Tuesday, November 24, 2015 • 10:20

Fat Ivor's serves best smoked ribs in town

May 28, 2014
Fat Ivor's Rib Rack is a well-established Valley Center restaurant and tavern located at 27961 Valley Center Road. The Mom and Pop eatery is owned and operated by Georgine Thomas with business partner Patrick Prettyman. Well-recognized in the community, Fat Ivor's has been serving country-style meals for 30 years.

Without a doubt, this is the only place in town to order mouth-watering smoked beef and pork ribs. Marinated in sauce created from a special recipe, the ribs are cooked on a slow-cooking smoker over oak chips.

"There's an old rule of thumb in the restaurant business," said Prettyman. "If you buy a great product you can only make it bad if you mess it up, but if you buy a bad product you can't make it good."

This rule applies to every meal the Thomas-Prettyman partnership serves.

The restaurant features the New York steak aged and cut from the heart of the sirloin strip. Another feature is the choice cut top sirloin steak selected from the finest top sirloin available. Other favorite dinners include the filet mignon and rib eye steak, both tender, premium-cut steaks. Baby back pork ribs are also a good top quality selection served with Fat Ivor's very own delicious barbecue sauce. Whether the choice of chicken is barbecue, roasted to a golden brown, or New York dipped in a hot and spicy sauce, the chicken is top of the line. The trout served is always fresh. Shrimp scampi and golden fried shrimp dinners are created using flavorful jumbo shrimp.

"The pork chops are awesome," said Prettyman. "Everybody loves them. There are two six-ounce pork chops that are very tender. They're boneless, moist, cooked on the grill, and served with applesauce."

Smoked prime rib is the house specialty. Barbecue beef ribs is an all-you-can-eat meal served all day every day.

Dinner entrees include two side dish choices of tossed green salad, jasmine rice, beans, cole slaw, French fries, steak fries, baked potato, fresh buttered vegetables, or soup of the day. The steak fries are large potato wedges perfectly seasoned. The soups are excellent and are changed daily. Cream of mushroom and cream of potato soups are homemade. As are the chicken tortilla, chicken enchilada, chicken gumbo, and chicken noodle or rice soups. To add to the list of homemade soups, shrimp bisque is alternated with clam chowder every Friday.

Salads are served on 12-inch platters. The taco salad is served with ground beef or chicken breasts. The Chinese chicken salad, spinach, or cobb salad as well as the Caesar salad are all served with garlic toast. Generous servings of salad make all salads complete meals.

"After eating these big salads you can't eat anything else," said Prettyman.

Appetizers at Fat Ivor's are delicious. Mozzarella sticks are served with marinara sauce. Shrimp cocktail features jumbo gourmet shrimp arranged on a shrimp boat. The pot of mushrooms is sautéed in a delicate butter wine sauce. There are beer-battered onion rings or zucchini to choose from and jalapeno poppers are served with ranch dressing. New York chicken tenders are hot and spicy. The onion blossom is a huge onion diced, spread into petals, then buttered.

"I'm never afraid to ask 'how's everything' or 'how's dinner' because the food is always good. And it's a great place where you meet your friends," Prettyman said.

There are specials every day featuring different selections. All sandwiches are made from fresh French rolls.

"We use big bread. We don't use tiny stuff," Prettyman said. "These are ample servings. No one leaves here hungry. We send away more take-homes than anyone else."

Guests have the option of dining in the enclosed screened patio or dining room where the atmosphere is inviting with just the right lighting. Covering the walls are photographs of celebrities, past presidents, and the original owners along with an abundance of flags.

"We're patriotic around here," said Prettyman.

So was Ivor "Tommy" Thomas who served 20 years in the Marine Corp. After retiring in 1971, he and his wife Georgine moved to Valley Center. In 1981, they purchased Zuke's Pizza located where Fat Ivor's is today. After several unsuccessful attempts at serving the ideal pizza, Thomas changed the menu to Texas-style barbecue. Because he was a heavy-set man with an unusual first name, he decided to name the restaurant Fat Ivor's Rib Rack.

Thomas passed away Christmas 2002. He had served his famous barbecue for 21 years. The restaurant burned down the following February. After considerable encouragement from the community, Georgina rebuilt the restaurant to present-day Fat Ivor's.

At the restaurant, also available is a full bar. Happy hour is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, seven days each week.

According to Prettyman, Friday seems to attract all the locals but others travel as far as south San Diego, Temecula, and the surrounding Escondido, San Marcos area for the delicious home-cooked meals.

"It's a friendly place where everybody meets," said Prettyman. "It's a pleasant atmosphere where everybody feels welcome and a place where everybody knows your name."

Fat Ivor's is open every day of the week from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., only closing for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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