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Dickey’s: Best Barbecue in Santa Barbara?

Dickey’s: Best Barbecue in Santa Barbara?
Gavin Tsang/ The Bottom Line

Paul Tucker

This past week I adventured down to Goleta to try out Dickey’s, the barbecue joint that has gained a quicker fan base than a winning sports team. As I pulled into the parking lot the aroma of smoked meats spread into my nostrils, slowly urging me to come closer.
I got into line and started to read all the options.

Ribs, sliders, sandwiches, chicken, brisket — it was a meat-lover’s paradise, and fortunately for me, it was my turn to try it out. I ordered a half rack of ribs, two sliders and a side of coleslaw. Watching the cooks slice, dice and prepare the meat was quite fascinating.

The overall layout of Dickey’s gave me the sense of an above-average fast food chain. Tables and chairs were scattered, so if you were expecting a five star restaurant you may be disappointed. For what Dickey’s lacked in interior decorating they made up for it in overall coziness and charisma. When you walked up to the counter, you personally talked to the chefs, as they took your order, and continued to slice the meat in front of you, before you had even paid.

As you make your way down the assembly line, your meal is promptly made in front of your eyes. Suddenly the journey had ended and you find yourself at the register staring into a tray full of deliciousness. One bite into the ribs and I knew something was not right. The ribs were sadly a bit dry, but this small blunder was quickly fixed by the barbecue sauce, which conveniently sat on my table. I enjoyed the newly-succulent ribs, and decided to tackle the small sliders. I personally liked the brisket slider better, as the chicken one once again exuded dryness.

Like the ribs, and everything in general, a little sauce never hurts. The biggest friend to Dickey’s is easily their barbecue sauce. With its sweet, yet spicy taste the sauce was the middle-man that brought everything together.

The coleslaw was another unexpected surprise, as in many cases, coleslaw can be too dry and taste like lettuce or be drowned in a sea of mayo. On my scale for coleslaw, between “dry as a desert” and “wet as an oasis,” Dickey’s coleslaw landed perfectly in the middle.

So my prognosis? Dickey’s food was a good afternoon meal, but it won’t go down in my Mount Rushmore of favorite places to eat. I really enjoyed their food, undoubtedly, as the ribs were tasty, the sliders were appetizing, the coleslaw a delight and the free ice cream cone definitely an added bonus.

At the same time Dickey’s is not something I would want to label as my favorite place to eat, maybe because of my commitment issues, or maybe because Dickey’s is just a good place to eat, not a great one. Their service was impeccable, the employees were quite friendly and every customer seemed to be enjoying his or her food. If you consider yourself a food connoisseur, then it’s time to revise your food bucket list and add another line as Dickey’s deserves to be tried while you live in the beach paradise of Isla Vista.

Undoubtedly, Dickey’s is doing something right, so what are you waiting for? Stop trying to convince your friend to go get Freebirds for the third time this month and drive on down to try some real, tasty barbecue; just don’t forget to add some sauce (and to not forget the free ice cream at the end).


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