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First ever Chowhound BBQ Taste Test RESULTS

  • t

Ladies and gentlemen, I have just returned from the first ever Chowhound BBQ Taste Test. I will try to type now; I can actually barely think or move. There were 17 people, 15 kinds for ribs. *We tasted blind* - locations were announced after votes were taken. People voted on their top 3, the total votes garnered are:

(Votes) - (Name of location)

7 - Jay Bee's

Second Place:
6 - Hot Diggety Dog (Palms & Sepulveda)

Third Place:
5 - M & M Soul (short ribs, Pasadena location)
- Mr. Cecil's
- Tasty Q

4 - Woody's
- Walker's Smoke Pit
- Rib Doctor (caterer, Riverside)
- Rib Ranch
- Leo's, with spicy sauce

3 - Leo's, with mild sauce
- Ribs USA (Glendale)

Last place:
1 - Phillipe's
- Gadberry's
- Tony's

Utter confusion and pandemonium: Phillipe's and Gadberry's, two longtime favorites, come out last. (I will note that Phillipe's was not as good as I remembered it. But maybe that's just blind testing revealing the truth.)

Things of note: note that the spread was pretty even. There might have been some confusion over Jay Bee's - there was both brisket and pork ribs present, and we didn't really sort out between the two in the fat-soaked daze of post-tasting - but voting for it was accompanied by the largest amount of hooting, shouting, and "damn I loved that stuff," so, take it for what you will.

Many utterly split opinions were announced. M&M got raves from some, complaints of "too sweet" from others, "that was my least favorite", from others. Hot Diggety Dog also got strong reactions from multiple directions. These are only examples. I would remember more if my intestinal cells weren't sucking all of the oxygen supply from my brain.


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  1. when I think of how much meat I consumed tonight, I actually laugh all by myself. and I'm afraid to look in the refrigerator where some left-overs wait to mock me.

    12 Replies
    1. re: elisha

      It should be noted that we were all given score sheets with individual categories for meat, sauce, texture, meat/sauce harmony, overall and comments. I found it nearly impossible to eat, drink and score at the same time, so after scoring 3 ribs, I just wrote verticly across the whole sheet "it's all good". My wife brought a batch of homemade Georgia sweet tea, which was quite popular. R. Foss brought some truly delicious beer. In addition to all the great vittles, it was just fun hangin with the hounds and putting faces to some of the names on the board.

      1. re: chris o

        I could find neither address nor telephone number for Walker's Smoke Pit and Rib Doctor.

        Jay Bee’s
        11513 Knott Avenue, near Orangewood Ave.
        Cypress, California
        (714) 799-6222

        Hot Diggety Dog
        Palms & Sepulveda

        M & M Soul
        5974 S Broadway, just north of W 60th St.
        Los Angeles, CA
        (323) 751-5551

        M & M Soul Food
        3552 W Martin Luther King Jr, just east of Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza
        Los Angeles, CA
        (323) 299-1302

        M & M Soul Food
        5496 W Centinela Ave, just west of La Tijera
        Los Angeles, CA
        (310) 215-8186

        M & M Soul Food
        8620 S Western Ave, just south of W Manchester Ave
        Los Angeles, CA
        (323) 751-6921

        Mr. Cecil's California Ribs
        12244 W. Pico Blvd, btw. Bundy & Centineal, just east of Wellesley.
        Los Angeles, CA
        (310) 442-1550
        Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays, 1 to 11 p.m. Saturdays, 1 to 9 p.m. Sundays. Beer. Parking lot. All major cards. Takeout.

        Tasty Q Bar-B-Que
        2959 Crenshaw Blvd, just north of W 30th St
        Los Angeles, CA
        (323) 735-8325

        Woody's Bar-B-Que
        3446 W Slauson Ave, just west of Crenshaw
        Los Angeles, CA
        (323) 294-9443

        Rib Ranch Barbeque
        4923 Topanga Canyon Blvd, just north of Dumetz Road
        Woodland Hills, CA
        (818) 884-7776

        Leo's Bar-B-Que Takeout
        2619 Crenshaw Blvd, at W Adams Blvd
        Los Angeles, CA
        (323) 733-1186

        Ribs USA
        2711 W Olive Ave, 2.5 blocks west of S Buena Vista St
        Burbank, CA
        (818) 841-8872

