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Jun 19, 2002 08:51 PM

Phillip's BBQ

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Life being short, I headed down to Phillip's BBQ today for lunch. J. Gold, who recommends the place, says that you can smell it way before you can see it, and he's not wrong. It's a take-out window with zero decor and no seating. But it smells great.

I got a half-rack of pork ribs with hot sauce, peach cobbler, and orange soda, and took them to the bus stop bench to eat. The ribs were certainly plentiful, meaty, and perfectly cooked. But the real test is the sauce, and my opinions were complex. It was thoughtfully garnished with red chilis, and justly so, since a straightforward red chili flavor was the dominant note in the mix, especially as you got down to the puddle of sauce that you sop up with bread at the bottom of the tray. The sauce is also really sweet. If you're totally into red chili flavored candy, then you're groovin'. It's got that chili bite, and it's sticky enough to scorch your mouth real good.

Still, I rated it only a B or B+. The flavor lacked depth. For example, it had none of the smoky quality that many sauces have. It was hard to identify many other notes either. So I was pretty happy, especially for the first half of my lunch, but I didn't enjoy that bread-sopping of sauce by the end.

The peach cobbler was pretty good, maybe with nutmeg which was interesting.

Okay, so that was my experience with Phillip's. Now, my understanding is that Phillip's has a ferocious following in Los Angeles -- and yet when chowhounds held a blind comparison tasting a while back, Phillip's apparently shocked everyone by coming in dead last. Although I am certainly open to other opinions and experiences than mine, I can see how that happened.

I do want to mention one great virtue of Phillip's is the neighborhood. It's in Leimert Park (4307 Leimert Blvd, (323) 292-7613), which is a center of African-American culture in LA. There are several art galleries and the like on Degnan Blvd right nearby. Everyone is friendly, and the vibe among people waiting at the window is cool. It's also very convenient by bus. The 305 goes right to Phillip's door from places like Westwood and West Hollywood. The 42 also passes right there on its way between downtown and LAX.


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  1. BBQ is not Brain Surgery, there are lots of choices, I like WOODY'S a lot better at Slauson and Crenshaw, their Cousin's by the way.

    7 Replies
    1. re: russkar

      >>BBQ is not Brain Surgery

      Neither is including an address in a post (Woody's is at 3446 W Slauson Ave.) nor good grammar (they're cousins, by the way). Looks like the d'Yquem sauternes (with an "s" at the end) got you feeling a little cranky tonight, eh Russkar?

      If you're looking for a great sauce, try Leo's (2619 S. Crenshaw). If the meat is what matters, my vote is for Tasty Q (2959 S. Crenshaw). Woody's serves some of the best hot links in L.A. There are many good barbecue joints in L.A., but most of the great ones are gone (Carl's BBQ & Dirty Rice, Dem Bones, Norm Calvin's, some Texas-style BBQ in Yorba Linda whose pork ribs I remember fondly but whose name I forget). Then again, maybe my experiences in Oakland, Memphis and Austin have affected my point of 'cue.

      If BBQ ain't brain surgery, then how do you explain why no one in L.A. can make 'cue that comes remotely close to Memphis and Texas BBQ? And how did Dr. Hoggly Woggly get his degree?

      1. re: Chris G.


        You seem to know your BBQ. Do you know of any good places in Orange County? I live in Huntington Beach and very rarely get to LA. Any help would be greatly appreciated!


        1. re: Jeff Rose

          I can't vouch for too many current places in OC as I've only tried a handful, but the best I've found so far is Jay Bee's in Cypress (in that nebulous Garden Grove/Stanton/Cypress zone), which serves Memphis-style 'cue (but no dry rubs, wet only). It's pretty close to where I live and pretty good, too, so I haven't been too motivated to look into other options.

          The best dish here is the brisket. I ask for the sauce (hot) on the side as they tend to bathe the meat in the stuff. The brisket is tender and has a good, smoky flavor, although it lacks the depth of really good Memphis and Texas-style 'cue. The same goes for the sauce - it's a little one-dimensional with a little too much sweetness, not enough smokiness and a ketchup-like texture.

          The pork ribs are tender and worth a try - not the best around but still good. Links are okay. Sides are nothing exceptional (like at most good BBQ places): the black-eyed peas and greens are the best options; the beans are decent and flecked with smoky chunks of meat (not sticky sweet, thankfully); the potato salad and cole slaw are generic and run-of-the-mill. And you get a couple slices of white bread to sop up the excess sauce.

