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Horse Thief, I was robbed!

I can not believe the raves this place is getting! Really! They run out of food and the portions are small, and their seasoning sucks, to much thyme and other herbs. Maybe this is what you call Urban BBQ? Give Me JnJ, Woody's, etc. The portions were so small, I thought I had ordered a a pigeon leg & thigh! Let the the BBQ wars begin! To be fair, they were out of brisket so maybe I will come early and try that. Oh yeah, tell Urban BBQ Boy to drop his attitude!

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  1. If you're going to judge Horse Thief, you should try the brisket, as that is what they are most known for. And the owners/operators are from Texas, not from the city here. Not only is the brisket quite good, but so are the sides.

    45 Replies
    1. re: Wayno

      The brisket is dry and unremarkable. Barely the slightest hint of smoke.

      The rub on the ribs is so overpowering that you can't even taste the pork.

      As for the sides, the greens are easily bested by Bludso's and the black eyed peas were completely missable.

      Great patio setting though, so they have that going for them...

        1. re: jessejames

          I finally tried HT this weekend and agree. The brisket was meltingly tender, but very light on the smoke.

          Pulled pork was exceedingly dry. Spare ribs were tough, nearly jerky-like, and tasted old.

          Mac & cheese was very good, jicama slaw beatiful color but bland and watery. Overall this was an incredibly disappointing meal.

          This place continues the tradition of bad LA BBQ with non-BBQ animals in the name. (Who wants to think of bears or horses while they're eating their meat?!)

          Mr Taster

      1. re: Wayno

        Only good side we had was the slaw. potato salad, meh. Being from Texas does not give you cred. They were out of brisket and rib tips and everything, no mac and cheese etc. I have never been to a BBQ place in L.A. that was out of more things! And yes, BBQ can be great the next day, they just need to learn how to warm properly. If you run out of a special, I get that. J n J does smoked wings on occasion, if they run out, I get it. I have never had them run out of anything else. These guys should know what their usage pattern is! That being said, the chicken was so small, really. I should have taken a picture. I will go back and try the brisket and ribs but I hope they use a different seasoning rub. The sauce was nothing special. Just my 2 cents!

        1. re: Burger Boy

          Don't bother. Brisket is terrible. Both bludsoes better.

          1. re: jessejames

            ...and don't forget Big Mista also opening a brick and morter in downtown soon. my favorite brisket in LA.

            1. re: wienermobile

              gotta hit that up. keep us posted!
              btw, i really enjoyed the rib tips recently at bludsoes on la brea.
              A completely different food than what they serve at horsetheives.
              good bar there too for solo/casual dining.

              1. re: jessejames

                How is the food at Blusdo's La Brea compared to Compton?

                1. re: wienermobile

                  similar if you ask me. I actually prefer the rib tips to the brisket.

                  1. re: jessejames

                    Uh oh. JJ.

                    You may have just started WW111.

                    1. re: kevin

                      compared to horseshit, both bludsoes are superior.

                      I think there's always consistency issues with BBQ with cuts of meat and smoking, but i haven't been disappointed (minus some minor nits here and there) at either bludsoes.

                      1. re: jessejames

                        Nah.

                        :)

                        What I was Getting at was comparing bludso Westside to bludso Compton may just be the proverbial inflammatory or incendiary comment to start a riot on this here board. :)

                        Btw. How's the whiskey prices at Ruth's Chris ????

                        And what do you grab for munches at the bar besides the sliders ????

                        BBQ shrimp ? Gumbo ? Crab cakes ??????

                        Thanks man.

                        1. re: kevin

                          i hated that stupid 'bludoes for white people post'...what a load of shit...they are pretty similar except price. And I'm not seeing a pressing need to drive to the CPT when I'm near the la brea location.

                          i generally just get a real dinner at the bar not happy hour stuff (sliders, crabcakes...don't think gumbo...i will say that the bbq shrimp there isn't as good as it should be/not real nola style, but it's "ok")

                          whiskey prices standard expensive restaurant prices...i basically do up a steak or sometimes a lobster and they take it all out of the shell too, to make it easy and serve it with a drawn butter vessel with candle or something like that below....fries/bernaise....i find their meat itself to still be among the best flavor and most tender, even on the porterhouse. not cheap, but taste and comfortable and generally pretty chill.

