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Big Mista's BBQ at your local farmer's markets

  • k

I just tried it recently, after the deluge of posts. Wouldn't have heard about it before if it weren't for chowhound since this BBQ stand does not show up at the big farmer's markets that I usually patronize such as the Santa Monica one or the Hollywood one on Selma on Sundays.

Anyhow, the brisket and tri-tip were really good, one was sliced thicker than the other. i believe the tri-tip was thinner, and both had that beautiful hickory smoke layers prized by BBQ fanatics just like me. the smoke ring speaks of authenticity. both were served sans sauce. but i tore apart some pieces and dipped it into the cue sauce, and the sauce was pretty darn good too. actually dipped the supermarket wheat bread into the sauce too.

the sides, beans and potato salad dusted with paprika felt a little bit more upscale and refined than usual. heck they even tasted darn good additionally, these are not Costco tubs of beans and potato salad.

oh, and i did partake in one of the red velvet cupcakes which was a delicious coda to end the meal. my only problem is the meat seems to be too cold, and more so, why is it that bbq usually seems to be served cold or lukewarm rather than piping hot, migeht be due to the smoker in opposition to the grilling options.

good stuff, not cheap ( a meal will be at least fifteen bucks with a drink but i believe the quality is nothing to sneer at either, so you're paying for the goods.).


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  1. I stopped by Big Mista' on Thursday at the El Segundo Farmers Market. This was the 11th of about 20 local places that I plan to try during my barbecue survey (after which I’ll revisit a dozen or so and then post a report here). Of course, I've been to some of these restaurants, shacks, and tents many times over the years.

    Most of them will be seeing a lot less of me after last Thursday. Big Mista' is the top choice so far -- and by far. I could sense what was coming as I walked up from the downwind side and nearly broke into a sprint 50 yards out. When I reached the tent, a middle-aged customer was just finishing a free sample of brisket. He was licking his fingers lovingly and muttering, as if stunned, “Oh, man! Ohh-man!”

    Comparing Big Mista' to other local Q, I was semi- to fully stunned myself, especially by their pork ribs, but let’s start with the brisket. At this point in the survey, they tie for the best, and the juicier slices would make a solid competitor among the Texas Monthly Top 50 published last year (see: http://www.texasmonthly.com/2008-06-0... ). Big Mista' is my current leader on pulled pork -- moist and flavorful with a fine texture -- but the real winner was their wonderfully tender, juicy, and crusty pork ribs. These honeys would cause a commotion up against the greatest ribs I’ve had in the Midwest and South. (By the way, there's a nice layer of creamy-white fat on the ribs that’s an important contributor to flavor, tenderness, and juice -- it’s easy to trim off on the plate.)

    Further details are coming in my final write-up. I probably shouldn’t have said so much at this point, because wild enthusiasm ought to be based on more than just one visit. But, as that fellow customer noted in his instant analysis, “Oh, man! Ohh-man!”

    You can try this wandering festival at one of their five locations -- see http://www.bigmista.com/vendingmenu.htm for the schedule. Thanks again to Big Mista’s competition teammate, our own Professor Salt, for providing details in a previous thread.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sbritchky

      Hi sbritchky,

      How did I miss this post? :) Wow, this sounds too tempting. :) BTW, why is there great anticipation for Sunday at Atwater? Does Mrs. Mista normally not serve Mac & Cheese except once in a while? Thanks.

      1. re: exilekiss

        Big Mista' BBQ is worthy of your attention, exilekiss. And, yes, Mrs. Mista' makes M&C only occasionally and it's reputed to be outstanding. (I haven't had the pleasure yet, unfortunately.) But get there early, if you're coming on Sunday -- they'll be serving 10a-2p -- because it doesn't last long. As you know, M&C is one of the most sought-after BBQ accompaniments, so excitement is already building around the city, babies are squealing with joy and delight, ...!

