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New to LA (Burbank), some specific questions (Long)

Hi, I'm new to LA from Alabama (big change!), and I have some specific chow questions that I'd love some help with. I've already done tons of reading on the boards, but I'm thinking I'll get more of the answers I'm looking for this way. If I seem like I'm only looking for certain things, or asking too much, it's not that so much as I don't know where to begin looking, so I'm just describing the kinds of places I'm used to eating.

My husband and I live near downtown Burbank, so advice about our area would be particularly helpful.

First, of course, is the question of good bbq. Now, I know everyone's definition of "good" in this area is entirely up for debate, so here's what we are looking for: Pulled pork sandwiches with sauce (mix of sweet and vinegar-ey, I think) AND good fries is absolutely required. Given that, pork ribs and great pies would be a bonus. We should be overpowered by the aroma of smoked meat as we approach the restaurant.

Second: we have been fighting to find a good Mexican/Mex-American place. From what we've tasted so far, I think our problem with being in Southern California looking for Mexican food we like is that honestly, I think maybe it's just too authentic for our Southern country tastes. We're not really looking for food like your Mexican grandmother made, we're looking for whatever kind of Mexican food we left in Alabama. Our ideal Mexican restaurant would be a strip-mall type sit-down place with tasty, cheap margaritas (bonus if they're a little strong), free flowing chips with red, smoothish, spicy salsa, and cheap taco/bean/rice combo. Maybe it's asking too much, but a margarita each, plus free chips and salsa, plus tacos for each shouldn't be more than about 20 bucks. The best we've found so far is Barragan's (knocked out by the 2.50 margaritas!), but we didn't love the salsa and the rest of the menu seemed kind of expensive. We're looking to find a place we can afford to go on a weekly basis. I read some promising things about Don Cuco's (both the Glendale and Burbank location are close enough to us), but I haven't been able to track down actual prices for the margaritas or anything else on the menu.

Third, being from Alabama, we need somewhere with good country cookin'. Fried catfish, fried chicken, biscuits, grits, fried okra, buttery green beans, mashed potatoes, corn bread, blackeyed peas, etc. If there is anywhere in this city that serves real sweet tea, point us that way!!!! A place that would have apple butter somewhere in the kitchen?I know it's a chain, but we love Cracker Barrel, so use that as a frame of reference for the type of food we're aiming for.

Those are the most important things we're desperately seeking out, but other recommendations are welcome! Just keep in mind that we are very poor newlyweds who nearly have a stroke every time we have to pay our rent. We're trying to be kind to both our taste-buds and our bank account!

And if you're ever headed to Birmingham (can't imagine why you would be...), or Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, or even Auburn (WAR EAGLE!), let me know and we will steer you to GREAT local chow!

Thanks so much in advance for all y'all's help!

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  1. My favorite BBQ in town is Porky's. For exactly what you are looking for -- pulled pork, spareribs, and they have fries. They also have a franchise to serve what some think is among the best fried chicken, Golden Bird. Kind on the wallet, too, but unfortunately not on your car -- it is almost as far as the airport (LAX, not Burbank) on Manchester just west of the Forum and east of La Brea.

    This current thread mentions almost all of the BBQ favorites around L.A.

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/454843

    For you, almost all of those receiving support are pretty much as far south as Porky's.

    1. You're out of luck for great BBQ unless you feel like driving. Phillip's is still the best (see thread nosh mentioned). Barbecue King (http://www.texasbbqking.com) on the corner of Sunset and Figueroa (15 mins away from you guys if no traffic) will do in a pinch. A little too sweet and not tangy enough, but since I live relatively close to it, I go there when I can't take the craving any longer. It hits the spot like methadone would (I only assume). Take the 5 south to the 110 south, get in the left lane immediately, exit on Hill St (the exit is on the left), go straight till you reach Sunset/Caesar Chavez (I forget where they conjoin) make a right and in less than a mile, you'll see BBQ King to your right.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Reginald

        BBQ King is one of the very few places anywhere near downtown that got downgraded from our rotation. They do an ok huge burger, best thing there. But after years they still are amazingly slow, expensive for what you get, and mediocre in the bbq product. Ribs are tough and stringy, and as Woody Allen is quoted, "Such bad food, and they give you such small portions." You either take away or eat at outdoor tables under umbrellas that threaten to collapse in any wind. Look, if this place was any good and could get its act together, it would serve something affordable to the legions of students going in and out from the community college next door.

      2. I don't think they have margaritas but tasty Mexican-American can be found here

        Poquito Mas
        2635 W Olive Ave
        Burbank, CA, 91505
        (818) 563-2252

        1. Hi, mygirlbakes AL
          Welcome to CA.
          For the Southern food esp the fried catfish and fried chicken there is no other place than LARKINS in Eagle Rock...it is not too far of a drive from Burbank. I really miss Cracker Barrel! Larkins also has an amazing Sunday Brunch with the craziest pancacks...oh god they are so good!!! BYOB and have a great time.

          www.LarkinsJoint.com
          As for Americanized Mex (now, I'm a mexican but I used to live off this Am-Mex stuff when I was in college because the margaritas were cheap) jsut go to good ol' Alcapulco and look in your junk mail (the mail box kind) and they always have fliers fo bargain 2 for 1 meals and super cheap margaritas in Mondays.
          Hey other Ch-ers, I know I only talk about LaCabanita but that is not what the OP asked for, k?

          )

          I'm not gonna suggest any BBQ places since they really aren't my cup o tea...I got pretty spoiled in MO and TN and KY when it came to BBQ.

          Have fun exploring!