                          1. re: jessejames

                            hmm, and i haven't been to ruth's chris in ages, maybe i'll take a lobster out of the shell with fries and bernaise that sounds good.

                            1. re: jessejames

                              OK, re-reading here, first two sentences a bit harsh...i just disagree.

                  2. re: jessejames

                    Bigmista's restaurant will be in downtown at 4th and Main in the Medallion building, which is being transformed into a mixed-use development with almost 100 condos and a large retail area designed to house six restaurants, a permanent farmers market, and several specialty shops featuring local artisans and vendors. Hopefully should open before this summer.

                    1. re: wienermobile

                      I cannot wait!

                      Hmm... maybe I should look for what metro stop it is by, considering downtown parking...

                      WM, I think you are in Hollywoodish, so you'd be by the red line? You lucky boy...

                      We take the goldline and transfer.

                2. re: jessejames

                  I had an awful experience at BFWP™, brisket included.

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/915355

                  I've never, ever been disappointed by the brisket at the real Bludso's.

                  Mr Taster

                  1. re: Mr Taster

                    Have you had the brisket again at Bludo's La Brea recently? I was with you initially, thought it was a bit dry and nothing great, but I think they've "fixed" it. I've had it twice recently, and thought it was much, much better. Juicy, full of fat, and lots more flavor.

                    1. re: VealParmGuy

                      Always good for me. I love the rib tips.

                      1. re: VealParmGuy

                        I have not tried it recently. I was really so terribly disappointed-- it didn't help that during my visit, I was in charge of arranging a BBQ for a large group of my friend's family, who were visiting from England and wanted to try real American BBQ. The food was so terribly disappointing, and I was so cocksure it would be great based on literally (not figuratively) 100% of my Compton visits, that it was a really humbling experience to be sure. I'm sure you can understand why I haven't particular wanted to go back.

                        I've toyed with the idea of talking to Jason about it-- we chatted several times at Golden State about various things, but I haven't had the heart of talk about it. I probably should.

                        And let's not forgot, part of the reason that Bludso's is so great, and the hallmark of any great BBQ place, is consistency at a high level. All BBQ has a range of quality as BBQ is such a fickle thing-- it's art and science mushed into one delicious hunk o' meat. But to consistently serve BBQ at such a high standard-- that's why Bludso's is king and why, for example, Big Mista isn't.

                        If BFWP™ is great on one day and crappy the next, that's a real problem, because I'm paying the same price whether Galuten has had a good day or bad day with the smoker.

                        Mr Taster

                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          Well consistency isn't graded on one stop to a new place. I get your disappointment but it suspect you'll be happier next go round when you're ready. There's certainly nothing better this side of the CPT.

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            "I probably should."
                            ---
                            no, you really shouldn't.

                            The smoker is a living beast. they have bad days, they have humidity problems, cuts come in a bit off, wood a bit wet. too many customers cuz there's a silly BBQ listicle on Saveur, mercury retrograde, whatever. And you're eating bbq at a sat-down, where consistency is a total bizatch.

                            Of all "cuisines", BBQ deserves repeated chances (even Spring Street). Galuten is busting his ass in that shoebox, and the public feedback is mostly positive, which reflects my own experience(s) there.

                            As the guy who was at OG Bludso's probably more than anyone else the first month they were open, let me say some days even they can be off.

                            There is no other equivalent of Bludso WeHo in LA. (Couple of Jews who learned to smoke from a massive talent, pairing TX-style BBQ with full liquor license and some quality beers.) For that story alone, it's worth patronage. It's like the Mozza of BBQ.

                            There's no reason to continue to pit OG Bludso vs. Bludso WeHo. They serve completely different purposes.

