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MY TOP 10+ LA BBQ JOINTS - LONG - W/ PICS

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Why are people so passionate about barbecue? Why does barbecue take hold of the imagination so strongly? What about barbecue gives it an almost spiritual dimension? And … where’s the best barbecue in Los Angeles? (with links

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1. JAY BEE'S BAR-B-Q
Let’s start somewhere random. A shack in the middle of an industrial strip in Gardena. The woman who owns the joint is not the friendliest but, hey, she’s bombarded with crowds of people clamoring for her barbecue starting at 11:30 AM every single day of her life. It’s really, really good barbecue, and people know it and come for it -- white collar, blue collar, no collar, cops, criminals -- all walks of life descend on the joint. I order two meats – pork ribs and pork shoulder. I taste the rib first, I've had it before, it's a solidly excellent rib, and the sauce is nice and round, with a heat that touches every part of the mouth. First rate. Cole slaw's just okay, baked beans excellent and filled with pork. Then I try the pork shoulder -- whoa! hello! holy sh-t! I don’t think I really understood "pulled pork" before today -- who would want random bits of meat on a plate when you could be eating ribs? -- but I leave the very good ribs in the dust and can’t stop pounding this pork shoulder, each bite different, some fattier, some crispier, some meatier -- I start taking larger bites, so each bite has the full combo of textures, and the heat comes through strong, and boom, it’s all gone. I’m in love.

2. PORKY’S –
I'm not a big fan of Porky's, so why is it on my list? Because a big part of loving barbecue is being opinionated about it, and when a place gets a lot of praise, and you think it’s overrated, you gotta say so. The ribs are served on a skillet, atop onions and peppers, loudly sizzling when delivered – which might be a tradition somewhere, but I’ve never seen it before. I've had the ribs twice now, six months apart, and both times I had exactly the same notes. (Yes, believe it or not, I've been writing this article for months) There's a caramelization about the rib I really like, and some bites are incredibly delicious in a kind of Chinese sparerib way. But the meat is not suffused with barbecue-ness. It's bland. There's no flavor in the middle of the meat. It's like neither the cooking process nor the spice reached the center of the rib, and that's just death. As they say so haughtily in the Wine Spectator: “tasted twice with consistent notes”.

3. BABY BLUES -
I’ve eaten here a million times and that says way more than any words or opinions I may have on the subject. I’ve had almost all their food at one time or another, Memphis ribs, baby-back ribs, pulled pork, brisket, shrimp, catfish. All good. (Those are the Memphis above, my go to order, very good.) Recently I went in alone, sat at the bar by the grill, and ordered the beef ribs, never had 'em here before. The waitress explains, "The order of beef ribs comes with a single beef rib . Think of it like a steak on a bone." I choose two sides, cole slaw and collard greens. The rib, smoked for five and a half hours and then finished on the grill to order, is insanely delicious. It’s so tender. But tender doesn’t really describe it, and the waitress uses a much better word – "soft". Yes, soft. Lush. Incredibly fatty, but the fat is like totally marbled in. Unreal. Cost me 22 bucks, but hey, it's one of the best steaks I've had in the city, and it came with 2 sides.

4. BONEYARD BISTRO –
Probably my favorite restaurant in the Valley, Boneyard Bistro is a comepletely inspired joint. Half bistro, half barbecue. The chef’s background is in bistro, so it's the barbecue that is his thrill, his excitement, his challenge. My wife and daughter and I went there to celebrate when we sold our house. We brought a bottle of Billecart Salmon Rose with us, one of the truly great non-vintage champagnes in the universe (and they make you pay for it, too.) The chef was at our table almost immediately, hovering over the wine, telling us how much he loves that wine, telling us how great champagne goes with barbecue, and how no one really gets that. (He's got a great wine list here, filled with huge zins and petite sirahs; and a great beer selection; and Monday is Fried Chicken Night; and Thursdays no corkage; and Saturdays and Sundays football on the TV and housemade chili dogs and nachos ... and on and on). Anyway, we open the champagne and we insist the chef have a glass. And even though this particular bottle has been in my fridge for almost a year, and I'm a bit nervous about it, we all toast and taste it together and it's brilliant. Chef goes, "mmmmm." And the barbecue is delicious. These are some of the best spareribs I've had anywhere. They are as good as they look and awesome with champagne.

