You don't need me to tell you that Fallbrook, way up in the northern reaches of the county, isn't exactly where the foodies flock. Oh sure, there are a few places one would dub "pretty good—for Fallbrook," but no real dining spot that could stand on its own and be judged as a quality eatery no matter where it grew. Until now.
Last year, husband-and-wife team Jonathan and Jennifer Arbel opened Oink and Moo Barbecue (121 N. Pico Ave.), a colorful and funky little cottage of meat where they're cranking out some quality 'cue.
I love a good pulled-pork sandwich, but let's be honest, after slowly cooking and smoking Wilbur for more than 14 hours, is there any chance it's not going to be delicious? That being said, Oink and Moo puts out a tasty pile of pulled piggy; every bite is moist and tender with ample amounts of sweet, slightly peppery sauce dripping forth from all sides of a French roll.
My party of four shared a beautiful rack of baby back ribs, each rib packed with lush and toothsome meat. There was a bit more heat in its sticky, caramelized sauce than with the sweeter pulled pork, and our table quickly stopped talking and merely grunted savagely as we tore into the Flintstonian offering.
As carnivorous as my tastes run, I shy away from hamburgers in most restaurants— not because I don't love hamburgers, but because too many of them are just plain mediocre. Oh, sure, it's fun to top a burger with all sorts of frippery—I'm no toppings purist—but too often I'm left with a mouthful of quirky condi- ment that's working way too hard to distract from the dry, flavorless beef.
Not so at Oink and Moo. The patty is a thick blend of ground chuck and brisket, its soft and sweet brioche bun enrobing the whole juicy package. They cooked it perfectly to our requested medium pink, and instead of masking the flavors of the beef, the healthy scoop of caramelized onions topping the burger served to give it that extra kick of sweet, drippings-from-the-pan goodness.
Like at any good barbecue joint, the sides at O 'n' M play as important a role as the meat. The house-made buttermilk biscuits are baby-cheek soft and served with a drizzle of honey and maple syrup. A surprising standout was the bourbon baked beans—creamy without tasting overly sug- ary and with a tiny bit of heat. With an unapologetic whiff of whisky in each bite, these beans are hardly an afterthought.
Oink and Moo rotates game burgers—we were there on kangaroo night—and some of the funkier menu options include the Peanut Butter & Jelly Burger with Bacon.
Fallbrook residents, slow-to-change and comfortable with the community's old standby restaurants, should throw their support behind Oink and Moo. And if you find yourself lost among the avocadoes some time, sit yourself down and dig in.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Follow Jenny on Twitter @jennymontyinsd.