When you walk in the door, it’s almost as if you’re stepping into the barbecue joint that you would find in the mountains of North Carolina or Southeast Georgia. From the moment you enter Sweet Baby Jane’s in Hemet, the smell of the barbecue – slow smoking everything from prime rib to pork shoulders and even turkey – assault the senses as your eyes adjust to the dim lighting. If Sweet Baby Jane’s owner Janet Sawyer is trying to invoke the feeling of coming home, she manages to do it in spades at her restaurant conveniently located at 124 Harvard Street.
Sweet Baby James lives up to the hype of the title of “Best Barbecue in Southern California” in almost every way imaginable. With a variety of items on the menu there’s something here to please every palate. From lobster to the pulled pork, you have got to try Sweet Baby Jane’s. This wasn’t my first visit to the popular, family friendly Hemet eatery and I am sure it won’t be my last as the food there is, to put it simply, just wonderful.
My companion and I settled into one of the comfortable booths and begin to peruse the menu as we tried to decide what to eat on a beautiful Friday morning. Thankfully for us, Sawyer was a veritable wealth of information. She suggested we try the Irish Nachos and the Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers, so that’s where we started.
The mountain of Irish Nachos, homemade potato chips smothered with a flavorful cheese sauce, sour cream, fresh tomatoes, pulled pork and topped with a freshly roasted jalapeno, was a delight to the senses. The house made chips were light, airy and full of flavor. Scooping up mounds of pulled pork, sour cream, barbecue sauce and veggies was a true testament to this tasty chip and its ability to be a solid base for this dish without compromising taste.
Had I known the Irish Nachos would be a meal in itself, encompassing all the food groups, I would have stopped there. But then again, I would have to say I am a bit of a barbecue connoisseur so I couldn’t leave the place without at least tasting some of the delectable, slow roasted barbecue dishes Sweet Baby Jane’s offers.
While I am not much on the super spicy foods, my tender Midwestern palate can’t handle anything too terribly hot, I couldn’t resist sampling the Jalapeno Poppers which came out from the kitchen freshly stuffed with cream cheese and prime rib and fried in Sweet Baby Jane’s delicious crispy golden batter.
While I am not necessarily a good judge on what is hot, since I tend to veer away from those spicy foods, my companion assured me that it wasn’t just me. Those jalapeno poppers are not for faint of heart. The small sampling that I had of the popper was delicious, the dish was fried to perfection and the flavors melded together nicely.
We sampled a variety of main dish items including the Pulled Pork the Spareribs and the Baby Back Ribs. I have to say none of the dishes we tried disappointed in in the least.
The Pulled Pork had a wonderful flavor and literally melted in your mouth with the slow smoked taste of the meat complimented nicely by Sweet Baby Jane’s own barbecue sauce made, like everything else, from scratch on-site.
Next up we dug into the smoked to perfection Baby Back Ribs. With a secret recipe dry-rub, these ribs were absolutely amazing and something any diner would be thrilled to try. The bark on the outside was perfectly done adding a nice texture to the meat that was so tender it practically fell off the bone.
The Spareribs were much the same, a crispy bark with a delicious mix of flavors. The medley of textures and flavors was wonderful thanks to Sweet Baby Jane’s flavorsome dry-rub and smoking techniques making this dish one that I would recommend everyone try.
Once my companion and I made it through the massive amounts of food on our table, Sawyer treated us to her signature cocktail, Janet’s Planet. The drink was fruity, light and refreshing and the perfect way to end our working lunch.
For those looking to sample the best barbecue that they can possibly find, Sweet Baby Jane’s is the place to go. This is one eatery that is worth the drive. Go on any night of the week for dinner then make your way to the patio to enjoy the night air and the daily live entertainment. Don’t forget to stop by on the second Tuesday of every month for Sweet Baby Jane’s monthly BBQ Car Show beginning at 6 p.m.
Sweet Baby James is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays for breakfast at 9 a.m. The prices are affordable, portions are huge and the taste of the food is top-notch, making this restaurant a true family eatery.
Sweet Baby Jane’s, now in their seventh year of serving, also does catering for all kinds of special events including weddings, office parties, family get-togethers and virtually any other celebration.
For more information on this great hidden gem, including a full menu, visit www.sbjbbq.com or call (951) 652-4227.