        4307 Leimert Blvd. #3-- south of the I-10 Freeway and east of La Brea
        Los Angeles, CA
        (323) 292-7613

        Phillips II
        1517 Centinela Ave, east of S La Cienaga
        Inglewood, CA
        (310) 412-7135

        Gadberry's Barbecue
        5833 S Broadway, just south of Slauson
        Los Angeles, CA
        (323) 751-0753

        Tony's Barbecue
        2831 W Slauson Ave, btw. 6th & 7th Aves.
        Los Angeles, CA
        (323) 294-6000

        1. re: Samo
          Michael Robertson Moore


          1. re: Michael Robertson Moore

            The Tony Roma's or the LA BBQ Chowdown II? :)

          2. re: Samo


            Jay Bee's
            15911 So. Avalon Street
            Gardena, CA 90247

            - I don't know if the one in Cypress is affiliated with the Gardena. But the one that was brought to the taste test was from the Gardena location.

            Also the ribs brought from M & M Soul Food was from the Pasadena location.

            I think someone should of sneaked in some Tony Romas, or some boiled-and-sauced ribs into the bunch, and see how that would of fared. Maybe we'll do that for the LA Chowhound BBQ Taste-Off II.

            1. re: Kev

              there's an M&M in pasadena? where?

              1. re: Kev

                Yes, where is the M&M in Pasadena?

                1. re: slacker

                  It may have DISAPPEARED sometime in the last 6 YEARS since that post was originally put up on the board, but if not GOOGLE lists it at:

                  (626) 795-0059 | 755 E Washington Blvd Pasadena

                  1. re: tony michaels

                    Yikes! I didn't even notice that the original post was that old. Plus I didn't notice I was replying to old posts. Even a month ago I would have noticed that. My brain is in quick decline.

                      1. re: WildSwede

                        lol! took me 7 months to see this.

              2. re: Samo
                Richard Foss

                Walker's Smoke Pit is at the corner of Prairie and Arbor Vitae, right across from one of the gates to Hollywood Park. I'm in Milwaukee at the moment so don't have my take-out menu with me, so can't provide the phone number.

          3. This was a helluva good time, and I learned quite a few new (for me) places to add to my list when cavorting around LA. I think the ribs I brought, though great, suffered for being basic dry, smoked ribs, but the criteria by which we judged were fair and thorough. Chris was right about the sweet tea and Richards Anchor Steam winter ale, both great accompanying beverages. I look forward to the next Hound offline, whether it be another Chowdown or simply a restaurant meet.

            Beaucoup thanks to Thi for organizing, and to Elisha for volunteering his pad. BTW, Elisha, your cat rocks! Thanks also to everyone who participated to give us a decent cross-section of LA 'cue.


            1. m
              matt nasatir


              i'm sure all of these places are great -- only ever been to philips and woody's -- but for my money, the best i've had in a long time wasn't even on the list. JR's BBQ on la cienega south of washington blvd. is really terrific -- great pork ribs, rib tips, chopped pork, and sliced brisket, nice spicy sauce, baked beans with chunks of 'cue in 'em. really worth a visit -- please consider revising your results after a new blind taste test with JR's in the running -- you won't be sorry.


              1 Reply
              1. re: matt nasatir

                I never cared for JR's. Not their ribs, nor their chicken, nor their sides, and especially don't care for their service.

              2. What a great time it must have been. Having never tried Jay Bee's, that will be my next BBQ stop. What this DOES do is bring up candidates for round 2, and I'll list off a few:
                Chicago For Ribs
                Tulsa Rib Company
                Dr. Hogly Woggly's Tyler Texas BBQ
                Wood Ranch BBQ
                Not to be biased, but one of the above is my all-time favorite, at least of those I HAVE tried.

                Bravo to all who attended and survived round 1...how long 'til the next one?

                - Bob in RSM, CA

                1. It's worth mentioning that people were split on many places depending on whether one liked a really smoky quality to his/her ribs. For instance, Mr. Cecil's, Rib Ranch, and Hot Diggety Dog weren't very smoky (that may account for some of the past criticisms of Mr. Cecil's on this board), while places like Ribs USA, Leo's, and Tasty Q made very smoky ribs.

