Feature

LA's 9 Hottest New Barbecue Joints

By Lesley Balla  |  August 1, 2016

When it comes to defining barbecue in Los Angeles, the city's restaurant scene tends to take a global stance rather than a local one. And while Santa Maria–style barbecue is pretty close to home, there's really no such thing as "Los Angeles–style barbecue." Our chefs fuse flavors and techniques from the Carolina, Texas and Memphis handbooks, adding local ingredients and a few culinary twists along the way. The result: Some very delicious 'cue. We have some long-standing favorites, including Phillips, Boneyard BistroBaby Blues, Bludso's, JNJ and JR's, but a new class of barbecue joints also deserve to be added to your smoky, rib-filled list. Check them out below.

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  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    Maple Block Meat Co.
    This Culver City spot offers a mish-mash of all things meaty and smoky that Adam Cole, who serves as executive chef and pitmaster, grew up eating in Texas, North Carolina and Georgia. He also worked with the Lindy & Grundy butcher team for three years, so he and his team are breaking down the animals for the barbecue themselves, which makes a difference. Dry-rubbed and smoked over peach wood — it's indigenous to California and lends a subtly sweet flavor — the brisket, turkey and pork shoulder are offered by the pound, with pork spareribs and chicken offered by the piece.

    3973 Sepulveda Blvd.; 310-313-6328

  • Credit: Barrel & Ashes

    Barrel & Ashes
    This Valley barbecue joint has some serious star power behind it, including chefs Timothy Hollingsworth (former French Laundry chef de cuisine) and Rory Herrmann (Bouchon). The crew ran off to research barbecue across the country with the goal of bringing their collective version of classic barbecue back to LA. It’s all here: brisket, St. Louis pork ribs, Carolina pulled pork, smoked links, fried chicken sandwiches topped with pimento cheese, smoky chicken wings and Frito pie. Get the hoecake, a buttery, salty, sweet cornmeal pancake served piping hot in a cast-iron skillet, and thank us later.

    11801 Ventura Blvd.; 818-623-8883

  • Credit: Max City BBQ

    Max City BBQ
    This Eagle Rock spot features slow-cooked Southern-style ‘cue, especially brisket, ribs, chicken and pulled pork. The latter isn’t mushy as some can be, just really good pork cooked to perfection. Get it on a roll topped with coleslaw or as one option on the Platter of Pork, and order a good craft brew or glass of wine to go with it.

    4729 Eagle Rock Blvd.; 323-254-4227

  • Credit: Bigmista's

    Bigmista's Barbecue and Sammich Shop
    Neil and Phyllis Strawder have made their smoked meats and pig candy at spots around Los Angeles, and they've finally landed in a brick-and-mortar outpost in Long Beach. The brisket, ribs and pastrami — all made with an eye to Texas tradition but with many other influences thrown in — fly out the door, as do the Q Buns, fresh-baked rolls filled with pulled pork or brisket and glazed with a barbecue-sauce-spiked butter. The bowls could be side dishes but are really more like a meal — your choice of meat on top of any side, like potato salad, the sweet pineapple coleslaw, baked beans or greens. Bigmista’s operates as a true Texas barbecue spot should: when it’s gone, it’s gone (so call ahead to make sure it’s still open). 

    3444 N. Los Coyotes Diagonal; 562-283-6590

  • Credit: Holy Cow

    Holy Cow BBQ
    Rob Serritella and the Messhall Kitchen crew opened their first Holy Cow in Brentwood, offering everything from Texas-style brisket to Santa Maria–style tri-tip, Carolina pulled pork, babyback ribs, chicken and more. A second outpost opened in Culver City, bringing even more 'cue, loaded taters, mac 'n' cheese, corn and more to hungry Westside diners.

    264 26th St., Santa Monica; 310-883-6269
    4130 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City; 424-298-8220

  • Credit: Charcoal

    Charcoal
    Not to be confused with Josiah Citrin's meat-centric spot in Venice, this Silver Lake restaurant focuses on Kansas City barbecue, complete with smoked meats, sweet tomato-and-molasses sauce and small-batch bourbons. The space is dark and homey with line drawings of pigs on the walls — just the kind of spot for pork-back ribs, brisket, kielbasa and andouille sausages and other meats. There are also things like pulled-pork banh mi and "buckets of bacon" on the menu. The bourbons come from more than 12 states, with more than 80 different kinds of brown spirits to try (just not all at once).

    2611 N. Hyperion Ave.; 323-300-5500

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    Horse Thief BBQ
    Overseen by Texas expats Wade McElroy and Russell Malixi, the menu at the Grand Central Market stand is everything you'd expect: smoked brisket, spareribs, pulled pork and chicken, ample side dishes and drop-biscuit cobbler for dessert. Dry-rubbed and smoked over oak for more than 12 hours, the brisket often comes two slices per order, one with the fatty cap on it that makes every bite more luscious than the next. Order at the window and grab one of the tables on the patio to grub down, or take it to go. If you stay in, you can now get a beer or glass of wine, and the joint’s open for dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

    324 S. Hill St.; 213-625-0341

  • Credit: Bludso's

    Bludso's Bar & Que
    Kevin Bludso, of the most excellent and award-winning Bludso’s BBQ, lent his name and expertise to the guys from The Golden State, and La Brea Avenue hasn’t been the same since. This combo BBQ joint and bar is known for its brisket, big beefy ribs, smoked chicken, pulled pork and more. In addition to great greens, mac 'n' cheese, baked beans and coleslaw for sides, there are amazing pies from Nicole Rucker, including her award-winning chocolate chess pie.

    609 N. La Brea Ave.; 323-931-2583

  • Credit: Clutch

    Clutch
    Oscar Hermosillo (Cerveteca, Venice Beach Wines) brought his version of Cali-Mex smoked meats to Lincoln Boulevard. You can smell the smoke before you even find the place. Inside, in addition to things like smoked tri-tip, rotisserie chickens, housemade links and slow-smoked pulled pork, there are items like house-cured meats, calamari tacos, grilled oysters, periwinkles and one fine Caesar salad (it has pepitas for crunch). For side dishes, the mac 'n' cheese is totally legit; super-creamy and rich, it has a nice smokiness that complements the meats.

    427 Lincoln Blvd.; 310-396-8749