5. DR. HOGLEY WOGLEY’S –
Oh, yeah, baby. Best beef ribs in the Southland. Ignore the pork, ignore the brisket. Beef ribs, baby. All others pale. I’ve been here probably 30 times and on only one occasion, an anomaly I must assume, did I not have STELLAR beef ribs. When my wife and I went to Magic Mountain and went on “X” and I screamed so loud and thought I’d be lucky if I EVER regained my equilibrium, my wife drove us to Dr. Hogley Wogley’s, and I GROUNDED myself with a plate of these beef ribs. The sauce is perfect, it’s silky and light, rather than thick and gloppy, and it gets inside the ribs. Part of the greatness is that each rib is different – different shape, different size, different proportion of meat to bone, even different texture. Some of the meat is so tender it falls off the bone, some of it you need to tug at with your teeth. Some of the ribs are more lean, some have a great layer of fat as you suck at the sides of them. Gnaw on each bone after you’re done. Then gnaw on each bone again. Now a third time. There's a lot of goodness there.

6. KANSAS CITY BBQ -
Kisses! Revelation! Brilliant! Winner! Best baby backs around. You have to taste. The texture of them is the immediate giveaway that something extraordinary is going on -- smooth, almost creamy but still there’s a lot of firmness. It’s ridiculous. The sauce is unnoticeable -- its flavor serves the meat flawlessly. The beef rib is also gorgeous, fatty, flavory, tender, huge, tons of delectable meat on different parts of it. One of the best in town. But wait, there’s more, what is possibly the best item on the menu is the brisket, cooked 24 hours and so tender and rich with just the right amount of smokiness. And the whole vibe here is solid: Palestinian owner who moved to Kansas City, lived there for 15 years, fell in love with barbecue, moved to LA and couldn’t find the bbq he was looking for. He called LC (owner of one of Kansas City's best bbq joints) many times to ask questions and LC become his mentor for this North Hollywood joint. He's clearly a perfectionist and extremely proud of his business. It’s 5 star.

7 & 8. JR’s and J & J
I know, it’s ridiculous to pit these two against each other just because they happen to share some of the same letters and be about a half mile apart from one another. But, on my latest barbecue hunt, I ate at both within a single hour. First JR’s. I dunno, I think something’s getting a little old about this place, sorry. I love it, I have loved it, but the last couple of meals I’ve had here were just okay. The pork is too bland, the flavor is not there. Something's missing. Then, I go up Washington Blvd to Fairfax, make a right, make a left on Adams, and there it is: J&J’s. Dude from Louisiana gets here at 4:30 every morning to start cooking, doesn’t leave till 9 at night. Every time I’ve been I’ve asked him the same question, what should I order? Every time he gives me the same answer, with no pause, the spareribs. Every time I order the spareribs and every time I’m not only happy, I’m blown away by how good they are. Astoundingly good. Mind bendingly good on the right day. His sauce so distinctive, hints of Asia as well as Lousiana, just an amazing elixer. Wow, I literally am tripping on how good these ribs are. You know what I mean? -- bite after bite, the complexity, the depth, I’m looking around like, hello? But no one else is here, I'm sitting alone on the patio at 3 PM on a Tuesday, lovin' some barbecue.

9. ZEKE'S -
Love the beef ribs. Everything else is just okay. But the beef ribs are really good. Most of the wait staff, even the owners, will tout the baby backs. The baby backs are boring. The spare ribs are boring. I mean, they’re fine, but they’re the kind of ribs you expect to find in a yuppy-looking place like this, where at lunch the place is filled with six tops and eight tops of groups coming from “the office”. Normally, I find these kinds of places insufferable. Like Friday’s or something. But when there’s a saving grqce, there’s a saving grace. And in this case it’s that large, meaty, tender, flavory, well-seasoned, well-smoked (10-12 hours), beef rib. IMG_1979.JPG It’s just undeniable.

10. PHILLIPS BBQ -
I’m including Phillips in the negative. Why is Phillips still so lauded when it actually, in real life, now, October 2008, sucks? Fine, shoot me! Kill me! Whatever, I’ve had about 7 crappy meals -- at all the frickin locations -- over the past few years. I had maybe a couple of good meals here about 7 or 8 years ago and that, combined with Jonathan Gold’s stunning poetry about Phillips (which I love, BTW) kept me coming back, at least occasionally, for a long time. But it sucks. On my last visit – which was for this article -- my note was “tastes like my mother’s pot roast, and that’s not a compliment”. Dry and stringy with a bland flavor and a very depressing texture.