                  Thi (or anyone else that was there), if your notes are more copious than mine, it would be great to break the results down this way. Thanks again for having organized this! And thanks to the host too!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sunnyla

                    My two cents:

                    Mr. Cecil's was okay in it's own way, but didn't taste like traditional BBQ.

                    Hot Diggity Dog's sauce tasted like modified catsup. (You guys really liked that?! I'm still stunned by that one.)

                    Phillips' ribs had a strong, smokey/meaty flavor but the sauce was boring.

                    I tended toward the sweeter sauces than the super-spicy ones (but not overly sweet.)

                    M & M (Pasadena location) was my first choice, the meat was neither too firm, nor falling off the bone when you picked it up, the sauce was sweet with a good mixture of other flavors and not cloying. I'll have to try the one closer to where I live.

                  2. Just a big THANK YOU to Thi for organizing, and Elisha for hosting. It was a mouthwatering event, I hope to be a part of several more. Lastly, it was a pleasure meeting you other chowhounds.

                    1. YIKES! a hot dog joint on the westside takes 2nd??!!! A chain takes 3rd? Philips last? I'm so stunned I'm considering packing it up and moving to Memphis.

                      If anyone's keeping track of suggestions for C.H. BBQ TT II, how about Western Smokehouse on Overland at Palms. Best in the west(side, that is).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: brian r.

                        I remembered the western smokehouse after the event was over. they have a very nice sauce.

                      2. I totally agree with your Jay Bee's top rating. I drive a long way to get there so I am looking forward to trying the runner's up on your list for some good "Q".

                        Link: http://manningeclectic.homestead.com/...

                        1. Suggestion: next time, The Pig on La Brea.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: michael

                            Yeah, Michael, I was crestfallen when I arrived and found no Pig. However, as others have pointed out, we have a great list of places we'll make sure to hit for Round II. I'll personally drive up from Anaheim to make sure that The Pig is included.

                            1. re: Kriss Reed

                              I was stunned that Greece's on La Brea also wasn't covered.

                            2. b
                              Burger Boy aka Mr. BBQ

                              Where is Dr. Hogly Woglys Tyler Texas BBQ. As they say where i come from "The Suace is the Boss" and there ain't none better. Give me the Doc's Brisket, Beef or Babybacks any day over those second rate places you call BBQ. And what about J&J Burgers and BBQ on Adams just 2 blocks east of Fairfax. Jay smokes some mean Que and his mothers desserts are so darn good. Stuff that in your smoker and eat it.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Burger Boy aka Mr. BBQ

                                Although I have never been to Dr. Hogly Woglys', I will be going there in the very near future. I consider myself a babyback rib critic. I have had ribs at many locations... some good, some not so good, some excellent. Years ago Monty's Steakhouse in Encino were the best hands down. Red's BBQ in Simi Valley is very good. BBQ sauce is an important aspect to good ribs, however establishments that douse thier ribs in suace and cover up the taste of the ribs is not good. A good quality rack (smoked) with just the right seasoning and a good but lightly applied sauce makes for the best ribs. I will reply with my judgement of Dr. Hogly Woglys' soon.

                              2. I'd love to see updated taste test results :)

                                2 Replies
                                1. LEO'S!
                                  I miss Leo's so much, because my father used to drive the family from east San Fernando Valley down to the old Leo's; the green stucco shack that used to be on the corner where the gas station is now.
                                  What kept me going back to Leo's newer barn-like building (now Philip's)over the decades was the beef ribs with HOT sauce. Philip's might have better sliced beef and Woody's is very high quality, but the beef ribs at Leo's were unique. Leo's hot sauce was about as hot as BBQ got, with a wonderfully strong chili flavor, and light on the sugar and tomato. It was not so hot as to obscure the beef flavor but when the meal was over, my lips burned with pleasure. The folks who worked there told me Leo was from Oklahoma but cooked Texas-style. I should have asked exactly what part of Texas.

