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TX. BBQ coming to Van Nuys:

Just heard about this TX. BBQ joint that's moving into the old Hot House location on Van Nuys Blvd near Magnolia next to Sumo Sushi.

Has anybody else heard about this yet?

We could use a good barbecue restaurant in that area.

Thank you,


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  1. Stuart, you already have good bbq in the area as you well know - the boneyard bistro.

    This place is owned and presumably operated by one Michael Gans who is a bar owner who wants to get into the food business. He owns the Den in Weho, has been or still is involved with the Fifth on Riverside & Whitsett. If you get good food, great, but don't hold your breath.

    This location has a VERY checkered past, meaning Pampas Cafe before Hott House which was there for about 30 minutes, and previously Natural Gourmet and prior to that, the best one of all, Zio & Co., still the best and most lamented Italian restaurant in the valley that no one, save a few of us, ever knew.

    This new place will be called Smoke City Market, so the dba on the ABC license shows.

    1 Reply
    1. There's nothing at the Web site but a rambling essay on Texas BBQ -- no indication that they know more about the subject than you can find on Wikipedia or that the kitchen team has a Texas background. An la.eater article says the whole concept is based on one trip to Texas by the owner. It advises, "Think along the lines of Texas' Luling City Market, Smitty's and Kreuz's," casually naming three of the giants of Texas BBQ (no doubt getting the idea from the Smoke City flack). Imagine if someone from Bakersfield had a couple of meals at Langer's and then announced he was opening a deli in his hometown with great Langer's-style pastrami. Would you believe it?

      Incidentally, la.eater, "Luling City Market" is a second-rate place in Houston. I hope you're thinking about the City Market in Luling, Tex., a whole 'nother animal.

      All that said, I'm ready to declare Smoke City great, if it is. The proof is in the tasting, not bungled PR. According to latest estimates, we need approximately 10,000 more good BBQ places in Southern California, so let's keep our fingers crossed.

      4 Replies
      1. re: hnsbmg

        You must have missed this part of my post: still under construction:

        And if you already think a place is going to be bad, why even bother going?

        1. re: reality check

          I wasn't replying to your post, R.C., and did not complain because the Web site had nothing about menus, hours, etc. My gripe was, how can they scoop up all that boiler-plate -- implying they are Texas BBQ experts -- without including one or two sentences describing their experience actually cooking Texas BBQ?

          "And if you already think a place is going to be bad, why even bother going?"

          My answer was: bad PR doesn't necessarily imply bad food, and we need more good BBQ places in California. So I'm ready to try almost anything.

          Smoke City has missed its first chance to impress, but I do intend to give them a shot.

          1. re: hnsbmg

            missing credentials aside, the views expressed in the second half of the webpage have my full approval. =)

        2. re: hnsbmg

          Kreuz's in Lockhart outside of Austin Texas is the best BBQ I've ever had. This new place has a lot to live up to if they're throwing out names like that.

        3. I'm no BBQ expert, but "smoked over natural oak" sounds good.

          I live in Van Nuys, so I hope this joint is a success. That location DOES seem to be jinxed, though.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Dogbite Williams

            Hopefully, it will be better than the terrible BBQ I got at Mom's the other night. The beef ribs were so dry, they had the texture of beef jerky. (The fried chicken, on the other hand, was fantastic.)

            1. re: Jwsel

              Anything other than pork at Mom's is a mistake. Plus beef ribs always suck.

          2. According to Smoke City Market's Facebook page, they are having a soft opening tomorrow. But, no phone number listed.


            1. There is a good bbq place in the area: Ranch House on Van Nuys & Calvert. Maybe not the most "authentic" in Chow terms, but it tastes like 'cue & it's still pretty darn tasty, as other reviews on the web will attest.

              1. I live in Texas and give them a plus one for no gas, just wood.

                5 Replies
                1. re: James Cristinian

                  "I live in Texas and give them a plus one for no gas, just wood."

