Smoky, Tender and So Delicious! - Porky's BBQ and Golden Bird [Review] w/ Pics!
(Formatted with All Pictures here:
Inspired by all the recent talk on Chowhound regarding American BBQ, I decided to start catching up on my backlog of BBQ restaurants around L.A. that I had never visited yet. The first BBQ restaurant on my backlogged list was Porky's BBQ on Manchester, which was also home to Golden Bird in the same location. Thanks to strong recommendations from nosh and many others on CH, my excitement grew as we pulled into the parking lot near The Forum.
Porky's BBQ looks like it took over a fast food restaurant location from the outside. Stepping inside, it was a simple, order-at-the-counter operation, but it had some nice, quaint decor of Americana artifacts strung along the walls and even across the ceiling(!).
They had a few stain-glass signs stating that they cooked their BBQ "Kansas City Style." We could smell the fragrant hickory smoke as we were pulling in as well, which is always a good thing.
The unique thing about this location is that it is not only the home of Porky's BBQ, but also offers the full menu from Golden Bird, which specializes in Fried Chicken since 1953. We placed our order for items across both menus and anxiously awaited our food. :)
All of our items arrived at the same time and looked wonderful. The Pulled Pork Sandwich was a monster of a meal, and an absolute bargain at $7.99 (with a choice of one side item). The Pulled Pork Shoulder had a real, honest hickory smokiness and it was *so* tender and moist! Porky's served all our items with the Barbecue Sauce on the side, and even without the sauce, the Pulled Pork was the best Pulled Pork Sandwich I've had in L.A. (Jaybee's is a close second, but given the nicer dining area and other items being superior, the choice is easy :). There were a few dried "ends" but ~90% of the Pulled Pork was tender and moist. Their BBQ Sauce was also really nice, adding a sweetness, savoriness, and just enough spice to elevate this to another level! And it worked beautifully with their homemade coleslaw and toasted buns.
We chose a side of their "Dirty Dirty Rice," which didn't disappoint either: It was a touch too salty for me, but still very flavorful. Porky's uses a combination of Beef and Pork in their Dirty Dirty Rice, and it was great as a free side item with the sandwich. No complaints. :)
We ordered the Golden Bird's 2 Pieces of Chicken and Biscuit to sample the much-talked about Fried Chicken. I found the batter on the outside of the Chicken to be too salty, but the Chicken inside was so moist and juicy! The Biscuit was a tad too dense for my tastes, but nice in that it tasted freshly made. Overall it was simple, home-style cooking, and for $2.94, we weren't complaining! :)
Finally, my favorite type of BBQ arrived: The "Tender Pork Ribs" Lunch Plate. These were St. Louis-style Spareribs, and it looked and smelled absolutely delicious. Like the Pulled Pork, Porky's served the Pork Ribs with the BBQ Sauce on the side.
Taking a bite of the BBQ Pork Ribs, the first thought that entered my mind was that it just tasted *fresh* (as if it was made this morning, not sitting around and reheated later). Reading the back of the menu, Porky's BBQ proudly proclaims that they'd rather sell out each day, than have food left over at the end of the night, and that there's *no* boiled or baked meat served here, and it showed. The St. Louis-style Ribs had a nice smoke ring, and a great, genuine hickory smoked flavor in each bite, even without sauce. While I prefer Baby Blues' dry rub on their Ribs more than Porky's, with the addition of the BBQ Sauce, this was some amazing, rustic, down-to-earth Barbecue! It was perfectly cooked as well, each bite having a good tenderness, but not dried out, nor stringy. Excellent!
It was also served with a complimentary side of Texas Toast (good, simple, and huge!), and 1 side item, which we chose Macaroni & Cheese. Their Mac & Cheese was decent, but nothing special. It was probably the only average item we had today.
Despite it being a "fast food" style restaurant where you ordered at the counter, all the employees were really nice and friendly. The total came out to be ~$12 per person (including tax and tip), and we had leftovers.
Good Barbecue can be tough to find around L.A. Perhaps the biggest Achilles' Heel has been the lack of Consistency for most places: One day you might get Ribs that've just come out of the smoker and are perfect. Another day, the Ribs have been sitting around too long (or reheated). It remains to be seen if Porky's BBQ can maintain the Consistency, but for our visit today, the Pulled Pork Shoulder and St. Louis-style Pork Ribs were the embodiment of tender, hickory smoked perfection! The Golden Bird's Fried Chicken was also juicy, if a bit salty, but for a one-stop restaurant that serves great BBQ and some good Fried Chicken at a great price? Look no further than Porky's BBQ and Golden Bird on Manchester Boulevard.