                                  Leo's beef ribs were meaty, and cooked rather well so the fat cooked out. Beef ribs are always a bit chewy and I think if they are "falling off the bone tender" they are over-cooked or *gasp* pressure cooked! The key to getting the beef ribs moist was ordering at lunch. At noon, when Leo's opened, the beef ribs were lightly charred on the surface, but moist and juicy inside. I noticed beef ribs served in the evening are usually drier as they dry out over the day (my unscientific theory). Leo's beef were lean and meaty but is was that unique hot sauce flavor that I remember so clearly but will never taste again.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Otius Gojius

                                    Anyone dig Baby Blues on Lincoln? Very tasty. I also enjoy Boneyard Bistro in Studio City... I was disappointed in Hoggly Woggly's the one time I went there, years ago-- from what I recall, they didn't even offer babybacks, being more of a beef/sparerib joint...?

                                    1. re: endo23

                                      It's a Texas thang, beef ribs and brisket.

                                      1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

                                        I never liked Hoggly Woggly's that much, and then I came to understand what Curt is saying, its just a different style of Q, Texas instead of Georgia or Kansas, etc. But, I have come to appreciate it, as its own style.

                                    2. re: Otius Gojius

                                      I really like Baby Blues a lot. I'm not a huge fan of their beans, not that they are bad, I just prefer the BBQ baked beans like Mom's makes. But..........Baby Blues baby backs rock my world.

                                      1. re: mst3k

                                        I worked a cross the street from Jay Bee’s for 20 years and would eat their a least once a week never disappointed The smoke would blow over and draw you in I think he had fans pointed our way

                                        1. re: Diana

                                          Boneyard was not open when this tasting took place in 2001 and I am not sure KC BBQ was either but I may be wrong.

                                          1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                                            o how I wish this would be repeated again...

                                            1. re: TonyC

                                              Neither Boneyard Bistro or KC's BBQ existed when this string began in 2001.

                                            2. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                                              P -
                                              you are correct as to places being opened or not back in 2001, but with Mr. Cecil's finishing 3rd, did not say much for those below it on the list.

                                              1. re: carter

                                                Supposedly there is another tasting coming up. One of the other Chowhounds is putting it together. They are using the KCBS rules for Judging the Q. I know I can't make it so I won't be there but I expect the leader to post the results on Chowhound.

                                                1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                                                  Mattapoisett, any idea who that "other" Chowhound might be? I wanna eat some ribs. And not the stupid LA BBQ Festival @ Santa Monica Pier: http://www.drinkeatplay.com/bbq/

                                                  1. re: TonyC

                                                    I'm not the person organizing, but I'm pretty certain this next tasting is already maxed out, space wise. It's being held at a private residence.

                                                    Good news is that anyone inclined to put another event together can. I helped organize the 2006 rib tasting, and it's not that hard to do The Chowlords have a protocol for event organizers. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/36760...

                                                    The SCARF yahoo group is also a good way to work out the details. If you're not already on it, see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SCARF-S...

                                          2. Porky's on Manchester in Inglewood wasn't included? It was one of the first few Chowhound-recommended places I tried...and ran into the Chowhounder(nosh) who recommended it in the first place! :)

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: Low Blood Sugar

                                              This is from 2001. Porky's wasn't around then.

                                              1. re: Low Blood Sugar

                                                Porky's had only just opened when this tasting took place. [Though, I wasn't even posting on Chowhound yet.] I don't think it was on anyone else's radar.

                                                1. re: Low Blood Sugar

                                                  I was an attendee in 2001, I can tell you that we showed up with our favorite (mainly) pork ribs, (and some sides -not judged) and we did a blind ranking 1-10 on each entry, for Sauce, Meat, Texture, Sauce/Meat Harmony, and Overall. Not at all meant to be all inclusive, or scientific -- Just fun and delicious.

                                                  1. re: debra

                                                    I will volunteer to participate in a 2008 updated taste-off. I suggest spareribs, St. Louis style, rather than the ubiquitous and inferior baby backs. Or bypass the ribs and do pulled pork and brisket. My allegiance does indeed go to Porky's.

                                                      1. re: ChinoWayne

                                                        '09 LA Rib-a-thon, Jan 31st, 10:30am

                                                        Organized by myself, and a Yelper. 5 stops, starting at Phillip's BBQ, ending at Bludso's: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/577719

                                                        Hope some of us can join us.

                                                        1. re: TonyC

                                                          FYI, in an August 2008 "BBQ Rib Smackdown," Mom's BBQ on Imperial Highway won the taste test and Woody's finished second.