11. NY BBQ –
Look at this place, look at this location, on La Brea around Pico, in this mini mall, with the name “New York BBQ” – total recipe for disaster. But I’ve had their brisket five or six times and it’s consistently superb. That gorgeous layer of fat, perfect sauce, Texas with a splash of soy, yummy. Deep. Good. I’m always served by the stunningly attractive woman who I assume is the owner. She gives the place some serious dignity and her brisket reflects her beauty. (And she would not let me take her picture.) I brought a whole bunch of brisket back to the office the other day and everyone was into it -- eating with their hands, oohing and ahing, just standing around the brisket tray, feeding. Reco-mmmm-end.

12. BENNY’S BBQ
It’s actually not called Benny’s anymore, it’s called the Barbecue Company, but it’s in exactly the same spot as Benny’s, it looks exactly the same as Benny’s, and I still call it Benny’s. A shack, basically, with four tables. My roommate and I ate here all the time when we lived in Venice (10 years ago) and we couldn't get enough of the joint. Been back a few times recently for the lunch special: 6.99 for a beef rib, a pork rib, 6 slices of spicy sausage, greens and cole slaw. The pork rib is surprisingly good (recently I had one that got me so excited and I had to call a few people, especially since this place doesn't get a ton of love). Smoky, tender but firm on the bone, a great spice from the dry rub, and most of all, great flavor from the meat, which is not overpowered by smokiness or spice. The sausage is nice too -- spicy, and even better with some sauce and cole slaw all in the same bite. And with tax this feast set me back $7.50.

13. SPRING STREET SMOKE HOUSE —
If I spent more time downtown I’d probably come here a lot. Good, fun vibe. Friendly people. Sports on TV. Beer. Wine. You can hang out here and eat leisurely. Real barbecue cookin’. I order the combo plate. The ribs are awfully good. The spare rib just beautifully done, and the baby back caramelized and delicious. Damn tasty. I don’t love the sauce -- which doesn’t really hurt the ribs, it rolls off their backs. It more hurts the meats on the bottom of the plate, the chicken and brisket, just sitting in the sauce. Too sweet or something. Oh, but wait, when I mix the meat with the collards to dampen the sauce a little, these are pretty fine bites, too. Nice collards. I like it here. And I see a sign for, of all things, comedy on Monday nights. Cool, maybe I'll come check it out.

14. That's it! I'm tired! What am I missing!?

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  1. Great report! Can you perhaps specify which places smoke their meat, and whether they serve ribs sauced or dry?

    PS: Just checked out your awesome pics! The Boneyard Bistro ribs look particularly scrumptious and are clearly smoked.

    1 Reply
    1. re: a_and_w

      Thanks a&w. I think all these places smoke the meat. I think. And in terms of sauce, I think the only places here that serve sauce on side (and not right on meat) are Zeke's and Boneyard. (Which doesn't necessarily mean they don't baste as they cook). Good questions, I'll look into it more and add to this answer. Other pp probably know, too.

    2. well, that totally worked on me . i'm on my way to j&j right now!
      thanks

      5 Replies
          1. re: la tache burger

            Only place that I still know of that does them. 4J's on Lincoln used to, they are gone.

            1. re: Burger Boy

              Wow...you just said the magic words! A good smoked wing can be just as enjoyable for me as ribs.

        1. Not that I want to pick a beef with you but no bones about it my favorite's tasty-q on crenshaw south of the 10. huge plate of everything including rib tips pulled pork brisket ribs chicken links and more sauce of choice like 10 bucks with wonder bread and beans!

          6 Replies
          1. re: jessejames

            Tasty Que is good also, sauce is to sweet for me. Great fried turkey, used to do my thanksgiving and christmas turkey's there before i started to fry my own.

            1. re: jessejames

              I had one of the best plate of ribs ever at Tasty Q, the rib tips. And best collard greens. However, been there a couple of times recently and less stellar. It was a weird thing but I couldn't in my initial piece bring myself to include it and say anything negative.

                1. re: Burger Boy

                  hmm, that is something i will definitely be trying, thanks.

              1. re: jessejames

                Dropped by TastyQ one day and had the worst ribs ever. Meat was inconsistent, some of us had one ones some of us had bad ones, and the sauce didn't work out for ANY of us. Did not come back.

                1. re: ns1

                  Odd place. Strange tasting bad Q.

              2. Thanks for the good work la tache, its beautiful, looks like I gotta go try some more places. Currently my fav is KC BBQ.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ldodb

                  good favorite, though, KC kinda blew me away. And thanks for the kind words.