                  Lotta gas on the Web site. According to the la.eater story, this guy's barbecue experience in Texas amounts to exactly one visit to the Lone Star State. Let's see if he understands what to do with that wood. Looking at the Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ list that came out a couple of years ago, even many actual Texas places have lost the art, according to my Texan tastebuds on recent trips around the state. So I'm not optimistic, but not yet pessimistic. I'll drop by Smoke City after they settle in for a few weeks and hope for juicy, crusty brisket.


                  1. re: Harry Niletti

                    A friendly reminder, folks. The virtues of real Texas barbecue are out of scope for this board and we have removed some out of scope replies to this thread.

                    1. re: The Chowhound Team

                      Does anybody have the restaurant phone #

                      If they're open I would like to give this a try this week?

                      Thank you

                      1. re: Hypnotic23

                        It appears that at the moment you need to use email (and maybe they can give you a phone number that way): ryan@smokecitymarket.com

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Don't hold your breath waiting for a reply. I emailed him when Smoke City Market was first mentioned on CH. Still no reply.

                          Maybe a friendly local CH, can drop by and get a phone number and/or their hours.

                2. smokecitymarket.com

                  So my boss and I love barbecue. I'm from the South and like it slathered in sauce, and she's from Texas and likes the dry rub. So when she sent me the link to this place, I was skeptical. But I love meat, just in general, so I decided to be a trooper. Got there and the owner was really cool. Gave a spiel about why Texas bbq was special and how long they brined/smoked stuff, blah blah.

                  But we showed up at about 7:30PM and they were out of a LOT of things, but I ordered the baby backs and boss got the brisket. Also got the tomato/cuke salad, macaroni and cheese and owner included free chili and corn on the cobb. First thing that annoyed me was the cuke/tomato salad wasn't made fresh. It was pre-packed and sitting in a fridge. It was limp like it had been sitting there for quite some time, and all the flavor was gone.

                  And then being a Southerner who's speciality is mac'n cheese, I was nervous about ordering it so owner let me try a sample. It was creamy but not as cheesy as I usually like. Meh.

                  Then, since you can see them preparing your food directly behind the counter, noticed they were pulling the meats out of this steel hot storage-looking thing where everything was Saran-wrapped. They cut off generous portions and served it on a tray lined with butcher paper. I will say the brisket looked absolutely juicy and delicious as they were cutting it up, so despite my issues with the salad, I was stoked and ready to dive in.

                  We sat down to eat and the first thing we noticed was that nothing, besides the mac, was hot. The meat was a bit above warm and it was off-putting to be honest. Like, why? Anyway, boss and I ended up sharing our meals and her brisket was great. Even though it was only slightly warm, the smokiness and the flavor was yumptious. My baby backs, even though he said it was one of the best batches he'd ever made, wasn't really impressive to me. I tried saucing it out, but the one flavor of bbq sauce they have is overly vinegary. Not good. The corn on the cobb, cooked in its husk, was gray looking and overdone, and the free chili he gave us to try was oddly sweet and I would never pay for it to be honest.

                  Overall it was great to get out and support a new business and try a new bbq joint. The owner was awesomely nice and talked to us a bunch, but I'd never go back there again unless someone else was paying for it. Meh.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: AhnaNymous

                    Yeah, any thread about BBQ usually goes into the dark part of the woods, but still... First, I have found that beef is best at lunch. I have had most dry BBQ beef after dark as it tends to dry out all day. (and BBQ is easier on my system at lunchtime, but that's not important now.)
                    I tried Smoke City Market at noon last week and I was pleased with the brisket. I got the mix of "juicy" and "lean" watching them cut each from opposite ends of the same brisket. The meat was about the prettiest I've seen. I had the cole slaw w/apple and tried my friend's pit beans; both were good.
                    My problem area was the single beef rib I ordered. It too was a thing of beauty, a Flintstone sized bone with a steak atop it. Just gorgeous to look at, but the meat literally (seriously) fell off the bone and it tasted less beautiful than it looked and again it just seemed un-naturally tender. The big problem was the price, way far, too excessively over-priced. But it did look spectacular.
                    I like the sweetish tomato-based BBQ sauce but I really, really liked the vinegar/pepper sauce.
                    I will return for the brisket and pit beans, and try the sausage and the rest of the menu.