    2. i thought that Big Mista was showing up at the Atwater Farmers Market on Sundays on Glendale Ave. right off the 5 freeway... am i mistaken? please advise. would like to try some one of these days... : )

      8 Replies
      1. re: HerbyN

        it shows up tues, wed, thurs, and sat, as well as sundays at various farmer's markets.


        1. re: HerbyN

          As reported in a nearby separate thread, they plan to serve Mrs. Mista's mac & cheese this coming Sunday in Atwater. Great anticipation from us Big Mista' fans.

          1. re: HerbyN

            Atwater Village at the Wells Fargo Parking lot. Sundays 10am-2pm.

            1. re: monku

              They run out so don't go late!

            2. re: HerbyN

              Big Mista was in Atwater when I was there a week and a half ago.

              1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                SLG, is there anyplace to sit down with your BBQ at the Atwater FM, or do you have to eat in the car?

                1. re: sbritchky

                  They have some tables to sit down and eat right across from their stand.

                  1. re: sbritchky

                    There are tables but I noticed the whole layout of the Atwater market in recent weeks has gotten very cramped.

                    Big Mista was so crowded it was clearly going to be a big wait. Eating at Delmy's Pupusas I eat sitting on a ledge at the bank with the plate in my lap.

              2. Dammit, I wish you people would stop yakking about Big Mista BBQ ... at this rate they'll've sold out by 10:05 and I'll *never* get a chance to try any!

                2 Replies
                1. re: maxzook

                  That's why I make sure I'm there by 9:45 (they're open for biz), beat the crowds and get good parking.
                  It's worth the hassle.

                  1. re: monku

                    Grab a Danish, stir some milk into that pulled pork, and you've got an outstanding BBQ breakfast!

                2. If you're in the South Bay on Wednesday afternoon check them out at the Lawndale CFM. Not too crowded, free street parking.
                  Their brisket sandwich is darn tasty, fairly generously portioned and reasonable at $4 each.

                  Torrance Certified Farmers Market
                  2400 Jefferson St, Torrance, CA

                  Lawndale Farmers Market
                  147th St and Hawthorne Blvd, Lawndale, CA

                  El Segundo Farmers Market
                  Main St and Pine St, El Segundo, CA

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Chow Down Hound

                    Are you saying at the Watts Farmer's Market, there's not that big of a turnout. It the Watkins park within 5 or 6 blocks of the Watts Towers and Community Center, which if I remember correctly is on E. 108th St.

                    1. re: Chow Down Hound

                      Where did you get the information about Lawndale, CD Hound? Their Web site still lists it as the location for Wednesdays.

                      1. re: Chow Down Hound

                        Yep, they are not at the Lawndale one. When I asked about Big Mista, the manager's who run the market said Big Mista would not be there, but "an even better BBQ will be there called Britt's." that was according to here, it would be hard for a new cue joint to measure up to Big Mista at least as far as brisket is concerned.

                        1. re: kevin

                          Spotted Britt's a few weekends ago in a Harbor City parking lot (PCH btwn. Western & Normandie next door to Harley Davidson). They run a pretty sizable operation supported by a giant RV & a pretty big crew, one of whom told me they'd be at that spot weekly during the coming summer. They were running out of stuff when I got there, but I did manage to snag a 1/2-slice of brisket from the staff. Didn't get any sauce with that bite, but the meat was solid... smoke ring and all. Wasn't floored... but then what do I know about brisket? Never been to Snow's in TX or whatever. One interesting thing to note is that all the plates were under $10, the spare ribs coming in at exactly 10, if I remember correctly. No a la carte listed, but they told me they'll do it if you ask. Weird, I always thought that's how BBQ joints make the big $$$. They were also really pushing the catering side of things. The owner-lookin' dude even asked me if I own a business, to which I replied: no.