                            1. re: TonyC

                              Mo brisket mo better but lost confidence in horse thief which stinks cuz a great location. The best location really

                              1. re: TonyC

                                If you read carefully what I wrote, my point was not that the real Bludso's is perfect all the time-- I acknowledged that all BBQ operates within a spectrum of quality due to the various fickle qualities you mentioned. (I love that I've had the opportunity to use the word "fickle" three times now.)

                                My point is that in the dozen or so visits I've made, Bludso's operates within a range of quality that is consistently higher than any other BBQ I've tried in Los Angeles, including Big Mista. Even on a bad day, they're better than the majority of what I've tried in LA. And to be fair, the quality range of the brisket is so narrow and so high that I find it nitpicking to even mention.

                                So, when we were served slabs of grey, dry leather at BFWP™, it was not just disappointing, it was devastating (and embarrassing). This was a tragic fall from grace of Shakespearean proportions. Greek tragedy-as-meat. And truly a disgrace to Bludso's name.

                                Mr Taster

                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                  Please, for the love of Dog, don't go to the La Brea location again. It's just not worth the possible humiliation and embarrassment. PTBBQS™ (Post Traumatic BBQ Syndrome) is nothing to fool with. If you know what's good for you then I say stay far, far, FAR away from Bludso's La Brea location.

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      I've seen that and it's not pretty. There are guys who've got that Smoke Ring Thousand Mile Stare after having eaten a bad rib. They're never coming back.

                                2. re: Mr Taster

                                  I thought that original review of yours, while thorough, detailed, and well-written, was wildly unfair.

                                  You tried the place shortly after its inception. Bludso (if that is indeed the pitmaster's name) is an artist via talent but also experience. Bludso's La Brea needed time to get its shit together, to put it bluntly. Also, it's pretty bad form to spew hate and condemnation based on an initial visit with no follow-up. Sure, if you think of Bludso's La Brea as the same restaurant as Bludso's Compton then that might be fair. They aren't the same restaurants, despite the name, so the comparison isn't really a fair one. The perjorative Bludso's For White People is also crass and dismissive and beneath you.

                                  You took a huge risk during a time when you needed a sure thing and you got burned. That sucks. But I think you need to step off Bludso's La Brea's balls until you give them another shot or two.

                                  Not saying that Bludso's La Brea is hitting the highs or consistency of the original, but you're being way too harsh on them based on a sample size of 1 and coming up short for your guests.

                                  Time has improved consistency there.

                                  1. re: cacio e pepe

                                    Yes repeating the racial angle isn't really fair. As with getting whited in ktown. I'm not mr sensitivity but just my 2 cents. Enjoy your q

                                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                                      Hell it has a nice bar. You can watch the games. Food specials. It's a great addition to Hollywood.

                                      1. re: jessejames

                                        That's actually what led me back to the brisket, it's become a great option for sporting events (with the exception of the US-Germany game when it was over-run). I've watched the NCAA tournament, Belmont Stakes, and most of the NHL finals at Bludso's and it's fare preferable food and atmosphere wise to your average sports bar. Go there enough, and you're bound to re-approach certain things. That's how the brisket and I made up. Glad I did.

                                        1. re: VealParmGuy

                                          Special BBQ tacos and egg sandwiches for the early nfl games. Full menu for second games at one. I agree completely much better atmosphere and food than other sports bars in the area. Goal? I want to throw up in my mouth thinking about a sports bar with a club atmosphere complete with douchebag at the door.

                                          1. re: VealParmGuy

                                            veal parm, what's your favorite in LA ??????

                                            thanks.

                                            1. re: kevin

                                              On a consistent basis, I'd have to say Smoke City, but I haven't had it that recently. Last time I was there they were out of "fatty", so I was convinced to try their pastrami, which was nothing special. (NB, I don't believe any respectable BBQ place should sell "lean" brisket".

                                              On the other hand, I recently had the Ugly Drum pastrami at Mendocino, and though it didn't have much pastrami taste, it was some of the best smoked brisket I've had recently.

                                              Other caveats - I've yet to try Big Mista or Bludso's Compton.

