The Best BBQ Restaurants in Los Angeles

Smoky, slow-cooked perfection

Mount Malindang Pork Ribs & Riblets at The Park’s Finest

 |  Photo:  Joshua Lurie

No matter what anybody claims, grilled meat is not barbecue. Other restaurants call items BBQ when the meat has clearly been roasted. Barbecue requires slow-cooking meat with wood smoke until the protein becomes infused with flavor. L.A. is gaining smoky momentum. Austin legend La Barbecue will open a second location in Los Angeles, and Adam Perry Lang recently opened a 143-seat barbecue palace, APL Restaurant at Hollywood and Vine. Learn about 11 of the best smoke-buffeted stops across Los Angeles County.

Tri-tip sandwich at Barrel & Ashes | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Barrel and Ashes



Barrel & Ashes is a new school barbecue spot from Sprout Restaurant Group, located in the former Studio City home to Spark Woodfire Grill. Chef Timothy Hollingsworth lived in Houston and Bandera, Texas. Hollingsworth, Rory Herrmann, and on-site chef Michael Kahikina all put their stamp on the smoker, which burns red and white oak. The meat comes from purveyors like Salmon Creek Farms (pulled pork and spare ribs), Mary’s free range (chicken) and Greater Omaha C.A.B. (Santa Maria tri-tip and brisket). Even beets get smoked at Barrel & Ashes, producing a brilliant salad with peaches, pistachios, burrata, and arugula. Some of their most popular dishes actually have nothing to do with ‘cue. Their hoe cake comes in a cast iron skillet, bombed with butter, honey, and scallions. Frito pie arrives in the bag with chili, cheddar, sour cream, and scallions. Barrel & Ashes also has an ambitious bar program with some of the Valley’s best cocktails.

Bartz Barbecue brisket, beef ribs and pulled pork

 |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Bartz Barbecue



Surveillance camera professional Dustin Bartz lived in Austin for a few years and became enamored with central Texas barbecue. When he relocated to L.A. and saw the dearth of quality Texas-style barbecue options, he opened Bartz Barbecue, a roving barbecue company that sells meat and sides from a tent at craft breweries, primarily in the South Bay. White post oak-smoked meats vary. During our visit to see Bartz at Los Angeles AleWorks, that meant fatty brisket sporting a pronounced smoke ring, succulent “Flintstones” level beef ribs, and crusty pulled pork, all available by weight, by piece, or as part of a meal with two sides. Even his sides are smoked: creamed corn folded with gobs of cream cheese, BBQ beans folded with bacon, or four-cheese mac. For upcoming pop-up locations, visit www.bartzbarbecue.com.

Pulled Pork Sammich at Bigmista's

 |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Bigmista’s Barbecue & Sammich Shop



In 2014, Pitmaster Neil “Bigmista” Strawder and wife Phyllis graduated from farmers markets, opening their first brick and mortar in Los Coyotes Center. Bigmista’s Barbecue & Sammich Shop features a brick façade and a handful of tables. A smoker’s parked out front and feasts on almond wood or compressed oak “mojo bricks.” Their juicy pulled pork sammiches tout a tomato-based sauce with lingering heat and tangy slaw. They also fill plastic bowls with up to two meats at a time, which rest best on smoky collard greens. Choose from options like turkey breast, pork spare ribs, pulled chicken, and brisket. Bigmista offers a B.A.P.O.M. (Big Ass Pile of Meat) that can feed an office, or a L.A.P.O.M. to satisfy a family. Sides include crunchy pineapple cole slaw, baked beans with Christmas spicing, and four-cheese mac and cheese with Parmesan, cheddar, butter, and sour cream. Order spicy sauce and they'll say, "Drop it like it's hot." Be sure you do.

Brisket and pork at Bludso's Bar & Cue

 |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Bludso's Bar & Que



Yes, Kevin Bludso is the patron saint of barbecue for this Hollywood spinoff, but the results are quite different. Partners Jason Bernstein and James Starr, who found success with The Golden State, a burger-centric Fairfax café, feature communal picnic tables, a planter-lined patio more than 10 flat screen TVs, and Mint Juleps and PBR on tap. Pitmaster Noah Galuten serves meats unadorned, with sauce on the side. Brisket is a house specialty, and even though you won’t find a pronounced smoke ring, the beef sports a juicy, peppery crust. Pulled pork is another winner, as are the cartilage-rich rib tips. Erik Black, who co-founded Ugly Drum, produces sausage. Sides include burnt orange baked beans folded with brisket chunks, onion-laced bread-and-butter pickles, and mac & cheese crafted with molten mozzarella, cheddar and Béchamel sauce.

Mega Platter at Boneyard Bistro

 |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Boneyard Bistro



Chef-owner Aaron Robins has delivered an over-the-top dining experience to Sherman Oaks, with 42 craft beer taps, a waterfall’s worth of brown spirits, and meaty options that could include steaks, fried chicken, or a Mega Platter of barbecue. Yes, it’s a good idea to bring reinforcements to Boneyard Bistro for a feast of pulled pork, pork sausage, baby back ribs, St. Louis-style pork ribs, Flintstones-esque beef ribs and melting beef brisket, all slow-smoked over hickory, plus a whole chicken grilled over red oak). The mess of meat feeds 10 people for $300, but be sure to add crisp-crusted triangles of fried mac that ooze cheese and some slabs of double hickory smoked bacon, since your meal could use a couple more exclamation points.

