Prime rib on the Bone. Photo: Matt Cortina
Prime rib on the Bone. Photo: Matt Cortina

The Rib Joint
34294 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point
949.661.9500.
www.ribjointdanapoint.com.

There are large parts of the U.S. that can endearingly be called prime rib country. On any given night in usually rural communities from Montana across the plains to the Ozarks, folks gather around a modest diner or steakhouse and visit with each other. There’s usually a salad bar and prime rib specials, and people move from table to table with sweaty glasses of tea or bottles of Budweiser and catch up.

It’s a romantic scene—prime rib country—that puts on a pedestal the simple joy of community. Now for all South Orange County has to offer, you wouldn’t think there’s enough room for a slice of prime rib country to have a satellite office. But step inside The Rib Joint in Dana Point and see for yourself.

Everything—the salad bar, the old wooden and vinyl dining booths, the hunkered down bar, the easy conversation, the Game Show Network on TV—feels earnest. So does the food.

A menu of chicken, beef and pork barbecue makes it hard to decide, but the prime ribs on the bone just seem right.

By cooking the meat on the bone, the beef is imbued with the rich, earthy, umami flavor of the cow. It’s a natural taste that might surprise those who’ve only had processed beef or the deboned, ground and cellophane-wrapped red stuff. Rib Joint does not shy away from the meat’s essence, and elevates it with a simple rub and a tangy barbecue sauce. Steak fries and home-made cornbread are natural accompaniments.

Other barbecue joints may embellish their meats with buzz words and interior design, but Rib Joint is righteous and truly stands out in South Orange County.

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