The salad at Beach Pit BBQ, with beef brisket, jicama, tomatoes, corn and black beans. (Barbara Venezia / June 12, 2014)

Editor's note: Political columnist Barbara Venezia plans to write occasional food columns under the banner "Barbara's Bits & Bites." This is her first.

Even though it's been years since I did a comedy cooking show, "At Home on the Range," on local cable, people still associate me with food on some level.

Last year when I wrote a food column, "Tasty Tidbits," for the Orange County Register, to my surprise it was quite popular.

And readers have continued to ask about it and for my suggestions of interesting places to dine in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.

I talked with Daily Pilot Editor John Canalis about the idea of a new monthly column discovering and rediscovering fun places to eat in Newport-Mesa.

Welcome to my new food column: Barbara's Bits & Bites.

It isn't the traditional restaurant review.

Readers should assume if a joint makes it into the column, I like it.

In the coming months, Barbara's Bits & Bites will give you an overview of local eateries and what to expect when you dine there.

I'm partial to pet-friendly places since I usually have my little rescue dog, Stasha, in tow, so doggy lovers, get ready for some good suggestions for the summer months.

I'll also share the latest "dish" I hear about at different restaurants.

This week, when Stasha and I were dining at Saddle Ranch Chop House in Triangle Square, I heard it was considering something of a dog-friendly happy hour.

Though I couldn't get anyone at corporate to confirm or deny the yappy hour rumors, I'll keep tabs on this and report back when I know more. I think it's a great idea.

So where else did we dine this week?

We went to Beach Pit BBQ, 1676 Tustin Ave., in Costa Mesa.

It's one of our favorite spots for barbecue.

Parking there can be somewhat of a challenge since the lot is small, but street parking is always pretty easy to find.

For lunch, I suggest arriving slightly before noon, just before this place gets hopping.

A longtime popular spot for locals, Beach Pit BBQ is nothing fancy, but the food is good and prices are reasonable.

As you walk up, there are picnic tables outside and a play area for kids.