                    1. re: Otius Gojius

                      I had the same experience with the pricing of beef rib when I went a few weeks ago. The listed price was by the half-pound, but a single rib was about a full pound. The one beef rib I got was over $15. I will say that I thought the flavor of my rib was excellent.

                      However, the definite way to go at Smoke City is with the brisket. I got the mix of lean and juicy and it was fantastic -- tender and with great flavor. I was less impressed with the pork ribs, which I found fairly bland. I also wasn't a big fan of their sauce, though, but then I prefer very sweet BBQ sauces.

                      The sides are a weakness. Other than the grilled corn on the cob, most of the sides were so so. I did not like the pit beans, but that may be a matter of personal preference, as I like sweetish BBQ beans. The mac & cheese also was just so-so.

                    2. re: AhnaNymous

                      We went a couple of weeks ago and I have decided that while it will never live up to Louis Mueller's outside of Austin, it's the best thing I am going to find in Los Angeles.

                      The brisket, a mix of juicy and lean was seasoned well and as advertised. The juicy was flavorful and moist while the lean was just that. Lean. Not great beyond that (at least to my taste) but others in my party enjoyed it.

                      The chicken had a nice smokey flavor and was pretty great. Even the white meat was pleasant and well smoked. I'm generally not a fan but I would eat it again off of someone else’s plate.

                      The hot link left no impression. I think it had a good spice and a nice snap but beyond that I'm just not interested in a hot link.

                      For me, the star of the meal was the pork ribs. Oh the pork ribs. The meat fell off the bone. The smoke flavor was solid but not overbearing. I thought about them for a couple of days after...not a dry one in the bunch. Someone mentioned a problem with food temperature. We never had an issue so it was either resolved or his experience was a one-off issue.

                      The mac & cheese was good. Was that an onion flavor in there? I'm not a huge fan but I ate it up and asked for more. The baked beans were a pass for me. Too sweet but the purple cabbage....? GREAT. Weird, I know but I loved it. I also loved the barrel of sauerkraut on the table.

                      Shiner in bottles completed the meal. And unlike Kreuz's, my knife isn't chained to the table.

                      Would I go back? Sure. Would I order anything other than the pork ribs and a side or two? Probably not. But those were good enough for me.

                      1. re: lolabelow

                        Oh, the experience of driving out to Taylor, Texas and stepping back in time eating that brisket with your fingers next to the local faithful cannot be duplicated here in Los Angeles.
                        But then neither can we enjoy the long gone beef ribs (hot sauce, please) from Leo's BBQ on Crenshaw.
                        I returned to Smoke City Market and the plain chopped beef sandwich was delilghtful, just the way I want it. I like the vinegar/pepper sauce so I was very happy.

                        1. re: Otius Gojius

                          We made this our lunch spot for today and really enjoyed it. I had the 1/3 a pound of the pork ribs and a side of potatoe salad. Let me tell you these pork ribs were so tender and the meat fell right off the bone, the smoke flavor add such flavor and you didn't need to add any sauce at all. The potatoe salad was nice just a bit to vinegar tasting for myself. I also had the small portion of brisket which I shared with my friend and that was just as good adding their table sauce to it hit the spot. My buddy ordered 1 beef rib that waited 1/2 a pound, he could barely finish it. He did say my pork ribs were much better and he would order those next time. His side was the mac and cheese, I tried it, while it was good, nothing to rave about. I will return for the ribs, very soon.

                    3. I was extremely dissapointed with this new place. I am not a fussy eater but for just over $8 i received 2 ribs where the meat was kept heated all day (I assume) because the meat was rock hard and only in the middle of the bones. There were only plastic knife's and fork's and no plates. All in all i felt this was not good value for money as the food was bad!!