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Spread at Barrel & Ashes
Spread at Barrel & Ashes
Wonho Frank Lee

The Essential Barbecue Spots in Los Angeles

Keep it smokey, LA

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Spread at Barrel & Ashes
| Wonho Frank Lee

While not traditionally considered to be a standout in the barbecue universe, Los Angeles has come into its own with a handful of places that are guaranteed to satisfy — at least until the next trip to Austin. There are old school favorites, new school options, food trucks, and fusion iterations galore, each turning out their own take on everything from brisket to beef ribs. It’s a good time to be eating meat in Los Angeles.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Bludso's Bar & Que

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Ever since this popular Compton barbecue spot opened an outlet on La Brea, it's shaken up the local 'que game. The team behind the Golden State teamed up with Kevin Bludso to bring his unique brand of Texas-style barbecue to Mid-City, with marvelous brisket, superb ribs, and great sides. There are strong drinks and food-friendly beers at the bar, plus plenty of televisions to catch a game.

Barrel & Ashes

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Studio City might have one of the top barbecue spots in the city right now thanks to the efforts of chef Tim Hollingsworth. With a true Texas style cue, the environs are a little more comfortable than the average smoke house, with a fine cocktail program and chef-driven sides like a buttery hoe cake that go perfectly with the ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and smoked chicken. Just know that the prices might be a little higher than what you'd expect.

Horse Thief

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Adjacent to Grand Central Market, this true Texas barbecue takes a decidedly simple approach, with smoked barbecue placed simply on a tray, sides, and white bread (unlimited, upon request). The ribs and sausage are respectable, but the brisket is the draw, as any Texas-style barbecue should be. On its best days, the smoke ring is thick and the flavor is unparalleled. Just be sure to ask for "moist" brisket.

Phillips Bar-B-Que

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An old standard in South L.A., Phillips is old school barbecue done right. The flavor is spicy, the meat is tender to the bone, and the sauce is righteous. What more could you want from barbecue? Before the newer places opened up, Phillips was considered one of the best barbecue spots in the city by Jonathan Gold.

Baby Blues BBQ

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An old Venice standby with an offshoot in West Hollywood, the Memphis-style ribs tend to get the most attention here, while the brisket sandwich on ciabatta, while not perfectly authentic, is still great in a pinch for those living on the Westside. The West Hollywood location is a little more spread out, which makes for a fine Sunday afternoon barbecue meetup.

Big Mista's BBQ Long Beach

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With a brick & mortar spot in Long Beach, BigMista's is a local favorite that just makes great 'cue, no matter the particular style. The pulled pork and the ribs are the things to order, though there are plenty of sandwiches to choose from as well, like the "sammie" loaded up with half pound of brisket.

JNJ BBQ

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The semi-outdoor location of this South L.A. barbecue spot makes the experience that much better. Order at the counter (with the smokers behind in the yard), and take a seat at the picnic style tables. The meat itself isn't revolutionary or mind-blowing, but sometimes digging into a tray of brisket and ribs is the perfect antidote to boredom. Cash only.

The Park's Finest BBQ

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This Filipino-style barbecue has many fans on the Eastside, with very low prices that make it easy to try much more than one would typically want. The pulled pork is an excellent choice, along with the dry-rubbed chicken. Don't skip the cornbread with coconut cream cheese.

Holy Cow BBQ

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This barbecue spot in Brentwood (and CUlver City) has a reliable selection of very good barbecue, including fantastic tri-tip and ribs, if those are your thing. The sides are top notch and the service is better than what you'll get anywhere else.

Peaches Truck

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Less a true smokehouse and more a colorful Southern restaurant on wheels, the Peaches’ truck nonetheless turns out dishes like a fine Alabama-style smoked chicken with white sauce, plus pulled pork, fried chicken sandwiches, and occasional specials, plus the usual array of barbecue sides like baked beans and coleslaw.

Maple Block Meat Company

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Relative newcomer Maple Block has earned high praise almost since the day it opened, even being named a top brisket option by the barbecue head behind Texas Monthly magazine. The lines have subsided somewhat since those frenetic early days, but it’s still best on weekends to arrive early for that brisket, lest they run out.

Max City BBQ

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A Kickstarter project turned brick and mortar, Max City BBQ is a fan favorite that’s starting to hit its stride. Early issues have largely faded away, and now the Eagle Rock Boulevard restaurant is pushing quality versions of St. Louis-style ribs, brisket, tri-tip, and more.

Ray's BBQ

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Ray’s has been quietly serving the Huntington Park area for two years, doling out brisket, ribs, and links imported straight from Texas. They’re also doing interesting takes on modern barbecue, like occasional tacos, inventive burritos, and brisket nachos.

Bludso's BBQ

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The father of ‘em all. Kevin Bludso’s original outlet in Compton more than deserves the frequent praise it receives, despite being nothing more than a takeout window with a well-deserved line. Bludso’s secrets and high work ethic have since taken him around the world, opening Bludso’s Bar & Cue on La Brea and another in Melbourne, Australia of all places.

Handy Market

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A Saturday-only feat of meat-eating, the Handy Market on Magnolia is a pilgrimage for barbecue fans. Folks line up early every weekend for a chance at everything from ribs to smoked links to chicken to tri-tip, with grilled corn making for the perfect side.