                    2. I posted my review of Big Mista's tri-tip here:


                      Atwater Village Farmers' Market
                      3250 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039

                      1. Ok, I went and got some Big Mista BBQ today at lunch at the Torrance FM and the brisket blew me away. I don't know that much about BBQ, but I have eaten at some of the well-thought-of places on Crenshaw and various other parts of LA. Big Mista's brisket was so amazingly soft and tender, juicy yet smokey. It's changed my whole perception of what BBQ brisket can and should be like.

                        We got there at like 11:50am and I was afraid they had run out of meat since there was only one person in line. As we finished eating and were walking out, I saw over 25 people in line. And the line doesn't move that fast so I would suggest going earlier.

                        1. Chowhound works! Had to try Big Mista's after discovering the posts.

                          Went with a couple of buddies of mine for lunch today in Torrance (farmer's market). Asked 'em to hook us up. We were ready to try everything. Got a full rack of ribs, some tri-tip, brisket, pulled pork, potato salad and coleslaw. We couldn't get enough, yet is was too much. Excellent, since we'll have more for tomorrow!

                          As expressed over and over again, Big Mista rules. This is some of the best dry rub BBQ in SoCal. And to top it off, Neil's a super nice guy. Chatted with him about his start, and how things are going (WELL). This is the third time a chowhound rec has blown my buddies socks off, so consider them Chowhound devotees now as well. BTW, according to the big guy, Mrs. Mista will have Mac n Cheese at El Segundo this Thursday.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: bbirch

                            Thanks for the post and the update on Mrs Mista's famous mac n cheese at El Segundo. I plan to be there even tho I was just there last week.

                            1. re: Ogawak

                              Finally made it to Big Mista's at Atwater today. And a big thank you to Chowhound. Wow!!! He was late in setting up because there was a problem on the 5. We were first in line and our food order kept getting larger with the wait. It was worth it and then some. Ribs, brisket, beans, greens, mac and cheese (which is normally not my thing), red velvet cupcake, peach cobbler....... everything is wonderful....the best BBQ we've had in years!!! We'll be back. Thank you all again!!!!!!

                          2. I have had BigMista's several times and quite honestly, I found it to be.........the best bbq I've had in a long time!! I try Q from all parts of the country and find his to be among the best. I just tried a place at a market in the Inland Empire this past weekend and found it to be very good as well. Not quite as good as Mista's, but if you are out in the area on Sat mornings, it's pretty good. It's in Corona and I can't remember the name, it's the only one selling BBQ there at the Corona farmers market though. I will post again when I find out the name.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: willwork4bbq

                              Please find that name in Corona, Will Work. If it can even be mentioned in the same breath as Big Mista, that implies bbqworthiness.

                              1. re: Harry Nile

                                It's at the Corona Farmers market just north of the 91 fwy on Main/Rincon. The bbq booth is Macks, I believe. It was the only bbq place that day. Not sure if there is more than 1 other weekends. Still looking for other places out that way as well. The few storefront ones are not very good in the area.

                                1. re: willwork4bbq

                                  "The bbq booth is Macks, I believe."

                                  I'll try it the first Saturday morning I'm in the area. Thanks for the heads up, Will Work.

                                  "Still looking for other places out that way as well."

                                  I don't know what direction you come from to get to the Corona FM (in the Sears parking lot, as I understand it), but about 20 miles west of there along the 91 you'll find Blake's ( www.blakesplacebbq.com ) in Anaheim, which, IMHO, is significantly exceeded only by Big Mista (in food -- other places much further away have BBQ nearly as good as Blake's without the neo-warehouse ambience). Of course, Blake's pulled pork doesn't reach the Big Mista standard, but it's mighty good -- both firm and tender, moist shreds mixed with tangy burnt ends; you might have them put the sauce on the side until you see whether you like their style -- and I'd choose it over the great majority of BBQ joints mentioned on this board. Maybe I should shut up, however, so that I don't have to share Blake's with anyone other than local cops, firefighters, softball teams, and the OC Weekly food staff.

