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A silver tray filled with smoked meats shown from above.
Smoke Queen BBQ
Wonho Frank Lee

24 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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Smoke Queen BBQ
| 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 sit-down barbecue restaurants and for out-of-town restaurants, too.

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Zef BBQ

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Zef may not just be the best new barbecue to come to greater Los Angeles in the past year; it might be among the best restaurants, period. Don’t mind the fact that this roving setup doesn’t have a solid address (quick sell-outs happen when each menu drops on Instagram, too), because Zef is absolutely worth the wait. With a mix of smoked meat traditions and new-school technique, plus a heavy dose of cross-cultural fun that results in housemade smoked Spam musubi and curry-covered beef ribs, this is perhaps the most exciting place to be eating barbecue right now. Check Instagram for weekly menus and preordering.

Two hands hold a large tray of smoked meat including brisket, photographed from above.
Zef BBQ
Wonho Frank Lee

2. Atotonilco El Grande

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14400 Van Nuys Blvd
Arleta, CA 91331
(800) 777-0133
Visit Website

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

3. iii Mas BBQ

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Northridge
Los Angeles, CA

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.

4. Carnivore Kingdom

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Valley Village
Los Angeles, CA

While Carnivore Kingdom may not keep weekly hours like some of the other barbecue pop-ups in town, most who’ve tried the food agree that this Valley Village backyard operation — complete with Trudy’s Underground Barbecue’s former offset smoker — is worth the wait. Be sure to order lots of brisket. Check Instagram for the next pop-up.

5. Rodney's Ribs

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902 N Lake Ave
Pasadena, CA 91104
(626) 818-7427
Visit Website

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.

6. Avi Cue

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Sherman Oaks
Los Angeles, CA

Part grill master, part Israeli home cook, part backyard smoker with a few big pop-ups under his belt, Aviad Yalin is a certified LA meat star. From his slow-cooked arayes, made with ground beef inside of pita bread (that he makes himself) to smoked oxtails to inch-thick steaks, there’s nothing Avi can’t turn into ‘cue. Check Instagram for his next pop-up.

A tall, thin man works an open grill with meat sizzling.
Avi Cue
Wonho Frank Lee

7. Edna Jane’s

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Hollywood Dell
Los Angeles, CA 90068

True Carolina-style whole hog barbecue, considered by some to be the most singular representation of American barbecue overall, remains something of a white whale around Los Angeles. Owing to local regulations and space constrictions, true whole smoked pigs aren’t widely available at the moment, but that isn’t stopping Edna Jane’s BBQ from popping up regularly with the next best version. Think vinegar-y hand-pulled pork, sides of hush puppies, and all the Carolina fixins, cooked at locations around Los Angeles. Check Instagram for details.

A tray of barbecue, including a smoked half chicken, in a hand in front of a sidewalk.
Edna Jane’s BBQ
Farley Elliott

8. 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.

9. Smoke Queen BBQ

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Winnie Yee​-Lakhani is using her prodigious powers for good. The longtime restaurant entrepreneur keeps pushing the Southern California smoked meat scene forward with her mix of Chinese-American smoked meats (including char siu) and rotating pop-ups and pickups. Order ahead via Instagram for Texas-meets-Winnie meats, available at drops in the San Gabriel Valley and beyond.

A flat-edged knife cuts into a lacquered pork belly on paper.
Char siu from Smoke Queen BBQ
Wonho Frank Lee

10. Ugly Drum

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440 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 424-7485
Visit Website

Who says pastrami can’t be barbecue? That’s the question the Ugly Drum team has been asking for years. The longtime Smorgasburg LA vendors now do robust business selling and shipping their meats online, while still popping up at places like Cofax on Fairfax. Check their website for ordering instructions.

11. Ragtop Fern’s

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120 S Westmoreland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Fernando Carrillo is an O.G. by LA barbecue standards. His Koreatown-adjacent sidewalk pop-ups (using his heavy box smoker named Lucifer) 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 set of beef ribs sit on a black cutting board.
Beef ribs from Ragtop Fern’s
Farley Elliott

12. The Bad Jew

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777 S Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Rebecca King is helping to change the LA barbecue landscape, one barky pastrami-brined pork shoulder at a time. Find her meats done as sandwiches and plates at the weekly Smorgasburg in Downtown Los Angeles.

13. Black Sugar Rib Co.

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777 S Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(718) 928-6603
Visit Website

For extra-peppery ribs and the occasional bite of something truly unique, like alligator), get over to the extra-busy Smorgasburg in Downtown LA for a taste of OG vendor Black Sugar Rib Co.

