In L.A., it’s always barbecue season, and I’m obsessed.
To me, even “OK” barbecue is better than most of the fast food options floating through the thought process, but when you score the goods at an independent joint–there are few eats in life that are so enjoyable.
Living in the greater Los Angeles area for several years, I’ve had the pleasure of trying many-a-BBQ joints, and to be quite honest, I’m often left with something to be desired. At first I was slightly disappointed with what I was finding, but I simply thought to myself, “Dig deeper, James.” So I did.
This is my list. Not one I jacked from another blog. Not one I compiled based on customer reviews. It is completely subjective. Some people roll their eyes at the thought of “sauce” with their BBQ, but I can roll both ways, and because of it, I’ve found a few gems that I consider my L.A. BBQ faves.
Robin’s – East Pasadena
I love this place. Robin’s Wood Fire BBQ & Grill offers smoked and grilled delights, and everything I’ve had here, I have enjoyed. I had a feeling I’d enjoy the place by simply seeing the name of the establishment. The fact that they understand BBQ and grilling are two different things, means we’re of the same mind.
They’re big on sauces, and they offer a few inspired, yet uniquely-Robin’s offerings. I really love the Memphis Red Vinegar, and the Carolina Sweet Mustard (a Carolina taste-tradition that I fell in love with a few years back.) The interior is what you’d hope for, devoid of pretension and boasting paper towel rolls on the tables. And the prices? Completely affordable.
Zeke’s Smokehouse – Hollywood/Montrose
Offering a couple locations in greater L.A., Zeke’s Smokehouse is the place to go for brisket. To me, the true test of a BBQ chef is smoked brisket, because it takes time. And by time, I’m talking hours upon hours to turn out a delectable beef brisket. Zeke’s is simply the best brisket I’ve had outside of Texas. Everything on the menu is worth a try, including the sides, and if you go with a group, the Family Feast comes in at just over 50 bucks, and will feed more than a few substantial appetites.
Handy Market – Burbank
If you’re cruising down Magnolia Blvd. near Buena Vista on a Saturday, you can’t miss the smoke coming from Handy Market. Seriously. Can’t miss it. Handy Market is a family owned and operated grocery store in Burbank that offers a slice of yesteryear, is adored by locals and on Saturdays, the parking lot is transformed to a grill/smokestravagana. The best ribs…I have ever had. The beef tri-tip is amazing, and so is the grilled chicken. How they keep it so moist, I still don’t understand. They make their own sauce, complete with a scent to make your mouth water. And if you love potato salad and sides, simply hit their deli.
(Image via: The Mantuary)