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The brisket at Rodney’s Ribs is served between plush Hawaiian buns with a drizzle of tangy-sweet sauce.
Chopped brisket sandwich from Rodney’s Ribs.
Wonho Frank Lee

15 Underground Barbecue Pop-Ups Redefining the Scene in LA

Backyards, brewery pop-ups, and on-the-sly meats at your fingertips

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Chopped brisket sandwich from Rodney’s Ribs.
| Wonho Frank Lee

Los Angeles has a long and storied barbecue history, from its cowboy roots and Mexican pit-cooking heart to its more recent run of Black-owned Southern spots and today’s Texas hegemony. Thankfully, some of the city’s best pitmasters are keeping to the underground, using rotating (and often secretive) pop-ups to transform the scene in real-time. There are Chinese- and Armenian-American specialties, Southern traditionalists who love to cook rib tips, and even a take on Carolina-style whole hog barbecue. Here are the stands, weekend Instagram sellers, and backyard barbecue pop-ups to know about; there are separate lists for ongoing, sit-down barbecue restaurants and for out-of-town restaurants, too. Locations are listed geographically.

Added: River St., Black Cat BBQ

Removed: Zef BBQ, OC Smoke Queen, Ugly Drum, Carnivore Kingdom, Avi Cue, Edna Jane’s, the Bad Jew, Black Sugar Rib Co., the Barbacoa Boyz, Scroggin’s, Sweet Smoke

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Atotonilco El Grande

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Gonzalo Ramirez’s impeccable barbacoa is quickly becoming the stuff of legend. This weekend-only underground smoked meat setup sells out fast so be sure to arrive early. Sundays only.

Barbacoa Estilo Atotonilco El Grande
Barbacoa from El Grande
Wonho Frank Lee

iii Mas BBQ

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Young chef Arthur Grigoryan’s Armenian-Texas pop-up has proven to be a hit with people from across the flavor spectrum, thanks to wholly unique dishes like baharat-laced lamb shoulder, basturma-style brisket, and more. Check Instagram for pop-up dates and ordering details.

Rodney's Ribs

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Rodney is as close to a barbecue legend as the Altadena/Pasadena area has. From his tiny parking lot setup off Lake, this longtime star serves some of the city’s best ribs (and more) with lots of sauce and plenty of love. Check Instagram for dates.

The brisket at Rodney’s Ribs is served between plush Hawaiian buns with a drizzle of tangy-sweet sauce.
Brisket sandwich from Rodney’s Ribs.
Wonho Frank Lee

River Street BBQ

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Whether it’s pop-ups, catering, or collaborations, River St. has barbecue fans covered. This roving setup mostly sticks to Northeast LA, including stints at spots like the Fable in Eagle Rock. Expect brisket tacos, loaded nachos, and more.

Herc’s Barbecue

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Texas meats, from brisket to hot links, reign supreme at this low-key home cook operation known for pulling up at breweries around the greater Inland Empire and San Gabriel Valley.

Black Cat BBQ

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This staple barbecue spot has been a fixture in Beverly Hills for several years now, popping up at the weekly farmers market selling ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and lots of sides.

A hand in a rubber glove pulls up a freshly cut rib on a wooden cutting board.
A rib at the ready.
Wonho Frank Lee

Ragtop Fern’s

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Fernando Carrillo is an O.G. by LA barbecue standards. His Koreatown-adjacent sidewalk pop-ups have been running for half a decade at least, a mix of Texas traditions and whatever flavors he feels like pulling from the Los Angeles diaspora. Check Instagram for monthly pop-up dates.

A stack of deep red ribs with char at the edges.
Ribs from Ragtop Fern’s
Ragtop Fern’s

Flatpoint Barbecue

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Danny Gordon’s Flatpoint Barbecue is quickly becoming the stuff of legend. The itinerant stand and smoker have popped up all over Los Angeles, and while they have been doing fewer events of late, expect big lines every time they pop back up.

A full platter from Flatpoint BBQ on a colorful blanket.
Flatpoint Barbecue
Farley Elliott

A’s BBQ

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The city is watching City Terrace pop-up A’s BBQ closely these days, to see what pitmaster Alan Cruz is going to get up to next. There’s lots of East LA flavor and love smoked into each brisket and ribs plate, but Cruz and the team aren’t afraid to mess around with different genres, meals, and styles to suit their weekly pop-up whims. Check Instagram for locations.

Smokey Jones

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You can find this Culver City pop-up operating out of a home garage or taking the show on the road to nearby breweries. Owners Russ and Viv offer a broad array of staple meats for all to enjoy, but the star of the show might well be the slow-smoked turkey. Don’t forget to pick up a pack of rubs or housemade sausages to take home, either. Check Instagram for pop-up dates and times.

