O’Connor’s Wood Fire Grill & Bar, A Perfect Neighborhood BBQ Joint in Orangevale
Top: Tri-Tip Dippers; Bottom: Oak Grilled Chicken - Photo by Dante Fontana © Style Media Group
O’Connor’s is a perfect neighborhood barbecue joint. I stopped by one recent Monday around 6 p.m., as the dinner crowd was just starting to trickle in. O’Connor’s sits on the street-side of a cluster of commercial buildings, and the recently remodeled restaurant is nothing short of marvelous. Rough-hewn wood paneling and stylish pendant lights provide a hip but relaxed atmosphere in which you can kick back, drink a beer, and get messy with Santa Maria-style barbecue. To top it off, the staff is super friendly and effective.
My companion and I got our meal rolling with Tri-Tip Dippers, aka sliders, that came with a creamy horseradish sauce and au jus. These babies were superb. The buns were buttery and toasty, while the tender meat was sliced thin and stacked layer upon layer—something you don’t see all that often with tri-tip, but it worked crazy well. I could have eaten their sliders all night, but I knew there was more food coming.
Next up, we mowed down a plate of the Oak Grilled Chicken—a half chicken that was seasoned and grilled with O’Connor’s signature dry rub, resulting in a flavorful and juicy piece of poultry. It came with two sides: a medley of fresh sautéed summer vegetables (squash, bell pepper, onions and carrots) and a mound of buttery garlic smashed potatoes.
Barbecue aficionados and roasted meat experts condemn me if you will, but I’m usually a very liberal latherer of sauce—more is better—so as I was carnivoring my way through the chicken, it dawned on me that I hadn’t even touched the barbecue sauce on the table! All the items up to that point were well balanced and tasty as plated, so I didn’t even think I’d need the sauce. Once I did experiment with their house-made sauces, however, the flavor was so good I concluded that a little dousing takes that great barbecue taste to a new level.
Alongside the chicken, we munched on a unique wood-fired BBQ pizza that featured mouthwatering pulled pork, mozzarella, cilantro and a signature tangy red sauce. The scratch-made dough, once baked, transformed into a beautifully puffy, golden-perfect crust with just a smidge of lovely charring.
O’Connor’s proved to be a delectable feast. Next time I stop by for a beer and baseball viewing on one of their flat-screen TVs, I’ll try the brisket…with plenty of sauce.
—Jeremy B. Neely
O’Connors Wood Fire Grill & Bar, 9267 Greenback Lane, Suite A-1, Orangevale, 916-988-0112.