dine

A full rack of barbecue ribs with sides of baked beans and mac-n-cheese presented with a pulled pork sandwich are two popular menu items at The Hollywood Way BBQ Bar & Grill in Burbank. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer / December 1, 2010)

There are three things in life that make many men very happy — barbecue, beer and football. A brand-new sports bar called the Hollywood Way in Burbank specializes in that trifecta of pleasure. Even though it's an expansion restaurant, with a few lucky breaks, this upstart establishment could make the dining playoffs in its first year of business.

For the better part of a lifetime, on the corner of Hollywood Way and Burbank Boulevard stood a majestic old dive bar called Mr. B's. Many locals also remember that location as the romantic little hideaway, Bamboo Terrace. Sadly, most of Mr. B's patrons started to die off and a change was eminent. A few months ago, that historic location underwent a complete remodel, and our city now has another interesting place to visit for food, spirits and good times.

The Hollywood Way's "hook" is their barbecue-based menu and their slow-cooking process that creates flavors not available at typical chain restaurants. My sports-minded crew dined on pulled-pork sandwiches, Buffalo wings, tri-tip quesadillas, barbecued nachos and pulled-chicken sandwiches. To even things out, we also added coleslaw, French fries and chips and salsa to our sizeable order.

The big score of the meal was the tri-tip quesadillas. This original combination took us all by surprise and was the perfect pre-game starter for the rest of the dishes. My teammate's pulled-pork sandwich was piled so high with meat, he had to eat it with a knife and fork. That's saying a lot, since I've never seen him use utensils or a napkin.

You can never go wrong with wings, and the spicy ones I ordered hit the spot and left just enough sauce on my face to let people know I was living the high life on a Sunday afternoon. The portions are large enough for even the biggest offensive lineman. Therefore, I suggest going with a group and having everybody order something different to make it a true team effort.

While dining, we were able to watch NFL games on beautiful big-screen TVs that hang above the full bar and throughout the restaurant. The Hollywood Way has an extensive beer tap system and individual "mini-taps" called "Iceberg Towers" that can be delivered to your table if everyone decides on the same beer. This self-cooled drinking invention really relaxes a group and puts a smile on people's faces when their team is getting destroyed, like my Detroit Lions.

I am pleased to announce that Oakland Raider fans have not overtaken the bar, and the restaurant is basically kid-friendly if you sit at a table. Since the food is top-shelf, the prices are a little high, but that fact alone should keep out undesirables that often populate other sports bars in the area.

Because HDTVs are so cheap these days, many people are avoiding restaurants to watch sporting events at home. I could see where this would hurt the bottom line of the Hollywood Way, but they had a good crowd on the afternoon I visited. And 95% of the food fans were men.

Another enjoyable part of our visit was the friendly staff that brought us our beers with quickness and delivered our food exactly as ordered. Even the cook stopped by and said hello. There is a definite hometown feel, but the space seems a little bare since the typical neon signs and beer ads have not been hung on the walls. I'm sure that will change once the owner hires a decorator.

Like an old reliable baseball glove, the Hollywood Way will break in just fine as more locals find out about this new all-star location. Even though my team lost that afternoon, I went home a winner with a full belly and some leftovers for Monday Night Football.

Matt Bellner is an actor and semi-professional eater from Burbank.

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Infobox

What: The Hollywood Way

When: 11 a.m. to midnight daily

Where: 1333 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank

Cost: Appetizers — $2.50 to $10.50, meals $8.95 to $23.95, full bar (prices vary by selection), happy hour and specials every day of the week

Contact: (818) 845-4400