Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday. Prices: Sandwiches about $2, barbecue dinners $6-$7. Cards: No credit cards.
If you were born long after World War II, you'll probably find the jukebox at the Crazy Horse nothing more than a puzzle, or at best, a mildly interesting history lesson -- like visiting the Smithsonian. But if you grew up in the age of bobby socks and saddle shoes, and if you associate the name "De Soto" with cars rather than Spanish explorers, then that jukebox may evoke some powerful memories.
After all, when's the last time you heard Vaughan Monroe singing "Racing With the Moon," or Billy Eckstine doing "Caravan," or Artie Shaw's "Begin the Beguine"?
But the jukebox isn't the only bit of nostalgia here. If the whole little restaurant -- gingham-curtained, tidy, spotlessly clean -- were to be magically transported back to the mid-1940s, everything would fit right in, including the friendly, unassuming waitresses and the cigar-smoking owner chatting with the regular customers. Almost everything, that is: The plastic straws would have to go.
You may be wondering about the food. We're happy to report that it's as good as ever, which is saying something. The Crazy Horse has been serving excellent and reasonably priced barbecue for a long time.
That said, be warned that the bean soup is not the best way to start your meal. Last time we tried it the beans were mushy, there weren't enough of them, and the whole thing suffered from baby-food blandness. Where's the salt? Where's the pepper? Where's that smoky bit of ham?
Don't miss out on the onion rings, though: they're top-notch, golden-light and not greasy, with some crispness and sweetness left in the onion. The chili, too, is very good -- mushier than we prefer, to be sure, but crammed with beef and with a good, hot-smoky flavor.
Among the barbecued items, the minced pork is outstanding -- lean and moist, with a soft, subtle, smoky flavor. It makes for a delightful sandwich on a lightly toasted hamburger roll.
The sliced beef barbecue is very lean, too, and it avoids the dryness that so often puts beef at a disadvantage when it comes to barbecuing. The barbecued sliced pork is a little more succulent than the beef -- that's to be expected -- but it doesn't absorb the barbecue flavor as well as the minced variety.
Barbecued pork ribs are first class -- big, remarkably lean, very meaty and cooked so they're crisp on the surface and yet moist inside. If you're used to ribs cooked with a thick glaze of barbecue sauce, you may be disappointed at the relatively bare look of these ribs. But the more meaty, smoky flavor compensates, and there's a container of warm barbecue sauce alongside for dipping.
For dessert, there's vanilla or chocolate ice cream (remember, this is the 1940s) stuffed into an old-fashioned fluted sundae glass. On the way out, you can mutter "Kilroy was here."