                2. Hi la tache burger,

                  Another great and passionate Top 10+ list. (^_~) Is it me, or does your Top 10 list get more and more positive (as if your #6 and 7 (J&J) are more passionate and positive than your #1 and 2? :). Just curious.

                  For your #1 pick, Jay Bee's, I also was blown away by their Pork Shoulder (simply amazing), but their Pork Ribs that I got was downright... bad (cold, dried out, slightly funky taste). It probably was a bad batch, or "leftovers" from the night before perhaps, but it was so disappointing I haven't been able to bring myself to return (but I would go back for the Pork Shoulder and hope they remain consistently good on that product at least. :)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: exilekiss

                    Thanks e/k. Yeah, my list is definitely in no particular order. I tried to keep it interesting as I went along. Found this to be very challenging, mainly because bbq is such a passion and also because (as I believe you and I have discussed before) it can be so inconsistent. Places like Jay Bee's, J & J's, Boneyard and Kansas City may be more consistent because they seem to be owned and operated by passionate psychos (in a good way) who never leave. Dr. Hogley Wogley's has also been stunningly consistent for me, yet I have no idea who runs the joint. But everyone there (like the waitresses) seems to have an attitude of ownership, which is awesome. BTW, I have thankfully never had anything bad at Jay Bee's.

                    1. re: la tache burger

                      Hi la tache burger,

                      Ah thanks for the clarification! :) I was wondering as I was reading your great list why some of the later #'s seemed to make you happier / extol more than some higher up #'s. (^_~)

                      Yah, definitely consistency is the toughest part of any BBQ place. I'm glad to hear you found Dr. Hogley Wogley's and J&J's consistently good; I can't wait to try them. :)

                      1. re: exilekiss

                        I will be very curious to hear your thoughts on these places, e/k. Very curious.

                  2. la tache -- Kudos on a fine thread, and like many of the best reviewers lately on the board (exilekiss, lotta cox, noahbites, and others) it is great to click on your blog to get the pictures and then return here for the feedback and discussion. Really nice job, and you and your companions must have had a fun, tasty time compiling your review.

                    BBQ is indeed very subjective, and one's impressions can be swayed by their expectations and memories. BBQ can also vary more than many other restaurant fare from rib rack to rack or slice to slice, and what one patron views as desirable (a crispy burnt end) might be seen as overdone and dried out by another. And we haven't even begun to get into the big controversies: beef vs. pork, ribs vs. brisket or pulled, baby backs vs. spareribs.

                    I agree with you about the heartfelt commitment exhibited by the proprietor of J&J's -- he is truly devoted to his cooking, enterprise, and customers. I have had some delicious spareribs there, with good sauce, served in generous amounts. His outdoor picnic table seating can be nice on a perfect day (to call it a patio is elevating it too high) but L.A. weather is often just too hot. And I must confess that my dining experience is not enhanced by having to continuously swipe away flies.

                    I agree with your impression of Phillip's -- the emperor has lost his clothes. My ribs from there have been bony, the little meat there was overdone, oversmoked and tough. Their attitude was smug, as if they were doing me a favor by permitting me to purchase from them, and yet I had to take my takeout to a nearby fastfood joint to buy a Coke so I could eat my lunch at an outdoor table rather than in my car.

                    I enjoy Baby Blues a lot, but as much for the laidback service and friendly vibe as for the food. Pulled pork is very good, and the grilled english-muffiny bun they serve it on is perfect, with a texture and crunch. Ribs are good. But the brisket is just wrong -- brisket should be sliced or even chopped, but it should not be strung. I like their mac'n'cheese, when available, but their hyped corn on the cob is tough, not sweet, and gets caught in my teeth. Baby Blues is one of the nicest places to hang and relax, but it is also among the more expensive.

                    I'm very glad that BBQ King, up north of downtown on Figueroa at Cesar Chavez, has gone under and left that neighborhood. Other than their huge burger, they never got their bbq act together. I'm also glad you left out the Outdoor Grill on Washington at the edge of Mar Vista -- ribs ok, bbq pork loin just wrong (too lean and flavorless), but their attitude was just chintzy -- I'll never get over them wanting to charge me for an extra slice of white bread.