14. Flatpoint Barbecue

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8850 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232

Danny Gordon’s Flatpoint Barbecue is quickly becoming the stuff of legend. The itinerant stand and smoker have popped up everywhere from Santa Monica to Culver City’s Platform development to Trademark Brewing in Long Beach, never staying in one place too long. Instead, Gordon keeps to the streets (for now at least), selling out of some of LA’s best Texas barbecue. Check Instagram for pop-ups at Platform in Culver City and elsewhere.

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

15. 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.

16. Smokey Jones

Copy Link

You can find this Culver City pop up operating weekly from a garage. 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

17. The Barbacoa Boyz

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3911 Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90037
(213) 747-7111
Visit Website

The Barbacoa Boyz are one of LA’s older pop-up operators, known for putting their own South American/American South/All the way LA spin on meats ranging from prime rib to hot links to brisket and beyond. Catch them during college football season cooking at the Coliseum.

18. Bootsy BBQ

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View Park
View Park-Windsor Hills, CA

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

19. Ribs in LA

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5931 South La Brea Ave
View Park-Windsor Hills, CA 90056

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

20. AGL’s Craft Meats

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8472 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90001

AGL’s Craft Meats owner Alec Lopez has been cooking on and off from the same South LA location for months now, though he continues to pop up at breweries and other venues across Southern California as well. 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

21. Scroggin’s BBQ

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4540 Atlantic Ave
Long Beach, CA 90807

Damien Scroggins is something of a barbecue legend around Compton, known for his weekly pop-ups. Expect lots of sauce, some proprietary rib rubs (also for sale), and plenty of pork, served either as a rib racks or sandwiches.

22. Daniel's Backyard BBQ

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3636 Santa Fe Ave
Long Beach, CA 90810
(562) 486-1930
Visit Website

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.

23. Sweet Smoke BBQ

Copy Link

This ongoing backyard Long Beach setup is all about simplicity. Place an order in advance for brisket, ribs, and whatever else this Austin, Texas-loving cook feels like smoking over the weekend — and if they ever have chicken-fried ribs (pulled from the playbook of Fox Bros. BBQ in Atlanta, Georgia) be sure to give them a try. Check Instagram for pop-up instructions.

A cut of brisket in red paper wrapping with knife for slicing.
Sweet Smoke BBQ
Farley Elliott

24. Shady Grove Foods

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San Pedro
Los Angeles, CA

This steady 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.

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

1. Zef BBQ

Simi Valley, CA
Two hands hold a large tray of smoked meat including brisket, photographed from above.
Zef BBQ
Wonho Frank Lee

Zef may not just be the best new barbecue to come to greater Los Angeles in the past year; it might be among the best restaurants, period. Don’t mind the fact that this roving setup doesn’t have a solid address (quick sell-outs happen when each menu drops on Instagram, too), because Zef is absolutely worth the wait. With a mix of smoked meat traditions and new-school technique, plus a heavy dose of cross-cultural fun that results in housemade smoked Spam musubi and curry-covered beef ribs, this is perhaps the most exciting place to be eating barbecue right now. Check Instagram for weekly menus and preordering.

2. Atotonilco El Grande

14400 Van Nuys Blvd, Arleta, CA 91331
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.

14400 Van Nuys Blvd
Arleta, CA 91331

3. iii Mas BBQ

Northridge, Los Angeles, CA

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.

Northridge
Los Angeles, CA

4. Carnivore Kingdom

Valley Village, Los Angeles, CA

While Carnivore Kingdom may not keep weekly hours like some of the other barbecue pop-ups in town, most who’ve tried the food agree that this Valley Village backyard operation — complete with Trudy’s Underground Barbecue’s former offset smoker — is worth the wait. Be sure to order lots of brisket. Check Instagram for the next pop-up.

Valley Village
Los Angeles, CA

5. Rodney's Ribs

902 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104

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.

902 N Lake Ave
Pasadena, CA 91104

6. Avi Cue

Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, CA
A tall, thin man works an open grill with meat sizzling.
Avi Cue
Wonho Frank Lee

Part grill master, part Israeli home cook, part backyard smoker with a few big pop-ups under his belt, Aviad Yalin is a certified LA meat star. From his slow-cooked arayes, made with ground beef inside of pita bread (that he makes himself) to smoked oxtails to inch-thick steaks, there’s nothing Avi can’t turn into ‘cue. Check Instagram for his next pop-up.

Sherman Oaks
Los Angeles, CA

7. Edna Jane’s

Hollywood Dell, Los Angeles, CA 90068
A tray of barbecue, including a smoked half chicken, in a hand in front of a sidewalk.
Edna Jane’s BBQ
Farley Elliott

True Carolina-style whole hog barbecue, considered by some to be the most singular representation of American barbecue overall, remains something of a white whale around Los Angeles. Owing to local regulations and space constrictions, true whole smoked pigs aren’t widely available at the moment, but that isn’t stopping Edna Jane’s BBQ from popping up regularly with the next best version. Think vinegar-y hand-pulled pork, sides of hush puppies, and all the Carolina fixins, cooked at locations around Los Angeles. Check Instagram for details.