Shown from above, a box of smoked meat sits on a street ready to be consumed.
Smokey Jones BBQ
Farley Elliott

Bootsy BBQ

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After parking in the residential View Park-Windsor Hills neighborhood, look for the light plume of smoke and follow your nose to Bootsy’s (there’s a lone speaker playing old-school R&B right next to a giant smoker that tells you you’re in the right spot). The proof is in the technique, which results in gorgeously cooked meats including beef ribs, baby backs, and incredible brisket. Bootsy’s salmon is what gets you, though; it’s perfectly cooked and full of flavor. He operates on Fridays, but DM for details.

Combination platter from Bootsy’s BBQ
Bootsy Barbecue
Courtesy of Bootsy’s BBQ

Ribs in LA

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For great ribs in Los Angeles (as the name implies), it’s hard to beat Ribs in LA. The roving pop-up trailer moves between La Brea and Downtown mostly, so be sure to find their next location in advance when craving perfectly fatty rib tips with lots of sauce. Don’t sleep on the sides, either. Check Instagram for weekly rotating pop-up addresses.

Ribs in LA, a pop up that sells on the streets, turns out crispy rib tips with lots of sauce from a styrofoam container.
Ribs in LA
Farley Elliott

AGL’s Craft Meats

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AGL’s Craft Meats owner Alec Lopez moves across much of Los Angeles, cooking out of a South LA space as well as popping up at locations like breweries and cafes on random nights. The former Pearl’s BBQ employee is best known for his Texas-sized trays of brisket and ribs. Check Instagram for pop-up dates, locations, and times.

A close up of a tray of Texas-style barbecue including pink pastrami, brisket, and more.
AGL’s Craft Meats
Farley Elliott

Daniel's Backyard BBQ

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Want a massive tray of nachos that comes topped with a pound or more of brisket? How about a torta that comes with its own beef rib inside, bone and all? At Daniel’s, the weekly food truck pop-up in north Long Beach, just about anything is possible. Check Instagram for weekly pop-up times.

Shady Grove Foods

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This Long Beach-San Pedro pop-up offers a smattering of different meats and sides, ranging from Louisiana-style andouille sausages to heavily-glazed house-smoked bacon. Be sure to save room for the impressive beans with chorizo, perhaps the best side dish in town. Check the Shady Grove website for weekly pop-up locations, and expect a Long Beach restaurant in the near future.

An overhead shot of a wooden table with trays of smoked meat including cut slices of tri-tip, ribs, a sausage, and more.
Shady Grove Foods
Farley Elliott

Atotonilco El Grande

Barbacoa Estilo Atotonilco El Grande
Barbacoa from El Grande
Wonho Frank Lee

Gonzalo Ramirez’s impeccable barbacoa is quickly becoming the stuff of legend. This weekend-only underground smoked meat setup sells out fast so be sure to arrive early. Sundays only.

Barbacoa Estilo Atotonilco El Grande
Barbacoa from El Grande
Wonho Frank Lee

iii Mas BBQ

Young chef Arthur Grigoryan’s Armenian-Texas pop-up has proven to be a hit with people from across the flavor spectrum, thanks to wholly unique dishes like baharat-laced lamb shoulder, basturma-style brisket, and more. Check Instagram for pop-up dates and ordering details.

Rodney's Ribs

The brisket at Rodney’s Ribs is served between plush Hawaiian buns with a drizzle of tangy-sweet sauce.
Brisket sandwich from Rodney’s Ribs.
Wonho Frank Lee

Rodney is as close to a barbecue legend as the Altadena/Pasadena area has. From his tiny parking lot setup off Lake, this longtime star serves some of the city’s best ribs (and more) with lots of sauce and plenty of love. Check Instagram for dates.

The brisket at Rodney’s Ribs is served between plush Hawaiian buns with a drizzle of tangy-sweet sauce.
Brisket sandwich from Rodney’s Ribs.
Wonho Frank Lee

River Street BBQ

Whether it’s pop-ups, catering, or collaborations, River St. has barbecue fans covered. This roving setup mostly sticks to Northeast LA, including stints at spots like the Fable in Eagle Rock. Expect brisket tacos, loaded nachos, and more.

Herc’s Barbecue

Texas meats, from brisket to hot links, reign supreme at this low-key home cook operation known for pulling up at breweries around the greater Inland Empire and San Gabriel Valley.

Black Cat BBQ

A hand in a rubber glove pulls up a freshly cut rib on a wooden cutting board.
A rib at the ready.
Wonho Frank Lee

This staple barbecue spot has been a fixture in Beverly Hills for several years now, popping up at the weekly farmers market selling ribs, pulled pork, brisket, and lots of sides.