                    Which brings me to my favorite, Porky's. Friendly, smiling, eager to please, what more can I get for you, Porky's. OK, I understand your questioning the sizzling cast-iron skillets -- they work great with the links, giving them a char. But I'll admit the peppers and onions sizzling under the ribs are an unnecessary garnish. Porky's spareribs are much better in my experience than the babybacks. Their brisket is deceiving -- it looks dark and like it will be dry, but it isn't, actually really tender and moist. But the star item there is the pulled pork -- spectacular, tender, smoky, rich, succulent, with the crispy bits from the crusty edges. Their sides are also a step above most places'. Ask for the moderately spicy Bubba sauce rather than the mild or extra spicy. But their prices are more reasonable, the portions bigger, and the service more gracious than any other I've encountered chowing on BBQ in SoCal.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: nosh

                      Love the thoughtful comments, nosh. And, yes, the fickleness of bbq (as well as all the other issues) is a huge factor and made this a very challenging piece to write and feel completely good about!

                      For me personally, spareribs are the ultimate in pork and beef ribs the ultimate in beef. In fact, for pure, unadulterated pleasure, my favorite thing in all of bbq is probably a great beef rib. Which is why I've been to Hogley Wogley's more times than any of the others above. At KC, which is probably the place I'm most excited about right now, it will be hard not to order the baby backs the beef ribs and the brisket in combination every time I go -- they are all incredibly delicious.

                      Porky's has yet to move me, and I've tried the spareribs both times I've been. I have not tried the brisket or the pulled pork, however. In fact, one of the things that bugs me about Porky's is it's not easy to get a combo of things without spending a fortune, and though the people taking my order have been very nice they have not been accommodating in that regard. In any case, I'm sure I'll find myself back there again at some point, and I'll try those items. I do appreciate your passion for it.

                      By the way, have you been to Kansas City in North Hollywood yet?

                      1. re: la tache burger

                        Four hints for getting the most and best out of Porky's:

                        First, the best way to order and sample their pulled pork is to order the sandwich. It is about half the price of their dinner plates, and if you eat in it comes openfaced with mounds of pork on both sides of the buns (though only one has the coleslaw). They post that the sandwich has eight ounces of meat as opposed to twelve on the plates, but they tend to serve with a generous hand. Second, keep Porky's in mind when coming back from LAX. Rather than sitting fuming and frustrated in traffic on the 405, head a few minutes east on Manchester, relax at Porky's, and then take La Brea back north to midcity. Third, the more the merrier. Email me and it doesn't take much to motivate me to meet at Porky's. Finally, and I disclose this reluctantly -- Porky's offers a two-for-one special on its dinners (choice of meat and two sides) all day on Tuesdays. No, I'm not associated with the restaurant or a shill, but I dearly want them to succeed.

                        Exile, I'm originally from St. Louis and return often for family events and visits. While St. Louis has some sort of rep as a BBQ city, in reality there was a dearth of good, successful places until very recently, when a new place called Pappy's opened near St. Louis University. Excellent products and really hardworking people. They are having to educate the customer base (you have to order the pulled pork "with bark" or else they trim the best crispy crusty parts since so many don't know better, and they can't sell burnt ends) but enough people recognized a good thing that they got popular pretty quick. As a result, since BBQ takes a long time to cook and they refused to save stuff and rewarm the next day, they were closing up some days late in the afternoon, hours before their posted hours ended, simply because they were running out of meat.

                        1. re: nosh

                          Gotta say, you're making that pulled pork sandwich sound so good, I'd say 90 percent chance I'll be trying it for lunch tomorrow and reporting back. Again, it's one of the tough things about reviewing bbq, you may not be eating the right dish at the right place.

                          However, I should ask you nosh, do my comments about the spareribs not having flavor all the way through resonate with you at all? That was my experience recently, and when I checked my notes from a few months back I was surprised to see I had had exactly the same complaint.

                          1. re: la tache burger

                            I sure wish you success and pleasure with that pulled pork sandwich tomorrow, la tache. since you should get a bit of coleslaw on one bun, it is fun to anticipate which side to order. I've been thinking about your query re: the ribs, and to be honest I'm drawing a blank. The first thing I always notice about ribs is their texture -- I hate dry and stringy (Phillip's) or steamed/braised/falling off the bone (Houston's). Porky's had the proper tender but meaty toothsomeness for me. When I've ordered ribs there, it has always been in addition to a bunch of other stuff, and one time I was kicking myself for getting baby backs as a default instead of my preference for spareribs. Gotta confess that for me, ribs make a convenient conveyance for sauce, and I'm a sauce fiend -- spicy for bbq, and the salsa roja is my key love if the meat is at all acceptable at taquerias.

