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Park's Finest in Historic Filipinotown Los Angeles HiFi
Photograph: Stephanie BreijoThe Park's Finest in Historic Filipinotown

The best BBQ in Los Angeles

Memphis, Kansas City, Texas—no matter which style gets you hot and bothered, here’s where to find the best BBQ in L.A.

Written by
Erin Kuschner
,
Stephanie Breijo
&
Time Out editors
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There’s BBQ and then there’s BBQ—you know, the kind that leaves you licking your sauce-coated fingers as a pile of ribs picked clean is all that remains on your plate. Die-hard BBQ fans will argue for days on end about why Memphis has the best pulled pork over Texas, or why Kansas City makes better brisket than the Carolinas. But here in Los Angeles, we have a great mix of all of the above (not to mention stellar Korean BBQ and our own regional spins).

Despite the noticeable influx of BBQ spots in L.A. the past few years, there’s still seemingly a debate as to whether this city has legitimately great barbecue—of course we do, and all without breaking the bank. Some of the best affordable eats in the city are hole-in-the-wall BBQ spots, where you can wolf down a plate of ribs, baked beans, mac and cheese and a slice of Key lime pie for less than $20. From Compton to South Pasadena (and even a road trip to San Juan Capistrano), here are our picks for L.A.’s best BBQ spots.

L.A.’s best BBQ spots

Pitmaster Alan Cruz imbues his slow-smoked meats and his tortas, smashburgers and sides with “East Los soul,” underscoring one of Southern California’s biggest and best BBQ movements: Latin flavor woven into classic briskets, ribs and more—a true reflection of L.A. and an evolution of the art of the smoker. A’s BBQ can be preordered online and picked up at Cruz’s home in East L.A., or found at pop-ups such as Wednesday night appearances at community kitchen Lokels Only in Chinatown. Look for dishes such as spare ribs coated in a tamarind braise; mac and cheese with roasted poblano peppers; and some seriously flavorful al pastor pork belly burnt ends.

  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • Venice
  • price 2 of 4

At this Venice and Echo Park joint, platters of Memphis- and Texas-style ribs featuring their signature dry rub—a blend of 19 herbs and spices—come with fixins and housemade cornbread. Pulled pork sandwiches made with quality shoulder meat are topped with fresh slaw, and sliced brisket is hand-carved to order. Portions are big, and so it’s best to come with a group who can tackle a couple of combo meals. And for the meat-averse, Baby Blues offers seafood as well, like grilled shrimp and blackened Gulf Coast catfish.

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  • Restaurants
  • Soul and southern American
  • Long Beach
  • price 2 of 4

Craving some serious eats with your booze? Check out Beachwood Brewing and BBQ for rotating taps of craft beers and a menu boasting everything from ribs and pulled pork to brisket, all dry-rubbed and slow-smoked with plenty of sauces on the side. More importantly, perhaps, is the spot’s absolute dedication to pairing the food with quality beer, both from the on-site brewhouse and outside well-known breweries. With your smoked meats, try the 28 Hays Later, the house hazy IPA featuring mosaic, citra and galaxy hops.

  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • La Brea
  • price 2 of 4

This famed BBQ hot spot specializes in Texas-style ribs, brisket, chicken and anything else you can think to throw in a smoker. The lines can be long, especially during the summer and on holiday weekends, but good things come to those who wait. Founder and Texas native Kevin Bludso’s ribs practically fall off the bone; in the massive Bludso's Tray, a pile of ribs, sausage links, pulled pork, half a chicken, rib tips also comes with every side available—and with options like potato salad, baked beans, slaw, greens and rich mac and cheese, you're going to want it all. Not as hungry? Sandwiches and even smoked jackfruit are on the menu, too. Save your appetite for dessert, where banana pudding is spooned out into styrofoam containers. Not anywhere near La Brea? Bludso's also ships nationally, so you can get great BBQ wherever you are.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • San Fernando Valley
  • price 2 of 4

It’s a good sign when you step outside of your car in the parking lot of Dr. Hogly Wogly’s Tyler Texas BBQ and are immediately hit by an olfactory wall of braised meat. Round the corner past the AstroTurf patio and step inside this Van Nuys treasure, where wood-paneled walls and fast-talking waitresses who call you “hun” transport you to the middle of America. As its name suggests, Dr. Hogly Wogly’s is all about Texas BBQ. You can order items à la carte or go big with the two- and three-meat combos, but make sure you go for the brisket. The fall-apart beef comes with a sweet or hot sauce (ask for both); the combos also allow for two side dishes. Fan favorites include the baked beans (which are out of this world) and the slaw. How, you ask, is it possible to eat everything on your plate? Cram it all into a buttered roll—the brisket, the beans, the coleslaw, the sauce—and take a bite. It’s just what the doctor ordered.

