Texas Lil’s serves up barbecue and so much more in Temecula’s Old Town

Texas Lil’s Mesquite Grill co-owner Becky Walton and Buck pose for a photo inside the restaurant which even offers a dog menu featuring a choice of a rib bone, chicken breast, hamburger patty or hot dog. Will Fritz and Texas Lil’s photos

Will Fritz
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From breakfast, to Mexican, to the barbecue they’re famous for, there’s something for everyone at Texas Lil’s Mesquite Grill.

“You haven’t done Old Town unless you’ve done Texas Lil’s,” Becky Walton, who runs the restaurant along with her husband, Ron, said. “We’ve been here for 30 years, family owned and operated continuously for about 30 years. People visit us whether you’re young, old or in between.”

Becky says the restaurant attracts diverse demographics depending on the time of day.

In the morning, the crowd trends older, she said. As the day progresses into evening, the younger customers start coming in.

“It really does fluctuate, but everyone seems to get along pretty well,” Becky said.

The restaurant is also dog-friendly, she said.

“Canines drink free, H20 only,” she said with a chuckle.

She offered to show off her own dog, a Bichon named Buck, as an example.

“He’s our mascot,” she said.

The restaurant even offers a dog menu, which includes a choice of a rib bone, chicken breast, hamburger patty or hot dog.

With the diverse crowd comes a similar diversity in menu items. There are 85 in total, Becky said.

“It’s really hard to nail it down to one item,” she said. “We have really good Mexican food, which I know is kind of surprising. Our barbecue is really good and our burgers are delicious, too.”

Texas Lil’s also offers 16 craft beers on tap. There are selections from Pizza Port, Ballast Point and others.

The Waltons opened Texas Lil’s in January 1987. And it’s hardly Ron’s first go-around at the restaurant business. By his estimate, he’s owned about 30 since 1962, when he opened a 1,500-square-foot beer bar on the corner of 138th Street and Inglewood Avenue in Hawthorne, California.

“I was 23 years old and I opened it just as a fluke,” Ron said. “The kid I was living with, his mom had the restaurant and the people in there had it closed down for booking bets.”

He borrowed $1,500 to get the place going, and sold it for $9,000 nine months later to the same people who loaned him the money.

“Seemed like a lot of money in 1963, so I went and bought a brand-new Corvette stingray when it first came out,” he said.

At that point, he liked the restaurant industry so much he decided to give another one a shot.

“I went to Carson and found a closed restaurant,” Ron said. “I opened it up and turned it into the Whale House, and from there it was just one restaurant after another.”

The restaurant business has been good to him over the years, he says. It’s gotten all of his kids through college and afforded him a nice living.

“I enjoy being with people and doing the service business, and over the years it’s created a lot of wonderful friends” he said.

Among the friends the business has created for him: his own wife. The two met while she was working under him at one of the many restaurants he’s owned.

“We kind of hit it off right from the get-go and have been married for 34 years now,” he said.

When diners first enter Texas Lil’s they are greeted by country western décor, happy servers and best of all, the mouthwatering smell of delicious barbecue coming from the open kitchen.

Texas Lil’s serves Tex-Mex specialties, ribs, steaks, fish, burgers and sandwiches. Come in for dinner to try the new barbecue feast. It features a choice of a half rack of baby back ribs or beef ribs, a quarter of herb roasted chicken, and a choice of barbecue pulled pork or brisket. It is served with crispy fries or Tater Tots and a  choice of coleslaw or mac & cheese with Texas cornbread. It is one dish sure to leave you feeling full.

Some of the favorites on the Tex Mex menu include enchiladas, fish tacos and T.J. Street tacos. All are served with cilantro lime rice and refried beans.

If you are an early riser on the weekends, then be sure to stop by Texas Lil’s for their famous Country Brunch served Saturdays, Sundays and most holiday Mondays from 9-11:30 a.m. Try the Frittata Tex-Mex or the new Chilaquiles, a tempting dish with crispy corn tortilla chips sautéed in red or green sauce and tossed with Mexican Cotija cheese, diced onion, cilantro and sour cream, and topped with two eggs cooked to order. If you are really hungry, add some country ham, bacon or sausage on the side to start your day off right.

Don’t forget about Texas Lil’s “Best Damn Happy Hour,” offered open to close Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays, and Karaoke at Lil’s Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

For more information on Texas Lil’s, including their catering service and full menu, visit them online at www.texaslilsmesquitegrill.com or call (951) 699-5457.

 

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