                            I will admit up front, or rather now at the end, that the beef ribs at Porky's were the weakest dish when we chowed a few months ago with a group. They aren't ever my preference for bbq -- I really like the brisket at Dr. Hogly Wogley's and can't recall the beef ribs -- but the ones at Porky's were again generous (maybe three or four to the order) but they were tough and overcooked and nobody's favorite.

                            What time are you planning to be there? Traffic usually is light on a Sunday, but now there is gonna be a seventh baseball playoff game later and I don't know which football games are on...

                            1. re: nosh

                              No disrespect nosh, but usually with BBQ, if it is tough it is undercooked, the longer you cook the more the muscle and stuff in the beef breaks down giving you that oh so tender bbw heaven. I say in this election year, a brislet in every home!

                              1. re: nosh

                                I went! Good pulled pork sandwich. Extremely generous with the pork, yes. Good bread. Good slaw, but wanted slaw on both sides. Large strips of pork, tender but not mushy at all. Definitely the best thing I've had at Porky's. Thanks for the rec.

                                But ... Have you had Jay Bee's? To me, Jay Bee's better, more interesting textures, fatty bits, crispy bits, brilliant. Wonder your take.

                            2. re: nosh

                              Happened upon Porky's during 1 of the twofer deals on a Tuesday. What I ended up with were 2 big styrofoam containers full of inedible cue.

                              The pork ribs were completely tasteless without sauce. There weren't visible smoke rings in any of the pieces and I was wondering how that's possible with every bite I took. The sauce is not my boss hence a lil bit of dry rub would be great. The texture was off-putting as well. Not foiled, but also not smoked enough to offer any type of pull. Bad, weird cue.

                              1. re: TonyC

                                I just went to the LB Porky's on Tuesday as well and had the baby back ribs, full rack. I did a buy 2 get 1 free with some other guys in line. It smelled great, so we were excited. I took my ribs home and opened up my foil. The slab was cut into thirds, so I pulled out one of the thirds and tore off a rib and took a bite. Just like you, I found it rather bland and I had to add the sauce for flavor. I much prefer Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach. There I use no sauce as they impart sooooo much flavor in their smoked slabs and other meats as well.

                          2. re: nosh

                            Hi nosh,

                            Excellent post and summary of the problems with reviewing / talking about BBQ. :) As you said, one person getting a crispy, burnt end may be desirable for one person, but for another person getting the end pieces of a rack of ribs, it may be a turn-off and they suddenly deem that restaurant's BBQ as "dried out / mediocre" etc.

                            Ultimately, all we can hope for is to find BBQ restaurants that are generally as consistent as possible; that hopefully have the quality control to keep serving the customers only the moist, properly done BBQ they have for the day. :)

                            1. re: nosh

                              FYI, BBQ King is still with us, they have not passed on yet. They ore on Western or Vermont & 54th, I think, and they have a satelite in Downtown LA, so I have heard. Great burger when cooked right, they used to actually smoke the burger, I do not know how, but it was pretty great!

                            2. Great post. I haven't tried all your entries, but certainly agree about Baby Blues and Dr. Hogley's

                              1. I'd add Outlaws in Play Del Rey to this list. Their Ribs blew away Cecil's, Baby Blue's, and Porky's....

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: ElJeffe

                                  I had never heard of Outlaws. Did a search -- it is located at 230 Culver, but it seems to be known much more for burgers and beer. I could not find any mention of BBQ. Makes me suspect that their ribs are baked, braised, steamed and then grilled rather than smoked -- I could be wrong.

                                  1. re: nosh

                                    It was the Cliff House for a looooong time before it became Outlaws. While I haven't had the ribs at Outlaws they do a pretty good burger.

                                    1. re: nosh

                                      They used to have a huge outdoor smoker but the LA Fire Department wouldn't let them do it open air (yes, we no longer live in a democratic country), but they still make them and they are excellent. The place is usually empty which is why there's probably not much on it.

                                  2. Great list Tache. I always enjoy your lists. They give me great places to try. As a Westsider, I love Baby Blues. I thought Porky's was good, but I liked BB a little better With all the accolades Porky's gets on this board, I thought it deserved a second chance. We tried the brisket, pork ribs, links and their Golden Bird chicken (another name).

                                    I liked the brisket okay, but BB's ribs were better. The links were great, as was the BBQ sauce. Their fried chicken, just okay the last time, was exceptional. Porky's is very good, but not worth the drive when BB is right here.