A hand in a rubber glove pulls up a freshly cut rib on a wooden cutting board.
A rib at the ready.
Wonho Frank Lee

Ragtop Fern’s

A stack of deep red ribs with char at the edges.
Ribs from Ragtop Fern’s
Ragtop Fern’s

Fernando Carrillo is an O.G. by LA barbecue standards. His Koreatown-adjacent sidewalk pop-ups have been running for half a decade at least, a mix of Texas traditions and whatever flavors he feels like pulling from the Los Angeles diaspora. Check Instagram for monthly pop-up dates.

A stack of deep red ribs with char at the edges.
Ribs from Ragtop Fern’s
Ragtop Fern’s

Flatpoint Barbecue

A full platter from Flatpoint BBQ on a colorful blanket.
Flatpoint Barbecue
Farley Elliott

Danny Gordon’s Flatpoint Barbecue is quickly becoming the stuff of legend. The itinerant stand and smoker have popped up all over Los Angeles, and while they have been doing fewer events of late, expect big lines every time they pop back up.

A full platter from Flatpoint BBQ on a colorful blanket.
Flatpoint Barbecue
Farley Elliott

A’s BBQ

The city is watching City Terrace pop-up A’s BBQ closely these days, to see what pitmaster Alan Cruz is going to get up to next. There’s lots of East LA flavor and love smoked into each brisket and ribs plate, but Cruz and the team aren’t afraid to mess around with different genres, meals, and styles to suit their weekly pop-up whims. Check Instagram for locations.

Smokey Jones

Shown from above, a box of smoked meat sits on a street ready to be consumed.
Smokey Jones BBQ
Farley Elliott

You can find this Culver City pop-up operating out of a home garage or taking the show on the road to nearby breweries. Owners Russ and Viv offer a broad array of staple meats for all to enjoy, but the star of the show might well be the slow-smoked turkey. Don’t forget to pick up a pack of rubs or housemade sausages to take home, either. Check Instagram for pop-up dates and times.

Shown from above, a box of smoked meat sits on a street ready to be consumed.
Smokey Jones BBQ
Farley Elliott

Bootsy BBQ

Combination platter from Bootsy’s BBQ
Bootsy Barbecue
Courtesy of Bootsy’s BBQ

After parking in the residential View Park-Windsor Hills neighborhood, look for the light plume of smoke and follow your nose to Bootsy’s (there’s a lone speaker playing old-school R&B right next to a giant smoker that tells you you’re in the right spot). The proof is in the technique, which results in gorgeously cooked meats including beef ribs, baby backs, and incredible brisket. Bootsy’s salmon is what gets you, though; it’s perfectly cooked and full of flavor. He operates on Fridays, but DM for details.

Combination platter from Bootsy’s BBQ
Bootsy Barbecue
Courtesy of Bootsy’s BBQ

Ribs in LA

Ribs in LA, a pop up that sells on the streets, turns out crispy rib tips with lots of sauce from a styrofoam container.
Ribs in LA
Farley Elliott

For great ribs in Los Angeles (as the name implies), it’s hard to beat Ribs in LA. The roving pop-up trailer moves between La Brea and Downtown mostly, so be sure to find their next location in advance when craving perfectly fatty rib tips with lots of sauce. Don’t sleep on the sides, either. Check Instagram for weekly rotating pop-up addresses.

Ribs in LA, a pop up that sells on the streets, turns out crispy rib tips with lots of sauce from a styrofoam container.
Ribs in LA
Farley Elliott

AGL’s Craft Meats

A close up of a tray of Texas-style barbecue including pink pastrami, brisket, and more.
AGL’s Craft Meats
Farley Elliott

AGL’s Craft Meats owner Alec Lopez moves across much of Los Angeles, cooking out of a South LA space as well as popping up at locations like breweries and cafes on random nights. The former Pearl’s BBQ employee is best known for his Texas-sized trays of brisket and ribs. Check Instagram for pop-up dates, locations, and times.

A close up of a tray of Texas-style barbecue including pink pastrami, brisket, and more.
AGL’s Craft Meats
Farley Elliott

Daniel's Backyard BBQ

Want a massive tray of nachos that comes topped with a pound or more of brisket? How about a torta that comes with its own beef rib inside, bone and all? At Daniel’s, the weekly food truck pop-up in north Long Beach, just about anything is possible. Check Instagram for weekly pop-up times.

Shady Grove Foods

An overhead shot of a wooden table with trays of smoked meat including cut slices of tri-tip, ribs, a sausage, and more.
Shady Grove Foods
Farley Elliott

This Long Beach-San Pedro pop-up offers a smattering of different meats and sides, ranging from Louisiana-style andouille sausages to heavily-glazed house-smoked bacon. Be sure to save room for the impressive beans with chorizo, perhaps the best side dish in town. Check the Shady Grove website for weekly pop-up locations, and expect a Long Beach restaurant in the near future.

An overhead shot of a wooden table with trays of smoked meat including cut slices of tri-tip, ribs, a sausage, and more.
Shady Grove Foods
Farley Elliott

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