*** Rating: 8.4 (out of 10.0) ***
Porky's BBQ and Golden Bird
801 E. Manchester Blvd.
Inglewood, CA 90301
Tel: (310) 671-2900
Hours: Sun - Thurs, 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Fri - Sat, 11:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.
I was craving some 'Que today, and I had been meaning to try Mom's BBQ, but I found out it's closed Sundays (what's up with that), so I decided to go back to Porky's (I had been there about a yr ago and had the pulled pork sandwich - which I thought was good) to try the ribs and brisket.
Well, I was a little startled to see them serve my meal on a sizzling platter (like the kind chain restaurants serve you fajitas on), but I started out on the pork ribs. They were tender, not quite fall off the bone, but tender and moist with a good smoky flavor; I didn't even use the sauce. I then tried the brisket, but was pretty disappointed in it. The meat was not tender, almost tough with noticeable fat on it. I had to use the sauce (Bubba's sauce is not spicy what so ever; I should've gone with the blow your face off hot), which I found helped, but still didn't make the brisket average IMO. The mac n cheese was average at best. The beans however, were delicious. And I've had better texas toast from my freezer.
So, I will stick to the pulled pork sandwich, esp. considering it is $8 vs $19 for a 2 way combo!!! Still, Phillips and Woody's (a close second) are clearly top of the class when it comes to LA BBQ (so far in my experience).
Thanks for the review.
Not trying to be negative here, but I guess while the bbq wasn't bad, I didn't enjoy the food as much as other CHs. But then I had the whole pig pulled pork at North Carolina and there's just no comparison.
I got the pull porked and pork ribs combo, and 4 pieces of the chicken to go. I had to take it home but much to my surprise the chicken still remained crispy on the most part.
The pull pork is a tad drier than I expected. Definitely need the sauce to moisten the meat and give it some flavor. The ribs are OK. The ones I make at home is more flavorful, even though I don't smoke it. The chicken was a tad salty on the outside, which I don't mind as much, but after several bites the grease on the crust really gets to me. I don't know if it's because they didn't fry it at a high enough temperature today, or just that it suffered from the travel. I had eaten other fried chicken cold, and they weren't greasy.
I liked the sides most. I got 4 types to sample. The cole slaw was well seasoned, but maybe a little too much mayo (hubbie liked it best). The mac & cheese was a tad underseasoned, but after I put some salt on it, it's quite good - nice and creamy. I liked the cabbage best - I liked the pieces of bacon, and the spicy undernotes and a hint of garlicky flavor. The bbq beans were the weakest part - not even the sausage in the mix saves it from being a sugary mess.
The biscuits were really dense. I made better ones from a recipe from Cook's.
Oh - the sauce is tasty, but very sweet.
Overall, I am kind of disappointed. Seems like I might as well stay home and cook the bbq ribs and have better results.
Thanks for the report back. It's unfortunate your rib experience wasn't as good. That's the problem with BBQ places: just how *consistent* can it be (which I noted in my review). BBQ takes a while to make, so part of one person's experience is just luck / timing: If you arrive when they just finished up a batch of BBQ Ribs, I'm sure it holds up much better than those that've had to sit for a few extra hours / rest of the day.
I'm not making excuses for Porky's, but I usually try my food fresh when I order to try and be fair across all the places I eat (instead of taking it for a long drive home and eating it later in the day). I know my Pulled Pork leftovers the next day didn't taste as good (drier, lost some of the "punch") as when I had part of it fresh from the kitchen the day I went.
But ultimately, it might've just been a batch that sat around longer than the batch I had. I've been to too many BBQ places where one visit the Ribs or Pulled Pork is outstanding, and then on another visit it just tastes "old" (sitting around for a while / dried out). It's happened to me too many times to count, but I guess that's the gamble with BBQ joints. IMHO it's too expensive for them to throw out BBQ Ribs / Chicken / Pulled Pork every few hours (if it doesn't sell) to try and keep things as moist / fresh as possible. And fresh-making a batch of Ribs to order, for each customer's order isn't possible with traditional American BBQ.
I just had Porky's last night and have to say it's just poor pork ribs / pork links relative to so other South side Q joints.
There's hardly any hint of smoke, and there's no dry rub on the ribs, merely coatings of the standard house sauce, which had no true flavor. The spicy pork link had no inherit spice, but was spiced by powder and pre-cut!@# losing most of the juices and completely devoid of pop from the casing. Finally, the link had a mealy texture. While link texture is a personal issue, I much prefer a less fine grind.
