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ISO California style open pit bbq (think harry's or love's)

Jerome Dec 16, 2007 06:31 PM

There was a style of local bbq - open pit, and ribs and meats would be placed inside. think sort of an inland western clambake or luau.

harry's used to be around LA (near today's sunset 5 and near sepulveda and santa monica) as was love's bbq

does anyone know of a place that serves THIS kind of bbq ?- (not texas, not kc, not north carolina, not santa maria tri-tip, no matter how good they are, not on this thread please).

and i'm sure some will weigh in on how bad that kind of bbq is as opposed to X type. fine, don't like it, just tell me where i can get some.

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  1. c
    condiment RE: Jerome Dec 16, 2007 06:42 PM

    I've always associated the Bear Pit in Mission Hills with that kind of barbecue, whether it technically is or isn't. The various remaining Chris & Pitt's also, no?

    1 Reply
    1. re: condiment
      Servorg RE: condiment Dec 17, 2007 04:54 AM


    2. Professor Salt RE: Jerome Dec 16, 2007 06:52 PM

      Hey Jerome,

      I attended a recreation of 19th century Californio rancher style BBQ in Pomona last July. It was organized by the Culinary Historians of Southern California. I did a post about it on my site


      If this is the sort of thing you're looking for, you might try contacting the Palomares Adobe, which built a pit dedicated to cooking this style of BBQ. They are not a restaurant, but a historical preserve that will rent out their facilities. They might be able to arrange a catered shinding for you and a group of hungry friends.


      1 Reply
      1. re: Professor Salt
        Otius Gojius RE: Professor Salt Nov 21, 2009 12:42 AM

        Back in the 1950s and '60s I enjoyed a closed pit BBQ at my catholic church's annual fiesta almost exactly as described in perfesser salt's post. The wood was burned the night before, the pit was covered with big metal plates and somehow enough oxygen got in to keep the coals smoldering all night. I understand several other L.A area catholic parishes had similar BBQs. I did not know the historical background of the tradition until recently.
        I'd be extremely happy to find that stuff again, but I doubt it's possible for a restaurant to be that elaborate in preparation.

      2. b
        BobtheBigPig RE: Jerome Dec 16, 2007 06:56 PM

        What differentiates this style from other BBQ places? Smoke flavoring? Sauces? The only thing I can remember about the Love's and C&P chains was that the decor style was sort of coffee-shop like (as opposed to the modern chains which all seem to be trying to look like the House of Blues).

        1 Reply
        1. re: BobtheBigPig
          Jerome RE: BobtheBigPig Dec 17, 2007 12:12 AM

          first off, only beef traditionally (stearns was another one of those places). At harry's on sunset and crescent heights, the pit was noticeable as you walked in. lots of charcoal - so very smoky. love's tended to have a sweet bbq sauce, but that wasn't necessary. curious as to what the pomona historical style tasted like, and if it was similar to the commercial open pit bbq that was ubiquitous in southern california.

        2. c
          Clinton RE: Jerome Dec 16, 2007 07:09 PM

          I remember Harry's back in the 70s. Can't remember exactly where it was but it was near Playa Del Rey or somewhere closeby. It had sawdust on the floor and very tasty ribs. Something close to that kind of BBQ is at Woody's near Santa Barbara off the 101 Fwy and Turnpike. Sorta like more of a California type BBQ.

          1. r
            rickashay RE: Jerome Nov 20, 2009 07:06 PM

            Harry's open pit was located in Los Angeles was the best!. I live on Mount Olympus drive and used to work at the 31 flavors next door. I ate there every day while I lived in LA. The bbq was amazing but it was that sauce.....died and gone to heaven. To this day, I have yet to taste a bbq as good or better that Harrys. For those who were fortunate enough to have eaten there, they will tell you-You can still taste it when you think about it! .It was located on Crescent Heights at the Sunset cross street. I still search the internet for any info on who owned the restaurant and if they at some point relocated and re-opened. Any information would be so greatly appreciated.

            1 Reply
            1. re: rickashay
              randl1978 RE: rickashay Sep 15, 2010 09:50 AM

              Harry's had many locations I was about 11 or 12 when I met him. My dad made the BBQ pits for Harry (Harry Philps) and I helped as I got older I worked at the one on Santa Barbra and the one on Manchester and Central ave .My dad managed thqt one for Harry. The last one that I helped my dad build was on Venice near Santa Monica blvd. I have many fond memories of that time. I have made the sauce you talk about, it was made in 80 qt pot I don't know if I could remember how and what went in it, but your right it was good! Harry had two sons Allen and Eddie some years ago I called The Coconut Teaser and talked to Eddie for my dad looking for Harry but he had passed away some years before, now the reastraunt / night club is closed I don't know what happened to the two. I have found a BBQ joint like Harry's in West Covina called Hungry Al's. Hope this helps you.

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