The Hungry Pig

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Open since 2013, The Hungry Pig is a modern take on Southern barbecue. There’s the usual pulled pork and beef rib options, but you’ll also find Chinese-spiced pork belly and a chicken satay with peanut sauce. Don’t skip on the fun sides like curried potato, either.

Beachwood BBQ & Brewing

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The Seal Beach location of Beachwood BBQ is perhaps the most beloved of them all, thanks to their array of smoked chickens, pulled pork, ribs, and more. You’ll also get nachos, burgers, and some of the most revered craft beer (made by them, of course) anywhere in California.

Boneyard Bistro

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This enduring Sherman Oaks barbecue joint has one of the most impressive beer selections in town, all the better to enjoy the Kansas City and even Santa Maria-style 'cue. When it doubt, go for the ribs.

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Bludso's Bar & Que

Ever since this popular Compton barbecue spot opened an outlet on La Brea, it's shaken up the local 'que game. The team behind the Golden State teamed up with Kevin Bludso to bring his unique brand of Texas-style barbecue to Mid-City, with marvelous brisket, superb ribs, and great sides. There are strong drinks and food-friendly beers at the bar, plus plenty of televisions to catch a game.

Barrel & Ashes

Studio City might have one of the top barbecue spots in the city right now thanks to the efforts of chef Tim Hollingsworth. With a true Texas style cue, the environs are a little more comfortable than the average smoke house, with a fine cocktail program and chef-driven sides like a buttery hoe cake that go perfectly with the ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and smoked chicken. Just know that the prices might be a little higher than what you'd expect.

Horse Thief

Adjacent to Grand Central Market, this true Texas barbecue takes a decidedly simple approach, with smoked barbecue placed simply on a tray, sides, and white bread (unlimited, upon request). The ribs and sausage are respectable, but the brisket is the draw, as any Texas-style barbecue should be. On its best days, the smoke ring is thick and the flavor is unparalleled. Just be sure to ask for "moist" brisket.

Phillips Bar-B-Que

An old standard in South L.A., Phillips is old school barbecue done right. The flavor is spicy, the meat is tender to the bone, and the sauce is righteous. What more could you want from barbecue? Before the newer places opened up, Phillips was considered one of the best barbecue spots in the city by Jonathan Gold.

Baby Blues BBQ

An old Venice standby with an offshoot in West Hollywood, the Memphis-style ribs tend to get the most attention here, while the brisket sandwich on ciabatta, while not perfectly authentic, is still great in a pinch for those living on the Westside. The West Hollywood location is a little more spread out, which makes for a fine Sunday afternoon barbecue meetup.

Big Mista's BBQ Long Beach

With a brick & mortar spot in Long Beach, BigMista's is a local favorite that just makes great 'cue, no matter the particular style. The pulled pork and the ribs are the things to order, though there are plenty of sandwiches to choose from as well, like the "sammie" loaded up with half pound of brisket.

JNJ BBQ

The semi-outdoor location of this South L.A. barbecue spot makes the experience that much better. Order at the counter (with the smokers behind in the yard), and take a seat at the picnic style tables. The meat itself isn't revolutionary or mind-blowing, but sometimes digging into a tray of brisket and ribs is the perfect antidote to boredom. Cash only.

The Park's Finest BBQ

This Filipino-style barbecue has many fans on the Eastside, with very low prices that make it easy to try much more than one would typically want. The pulled pork is an excellent choice, along with the dry-rubbed chicken. Don't skip the cornbread with coconut cream cheese.

Holy Cow BBQ

This barbecue spot in Brentwood (and CUlver City) has a reliable selection of very good barbecue, including fantastic tri-tip and ribs, if those are your thing. The sides are top notch and the service is better than what you'll get anywhere else.

Peaches Truck

Less a true smokehouse and more a colorful Southern restaurant on wheels, the Peaches’ truck nonetheless turns out dishes like a fine Alabama-style smoked chicken with white sauce, plus pulled pork, fried chicken sandwiches, and occasional specials, plus the usual array of barbecue sides like baked beans and coleslaw.

Maple Block Meat Company

Relative newcomer Maple Block has earned high praise almost since the day it opened, even being named a top brisket option by the barbecue head behind Texas Monthly magazine. The lines have subsided somewhat since those frenetic early days, but it’s still best on weekends to arrive early for that brisket, lest they run out.

Max City BBQ

A Kickstarter project turned brick and mortar, Max City BBQ is a fan favorite that’s starting to hit its stride. Early issues have largely faded away, and now the Eagle Rock Boulevard restaurant is pushing quality versions of St. Louis-style ribs, brisket, tri-tip, and more.

Ray's BBQ

Ray’s has been quietly serving the Huntington Park area for two years, doling out brisket, ribs, and links imported straight from Texas. They’re also doing interesting takes on modern barbecue, like occasional tacos, inventive burritos, and brisket nachos.

Bludso's BBQ

The father of ‘em all. Kevin Bludso’s original outlet in Compton more than deserves the frequent praise it receives, despite being nothing more than a takeout window with a well-deserved line. Bludso’s secrets and high work ethic have since taken him around the world, opening Bludso’s Bar & Cue on La Brea and another in Melbourne, Australia of all places.