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i just got a charcoal grill and i am wondering if anyone has any suggestions on some great charcoal i can pick up in the area (westside). i bought some from Whole Foods that was just eh. Thanks fo any advice.

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  1. Don't specifically know what's available in your area, but I will say that Kingsford continues to be a good solid traditional briquette. People have complained over the years about quality, amount of ash, etc., but it burns well and consistently for me, and I go through a lot.

    Briquettes are good for longer burning, but natural hardwood charcoal (AKA lump charcoal) is a purer product (literally charred wood) and will burn hotter, and faster. In a charcoal grill, I think lump is better for high heat direct cooking (steaks, burgers, etc) and briquettes are better for slower or indirect cooks (chicken, butts, ribs, etc). Just my .02

    1 Reply
    1. re: woodburner

      BBQs galore has real hardwood lump . Its more expensive but the best!

    2. I am now starting to try a bag [30lbs I think] of mexican lump charcoal from the Beverage Warehouse. Paid $13.99 for it compared to the $10 for 8lbs I paid for a bag at Surfas. Pluses Lots of Big Chunks. Minuses doesn't cook as hot and is smokier than the Surfas stuff. But I will try a batch tonight and have a better Idea of its quality .

      Take Care

      - P.

      1. I like hardwood lump. Smart & Final usually has large bags of Mesquite Lump for a good price. I wish I could find some Hickory, Oak or Red Oak in lump form. If anyone knows any place for lump in the LA area, please post.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Burger Boy

          you can get the oak [definitely] and the hickory [maybe] from Surfas

          1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

            Surfas is so damn expensive for that stuff!

            1. re: Burger Boy

              You don't need to go to a bourgie place like Surfas for hardwood charcoal. Most local Mexican market-delis carry it for much cheaper.

              1. re: Burger Boy

                I agree. That's why I'm trying alternatives.

          2. BBQs Galore on Pico near Sepulveda.

              1. re: Joe Blowe

                I stand by my 9-month old recommendation. If you want the good stuff, go here.

                1. re: Joe Blowe

                  Since someone below bumped the thread, might as well reaffirm my recommendation! For lump charcoal *and* various cooking woods, this is your one-stop-shop...


                  No affiliation with the place, other than being a happy customer!

              2. I saw 40 lb. bags of mesquite charcoal for $20 as I walked past BevMo yesterday.

                1 Reply
                1. re: sel

                  You can get your wood charcoal + briquettes at home depot for pretty damn cheap.

                2. It's interesting you mention Whole Foods - they sell a version of "Cowboy Charcoal" that is identical to Trader Joe's. It's really awful stuff as it's made from scrap lumber and burns down really fast. I actually stopped a shopper at Whole Foods recently when they were about to put a bag into their cart! When I explained why, they were quite appreciative.Your best bet, as already suggested, is to get lump charcoal, which is usually made from mesquite. Smart and Final has a great deal on it - 40lbs for less than $20. Since you are on the Westside, there are two locations - one in WLA and one in Culver City on Venice Blvd.


                  1. Most True Value associated hardware stores can get hardwood lump charcoal for you, as it's in their standard catalog. If they don't stock it, it takes a day or two to get in. The last several bags I got from Anawalt Lumber in North Hollywood have been oak charcoal. When I'm smoking pork shoulders for Carolina style pulled pork, I use a combination of hardwood lump and hickory chunks (or split logs if I can track some down).