                                    I guess it's personal preference, but Baby Blues is my go-to place. I will try Outlaws, though, along with the listed places more inland.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Ogawak

                                      Thanks ogawak, and also, don't be afraid to try Benny's (a.k.a BBQ Company) on Lincoln just a stretch down the road from Baby Blue. Surprisingly decent pork ribs. Especially for the lunch special. Curious what other people's recent experiences have been here.

                                      1. re: la tache burger

                                        Yeah, thanks for the update. I used to like Benny's when it was still Benny's. Will let you know when I get down there.

                                    2. I like Valley Ranch BBQ on Sherman Way near Balboa in West Van Nuys. Tangy-spicy sauce, great pork ribs (my fave!!!). killer garlic-cheese bread. and a great retro atmosphere-probably never been changed since they opened their doors. They roast their meats in a pit...very old school. Friendly as well. I used to make the trip from Hollywood at least once a month when I lived over there-it was that good.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: libbylang29

                                        hmmmm. that's pretty much my 'hood, and totally not on my radar. I'll have to give it a shot. thanx.

                                        1. re: libbylang29

                                          I second the Valley Ranch. I've been eating there since 1975 and they were around a long time before that. It's definately one of my favorite Q joints. I always liked the continuity between their sauce and cole slaw--both have celery seeds. A small point but I always appreciated it. I also liked that they had bbq beef sandwiches on hamburger buns or French rolls. Okay, now I'm drooling.

                                        2. Great writeup la tache, and I just want to say that I TOTALLY agree with you on KC BBQ. My goodness is it delicious!

                                          I've told several about it, and they ALL have raved about it ... one even going so far as to say it's the best ribs (Baby Back) he's EVER had!

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: a213b

                                            Thanks a213b. I certainly can't think of a better baby back I've had. Also, I think the baby back is their only pork rib so you don't have to choose between them and spareribs, thank g-d. But, again, the beef ribs and the brisket are dynamite, too.

                                            1. re: la tache burger

                                              I'm not a big fan of beef ribs, though I do think I'll have to try them; I am, however, a lover of brisket, and theirs is outstanding too.

                                              In fact, I think I might have to stop by tomorrow night for dinner and bring some friends.

                                          2. Have you tried Woody's? BBQ to me is all about spare ribs. I like pulled pork but it's not the be all end all for me. I really liked the smokiness and texture of Woody's spareribs. Their hot sauce is also really good.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: Jase

                                              Love Baby Blues - the fried okra is incredible!

                                              1. re: Jase

                                                Why did I think Woody's was no more? I was there only once, several years ago, remember it being pretty good, but then I remember wanting to go more recently and it was no more. But now I just called and they do indeed still exist, not sure what happened to me there. I would have included it in my report because I know it's kind of an institution. I'll have to go soon. Thanks for the head's up. And I completely respect the "it's all about spare ribs" POV. Hard to argue with a great spare rib.

                                                1. re: la tache burger

                                                  Woody's can be chaotic. Even if you call ahead expect a massive delay and while you wait homeless people will beg for money. Ignore the glaring looks from other customers and have them go over your order because when you get home after all the driving and waiting a lot of what you ordered will be missing.

                                                  Good food but so similar to Phillips which has the system down.

                                                  1. re: Hershey Bomar

                                                    LTB--great post, enjoyable read.
                                                    I go to Phillips on Crenshaw just south of Adams about once every two weeks for the sliced beef on a roll sandwich (mixed sauce) with baked beans, potato salad and a small sauce on the side. Have you had this sandwich? They use tri-tip for the beef. This is one of my favourite sandwiches in Los Angeles. Every once in a while, the beef is a little dry (alleved by the sauce on the side) but most of the time, the sandwich is wonderful.

                                                    1. re: Wolfgang

                                                      Never had it, and absolutely love a good tri-tip sandwich. Well, I may just find myself back at Phillip's one of these days. Stranger things have happened. Thanks for the tip.

                                                    2. re: Hershey Bomar

                                                      Yeah, Woody's can be a little chaotic. The waiting area they have inside isn't very big. But we've always encountered friendly service. First visit there with my wife, we stuck out like sore thumbs. Imagine an average asian guy and blonde girl dressed in shorts and t-shirts among a bunch of people in their Sunday best. But we never felt uncomfortable and our order was taken and handled quickly and efficiently.