The sides were fantastic tho. Cabbage loved by bacon, spicy "dirty" rice, tho completely not a proper version of the livered dirty rice I'm used to, was a fun eat with the pieces of grizzle and salted/spiced rice. Fiance enjoyed the fired corn on the cob as well.
Didn't even bother with the Golden Bird. I've had Golden Bird elsewhere, and had just picked up a 5 pc order @ Jim Dandy's a few miles down the road. Now that's some fine ghetto fried chicken. Granted it was a chain from the midwest, but the spicy fried chicken had great crunch, great skin, just enough spices (not spicy) and my oh my.. the FRITTERS!
The Jim Dandy fritters were a cross between donuts and beignets. Them were some beautiful samplings of fried carbs in action.
After picking up the food, I drove by Woody's. Should've gotten something there.
PS: Porky's on Tuesdays as BOGO dinner meals.
I went yesterday too, about 4PM. I would guess off-peak may not help, but the pulled pork meat is really not from a fatty part of a pork, which would have helped retain the moisture.
I'll have to try Woody's and Jim Dandy's.
BTW, the drive-through is scary. I've never seen one that's outfitted like a bank (looks like bullet-proof window with revolving doors).
re: Low Blood Sugar
The main Porky's website is www.ribs123.com. (The other site you get with a Google search appears to be limited to catering.) You are correct, there used to be a whole page of discount specials, but I sure can't find it anymore. Porky's used to have a 2-for-1 deal for dinner items on Tuesdays, advertised on a banner at the restaurant. Finally, for a long time they offered a piece of Golden Bird (other than a breast) for 99-cents with another purchase. In talking with them, I think these might have been specials during the winter, when the BBQ business is slower. Yep, with those specials their food was a steal, but even without the discounts the big portions make it a better value than other BBQ restaurants.
re: Low Blood Sugar
Hi Low Blood Sugar,
I didn't know about the coupons, but when we visited, they were handing out a new "Value Menu!" with 2 sections on it. A quick summary with some examples include:
"Value Snack Menu" (Mon - Thurs, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.)
Choose any of the following (includes 1 Small Side Item and Texas Toast):
* 2 Pork Ribs and a Link Snack - $5.99
* 2 Pieces of Smoked Chicken - $4.99
* 1/4 Pound Pulled Pork Snack - $4.99
They also a "Value Meal" section (7 days a week):
(All Selections include 2 Small Side Items and Texas Toast)
* 4 Bones Pork Rib Meal $8.99
* 1/3 Pound Brisket Meal $8.99
And then they have a small little bonus: "Add a Pound(!) of Rib Tips to any Dinner for just $4.99" Wow (I just noticed this as I was typing it to you :).
Hey Exilekiss, great revue.I'm glad you talked about the sides.This is really what separates the great from the OK places.I'm so often perplexed that barbeque places around town offer such poorly made sides.In Kansas City, or Memphis, or any of the many places I've been in the South and Mid-West, the restaurants make great sides to go with their specialty, be it barbeque or fried chicken.
There are some places near me in the valley that make such lackluster sides to go with their food.Nice to here about a new rib joint, though.
Thanks so much for the great review! I've mentioned how much I loved porky's in the pasts, but only just recently had a chance to post up some pictures of what we got (Pretty much what you did... but we went in a different direction on the ribs)
Someone asked about the pulled pork here versus baby blues... I LOVE baby blues, but Porkys beats them hand down in flavor and even in how tender it was...
I had Boneyard Bistro's this past weekend and I was very close, but I still like Porky's better... And nosh is right, the sandwich is a great deal!
For our sides we ordered the BBQ Beans and the Mac N Cheese... The beans were very nice, still whole but tender. The stand out was the Mac N Cheese... CREAMY (Even fossies is kinda dry) and full of cheese flavor. One of my favorite versions in town...
We tried a few pieces of the golden bird... Not as good as flossies, but that batter was just SO crunchy! YUM! Oddly enough though, I did not find it overly salty.... and I'm pretty darn sensitive to salt...
As I mentioned, we didn't order ribs, but BBQ chicken instead. The Chicken was okay, not as tender and juicy as I'd like... but I think where porkys REALLY shines is in it's sauce... even saw dust in that sauce would taste good...
As I mentioned before, we greatly enjoyed our dinner at Boneyard and we Enjoy Baby Blues as well... but for the money and taste... It's still Porky's on top...