  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • Glendale
  • price 2 of 4

With meat smoked onsite, classic sides done right, plenty of queso and massive BBQ platters at the ready, Glendale’s brand-new Glenwood Smokehouse is a little slice of Texas right across from the Americana at Brand. The sleek, modern-styled restaurant—with one of its owners also behind AJ’s Tex-Mex Barbecue in Valley Village—offers classics such as rib combo plates, smoked tri-tip steaks, pulled pork sandwiches and hearty meats available by the pound, plus more unique concoctions such as brisket nachos, corn fritters with Calabrian honey and loaded fries smothered in queso. Eventually (the spot just opened in mid-May), the beer will flow from over a dozen draft lines and into growlers so you can bring some beer and BBQ home with you.

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  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • South Pasadena
  • price 2 of 4

Great BBQ doesn’t always have to come from a hole-in-the-wall shop in the middle of nowhere. At Gus’s BBQ, a South Pasadena landmark that’s been around for over 70 years, you might find some of the best cornbread you’ve ever had. Arriving in a cast iron skillet, the bread is both creamy and crumbly, with a heavenly sugar glaze on top that is perfect for pairing alongside Gus’s St. Louis-style spare ribs. Or maybe you’ll go for the Texas brisket, smoked for 16 hours using pecan wood. The tender meat is served with your choice of two sides—the braised greens are killer with a little hot sauce on top, while the mashed potatoes feature roasted garlic—but the real star is the boneless Southern fried chicken, a juicy slab of meat that's enveloped in a spicy crust. No matter what you order, drink some Southern sangria out of a mason jar, for best results.

  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • Orange County
  • price 2 of 4

Okay, you got us: Heritage Barbecue isn’t in L.A., but it’s more than worth the trek to San Juan Capistrano. That’s because some of Southern California’s best BBQ can be found just next to the historic mission, where Heritage Barbecue’s 1,000-gallon offset smokers turn out velvety brisket, plump sausage, and tender pork and beef ribs (and yeah, they’ve got their own in-house butcher making those sausages). The kitchen serves classic and Latin-inspired sides such as choriqueso mac and cheese and the beer-and-brisket–simmered borracho beans, and there are almost always weekend specials—and you’re definitely going to want to order a few of those. Prepre to wait, just like in Texas, so bring some sunscreen, order a beer and snacks from the bar while you’re in line, and bring some friends so you can try a little of everything.

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  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • Santa Monica
  • price 2 of 4

With locations in Santa Monica, Culver City and West L.A., Holy Cow BBQ has brought some serious ’cue to the Westside. There’s a hefty selection to choose from here—meat and sides, greens and desserts, combos, and a section called “between bread,” which, you guessed it, is all about sandwiches. With mason jars full of perfectly tart lemonade (is there a better way to wash down BBQ, aside from sweet tea?), diners can quench their thirst as they dig into small bowls of collards, mac and cheese and slow-cooked meat. The baby back ribs are hand-rubbed and boast a beautifully caramelized crust, while the pulled pork is served up Carolina-style, where the use of Carolina gold sauce is the standard. The best way to finish your meal: a piping hot peach crumb or a cool mini pie.

  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • Downtown Historic Core
  • price 2 of 4

At Horse Thief BBQ, Angelenos in DTLA have a central spot to pick up low-and-slow, Texas-style BBQ. Native Texans Wade McElroy and Russell Malixi met at school in Austin, and have brought their self-taught ’cue chops (and a trip of hickory smokers and elevated ingredients) to the historic Grand Central Market. With no more than a queue-and-order window and alfresco picnic tables, Horse Thief serves the local lunch and dinner crowd until the food runs out. As any good Texan would know, brisket is the star here—dry-rubbed and smoked for 18 hours over oak wood. Pork fans can get their grub on with pulled pork and pork ribs, while poultry lovers can sink their teeth into brined and smoked chicken. A complete meal is packed on with the proper white bread, dill chips, chopped raw onions and sides such as potato salad and heirloom BBQ baked beans. And thanks to Grand Central Market’s beer and wine license, you can pair your spread with a cold brew, most of which come sourced from California craft breweries. Cheers to that!

