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Seeking good Carolinas-style BBQ on the Westside (vinegar-based sauce, fall-of-the-bone tender)

I want to know who in L.A. serves respectable Carolinas-style BBQ ribs, very tender with vinegary sauces. This can be the East Carolina variety that's largely vinegar and peppers, or the Western Carolina Dip style that adds in a tomato component (also called Lexington Dip or Piedmont Dip) or even South Carolina Mustard Sauce.

I want to avoid Memphis, Kansas City and Texas variety sauces ... no thick, no chipotle ... and no dry ribs!

There's a taxonomy of BBQ and sauce types here under the "United States" heading:

I did have some decent tender ribs with a rather sweet but vinegary sauce at Britt's BBQ, a new place in El Segundo.

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  1. I haven't found any Carolina Q in LA. Baby Blues attempts a Carolina style pulled pork sandwich, but fails.

    1. I'm shocked to hear of the place in El Segundo, because the only acceptable Carolina 'Q I've had in SoCal has been the stand at the Orange County Fair.

      East Carolina is my preferred barbecue and it just ain't happening here that I know of, Westside or not.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Das Ubergeek

        Well, let's just say it's the closest I've had here in L.A. so far, and it's been awhile since I had bona fide Carolina style. It's sweeter than what I like but is a welcome break from all the gooey-sauce-on-dry-ribs BBQ out there.

        Please vet the place by more Chowhounds before driving across the entire expanse of L.A. on my mention, in other words.

        On a non-Chowhound board the reviews ran the gamut from great vinegar-based sauce to someone who claimed it came off like a "sugar infused teriyaki sauce" (which it is nothing like).

        Man, I miss SE BBQ, Cuban food and hot wings now. (I know wings are NY, but they're nearly an official food of Florida these days.)

      2. While I can't say it's authentic Carolina BBQ, I can't say enough great things about the Spring Street Smoke House. It's phenomenal BBQ and I head there whenever I'm downtown (which isn't all that often).


        1 Reply
        1. re: mrsantora

          Spring Street is most definitely not Carolina 'Que.

        2. not westside, but the only place where i've had passable south carolina style mustard-based bbq is zeke's smokehouse. there's one in west hollywood (or thereabouts) and one in montrose.

          i've been looking for 10 years, and there is no eastern carolina barbecue anywhere in LA. lots of people who call it carolina-style even though the flavoring and saucing is completely unrelated (usually some generic thick, sweet stuff)

          1. check out bigmistas for some very, very good barbecue. This guy does it right. And a little apple vinegar in the sauce makes it work just right. He hits up different farmers markets from Watts to Glendale (no longer at the Lawndae one, but the website has not been updated). Check him out slanging slow cooked ribs and brisket at a famers market near you


            1 Reply
            1. re: erice008

              BigMista is the best Q in LA (IMO), but it is definitely not Carolina style.

            2. Gee, I thought that Carolina style 'Q was either butts or whold hog, not ribs, and usually "falling off the bone" means oercooked.

              4 Replies
              1. re: rich in stl

                Speaking as someone who once lived in North Carolina and still visits often, I say right on, on all counts, rich in stl.

                Double, triple, fipple right on, mdpilam. Big Mista is certainly the best in LA. Having spent much of the summer on a long BBQ road trip through Texas, the South, and the Midwest, I think they're also equal to or better than the best in the vaunted pits of BBQ country USA -- on ribs, brisket, and pulled pork, an amazing achievement. Big Mista's is not Carolina Q, for example, but their pulled pork (a Carolina specialty) is better than at Lexington #1, my favorite place out there.

                We have a real BBQ gem right here in Los Angeles finally, and we should support it and help preserve it.

                1. re: rich in stl

                  We split some general discussion of Carolina style BBQ over to our General Chowhounding Topics boards so more people can participate in the conversation: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/655102

                  1. re: The Chowhound Team

                    Thanks, and apologies for the digression.

                    The split thread has a typo in the title: "Caroline" instead of "Carolina" - will be more easily searched-for if someone has time to correct that.

                  2. re: rich in stl

                    Yeah, to me, "falling off the bone" ribs means boiled or steamed.

                  3. i've been meaning to try britt's, but have only heard bad things so far.

                    territory is northern carolina style. i haven't tried the pulled pork, but it has a reputation for inconsistency. i've tried the baby back ribs, and they were overly charred and smokey; you could barely taste the meat. worth a try, though. the collard greens and biscuits with apple butter are pretty good.