          7 Replies
          1. re: tatertotsrock

            Larkins is purty durned expensive for them young 'uns. We're talkin' $15 bucks for 2 pieces of fried chicken. Dinner for two, starter, entree and dessert (although they DO have sweet-tea) is gonna cost close to $100 dollars. Hardly home-cookin' prices. For barbecue, you might want to check out Robin's though.

            http://www.sangabrielvalleymenus.com/...

            Not brilliant but servicable and a lot of food for the money. Also, Big Mama's is on my list to try and it's not that far either;

            http://www.bigmamas-ribshack.com/inde...

            Let us know how you fare.

            1. re: Steve2 in LA

              HI Steve2 in LA
              Actually, the lunches are sooo reasonable. Catfish Po-boy is something like $7 and it so good even though I keep ordering the meatloaf sandwhich which is so good and spicey and the rollls they are served on are great...the lunches will satify their Cracker Barrel cravings. As far as I'm concerned, the portions, day and night, are huge...I keep reading on the boards that they aren't big enough...maybe these people are truck drivers or something but I always have left too full.
              Now, the money they'll save by not driving to San Gabriel can get them a slice of pie.

              1. re: tatertotsrock

                Hey Tatertotsrock. (andI'mnottooproudtoagree, by the way) I'll grant you, I haven't been there for lunch and that menu looks like the best bet however, I still think the prices are too high, for what you get there for dinner. Fact is, I'd take Mom's over Larkin's any time (although that idea of Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fried Okra WAS fab. Already made it at home).

                Not complaining about going away hungry, just think that you should get more than 2 pieces of fried chicken and a small side for $15 dollars. You get more for your money elsewhere and the newbies did mention they're pinchin' their pennies. . .

              2. re: Steve2 in LA

                I've tried Big Mama's and I thought it was decent. Not the best in L.A., but servicable and large portions. Not the cheapest, though.

                For pulled pork with that sauce, fries, etc., Oinkster is the place on Colorado in Eagle Rock. Had the pulled pork last week and it was large enough for 2 meals for me ($6.50).

                There used to be Angel Lina's on Sepulveda south of Ventura that had good southern-style food. It's been years, though, and I don't know if it's still there.

                Welcome to L.A.!

                1. re: hpcat

                  hi hpcat
                  I have to say that I wasn't all that thrilled with the pulled pork at OInkster.
                  Even with a bottle of Prosecco (our friend's 40th birthday) our mouths were so dry with each bite of our sandwhiches.
                  We will go back because the fries were great and the ketcup was really good and the burgers and chicken that was being eaten next to us looked fantastic.
                  The servings were pretty good...couldn't finish half the sandwhich since we were pretty full from the great fries.

                  1. re: tatertotsrock

                    I must admit that I get the sauce on the side and douse it pretty well, but the last pork sandwich I had the meat was very moist. There was one time (out of many) where the pork was skimpy in the sandwich and just didn't have the smoky flavor it usually does. Perhaps there are times when someone doesn't quite make the pork right? BTW, last time I was there on an early Tuesday evening and I think I was served personally by the owner.

              3. re: tatertotsrock

                Hit the Cantina bar at El Torito, on Riverside near Warner Brothers. Monday through Friday they have a happy hour with discounted ($3.95?) margaritas, free chips & salsa, a few half-price appetizers and a $1.00 taco bar. Best of all, their happy hour prices go 'til 8pm, and on Tuesdays the $1.00 tacos are served 'til 10pm.

                Chuy's in Glendale is another decent place for cheap margaritas, they serve them by the pitcher.

                Tequila's on West Magnolia, a few blocks past Hollywood Way in Burbank, has $2 margaritas on Mondays and you can get a coupon for a combo plate special at hotcoupons.com

                Gordon Biersch, the brewery downtown, has good pulled pork samiches but I think they're only on the lunch menu. The happy hour, which runs from 4 to 6:30 weeknights, has some bite-sized pork sliders I think, and a bunch of happy hour appetizer deals. You have to sit on the patio and ASK for the happy hour menu.

              4. Ernie's Junior, on Colorado on the border of Glendale and Eagle Rock, is real live Midwestern "Mexican" for pretty reasonable. You could also come over to Pasadena and go to El Cholo (down on South Fair Oaks, near the Pasadena Water & Power complex), or to Mijare's on Pasadena Avenue, another been-here-forever magarita mill that's been serving the stuff your grandma called Mexican since she was younger than you are.

                I will cautiously advise you to try Big Mama's Rib Shack just because I trust the taste of some who've recommended it, but frankly the only truly reliable Southern cookin' - Cracker-Barrel style, that is - I've found here was from my own kitchen. Tried "biscuits and gravy" at Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles, and got a plate of YEAST ROLLS and a bowl of watery brown stuff with shreds of onion and canned mushrooms in it, although there are some places that do have real biscuits and adequate gravy, but I can't think of any close by. There is NO good cornbread to be had in LA County, IMO, though I have to tell you that I learned to make it in Nashville, where sugar in cornbread is widely abominated...but besides being generally sweeter than the average cupcake the local stuff is also dry and flavorless. Order some Martha White self-rising cornmeal online and console youself at home...

                3 Replies
                1. re: Will Owen

                  The Ernie's Jr on Lankershim near Moorpark in NoHo could be closer, depending on where in Burbank the OP lives.

                  1. re: Akitist

                    I didn't know about that one...but you just reminded me that there's another place on Lankershim, just a bit north of Victory, that has pretty good Gringomex, great margs, and a nice Happy Hour with free noshes, but I can't remember the name. Anyone?