Los Angeles has arrived as a barbecue city on the national stage. Gone are the days of overcooked tri-tip and too-saucy ribs. Today’s scene is all about growth and personality, as newcomers mix with longtime barbecue restaurants across the region to create an eclectic, unique moment for smoked meat. Pitmasters are turning to family recipes from across the diaspora for inspiration, while the term “barbecue restaurant” grows to include pop-ups, backyard hangouts, garage setups, and just about everything in between. For this list Eater is looking only at the restaurant side of LA’s local barbecue ecosystem; there’s a separate maps for out-of-town barbecue places, too.Read More
20 Essential Barbecue Restaurants in Los Angeles, Spring 2023
Here’s where to get a consistent meal from some of LA’s best barbecue restaurants
This weekly Simi Valley sensation is part pop-up, part restaurant, part meme-generating Instagram sensation. Chef Logan Sandoval makes whatever the heck he wants, every week, from smash burgers to beef ribs and curry noodles to smoked housemate Spam musubi — and the fans can’t get enough. Expect fast sellouts, long lines, and lots of banana pudding for dessert. Address provided after pre-ordering.
Swinging Door BBQ
While LA’s barbecue scene feels like a recent thing, its history goes back decades and is deeper than just the backyard Texas-style stuff in play now. For a glimpse of simple, high quality barbecue done with love (and for the local community) head up to Swinging Door. Lightly charred ribs, fatty brisket, and more come off a unique two-forked off-set smoker, and big take-home platters are always available.
The Memphis Grill
For a taste of Tennessee-specific barbecue, get to the Memphis Grill in North Hollywood. The pandemic-era restaurant has been turning out some surprising meats over the past year-plus, and has big plans to not only grow its menu but also its restaurant, so keep an eye on them for more.
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Sherman Oaks’s Boneyard Bistro has grown over the years to become a kind of timeless gastropub, a place for fried chicken sandwiches, Southern-leaning brunch, and steady drinks to match. But don’t forget about the place’s barbecue backbone, because owner and chef Aaron Robins still knows how to turn out a mean rack of ribs.
Catch this roving barbecue setup all over greater Los Angeles, with routine stops at breweries in Monrovia and Eagle Rock in particular. The barbecue itself is a straightforward Texas affair — including some of LA’s best brisket — but don’t sleep on the smoked beef burgers and other specials, too.
Now with two locations (including the original in La Puente), this east Los Angeles County star turns out a wide array of smoked meats and other dishes, from burgers and ribeyes (and tea-smoked duck breast) to brisket, tri-tip, and St. Louis-style pork ribs.
Bludso's Bar & Que
Bludso’s is an institution at this point, turning out reliable Texas-style smoked meats in a sports bar-like environment along La Brea. Co-founder Kevin Bludso is Los Angeles barbecue royalty, so it’s no surprise this place still draws a crowd. Next up: a new location in Santa Monica.
Black Cat BBQ
Phil Martin doesn’t try to do anything other than what he thinks he can excel at. It’s a beguilingly simple concept for this longtime under-the-radar vendor, who can be found weekly at the Beverly Hills Farmers Market in addition to occasional brewery pop-ups. Martin’s ribs are among the best in town, though his sides like greens and cornbread are essential for really experiencing the full Black Cat experience.
Moo’s Craft Barbecue
Moo’s Craft Barbecue began life as an East LA backyard pop-up before becoming a staple tenant at Smorgasburg LA. Now the family-run setup operates a restaurant of its own, further east in Lincoln Heights. Moo’s serves some of the most impressive brisket and links in LA, if not America, with LA-specific sides like esquites to match.
Burt Bakman and his Slab team serve up some of LA’s top barbecue, starting from a trailer in a backyard and moving on to become a top player in the smoked meat scene. Stop by for Monday pastrami, all-the-time brisket, smoked chicken, and ribs two ways. There are big expansion plans too, starting with the Valley and Pasadena.
Smoke Queen BBQ at Smorgasburg
This Orange County specialist has been anchoring the new smoked meat scene at Smorgasburg in Downtown Los Angeles lately, turning out crispy pork belly, smoked brisket, and a bunch of unique-to-them flavors that make this one of the most interesting new barbecue options to hit Los Angeles in years. The standard hours helps to keep new customers coming, too. Look for a brick and mortar restaurant to open in Garden Grove down the line.
It’s no surprise that long lines snake out of Los Angeles barbecue icon Phillips Bar-B-Que, especially on weekends. This is a classic spot for saucy ribs, rib tips, chicken links, and more.
Lonnie Edwards is the smiling face behind Ribtown, the daily parking lot rib specialist in Jefferson Park. His off-set smoker, small selling trailer, and a few open-air tables are all it takes to turn out some of LA’s most tender rib tips — and don’t sleep on the beef ribs, either.
Owner Alan Cruz loves to keep his menu and his perspective hyper-local with A’s BBQ, the deeply East Los Angeles barbecue specialist. The food is far from traditional and tastier than ever as a result, with rotating items that might include brisket quesatacos, smoked beef cheek, birria sausages, and more.
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Maple Block Meat Company
Maple Block has earned plenty of praise over the years, including from the vaunted Texas Monthly magazine. These days the restaurant continues to turn out barky brisket and tender ribs, while also moving into one-off holiday and weekend menus that use smoked meats as a baseline for so much more.
Big, sticky takeaway platters of pork ribs and slices of brisket are the main attraction at Woody’s, a staple Southern spot that’s been cooking in South LA for a generation. Far from the delicate, salt-and-pepper-only Texas style of barbecue, this is a saucy place to get those hands reliably messy.
The Wood Urban Kitchen
Part sports bar, part late night patio hangout, part barbecue restaurant of Inglewood’s dreams. It’s hard to pin down the Wood Urban Kitchen on Market Street, simply because the restaurant can do it all so well. Swing in for big platters of saucy meats and extra-barky ribs.
My Father's Barbeque
This family-run Carson restaurant is the place for barbecue with heart. The center of My Father’s Barbeque has always been chef and pitmaster Shalamar Lane, who presides over a hulking bespoke smoker to make some of the city’s best ribs, hot links, smoked chicken, and more.
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The so-called Cambodian Cowboy is an outright Long Beach sensation, marrying the flavors of his home country with the perspectives of Texas and the produce of California. It’s a heady blend that makes for some of Southern California’s most delicious and unique meals — think tri-tip bánh mì and heavily-spiced ribs. Find pitmaster Chad Phuong around greater Long Beach, popping up weekly at various breweries.
The beef ribs are a show unto themselves at this East Long Beach pop-up, but the real flavor comes from the family that runs Axiom Kitchen. As one of the area’s hottest new food vendors, Axiom is tasked with feeding crowds that come early and stay late, looking for said beef ribs as well as brisket and candied pork belly cubes.