                                  Blake's Place
                                  2905 E Miraloma Ave, Anaheim, CA

                                  1. re: Harry Nile


                                    I am going to try Blakes this Sunday. I went by the Corona "MACKs BBQ" place again a couple of weeks ago and had outstanding pulled pork with side of mac/cheese. They make sweet spicy pickle chips as well (HOT).Bought a lb to take home too! I need to see if Blakes is open on Sunday.

                                    1. re: willwork4bbq

                                      Will Work, I still haven't made it to Corona when Mack's is in operation, but I'm trying.

                                      I'm glad to hear that you'll be heading over to Blake's. They're now open on Sunday, but, as usual, call first before going too far out of your way. Based on several visits over the last couple of months, I'd recommend baby backs, pulled pork, and brisket in that order. Last summer, the corn on the cob was fantastic -- probably the sweetest and crunchiest I've had in a restaurant -- but with the primary growing season past, the corn was semi-to-fully pedestrian a couple of weeks ago. They do have a nice salad menu if you want something vegetable with the meal.

                                      Be sure to report back.

                              2. re: willwork4bbq

                                I went to Big Mista at the Torrance Farmer's Market. I enjoyed the ribs. Thought the bbq brisket sandwich to be texturally unappealing (mushy and fatty) and I ended up throwing it out (brisket too fatty and the roll they served it on turned to mush). I enjoyed the flavor of the spicy pig candy (spiced brown sugared bacon strips) but wished it was a bit crisper.

                                1. re: DrBruin

                                  The trouble with a lot of BBQ brisket around Los Angeles -- and increasingly even in Texas, sigh -- is a lack of fat and too little crust (or bark) on the beef. I'm the first to admit there are many miracles in barbecue, but, generally, inadequate fat and crust lead to dry and tough meat and a dull, uniform flavor. Not at Big Mista, however, because their brisket has a reasonable amount of well-flavored crust (ask for extra if you like it) and ample tenderizing, juice-ifying fat. If you want to avoid visible fat, follow James Beard's advice and just "cut it off at the table," although that can be hard to do when the table is the hood of your car, and the meat is hidden in a bun. That's why I get their brisket by weight and keep the bread separate (and non-mushy). Then I can use my soon-to-smell-fabulous fingers on the great, juicy brisket and eat around or pull away any fat I don't want -- and take a chomp on a slice of my bread-napkin when I feel the need. (Forks are for the beans, greens, and mac & cheese.)

                                  BTW, DrBruin, if you felt the pig candy wasn't crisp enough, tell them next time, and I'm sure you'll get it the way you like. I've found the Big Mista crew, led by Neil Strawder, to be friendly and interesting folks and eager to have satisfied customers. If Neil isn't too busy, take a little time and talk to him while he's slicing and pulling and kibitzing, and you'll see what I mean.

                                  1. re: Harry Nile

                                    Thanks for the comments, HN. Unfortunately, James Beard wasn't there to give me that advice, a knife, or a table. It went from their hands to my mouth within 3-5 minutes. Their buns were like those cheap, spongy hot dog buns that you can buy in bulk (...a Wonder bread consistency). They should either toast the rolls or buy a different roll to serve their meats in. I think the ratio of fat-to-meat that I was served was unacceptable (to me). I shouldn't have to bring cutlery to re-prep the meat once I buy it. I prepare brisket a few times a year, and I leave the fat cap on when I cook it to keep the brisket moist, but remove most it (and any little bits of vasculature and connective tissue) before serving it. With respect to the pig candy crispness, unless asked about the level of doneness I prefer, I feel obliged to taste it as served. Doing so otherwise is like salting foods served to you prior to tasting it. Since I liked the flavor of the pig candy, I may try it again but ask for it to be crisper (since the bacon they used was meaty). I'm not sure who Neil is but your description didn't describe anyone at their booth. There was a friendly, obese woman at the front count, an older lady who wasn't talkative walking the food from the prep area to the front, and a seemingly older, nonverbal, thin man who was the "cook." It didn't appear busy but it seemed like the 2-3 orders they did have was overwhelming them.