          The portions are large and the prices are reasonable. No beer or alcohol, but there's a liquor store next door. Service can be surly - just like it should be - although lately they've gotten a little more friendly, perhaps to appease the local corporate lunch crowd. Open Monday thru Saturday until about 8 PM.

          Jay Bee’s
          11513 Knott Ave. (at Orangewood Ave.)
          (714) 799-6222

          1. re: Jeff Rose

            In my experience, Blake's in Anaheim ( ) is the best in OC. It sits in an antiseptic, modern-warehouse/office district that makes you think of anything but BBQ, but I rate the place one of the top 5 in Southern California. It's been a while since I've ordered anything there but pulled pork, with its delicious mixture of burnt ends and toothsome shreds, but my memory is that the brisket and other items are also very good. I just got back from Kansas City, and, purely on food, Blake's is better than any of the five or six BBQ joints I went to other than LC's and (the supposedly in decline) Gates.

          2. re: Chris G.

            The STYLES of BBQ all over America are very different. So are the million opinions on this board, that whats great about it. B..S.. was not directed at you , but a comment about BBQ itself. There is no way all those different States are going to compare to LA, unless they transplant their styles here. Even in LA there are 40+ types of BBQ, it's about personal choice. I like most of them anyway.

            1. re: Chris G.

              well... aren't we a little touchy, but I have to agree with russkar, bbq ISN'T brain surgery, but that doesn't mean everyone in LA should do it well, think about it, a good hamburger isn't brain surgery either, but there aren't too many great burger joints out there either...

              by the way, please feel free to comment on any grammatical or spelling errors in my post... I too had some sauterne(s) last night, but you know, i'm not the type who looks just to correct spelling and grammar errors... :) oh and let me check is there an address i forgot somewhere?

            2. re: russkar

              I went to Woody's this afternoon for lunch. It was good, and on the whole I'd rate it above Phillip's. For scientific purposes I got the same thing at both places: a half-slab of pork ribs with hot sauce, a peach cobbler, and orange soda. But it wasn't quite a fair test because I had to carry my Woody's BBQ halfway across town before eating it, so it really wasn't as hot as it should have been, whereas I ate my Phillip's BBQ right outside.

              First the Woody's sauce. Very different from Phillip's. Where Phillips is chili-centered, Woody's is much meatier. They're almost complementary, like you could improve them both by mixing them together, Phillip's striking more the high notes with that chili sting and Woody's striking more the low notes with that dark, rich flavor. Woody's sauce wasn't attacking the soft tissues of my mouth with napalm-like spicy heat the way that Phillip's was, but it complemented the meat better and was still just as welcome when I was sopping it with bread as it was when I was chowing on the ribs. It's on the basis of the sauce that I rank Woody's above Phillip's.

              That said, Phillip's had a number of points in its favor. I thought that Phillip's meat was more abundant and better cooked. Its peach cobbler was better, too. Woody's peach cobbler was a soup of sugary peach stuff with some starch floating in it, not really something you'd call a cobbler at all. But clearly neither place intended to go down in history on the basis of its cobbler.

              Also, the vibe at Phillip's is better. True, Woody's has an indoor waiting area with seats. But the people at Phillip's were friendler, both the ones taking orders and the ones waiting for BBQ.

              Woody's is on Slauson, just west of Crenshaw, on the south side of the street. You can get to that corner on the 305 bus, which runs along Crenshaw, or the 108, which runs along Slauson.

            3. One of my favorite BBQ places didn't make it into the Chowhound taste test, Greece's on La Brea & 8th. If you like your meat smokey... mmmmm.

              1. I love Phillip's. I go to the one on Centinela in Inglewood.

                I get the sliced beef sandwich dinner with half mild and half spicy sauce, and extra bread.

                It's actually not a sandwich, but some sliced barbecued beef in a dish with 2 slices of Wonder bread in a baggy served separately. I need more bread because there's so much meat it doesn't fit on the two slices they give you.

                My only complaint is that you're never quite sure when they're open. I've been there several times, on various days of the week, and they're closed.

                When they're open, though, it's my favorite barbecue.

                1. Skip This place and head to Woody's at 3446 W Slauson Ave out classes Phillips big time went to Phillips with a buddy last week ordered pork ribs mixe sauce and a beef sandwhich ,we both started with the beef sandwhich which was pretty good still fell short to woodys beef sand!When we both took 1 bite of the ribs we were finished! they were flat out terrible you couldnt pay me to take another bite,had pork ribs from woodys week before and it was seriously in a league of its own i never tast such delicious ribs in my life!but the negative about woodys is there sides are terrible dont even bother.