That Boy Good
207 N. Coast Highway, Oceanside
Being hungry in Oceanside is a good move these days. Restaurants have been popping up all over the Coast Highway, and a lot of what I’m seeing is a step in the right direction (rumors that Tilted Kilt wants to open in Oceanside aside). Urge Gastropub and Swami’s Café have opened a location, Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub has overcome its horrible name to net mostly rave reviews, and a little shop called Panca Peruvian has proved one of my favorites of 2016 so far.
And yet, with mounting choices, I couldn’t help but be lured by a simple message painted large in brown letters on daffodil yellow paint: “BBQ & Cold Beer.”
When you can’t decide on one thing, try a lot of things.
That Boy Good reads like a rustic dive bar with a soul-food fetish. Eating alone, I set myself up at the bar and started looking over the menu. Ten minutes later I was still looking. It’s not long, and it’s not complicated, but it was tough to choose. Cornmeal-crusted catfish sounded like a good option, but only if I were willing to ignore words such as “brisket” and “ribs” further down the page. Or chicken and waffles.
Unable to pick one entrée, I decided to spread out my cravings with two appetizers: a single serving of fried chicken and waffle for $6.50 plus a $3 order of ribs by the bone. Another ten minutes, and I finally decided on a pair of side dishes. With apologies to coleslaw and collard greens, smoked beans and mac-and-cheese sounded too good to pass up. $3 each for a small serving.
It added up to a little more than I like to spend at lunch, but the smell coming out of the kitchen was fantastic, and I couldn’t leave without trying as much as possible. I have no regrets.
The smoked beans weren’t overtly smoky and were balanced nicely against the sweetness common in a pork-and-beans dish. The occasional bit of tender pork or garlic clove dressed it up. The mac boasted a delightful creamy sauce with a hint of jalapeño, delivering both comfort and kick. I only wish there had been a little more of each.
That Boy’s fried chicken recipe takes a boneless thigh and tenderizes the hell out of it, coating the flattened fowl with buttermilk and paprika-laden batter, just an inch shy of being too salty. So satisfying.
But those ribs. These guys produce a pair of house sauces made with Coke, ketchup, Worcestershire, and mild or hot-spice blends. It sounds kooky and doesn’t result in my favorite-ever BBQ slather. But it doesn’t matter — a dry rub and smoker added all the flavor this tender rib meat needed. Succulent, savory, and every other adjective I’d hoped for on a great portion for the price. If I hadn’t eaten that waffle, I would have ordered more rib. That Boy is indeed good.