                                  2. re: DrBruin

                                    Unfortunately, many establishments buy brisket "points", which are trimmed of most fat instead of buying the cryovac sealed whole brisket....which will give you a nice fat layer (nad better marbling). Also, Orange County does not allow "real" wood burning pits in restaurants (or didn't when I was involved in a Seal Beach establishment) ...and L.A. County only allows them when "grandfathered" in or when used to Que outside. This faxctor alone...being forced to use a pellet type smoker or other...can definitely affect the end product....such as "mushy" brisket when trying to reach the proper tenderness.

                                    1. re: JazzBeau

                                      Not to debate you and maybe I don't understand, but that rig they use at Lucille's BBQ uses real wood.

                                      1. re: JazzBeau

                                        Aside from the bizarre "pulled" or "stringy" version at Baby Blues, "'mushy' brisket" is a rarity in my experience. Tough, tasteless, and dried-out brisket is the usual problem at LA BBQ restaurants. I am, unfortunately, beginning to see more of that at favored Texas haunts during recent trips home, a sure indication that the world is coming to an end. We should be grateful to a handful of local barbecuers, especially Big Mista, who can produce tender, juicy brisket.

                                        I think we need more information about what can and cannot be done in Orange County commercial establishments currently. My two favorite OC BBQ cafes (Blake's in Anaheim and Beachwood in Seal Beach) both advertise wood smoking on their Web sites. For example, the reference to their "high-tech wood burning barbecue pits" at www.blakesplacebbq.com and the claim of ribs and meats "slow smoked with applewood, pecan & oak" on the menu at http://beachwoodbbq.com. No mention of sawdust pellets at either site.

                                        I wonder if our resident BBQ cook, competitor, and expert, Prof. Salt, could chime in here with a few words of wisdom?

                                  3. How's the service at Big Mista BBQ locations?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: masi

                                      You order, they give it to you, you pay...they seem friendly about it.

                                      1. re: masi

                                        As Monku says, it's not a sit-down restaurant, it's a booth at a farmers' market. The longest I've had to wait in line was ten minutes. It's worth it.

                                      2. Adding a link to the Eagle Rock Farmers Market, where Big Mista appears on Fridays from 5 pm to 8:30 pm.

                                        Eagle Rock Farmers Market
                                        2200 Merton Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90041

                                        16 Replies
                                        1. re: maxzook

                                          Good info, more convenient than waiting until Sunday morning at Atwater Village.

                                          1. re: maxzook

                                            ... and to the Watts farmers Market, where they can be found Saturdays 10 am-2 pm.

                                            Watts Healthy Farmers Market
                                            1335 East 103rd Street, Los Angeles, CA

                                            1. re: maxzook

                                              As of 10/10/09 Bigmista's Barbecue will no longer be at the Watts Farmers Market or the Lawndale Farmers Market.

                                            2. re: maxzook

                                              BigMista's is no longer at the Eagle Rock Farmer's Market. "Not enough support." Shame.

                                              1. re: Peripatetic

                                                Peri, did you hear that directly from Big Mista? Eagle Rock is still listed on their Web site.

                                                I always catch them at the very pleasant El Segundo FM, but losing Eagle Rock is indeed a terrible shame just after they made the Ultimate Los Angeles Restaurant list for the first time and were also named the top BBQ spot by myfoxla.com, among other honors.

                                                1. re: Harry Nile

                                                  Yes, heard directly from Mr Strawder.

                                                  1. re: Peripatetic

                                                    but they are still at the Atwater farmers market, i take it? yes? no?

                                                    1. re: HerbyN

                                                      Yes, Bigmista's Barbecue is at the Atwater Village Farmers Market Sunday 10-2p.

                                                      1. re: bigmista

                                                        Any chance you guys will show up on the westside any time soon? Also, you should really look into the truck thing.