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  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • Culver City
  • price 2 of 4

Meat butchered on-premise? Wood-smoked? Sliced-to-order brisket? A pitmaster from Texas? Maple Block Meat Co. checks off BBQ boxes left and right. Lunch and dinner options range from chopped pork shoulder to a whole free-range chicken with smoky skin. Other smoked meats include incredibly tender brisket—available sliced or chopped—smoked sausage links and smoked turkey breast, but the pork spare ribs are the standout choice: Sporting a beautiful rub, the ribs alone are worthy of sitting through 405 traffic.

  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • Eagle Rock
  • price 2 of 4

Owners Jason McDonald and Melanie Blair opened this Eagle Rock eatery in March of 2014, following the success of their catering operation—and they’ve been developing a steady stream of regulars ever since. Be warned: The shop is small and seating can be scarce, but the food is worth fighting over a table. Come with a couple friends and share the Little BBQ platter, which includes St. Louis-style ribs, pulled pork, half a chicken, tri-tip, brisket, four sides (their cucumber salad is a delicious and unconventional option) and cornbread—yeah, we know it’s a lot. And unlike a lot of other BBQ restaurants in the city, the drink menu is just as stellar, with local breweries on tap, wine and the oft-raved-about lemonade. Stop by during lunch for deals on the smaller, solo-sized (but still hearty) combo plates.

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  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • Lincoln Heights
  • price 2 of 4

Moo’s doesn’t just make some of the best BBQ we’ve ever tasted—it makes some of the best food, period. Of course, the BBQ is the draw from husband-and-wife team Andrew and Michelle Muñoz, who started Moo’s Craft Barbecue as an Eastside pop-up before becoming one of Smorgasburg’s most popular vendors. Now they’re opening their first brick-and-mortar restaurant, right in the heart of Lincoln Heights, set to open in June and offering their signature Texas-style smoked brisket that’s perfectly encrusted with a peppery blend of spices. There’ll be sausages, too (one of our favorite bites in town, in fact), and their signature, Latin-leaning sides such as elotes and some truly spectacular jalapeño mac and cheese. Just be sure to try some of their specials, too, like the smoked pastrami and the killer tacos jam-packed with smoked beef cheeks.

  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • Echo Park
  • price 2 of 4

Run by the Concordia family, who’ve been mastering the art of BBQ for generations, the Park’s Finest spices up traditional American BBQ with Filipino flavor. It’s one of L.A.’s most unique and creative BBQ restaurants, the kind of place where you can order a hot-link medley (complete with longanisa), some 16-hour-smoked pulled pork, and also a curry of smoked-and-cubed top round all fragrant with herbs and fish sauce (one of our favorite dishes on the menu). Known for their “50% mom, 50% pop, 100% L.A.” mantra, this one-of-a-kind spot has grown from its 2009-founded catering company roots to a BBQ institution. The restaurant is still temporarily closed but plans on reopening soon.

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  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • West Adams
  • price 1 of 4

Phillips Barbecue (Bar-B-Que) is a longtime L.A. ’cue staple that serves legit smoked meats under slatherings of tangy sauces. That narrow corridor leading up to the counter fills up quickly with crowds waiting to get their hands on Phillips’ signature spare ribs, and for good reason: Tender and smoky, the ribs come with a sauce that ranges from mild to spicy (though your hands get dirty either way). There’s corn on the cob and beans, potato salad and yams, and BBQ'd meat to the max—and if you're closer to Inglewood, there's also a takeout option on Centinela. What’s lacking at both locations? Enough chairs and tables, so be prepared to take your tinfoil of pulled pork and your styrofoam containers of side dishes elsewhere.

  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • West Third Street
  • price 2 of 4

Trudy’s Underground Barbecue went above-ground with SLAB, the West Third BBQ joint from Trudy’s pitmaster Burt Bakman and the h.wood Group. Succulent, Texas-style brisket is the name of the game here, but the smoked chicken, beef ribs and pork ribs are all must-orders, too. Load up your tray with sides like gooey mac and cheese, molasses beans and meaty collard greens, and look for specials such as the Monday-only pastrami sandwiches, the massive weekday-only brisket burgers, and the weekend-only, Texas-style breakfast tacos.

See the best BBQ restaurants in America

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