Welcome back to mmm-yoso!!!, the food blog. Kirk is on vacation and Cathy is blogging in his place. ed(from Yuma) is in Yuma, not on vacation and not blogging.
Hi again. Long story short, I drive up Valley Center Road quite frequently, regularly noticed signs next to Fat Ivor's Rib Rack and back in 2002, I finally decided to stop and see what the signs were all about. I wrote a post about this in 2006.
In reality, the signs were only out near Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter...it took me a while to realize that was when I was driving regularly to Valley Center. Here's an accurate photo of my viewpoint. The yellow sign closest to the road is "Optimist Hams for Kids", next to a "Got Ribs? We do" sign, then there is that trailer with the Optimist logo on it and the sign for Fat Ivor's Rib Rack. Meat. By the side. Of the road. The driveway is at those signs and the parking area is for Fat Ivor's.
In the back of the parking lot, you can see the smokers, being used for the Optimist's hams, as well as for the beef and pork used on Fat Ivor's menu.
Walk into the restaurant through the left door and seat yourself. The right door is the outdoor Bar area. Fat Ivor's has been in Valley Center for decades and was rebuilt after it burned down two months after the original owner, Tommy Thomas, died.
The restaurant is decorated with American flags, pictures of President Ronald Reagan, John Wayne, patriotic items and is frequented by locals, especially at lunch time.
Locals take advantage of the "Lunch Specials", as well as the "Extra Lunch Specials" (which include a side and beverage if you get it as a half sandwich). You'll notice there aren't any smoked meats on the daily specials menu. This is a diner.
So, The Mister and I ordered from the regular menu and his meal started with a fresh, but unexciting salad with blue cheese dressing...which had chunks of blue cheese at the bottom, but was pretty watery overall.
The main part of His meal was a whole farmed trout-deboned and spread open gently, so as to stay in one whole piece. Lightly cornmeal breaded and perfectly fried, with skin on the bottom, this was fresh and a good, firm fish. It was a 'Lighter Meal' and came with cottage cheese ($10.95)
I ordered the BBQ pork sandwich ($7.95) which comes with a choice of two sides. Baked beans (meaty baked beans) and a lightly dressed cole slaw were my choices. The pork is smoked and sliced (not pulled). Real BBQ. The sandwich is topped with a homemade sauce, which seems to be sweetened with molasses. The sesame seeded bun is well toasted so the sauce doesn't permeate the bun to fall apart.
About midway through, I used the BBQ seasoning (that isn't red pepper) from the tabletop condiment choices. The very nice blend of seasonings, including hot chili, black pepper and salt complimented my sandwich.
Yes, Fat Ivor's is known for the all you can eat beef ribs, which are $13.99, seven days of the week. I've had them. They are well smoked, a bit fatty and better without sauce. People travel here for the evening meals.
Oh. The ham.
The best smoked ham ever. The Optimists use Farmer John hams and smoke them deeply with hickory. We could not wait. It was tonight's dinner...tomorrow's breakfast and lunch... and many more meals, including pea soup. We're having Turkey for Easter.
Fat Ivor's 27961 Valley Center Road, Valley Center, CA 92082 (760) 749-0600