular; $5.99 large). Mr. BBQ's combination of Vietnamese and Southern cooking is enough to send a meat lover to hog heaven, if only for lunch hour.

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From the April 18-24, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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