While Kansas, Texas, and Tennessee (and a bunch of other states, really) continue to duke it out over the best barbecue style, Los Angeles can stay serenely above the fray. L.A.’s top BBQ restaurants offer up whatever style suits your fancy — and because this is L.A., they do it with sophisticated menus, custom libations, and deliciously stylish digs. Grab your friends and have a taste of the city’s best BBQ restaurants.
Bludso’s Bar-&-Que, the Compton-based, Texas-style barbecue joint, recently arrived in Hollywood with a hip facelift. The open dining hall, buzzing with chatter and Motown classics, is full of delicious smoky smells from the kitchen. And despite the trendy location, the hotspot hasn’t left behind its homestyle roots: Table are bare-bones simple, with just a roll of paper towels in the middle.
Go all-in with your buddies and order the tray, which is loaded with brisket, pulled pork, rib tips, and chicken. The must-try sides are the creamy mac & cheese, the tangy spiced collard greens, and, of course, the sweet cornbread. Wash it all down with one of their signature cocktails, like the jackpot – bourbon with a sweet ginger kick. The food arrives quickly, so get your chatting out of the way fast and get ready to get messy. Texas-style “slow and low” is how it’s done at Bludso’s, where all the barbecue is rubbed and smoked to perfection. The rib tips are so full of spiced, smoky flavor, you don’t even need the Texas-style sauce served on the side. But you’ll slather some on anyway, because it’s just that good.
Barrel and Ashes
Nothing epitomizes L.A. barbecue like a highbrow, classically trained chef whipping up pork rinds and Frito pie – and that’s exactly what you’ll find at Barrel and Ashes. One of the hippest new BBQ restaurants in Studio City is serving packed houses every night at the small, barn-like setting decked out in warm wood and chalkboard menus. Order a few selections to share from the family menu, like the smoked and spice-crusted juicy brisket, or the falling-off-the-bone spare ribs, grilled and slathered in sweet-and-sour St. Louis-style sauce. Pass around the pans of meaty goodness along with some tasty snacks and sides, like the toasty shells and cheese and the hoe cake – a syrupy cornbread-pancake hybrid served up in a cast-iron pan.
Of course, no chic barbecue would be complete without fancy cocktails. Try the signature “bee’s nuts,” or bourbon mixed with a smoky stout beer and sweetened with honey and a citrusy hint of lemon.
The California flag hanging on the back wall, featuring a cow in place of the bear, really sums up Holy Cow perfectly: barbecue with Golden State flair. Place your order at the counter, where you can opt to share the combo plate of meats, like the smooth, smoky tri-tip, served with a thick, tomato-based Kansas-like sauce. Or get your mitts around one of their tasty sandwiches, like the hog: Carolina-style, slow-smoked, pulled pork pilled high on a brioche bun and dripping with tangy Carolina-style vinegar-based sauce.
Whatever you choose, sides are must. Slop a big scoop of the bacon-laden beans onto your plate, and make sure friends don’t take all the cheesy loaded tots before you get yourself a big, messy handful. Take over one of the wooden communal tables in cozy dining hall and enjoy the scents wafting from the kitchen as you wash everything down with a pint of local-brewed wheat beer.