Thanks for your delicious-sounding report. :)
The Golden Bird Fried Chicken: I think the 2 pieces we got might've just been a fluke then (getting perfectly even distribution of salt across all pieces of chicken isn't expected). I'm more than willing to try some more of the Fried Chicken next time I visit. :)
Thanks for the report on the BBQ Chicken, it's unfortunate, but all the more reason for me to order more Pulled Pork and BBQ Pork Ribs again for next time (and the Brisket). (^_~)
Exile -- What a pleasure waking up and finding your excellent review of one of my very favorite places. I love Porky's -- for the food and the value, but also for the warmth and friendliness of their people, from the co-owner Vera (who now runs their Long Beach branch) to the cooks and order-takers and even those who deliver the food and clean the tables. My goodness, when the place isn't crowded they usually ask what I'd like to watch on their flatscreens.
I agree that the thing to order there is the pulled pork sandwich. (At $7.99 with a side, it appears to have perhaps gone up a buck.) I have never been able to finish one at a single sitting, and it is indeed the perfect combination of tender, moist, smoky, with charred crispy bits adding textural and flavor contrast. And the little things -- the nice toast on the buttered bun.
Their St. Louis style spareribs are great -- better than the baby backs we got when I neglected to specify one visit. Beef ribs were huge but they just aren't my cup of tea. I recently got turned on to their brisket -- I admit that it didn't appeal when I'd see it passing by to other patrons, it looked too dark and I feared it would be dry. But it was a fantastic surprise -- moist, tender, delicious. I still need to try their links -- I've seen huge orders go by on their sizzling platters and looked longingly at their recipients as I've waited for my food, but so far nobody has offered me a taste.
I have actually volunteered to drop friends off at the airport so I'd have an excuse to stop into Porky's on the way back. And portions are big and prices very reasonable compared to most local BBQ. The place and the bathrooms are clean, the restaurant is safe (they've made fans of the local police), and they offer drive-thru and delivery, though I prefer to eat in. And no, I have no financial interest in the enterprise other than my craving for the food. Porky's, located on the north side of Manchester, a few blocks east of La Brea, just west and across the street from the Forum.
Thanks. (^_^) And thank *you* for the great recommendation! It was thanks to your strong recommendation (a few times on the boards) that I finally had to go visit this past weekend. :)
That's really funny (and smart) about the volunteering to drop friends off at the airport. :) I'll have to try their Brisket next time, per your recommendation. Thanks!
Thanks for sharing the review and pics! Porky's has been on my list of places to check out for a while.
The pics of the pork ribs were my fav and are definitely on my must try list.
I'm also a sucker for fried chicken but based on your description and the pics I dont think that the Golden Bird will surpass the old Pioneer Chicken chain as my favorite in that category (even though I'm aware of how greasy Pioneer is and how big a turn off is for a lot of 'hounds)
The pulled pork looks promising, I'm hoping it compares favorably to my current favorite which is served by Baby Blues BBQ in Venice.
Thanks. :) I also enjoyed the Pulled Pork at Baby Blues as well (especially the interesting bun and condiments attached to the sandwich version). But the one I had at Jaybee's was better, and I enjoyed the simplicity and tender goodness of the one I had at Porky's over Jaybee's. :) Again, I hope that Porky's can maintain a high level of consistency, which would make it a favorite of mine at that point, along with Baby Blues, depending on which part of town I'm in. :)
I just called up Porky's and they said their sauce does have smoke flavoring in it, sorry. If you enjoy BBQ without the sauce (just the dry rub, original seasonings, etc.), I thought the Pulled Pork Sandwich with the toasted buns and homemade Coleslaw was nice even without the sauce (but the sauce definitely elevated it).
DARN IT!!! I get so frustrated with this smoke flavor allergy. They even put in it chips. I forgot to look today and purchased a bag of chips, got home and low and behold smoke flavoring. Well I guess I will just have to keep doing my own. Thank you for checking, that was really nice of you!!!
Porky's does offer three choices of sauce: their regular, the "Bubba" which is spicier, and a very hot sauce. I've enjoyed the Bubba the most. They are served in little side containers, and the regular is the default, rather than in large squirt bottles on the table like Baby Blues.
Thanks for clarifyng monkuboy.
I've made the trek over to the few Pioneer Chicken locations left, (one near downtown on Sunset, and one in Echo Park) from the valley on several occasions once I found out on this board that they were still around.
I will definitely check out Golden Bird's version with an open mind, and empty stomach!