                                                2. hi just wanted to check back in, finally, about my trip to JnJ. i got the "dinner" of pork spare ribs, w/slaw and corn and a side of mac chz(couldn't resist) and extra 1/2 rack mix sauce. i got this to go to bring home and had to eat 2 ribs on the drive because i couldn't wait long enough to fully share w/ my guy. the ribs were so tender that made easy car eating, as i could just reach into the bag and a beautiful piece of meat would land in my hand. thank god for napkins or my steering wheel would be gooey. the actual dinner was fab. cole slaw very basic but just right especially when some meat and sauce jut happens to fall in. mac chz kind of velveety but in that good way that goes w/ bbq. we had a couple ribs left over which, pulled off the bone made an amazing sandwich the next day w/ carmelized onion and oops more cheese!. thanks.

                                                  1. omg forgot to mention the sauce, tangy and sweet, zesty but not lip scalding and enough in box to use some again on, in my case chicken, but whatever you want. and the service was super.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: lucygoosey

                                                      Awesome! So glad you went and enjoyed. And yes, that sauce. Tell me, am I crazy or is there some seriously exotic Asian type vibe to that sauce?

                                                    2. Great post.....I can't wait to get back to LA...

                                                      1. Went to Phillips at their newer Crenshaw location this Sat nite and ordered what we always get - a slab of pork ribs with hot sauce, a pint of greens and a pint of beans. Excellent as always. I can't think of a time that we had a bad take-out meal from there, but we never waver from this order (well, sometimes we add mac n cheese or their 7-up cake).

                                                        1. Finally made it to Jay Bee's last night, and I have to say I was a bit disappointed. Not bad, but definitely not great, and probably more average than good. I got a 2 way combo (why no 3 ways?) with Pork ribs and chopped beef and also ordered a pork sandwich. The sandwich was the highlight though the pork was not as tender as I would have liked. I think Porkys sandwich is clearly better. The ribs were not quite tender and lacked some flavor. The sauce was not very hot at all (I ordered hot, though I didn't see they have an Xhot option), and pretty average. I only tried a little of the beef, but this wasn't that great. I did like the beans though.

                                                          I stand by Phillips as the best BBQ in LA. I have yet to try Boneyard Bistro, KC BBQ and NY BBQ.

                                                          1. I like Robin's Wood Fire BBQ in east Pasadena and have been eating there for years. The beef ribs are the unnotched type with lots of meat on the bone. The hot links are well smoked and have a dense smoky garlicky flavor. The baby backs are lean and have a nice smoke ring. They use red oak and mesquite for the smoking and you can often smell it a block away.
                                                            The place looks like it's part of a chain but it's a one of a kind place. BTW, the unique wild maine blueberry cornbread and the blue cheese pecan coleslaw are sublime.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: floyd_the_barber

                                                              Meh... Whole Foods is near there and the Q is better. But I agree that Robin's is fun to eat at.

                                                            2. Thanks for the report.I live near KC BBQ and really enjoy this place.I've been to KC a dozen times and this brings me back.

                                                              When the owner was waiting for the new place to open he mentioned a place on Sherman Way that was good.Can't remember the name, know this place?

                                                              1. For a Regional Variation BBQ Newb like myself, help me figure out what I like. I really enjoy heavy vinegar sauces and lots of pulled pork, so I think it may be Carolina style based on what I read below:

                                                                http://bbq.wetpaint.com/page/Styles+o...

                                                                Had Mo's in Pismo Beach over the weekend and loved their Filthy Phil's BBQ sauce.

                                                                Has anyone tried Outlaw's in Playa Vista yet? Especially their baby back. I found their ribs to be better than Baby Blues, Porky's, or Cecil's.

                                                                Any specific Carolina style BBQ places in LA?

                                                                1. I wanted to revive this great post about BBQ with a new recommendation. Although I have posted about this place before, I thought it belonged here with all the great recs for BBQ.

                                                                  Bludso's might be the best BBQ in LA. Although my previous favorite ribs were ones I had from LC's from Kansas City at the BBQ festival, These ribs were superior, fall-off-the-bone tenderness and richly spiced.

                                                                  At the same festival, I had great brisket from Texas. Again Bludso's brisket is a masterpiece; I didn't know brisket could be so juicy and tender. Definitely worth a visit. And Honey's Kettle Chicken is just down the street.

                                                                  El Jeffe: I see why you like Outlaws baby back ribs. They were very tender. Didn't care for the tri-tips, though. I will be back to try the hamburger, though. And more ribs.

                                                                  1 Reply