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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Johnny Rebs’ transports down-home Southern cuisine to Orange, California

Johnny Rebs’ has been one of my top restaurant stops since the mid-1990s. I found them in the Entertainment Book and have been a fan ever since. Their first restaurant opened in 1984 and have three locations in Orange, Bellflower, and Long Beach. The Johnny Rebs’ in Orange looks like a house in the Southern back country with white picket fence and rusted aluminum roof. The interior has wood floors, country-style booths and tables, and peanut shells littering the floor. One thing that will put a smile on your face is the chickens “singing” in the bathroom. It’s all a part of the ambiance that makes this place great.

Here are some items that you might like to try:

Country Fried Steak Breakfast Platter is smothered in gravy and served with two eggs, home baked biscuit or toast, and a choice of country potatoes, hot buttery grits, or tomato slices. The country fried steak has a crispy batter with tender cubed steak inside. The gravy is slightly creamy and peppery. The eggs are cooked to order, over easy in this case, and the yolk flavor works well with the steak. The cheese grits are cooked to perfection. You can tell lots of love went into these grits. The buttermilk biscuit is definitely homemade with a crispy outer crust and fluffy inside. Rating: 5/5

Catfish & Eggs Breakfast Platter is catfish Southern fried in cornmeal or blackened and served with two eggs, home baked biscuit or toast, and a choice of country potatoes, hot buttery grits, or tomato slices. The catfish, southern fried, is crispy on the outside with light cornmeal breading and succulent on the inside. It’s the best fried catfish I’ve ever had! Tartar sauce is served on the side, but you probably won’t need it. The catfish has an umami flavor to it that is addictive on its own. The buttery grits are creamy and topped with whipped butter. Rating: 5/5

Smoked Bacon Breakfast Platter is smoked bacon with two eggs, home baked biscuit or toast, and a choice of country potatoes, hot buttery grits, or tomato slices. The bacon is smoky, salty, and meaty with the perfect crispness. The eggs, scrambled in this case, are fluffy and delicious. If you are steering toward low carb, cottage cheese is a good side option. Rating: 5/5

Red Velvet Country Flapjacks (not on the current menu, but look for it as a special) are served with butter and maple syrup. If you love red velvet cake, you’ll love these flapjacks. They are fluffy and spongy. They are slightly sweet and have the red velvet cake flavor. The butter and maple syrup add creaminess and candy-like sweetness to the mix like a light frosting flavor. Rating: 4.5/5

Blueberry Country Flapjacks are served with butter and maple syrup. I had these in honor of National Blueberry Pancake Day and they really hit the spot. The flapjacks are fluffy like buttermilk clouds. The blueberries are huge and pop with juiciness. Rating: 5/5

Smoked Turkey Sandwich is layered with cranberry aioli, bacon, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, and tomato on grilled sourdough and served with one fixin’ (side). This is one of the best turkey sandwiches around. The turkey is sliced from an actual turkey breast (not processed deli meat) and is juicy and meaty. The cranberry aioli adds a sweetness and reminds you of Thanksgiving. The bacon adds a smoky, salty flavor to balance out the sandwich. Rating: 5/5

Southern Fried Chicken is served with a home-baked biscuit, cornbread, or hush puppies and your choice of two Fixin’s. The chicken takes a while longer than the rest of the entrees so be patient. It’s totally worth the wait. The chicken is perfectly cooked with crispy seasoned outside and juicy tender, flavorful meat on the inside. French fries are shoestring-style and are golden brown and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Ask for a side of ranch for dipping. Rating: 5/5

Catfish is two fillets done southern-fried in cornmeal or blackened and served with a home-baked biscuit, cornbread, or hush puppies and your choice of two Fixin’s. These are still my favorite for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Sometimes, I even order a third fillet to take home. Rating: 5/5

St. Louis Pork Ribs Dinner are served with two fixin’s and choice of bread. The ribs are meaty with a beautiful smoke ring. They are not the juiciest around but are still a good second choice if you are craving barbeque. The Bitty Salad is not so “bitty” at all and Johnny Rebs’ ranch dressing is creamy and tastes like homemade. A great way to get fresh veggies into your meal. Rating: 4/5

Sausage Sampler (not on the current menu, but can be made with the Pork Out option on the menu) is the Cajun, Andouille, and Hot Link sausages atop cheese grits and served with hush puppies. The sausages are grilled to perfection. The outer casing has a nice snap to it and the grill adds smoky flavor. The Cajun sausage is slightly spicy but has a mild flavor. The Andouille sausage is more robust. The Hot Link is spicier than the Cajun and very meaty. The hush puppies are crispy on the outside with a savory cornbread flavor and texture on the inside. This is a lot of food so be prepared to take home a doggie bag. Rating: 4.5/5

Roadhouse Feast (special) serves two people and includes an appetizer of fried green tomatoes, fried okra, and sweet potato fries; entrée of four St. Louis pork ribs, sliced brisket, quarter roast chicken, one hot link, one catfish fillet, two fixin’s, one biscuit, one cornbread, and two hush puppies; and warm peach cobbler a la mode for dessert. This is a good way to sample your way through the menu. The fried green tomatoes are crispy on the outside and sour on the inside. The fried okra are crispy on the outside and soft texture like cooked cactus on the inside. The sweet potato fries are crispy on the outside and sweet on the inside as well. The sliced brisket is sliced almost paper-thin and a little dry. Thicker, meatier slices would be better to hold some of the juices in. BBQ pinto beans are sweet with a thin sauce. It might be better to thicken up the sauce so it sticks to the beans a little better. The peach cobbler is warm and sweet. As the ice cream melts, it adds a creaminess to the peachy sauce and tames the sweetness. Rating: 4/5

Don’t worry if you can’t clean your plate, Johnny Rebs’ won’t tell your mama!

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars

For more information:
2940 E Chapman Ave
Orange, CA 92689

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