Pork ribs at Hambone's

 |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Hambone’s BBQ & Po’ Boy Sandwiches



Kenneth "Hambone" Hamilton, a native of Brookhaven, Mississippi, has carved out a nice niche for himself in Bellflower since opening his namesake restaurant in April 2011. The space features pastel green walls that sport a beguiling copper and steel art piece, a flat screen TV to show sports, and a shaded back patio. Order at the stainless steel counter to the sounds of Motown. Out back, Hambone’s smoker feeds on avocado wood for big cuts like brisket and tri-tip (how California), and red oak for pork products. Of course multi-meat dinners are available, including lacquered baby back ribs and sliced pork with a winning bark, both buried in spicy sauce. Sides include crusty six-cheese mac & cheese and meat-free collard greens. To drink, try Swamp Water, aka fresh brewed sweet tea.

Brisket and ribs at Maple Block Meat Co.

 |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Maple Block Meat Co.



In Texas, barbecue barns grow dark from years of smoky build-up. Maple Block Meat Co. in Culver City has a different trajectory. The sleek restaurant from Mike Garrett, Daniel Weinstock, and opening pitmaster Adam Cole (now gone) sports wood and steel design, with a black drum smoker parked in the lot, next to cords of peach wood. Sausage links are made in-house and chicken is Mary’s free range. Maple Block prides themselves on sliced brisket (request fatty cuts) and pork spare ribs. Highlights not available by the pound, plate, or sandwich, include dinnertime smoked chicken wings with fermented hot sauce, and fluffy buttermilk biscuits with whipped honey butter. Maple Block is also the rare barbecue spot that dares to serve salads. Four sauces crafted on premises include Alabama-style white sauce made with mayo and vinegar, and spicy red spiked with chile de arbol and Hatch chilies. Yes, they also have a respectable beer and wine program.

Mount Malindang Pork Ribs & Riblets at The Park’s Finest

 |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

The Park’s Finest



Johneric Concordia took his neighborhood barbecues beyond the “backyard boogie” to catering gigs before earning enough money to open a casual restaurant in Historic Filipinotown in 2012. The space features burgundy walls and some colorful paintings, but the focus is clearly on the Filipino-influenced barbecue. They smoke meats like chicken and sausage with alder and pecan wood out back. The Mount Malindang Pork Ribs & Riblets tout juicy, peppery hog meat. The ribs, named for an inactive volcano that anchors a mountain range, pairs well with a sweet house-made sauce crafted from tomato, pineapple and coconut oil. Ann’s Cornbread Bibingka, squares of sweet, kernel-studded rice cake, is another match. There are also bottomless cups of Tang, the notorious orange “fruit” water that's evidently astronaut-approved.

Three-meat combo at Phillips Bar-B-Cue with rib tips, beef links, and beef ribs | Instagram by @restauranthopla

Phillips Bar-B-Que



Louisiana native Foster Phillips opened his first barbecue parlor in 1980, on the southeast side of Leimert Park. Now he douses red oak-smoked pork ribs, sliced beef, crusty ribs and coarse links with lip-stinging sauce at Phillips Bar-B-Que locations in West Adams and Inglewood. The owner isn’t big on seats, so expect to order from a window and grab your ‘cue to go. Plates come with white bread, which almost acts like a utensil. Sides are more traditional, including soupy baked beans, finely chopped cole slaw, and mac & cheese featuring an orange cheddar crust and matted ziti. Phillips also offers three kinds of greens: collard, turnip, and mustard. No matter what you order, consider sweet cornbread muffins or a trough of peach cobbler.

Brisket at Ragtop Fern's BBQ

 |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Ragtop Fern’s BBQ



Since July 2016, longtime UPS employee Fernando Carrillo has manned a smoker named Lucifer on weekends in front of an apartment building on a Silver Lake-adjacent side street. Ragtop Fern’s BBQ tent opens at noon, and his pecan wood-smoked meats have been known to sell out within 30 minutes. Baby back ribs are the only standby - crusty and brushed with house-made Kansas City-style barbecue sauce. During my visit, he also served thick, savory brisket slices, large beef ribs, and herbaceous links of Chori-man green chorizo. He also rotates in beef cheek, oxtails, and is even talking about introducing jackfruit, to appease neighborhood veg-heads. ‘Cue sells by weight or piece.

Pork ribs at Robert Earl's BBQ

 |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Robert Earl’s BBQ



It’s a family affair at Robert Earl’s BBQ, which debuted in north Long Beach in 2013. Robert Earl grew up in Compton and Carson, but he and wife Latonia have roots in Houston and Mississippi, which seemingly ingrained some kind of barbecue intuition. In back, barrel smokers burn pecan wood and occasional hickory to slow-cook meats to reach optimum results. Inside, Robert Earl, Jr. works the window in a dining room that includes tables with red and white checked cloths, wagon wheels, and model cars. Highlights include lacquered slabs of smoke buffeted pork spare ribs, rib tips, pulled pork, and beef brisket. Popular sides include peppery mac and cheese, collard greens, and hearty potato salad. Multi-meat “Texas Samplers” are a great way to experience variety. If you crave something sweet to balance all the savory ‘cue, try to visit on weekends, when Jr.’s aunt makes banana pudding.