Food & Drink

The 13 Best BBQ Joints in LA

Published On 05/14/2014 Published On 05/14/2014
Maple Block Meat Co. bbq in Los Angeles
Maple Block Meat Co.

OK, so LA is no Texas. Or Kansas City. Or North Carolina. But, there are still plenty of people (some from Texas... or Kansas City... or North Carolina) who've set up smokers and grills, sourced pork/beef/chicken, and devoted themselves to making delicious, non-Korean BBQ in LA. Here are the 13 best.

Maple Block Meat Co

Culver City

Recently, Maple Block was crowned the king not just of LA BBQ, but BBQ in all of California by a guy who should know: Daniel Vaughn writes about BBQ, and only about BBQ, for Texas Monthly. And he’s right: the brisket here could not be more perfectly moist, the chicken bursts with flavor, and the creamy mac and cheese, while not exactly traditional, is crave-worthy.

MaxCityBBQ

Max City BBQ

Eagle Rock

This relative newbie’s gained a cult following by crushing Southern-style BBQ for the Eastside, wood-smoking ribs and pork into juicy meat-monsters while sourcing local ingredients for collard greens and coleslaw. Also, they catered one of the best weddings I’ve ever been to, and goddamn if it didn’t help make it one of the best weddings I’ve ever been to.

Baby Blues BBQ

Venice and West Hollywood

Alright, we'll admit it's divisive: BBQ purists sometimes hate on this beloved-by-everyone-else mini-chain, but we're going on taste alone. They offer a wider range of sauces and sides that're all great, and the meat is also delicious. Haters gonna hate, but uh, the rest of us gonna eat (and drink -- the WeHo location has a full bar!).

Flickr/Lady Ducayne

Bludso’s

Compton

Sure, Bludso’s Bar & Que -- the fancier La Brea offshoot of this Compton original -- was one of the first new-wave BBQ joints to hit the city, paving the way for a ton of the hipster spots on this list. But pitmaster Kevin Bludso, at the original spot? He was there way, way, way before brisket got trendy. Respect.

Phillips Barbecue

Leimert Park

You're gonna want the rib tips. You're gonna want the sausages. Then, you're gonna want more of the rib tips. Promise.

Flickr/Julian

Bigmista’s Barbecue and Sammich Shop

Long Beach

Back in the day, if you were at any of a myriad of LA’s farmers markets, you couldn’t miss Neil “Bigmista” Strawder, whose pig candy was the stuff of legend. It’s no surprise his strip-mall outpost in Long Beach was a hit out of the gate: the dude knows his ‘cue, which means even on days when he’s not serving those sweet bacon strips, you can’t go wrong here -- especially if he’s serving BBQ buns (think bao + pulled pork. Yeah.)

JR's BBQ

Culver City

This shack-space -- right where La Cienega and Fairfax meet -- is one of those spots you've probably driven by 1,000 times and never looked at twice. Next time, stop: the family-run business busts out great Memphis-style pulled pork, great ribs, and sweet, succulent baked beans.

Jeff Miller/Thrillist

Barrel & Ashes

Studio City

This East Valley joint’s always jammed, and it’s no secret why: Chef Timothy Hollingsworth is one of the most buzzed about toques in the city, and the brisket is proof that his accolades are well-warranted. Also: you gotta get the hoecake, which is on our list of 50 things to eat in LA before you die, and may very well kill you. But it’s worth it, we promise.

El Paso Barbeque Co

Tarzana

Hidden in a Tarzana mini-mall is this long-underappreciated Valley gem with great steaks, better chicken, and bonkers dinosaur-sized beef ribs that're crazily juicy and insanely delicious.

Holy Cow

Holy Cow

Santa Monica

Holy Cow is sort of smothering the Westside, with locations in Santa Monica and Culver City; their menu is more far-reaching than most, with not just the standard brisket, rib, and chicken line-up, but also beef ribs on weekends, fried chicken sandwiches, and an extensive sides menu that includes an insanely great smoky corn chowder as well as kale & quinoa salads, if someone at your table wants to be super-sad.

JNJ Burger & Barbeque

Mid-Wilshire

Don't hit JNJ if you're not into the LA-centric brand of sauce-loaded BBQ. The West Adams stand (which also has one of our favorite off-the-radar burgers) douses its ribs in a sweet, spicy sauce.

Spring Street Smoke House

Spring Street Smokehouse

Downtown

Though this DTLA standby has long been a fave for the hickory-smoked BBQ they offer, they’re known for offbeat dishes, too: they’re probably the only place in town you can get a chicken breast stuffed with onions, jalapeños, and cheese, then wrapped in bacon, then pit-smoked. Read that again. Then go. Again.

Dr. Hogly Wogly's Tyler Texas BBQ

Van Nuys

Since the '60s, this Valley staple has been marinating brisket and spareribs in its distinctive special sauce, served in monstrous -- MONSTROUS -- portions... which is great, because, uh, leftovers.

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Jeff Miller is the editor of Thrillist LA and will have some more pulled pork, please. Mmmmm. Oh, @jeffmillerla on Instagram and @thrillistla at Twitter.

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1. Maple Block Meat Co. 3973 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230 (Culver City)

This Culver City BBQ spot is lead by a Southern-born chef who seriously knows how to work a grill and smoker. The seasonal menu at Maple Block Meat Co. serves traditional American BBQ dedicated to brisket and pork ribs, craft beers, and house-made soda. For lunch, you can order a sandwich and BBQ combo plate while dinner gets a bit fancier with small plates and Scottish ocean trout.

