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One of LA’s Best Underground Barbecue Stands Got Busted and Fined $1,000

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Plus, Long Beach breakfast sandwiches, Indio’s food vendor solution, and bootleg charity hats?

A full platter from Flatpoint BBQ on a colorful blanket.
A meat tray from Flatpoint Barbecue
Farley Elliott
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Flatpoint Barbecue out of Santa Monica got shut down by city officials over the weekend. The street food setup, while partially permitted as a catering operation, does not have license to vend from the street (few vendors actually do, owing to a variety of issues at the county public health level), and they certainly don’t have the proper paperwork to run a Texas-style offset smoker anywhere in Los Angeles County (nobody does). So what’s it all add up to? There’s the $1,000 fine, which is really a $500 violation for not having the proper business permitting, and a second $500 fine for not having the proper public health permitting, because it doesn’t exist. On top of that, the day’s sales were immediately halted, and apparently there was “a threat of arrest,” per the restaurant’s Instagram stories from the weekend.

As for what’s next, that remains to be seen. So far, Flatpoint hasn’t said publicly if they’ll continue to try to cook on the streets, though given the issues with their other side hustle — Heavy Handed burgers — it’s likely they’ll take some time off to figure out a more stable plan moving forward. More broadly, though, one big question still lingers: When, if ever, will Los Angeles fully permit its first outdoor open-air smoker setup for a barbecue restaurant?

In other news:

  • So apparently there’s a charity-driven hat company selling restaurant merchandise based on particular sports teams and restaurants within one city — so, say, the LA Dodgers and Spago. Per the site (where hats go for $100 apiece) proceeds are donated to the LA Food Bank, in part, but there’s one big catch: It doesn’t seem like the restaurants whose logos are being used actually agreed to any of this. That’s per Alinea Chicago owner Nick Kokonas, who said on Twitter that his restaurant was being used without permission, and that none of the others he has reached out to on the culinary side know anything about it. How odd.
  • Manhattan Beach has once again reconfigured some of its street space for outdoor dining. It’s been a boon for restaurants with little on-site dining space otherwise, reports ABC7.
  • Long Beach’s Lord Windsor Coffee has a new Saturday breakfast pop-up vendor to know about: Breakfast Dreams. The upstart sandwich makers take over where Lowkey Burritos left off.
  • LA Times co-critic Bill Addison recommends making it to the San Gabriel Valley for some takeaway Taiwanese breakfast, particularly at Huge Tree Pastry.
  • Speaking of the Times, check out this story in the California section on longtime LGBTQ Latino Bar the New Jalisco Bar, as it navigates staying open beyond the pandemic.
  • Out in Indio, desert officials have set up a dedicated (and appropriately distanced) food park for independent vendors to sell their wares from carts and stands. It all makes for a great way to support super-local small businesses during the pandemic, says the Desert Sun.
  • Check out this mini-documentary on chef Keith Corbin of Alta in West Adams, done in partnership with the LA Clippers. It’s a great look at one of LA’s most talented chefs, and the path that brought him to where he is today.