                    1. I live in Los Angeles. I go to various places for charcoal. Walmart is one place but I doubt there is a Walmart on the west side. I did get a great deal on Cowboy charcoal. So many people dislike this brand but to me I have nothing against it and it worked fine. Cowboy was great actually. You can get that at Lowes hardware. Don't know if there is on on the west side. There is an Osh hardware store on Bundy I think in Santa Monica and they carry charcoal lump style and briquettes during summer and summer is approaching. I know your question was posted last year but thought I'd reply. Now get this, I sometimes go downtown to the produce market areas, actually I don't go there sometimes but I went last year looking for sugar cane and most of the people with produce stores there are Mexicans and they sell Mexican charcoal. I didn't buy any but I was wondering if it's good. Well they also grill hot dogs and meat on the sidewalks there and do use that very same stuff. It looks good. Looks long lasting. I actually was at a farmer's market in South Pasadena last week and they were grilling some food there too so I bought a piece of meat and it tasted great. So I was thinking of going to the produce market and buying Mexican charcoal but there is a bargain store near my house and I walked in looking for tortillas and I noticed they had Mexican lump there so I bought a bag. Only 2.99 for I think it was 7 lb or 8 lb bag whatever it was. I did research on the net and people have great things to say about this stuff so I'm going back to that store today and buying as many bags as I can get from them. I didn't try it yet but will. I hear it burns hot and long. I'll try it on the weekend. If you want to know the name of that discount store I'll give it to you.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: HoundDogz

                        Cowboy and Whole Foods brand are one and the same. i'm curious to here about the mexican stuff.

                      2. First off, I have not used Cowboy charcoal. However, I've read on bbq websites and have seen pictures on a charcoal review website of ceramic insulation and from the kilns used to make Cowboy charcoal and also some plywood has been found in bags of Cowboy products. Be sure to inspect the charcoal prior to using it.

                        I'd rather not take that chance with all the other options available.

                        The Smart & Final option sounds good for the price. Can anyone tell me how much dust and tiny bits and pieces are in the bags?

                        I've bough lump coal from BBQ Galore, both their brand and the Big Green Egg brand. Even though the BGE brand was much more expensive, there was virtually not dust or waste compared to the BBQ Galore brand. Also, the sizes were much more uniform with the BGE. Big chunks, but not too big.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: spoggly

                          Funny thing is I have never experienced any ceramic insulation when using Cowboy brand. I guess I can consider myself lucky. I have used about 10 bags of it over the past year. Bought some at Lowes hardware and some at Trader Joes. I noticed this year the price of lump has gone up, at least Cowboy has. I'm gonna buy some more Mexican lump today since it's 2.99 a bag at the discount store I bought it at yesterday. I was gonna wait and try it first but it's too inexpensive to risk having sold out on me when in fact I read great reviews of this stuff on the net. Mostly people from Texas have been raving about it. Now off to school.

                          1. Red Barn Feed & Supply at Reseda and Oxnard near the Orange line station has the best deal on lump charcoal. They sell a 40 pound bag for about 14-15 dollars and they keep pallets of it on hand. I've been getting my fix there for years and I use a lot of the stuff!

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: locojoe

                              This is a pretty old thread, but I'll add something: seems to me that Kingsford has gone downhill the past few years. Even with a large amount of coal it's hard to sear a steak with it. Fine for long-cooking stuff like chicken, though.

                              I like Mexican mesquite for its fireworks-type effects as it gets started: pops and sparks! Smart and Final has a "club buy" on 40 pound bags for $12.99.

                              1. re: Akitist

                                Troll around Central Avenue around the produce market downtown and you'll see 50# bags of that mesquite charcoal for around $10/bag on display on the streets. You drive up and they'll load it into your car.
                                You're right, lots of fireworks, but that stuff burns the hottest of any other charcoal hands down.

                                1. re: monku

                                  I find mesquite chips too strong for some of my grilling. Does this mesquite charcoal impart a lot of mesquite flavor? What do you do if you are using oak or hickory smoking chips? I have been buying my Kingsford at Costco and last year it was Kingsford "competition" charcoal--whatever the hell that is. supposed to burn hotter I guess. I did notice it burns down faster.

                                  1. re: monku

                                    Thanks for the tip, Monku. I'd been buying Kingsford for season-closing prices at Home Depot. Looks like a great price for the big bags of mesquite coal.

                                    Sparkeno, most of the volatiles leave the wood when it becomes charcoal, so there's not much, if any, flavor imparted to the food. At least to my palate. I had the identical experience with the mesquite chips: too strong a flavor.

                                    1. re: Akitist

                                      Thanks Akitist---I'd hate to be stuck with 40 or 50 lbs of charcoal that I don't like to use. I think I will do the Smart & Final---a little more $$ but a lot more convenient to get to.