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2. Max City BBQ 4729 Eagle Rock Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041 (Eagle Rock)

Max City, a former catering outfit, launched is going fast-food route with this casual post in Eagle Rock. It’s servin’ up southern-style BBQ brisket, smoked chicken, and pulled pork, as well as homestyle sides like beans and greens. MC’s menu items are a combination of locally-harvested goods with traditional recipies, and the result is some damn good BBQ. Wash it down with some of their craft beer and wine.

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3. Baby Blues BBQ 7953 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046 (West Hollywood)

Baby Blues's a meat temple with a mahogany bar, weathered walls, a mounted Black Angus head, and an open grill line. BB BBQ is servin’ up award-winning smoked meats and distinctive DTLA sauces. The menu features an array of Southern-inspired fixings like baby back ribs, beef brisket and pulled pork served either a la carte, as a sandwich, or plattered with two sides (sauteed okra, mashed sweet potato, stewed tomatoes, etc). Stop in for music and cocktails— BB has collaborated with the popular drinkery Crossing. It’s dinner and a show, done the American way. Check out BB’s sister sites in Venice Beach, San Fran, and (far, far away in) Philly.

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4. Bludso's 811 S Long Beach Blvd, Compton, CA 90221

This BBQ mecca serves up incomparably juicy burgers, thickly shredded pulled pork, and melt-in-your mouth ribs. Opener Kevin Bludso moved to LA from TX, so he specializes in the thick, slow-cooked meat his state is famous for. Sides include baked beans, mac & cheese and potato salad, each perfect in its own right.

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5. Phillips Bar-B-Que 4307 Leimert Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90008

Slow-smoked meats— including burgers, ribs and brisket— are dished up in a casual, rustic setting. They must be doin’ something right because all three branches are successful. Check out Philip’s other locations on Centinela Ave and Crenshaw Blvd.

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6. Bigmista's Barbecue & Sammich Shop 3444 N Los Coyotes Diagonal , Long Beach, CA 90808 (Long Beach)

The first brick-and-mortar from Neil Strawder, aka Bigmista, is cranking out not just the classics (though you'd be hard-pressed to find better pulled pork in town), but next-level dishes as well, like superlatively smoked pastrami and specialty Q-Buns -- rolls with brisket cooked inside.

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7. JR's Barbeque 3055 LA Cienega Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232 (Culver City)

JR’s has been around the block for a few years (since the 90s) and has built a loyal local following. The laid-back, welcoming ambiance makes even first timers feel like they’ve been there before. JR’s offers one of the best deals in town: hearty sandwiches and a side for under $10. v Try the pulled pork— the meat is pulled in thick clumps and then freshly sauced. Their Memphis-style, smoky meats fall right off the bone.

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8. Barrel and Ashes 11801 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

For the best barbecue in Studio City, look no further than Barrel and Ashes. The family-style menu includes out-of-this-world Texas-style brisket, wings, and tri-tip, plus a gooey, buttery, hoecake for dessert. Add a friendly staff, communal tables, and boozy cocktails, and this spot is a go-to for a casual and beyond-satisfying dinner.

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9. El Paso Barbeque Company 18938 Ventura Blvd, Tarzana, CA 91356 (West Hollywood)

This Tarzana BBQ hot spot is a local haven for meat connoisseurs. Get some seasoned-to-perfection baby back ribs, perfectly fried onion rings, or a delicious side of mac and cheese, and rejoice that at least someone in LA knows how to move the needle in the 'cue business.

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10. Holy Cow BBQ 264 26th St, Brentwood, CA 90402 (Brentwood)

Whether you're looking for rubbed-and-smoked pulled pork, baby backs, or house brisket and Texas toast, look no further than Holy Cow. The small, hip joint is a staple for locals. Try the tai-tip meat, twice-cooked fries, root beer candy and passionfruit iced tea.

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11. JNJ Burger Shack 5754 W Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016 (Baldwin Hills)

Hidden behind awnings and an iron fence, this literal shack in West Adams specializes in burgers and barbecue standbys like pork ribs, beef brisket, and pulled pork. The menu is crowded with meats and sides (collard greens, chili fries, mac & cheese), and you’ll have to make a game time decision between the BBQ combo plate and one of the single or double burgers. Before you make any rash decisions, know that the signature Four Finger Burger -- two patties, two hot dogs, three slices of bacon, and an egg -- is unforgettable. Aside from the kitchen, JNJ is outdoors, but there’s a covered patio with picnic tables.

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12. Spring Street SmokeHouse 640 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Downtown)

SS Smokehouse is an American BBQ joint offering hickory-smoked meats, cooked for up to 18 hours to achieve perfection. Beef, pork, links, brisket, turkey, chicken— what more could you need? Besides, of course, some down-home sides like greens, beans and cornbread. SS is famous in LA, and after one bite it’s easy to see why.

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13. Dr. Hogly Wogly's Tyler Texas BBQ 8136 Sepulveda Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91402

Despite the silly name, Dr. Hogly Wogly is prescribing serious BBQ in Van Nuys -- their medications include huge portions of marinated brisket and spareribs, plus pulled pork, hot links, and sides like potato salad and BBQ beans.

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