                                                        1. re: a_and_w

                                                          El Segundo is west.

                                                          We have no plans for a truck. A permanent location would happen first.

                                                          1. re: bigmista

                                                            Smart move. Trucks will soon be yesterday; permanent locations are ... well, permanent.

                                                            1. re: maxzook

                                                              Permanent locations are both impermanent (as we have so amply seen during this economic malaise we've been going through) and much more expensive to run than either trucks or farmers markets, so the movable feast idea is not a bad one from certain important perspectives....

                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                Also, BigMista is basically following the truck model already by picking a regular rotation of locations and posting the schedule on-line.

                                                            2. re: bigmista

                                                              Bigmista, you're correct that El Segundo is west. But we Westsiders consider anything south of LAX the South Bay. Westchester is the border for the "Westside".

                                                              At any rate, I haven't been to your El Segundo site in a while. I'm due for a load of brisket and pork and beef ribs.

                                                              1. re: Ogawak

                                                                He had replied to one of my posts asking about him coming to the SM FM, and said they were on the list, but it is LONG.

                                                                1. re: mdpilam

                                                                  We are now in the Torrance Market on Saturday. We are going to check out the Barnsdale market today.

                                              2. I've tried Big Mista's three times at the El Segundo farmer's market on Thursdays. My two big complaints are that I don't care for their beans and that unless you get there early, they're always out of something. But what they do have is well worth the effort. Some of the best ribs and pulled pork I've had in town.

                                                1. I have not read every comment here, so perhaps some agree with me. But I just tried the Big Mista's pork ribs this Sunday at Atwater FM. What the!?!? This is what people are raving about? The texture was ALL WRONG, way too mushy, which renders the flavor way too mute, sorry but this just does not work for me.


                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: la tache burger

                                                    You must have got a bad rack.
                                                    I've bought them several times and meat has always been tender firm and hardly any fat left.

                                                    1. re: la tache burger

                                                      Not sure where else you're going to get your pork ribs, but I've yet to have a bad rack of ribs from them. (El Segundo farmer's market.) Texture's always been good and smokey flavor is always evident.

                                                      1. re: la tache burger

                                                        Mushy? Not with the Big Mista ribs I've had several times. monku's right -- the texture is always "tender firm." The flavor is also great. Try them again, la tache burger, and mention your last experience.

                                                        1. re: Harry Nile

                                                          I had a feeling this was gonna be the response. I will definitely try again although under normal circumstances (i.e. not a big chowhound positive sentiment) I would have ended with that one experience. I was so bummed I didn't even try the brisket, which I was planning on doing. But, yes, they were mushy, not tender or firm. And the flavor was not there.

                                                          1. re: la tache burger

                                                            Big Mista reads these posts. Next time you go tell them about the mushy ribs and I'm sure they'll make sure you don't have that experience again.
                                                            They are some of the best pork ribs in this town.

                                                            1. re: monku

                                                              Well, they inspire passion and loyalty, that is for sure.

                                                      2. I finally tried Big Mista's at the Torrance Farmers market yesterday. I got the brisket sandwich with sauce. oh.my.god. I thought I died & went to heaven. I have never had brisket that tender & flavorful. And the sauce is perfect. I can't wait to try the pulled pork next weekend.

                                                        1. Tried Big Mistas on Sunday at the Torrence Farmers Market. Ordered a sampler plate with sides. Probably close to $30 but plenty enough food for two.

                                                          Pluses - Pulled Pork, Brisket, Red Velvet Cupcake

                                                          Minuses - Beans, Slaw (prefer mayo based slaws), links, BBQ Sauce

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: FeedMeSeymourImHungary

                                                            Interesting... was it a sour slaw, or just regular coleslaw with no mayo?

                                                            1. re: a_and_w

                                                              We serve Pineapple coleslaw. It's a vinegar based slaw.

                                                              1. re: bigmista

                                                                Thanks, bigmista -- sounds delicious!