Hollywood Dell
Los Angeles, CA 90068

8. Herc’s Barbecue

Covina, CA

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.

9. Smoke Queen BBQ

Rosemead, CA
A flat-edged knife cuts into a lacquered pork belly on paper.
Char siu from Smoke Queen BBQ
Wonho Frank Lee

Winnie Yee​-Lakhani is using her prodigious powers for good. The longtime restaurant entrepreneur keeps pushing the Southern California smoked meat scene forward with her mix of Chinese-American smoked meats (including char siu) and rotating pop-ups and pickups. Order ahead via Instagram for Texas-meets-Winnie meats, available at drops in the San Gabriel Valley and beyond.

10. Ugly Drum

440 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Who says pastrami can’t be barbecue? That’s the question the Ugly Drum team has been asking for years. The longtime Smorgasburg LA vendors now do robust business selling and shipping their meats online, while still popping up at places like Cofax on Fairfax. Check their website for ordering instructions.

440 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036

11. Ragtop Fern’s

120 S Westmoreland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004
A set of beef ribs sit on a black cutting board.
Beef ribs from Ragtop Fern’s
Farley Elliott

Fernando Carrillo is an O.G. by LA barbecue standards. His Koreatown-adjacent sidewalk pop-ups (using his heavy box smoker named Lucifer) 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.

120 S Westmoreland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90004

12. The Bad Jew

777 S Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Rebecca King is helping to change the LA barbecue landscape, one barky pastrami-brined pork shoulder at a time. Find her meats done as sandwiches and plates at the weekly Smorgasburg in Downtown Los Angeles.

777 S Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90021

13. Black Sugar Rib Co.

777 S Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90021

For extra-peppery ribs and the occasional bite of something truly unique, like alligator), get over to the extra-busy Smorgasburg in Downtown LA for a taste of OG vendor Black Sugar Rib Co.

777 S Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90021

14. Flatpoint Barbecue

8850 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232
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 everywhere from Santa Monica to Culver City’s Platform development to Trademark Brewing in Long Beach, never staying in one place too long. Instead, Gordon keeps to the streets (for now at least), selling out of some of LA’s best Texas barbecue. Check Instagram for pop-ups at Platform in Culver City and elsewhere.

8850 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232

15. A’s BBQ

East Los Angeles, CA

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.

Related Maps

16. Smokey Jones

Culver City, CA
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 weekly from a garage. 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.

17. The Barbacoa Boyz

3911 Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90037

The Barbacoa Boyz are one of LA’s older pop-up operators, known for putting their own South American/American South/All the way LA spin on meats ranging from prime rib to hot links to brisket and beyond. Catch them during college football season cooking at the Coliseum.

3911 Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90037

18. Bootsy BBQ

View Park, View Park-Windsor Hills, CA
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.

View Park
View Park-Windsor Hills, CA

19. Ribs in LA

5931 South La Brea Ave, View Park-Windsor Hills, CA 90056
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.

5931 South La Brea Ave
View Park-Windsor Hills, CA 90056

20. AGL’s Craft Meats

8472 S Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90001
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 has been cooking on and off from the same South LA location for months now, though he continues to pop up at breweries and other venues across Southern California as well. 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.

8472 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90001

21. Scroggin’s BBQ

4540 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90807

Damien Scroggins is something of a barbecue legend around Compton, known for his weekly pop-ups. Expect lots of sauce, some proprietary rib rubs (also for sale), and plenty of pork, served either as a rib racks or sandwiches.

4540 Atlantic Ave
Long Beach, CA 90807

22. Daniel's Backyard BBQ

3636 Santa Fe Ave, Long Beach, CA 90810

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.

3636 Santa Fe Ave
Long Beach, CA 90810

23. Sweet Smoke BBQ

Long Beach, CA
A cut of brisket in red paper wrapping with knife for slicing.
Sweet Smoke BBQ
Farley Elliott

This ongoing backyard Long Beach setup is all about simplicity. Place an order in advance for brisket, ribs, and whatever else this Austin, Texas-loving cook feels like smoking over the weekend — and if they ever have chicken-fried ribs (pulled from the playbook of Fox Bros. BBQ in Atlanta, Georgia) be sure to give them a try. Check Instagram for pop-up instructions.

24. Shady Grove Foods

San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA
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 steady 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.

San Pedro
Los Angeles, CA

Related Maps