                                              Before the recent BBQ explosion here in LA, and closer options, I was loyal to JnJ. (Though more for ribs, the brisket wasn't great).

                                              1. re: VealParmGuy

                                                sorry, my bad, i meant for veal parm ??????

                                                thanks.

                                                1. re: kevin

                                                  It's actually more of a story than a preference.

                                                  In the dark-ish ages of the early/mid-2000s before the food scene changed in LA for the better (IMO), there weren't many places eat relatively inexpensively around the WeHo neighborhood some of my friends and I lived in. If we wanted to go out to dinner after work, the convenient options between fast-food and high-end were limited.

                                                  We discovered an italian restaurant named Vivoli, which met our needs. It was better than anything else nearby, and it was affordable. We went frequently enough that the main waiter, Luigi (who I believe is now at Madeo, but he may have moved on from there as well), soon knew us by name. Or I should say, he knew me and one other friend. Our third dining companion must have gone less frequently, as instead of knowing his name, Luigi referred to our friend by his frequent order, "Hey...Veal Parm". When I started posting on chowhound, I adopted the name as an inside joke.

                                                  TL:DR - VIvoli isn't nearly as good anymore, and I usually got chicken parm. I'm more of a Chicken Parm guy at Dan Tana's as well, but when I want the veal I get the Karl Malden. I crave the roasted stuffed veal breast from Dominck's on Arthur Ave in the Bronx, but haven't been able to find anywhere out here that does something similar.

                                                  1. re: VealParmGuy

                                                    I went to vivoli once in the early 00 wasn's a fan. But Tana's is more my proverbial speed. That is if I want to garner one of those bar stools.

                                                    Thanks for the story.

                                3. re: Burger Boy

                                  Bb. How's JJ doing these days ??????

                                  1. re: kevin

                                    I was there about a month ago, still love it, he had the chicken wings when I was there, love den smoked wings!

                                    1. re: Burger Boy

                                      does he still have any desserts besides the sweet potato/sweet potato pecan pies ????

                                      last i heard he used to have peach pie too but i've never had the pleasure of trying it.

                                      Thanks BB.

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        Did not get any desserts the last time I was there. I think there was a Lemon Bundt cake. Peach Pie, never saw that, years ago when his mom's made desserts there was a Peach Crunch Cake, that was good but alas no more.

                                  2. re: Wayno

                                    Maybe it was an off-day for them, but the brisket I had was chewy and lacked any charred bite to it.

                                  3. In years past, wasn't it standard practice to hang a horse thief?

                                    1. I don't get this place.

                                      Dry. Dry. Then more dry.

                                      Then the bland hits you. Followed by more bland.

                                      With a finish of disappointment.

                                      My current least favorite place in GCM.

                                      1. Had their brisket (1/4lb) couple months ago, think it was an early Sunday not a lot of people. Brisket was one piece, thick slab (3/4" thick) beef meat, with tons of glistening fat, pink smoke ring, and smoke flavor approaching medicinal in a good way. Honestly very good and memorable.

                                        Tried Bludso's on fairfax a couple weeks ago, 1/4lb brisket and 1/4lb rib tips. The brisket there was slightly drier, similar smoke flavor, and had slightly less fat. Both briskets were comparable, but I definitely had the better cut at Horse Thief the time I went

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Xan7hos

                                          *sigh*
                                          I'll try again, I suppose. I keep hearing all the right things and then my 2 experiences are so poor. I'll give it one last run as your post has me hopeful again.

                                        2. I've tried their 'Q and though I found it much better than you did, I also found the portion-to-price appalling. I felt ripped off. I basically had a little snack for the cost of a big lunch. No thanks.

                                          1. agreed, was not happy with my brisket. Bludso's is still my go-to for Texas bbq.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: hungrydrunk

                                              I know the Bludso' hail from Texas and they market their 'Q as Texas style, but I still think it reminds me more of Kansas City. Not that that is a bad thing.

