This Taco Costs as Much as a Car
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.
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.
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!).
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.
You're gonna want the rib tips. You're gonna want the sausages. Then, you're gonna want more of the rib tips. Promise.
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.)
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
1. Maple Block Meat Co.3973 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City
2. Max City BBQ4729 Eagle Rock Blvd, Los Angeles
3. Baby Blues BBQ7953 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood
4. Bludso's811 S Long Beach Blvd, Compton
5. Phillips Bar-B-Que4307 Leimert Blvd, Los Angeles
6. Bigmista's Barbecue & Sammich Shop3444 N Los Coyotes Diagonal , Long Beach
7. JR's Barbeque3055 LA Cienega Blvd, Culver City
8. Barrel and Ashes11801 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
9. El Paso Barbeque Company18938 Ventura Blvd, Tarzana
10. Holy Cow BBQ264 26th St, Brentwood
11. JNJ Burger Shack5754 W Adams Blvd, Los Angeles
12. Spring Street SmokeHouse640 N Spring St, Los Angeles
13. Dr. Hogly Wogly's Tyler Texas BBQ8136 Sepulveda Blvd, Van Nuys
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.