                                              1. re: EarlyBird

                                                i don't have a lot of experience with 'Q. But i can definitely say i liked Bludso's more than Horse Thief. Maybe it's time for me to go on a LA / Socal BBQ tasting adventure.

                                                1. re: hungrydrunk

                                                  Yeah, check it out. There's definitely been a boom in the barbecue market here in LA in the past handful of years. My top honors go to Bludso's, Big Mista's, Smoke City and Philips. The latter has been around forever.

                                              2. I do my own briskets and I didn't find Horse Thief's all that bad. I do prefer Bludso's however.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: JAB

                                                  That's what you bringing to the next Chow meet in that case.

                                                2. Agreed.

                                                  Completely sub-par - at best - brisket, which is the only thing I ordered (juicy)

                                                  And ~ $7.50 for this?!?

                                                  I dunno ... I know I can be a brisket PITA, as I grew up visiting family in TX Hill Country every year and eating at the temples around those parts, but this. just. wasn't. good. AT. ALL.

                                                  I don't care if you smoke it for infinity over wood soaked in the tears of angels ... for gods sake, SEASONING.

                                                  So bland, so boring. Didn't even finish what I ordered, and thank god I hit Del Campo first.

                                                  Final Verdict: YAAAAWWWNN

                                                   
                                                  15 Replies
                                                  1. re: a213b

                                                    did they give you 3 pieces of brisket for 7.50?

                                                    "I don't care if you smoke it for infinity over wood soaked in the tears of angels ... for gods sake, SEASONING."

                                                    Best quote from CH in a while.

                                                    1. re: ns1

                                                      Nope. ¼ lb, which is what you see there … the only piece not "attached" is the one on the fork, which was cut from the left side of the longer piece on the top.

                                                      I probably shouldn't complain too much about the QPR, as I read the menu and knew the price for ¼ lb of brisket, but sweet baby Jesus!

                                                      And I'd already forgotten they even offered sauce(s) until I looked at the photo.

                                                      1. re: a213b

                                                        Are you trying to tell me they charge $30/pound for brisket?

                                                        1. re: ns1

                                                          Yup. I mean, I guess.

                                                          Maybe there's a discount for buying a pound?

                                                          I don't mind paying $$$ for amazing, but completely agree with Burger Boy.

                                                          I dunno … at this point I won't return (too much Strike to give them any more shots), but IF reports consistently swing to the positive, maybe then I'll try it.

                                                            1. re: a213b

                                                              go to swinging door instead, it's cheap.

                                                              but for slightly pricier, the best brisket i have ever found in town has been the big mista carts which shows up at a myriad of farmer's markets around town.

                                                              no joke.

                                                                1. re: JAB

                                                                  are you serious ???????

                                                                  i never knew that western bar was that kind of a joint but i really meant (shoot, i'll have to hit it up)…. i must have passed that joint on the way to roma d italia or rather more frequently the japanese croissant joint, cream pan, about a gazillion times, and just thought it was a boring hole in the wall dive (but not too divvy) bar in good old suburban tustin.

                                                                  but i think i meant,

                                                                  http://bbqnorthhollywood.wix.com/swin...

                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                    Oh, Swingin' Door and not Swinging Door.

                                                                    1. re: JAB

                                                                      One gets you 'cue and the other gets you cutie "eye candy".

                                                                      Close enough, I guess.

                                                            2. re: ns1

                                                              I think a 1/2 lb. was $12.50.

                                                        2. re: a213b

                                                          Your picture looks exactly as both my orders have looked.

                                                          I use Franklins (Austin, TX) as my gold standard and Bludso's as my LA standard.

                                                          This didn't cut it. But I did promise myself a third try to rule out all doubt.

                                                          1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                            get on that third try already.

                                                            thanks pepe.

                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                              Trying to try. Did Wexler's today.

                                                              1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                a triptych lunch is what you should have been after.

                                                                horse thiefer, the slut, and belcampo, followed by donuts and a cappachino at g and b, and then make a U-turn to one of the taco joints and then end at valerie's for a dessert or three.

                                                        3. And there's definitely still room in this minuscule world of ours for both types of pastrami.