No one in their right mind will ever call LA a BBQ town. But to say that the BBQ here is completely terrible is also wrong. This a city of transplants after all, meaning natives from Texas, Memphis, Kansas City, and the Carolinas have all moved here over the years and brought their rich BBQ heritage with them.
So skip your hummus wrap for today, and go get sloppy with some brisket and wings instead. Here are the 16 best places in Los Angeles to do it.
So the best BBQ in LA isn’t technically a BBQ place? Correct. Handy Market is actually a (fantastic) local Burbank grocer, who on every Saturday turns its adjacent parking lot into an all-out BBQ wonderland. Rows and rows of everything from tri-tip to sausage links are wafting their smokiness through the neighborhood, and we want it all. Warning: there are no tables or chairs. This is a pick-up-and-go situation only. So go order everything you want and eat it alone in your car like the rest of us.
Maple Block might be one of the newer spots on the list, but the Culver City joint has quickly moved up the LA BBQ ranks. The brisket is out of control, but it’s everything else that keeps us coming back. The mac and cheese, the pimento sandwich, even the seasonal vegetables - everything is incredible. The space is cool, but not so cool you won’t want to eat as much BBQ as possible.
A few years back a beloved, hole-in-the-wall BBQ place from Compton opened up on La Brea. That place was Bludso’s - a true Texas BBQ dive that got the trendy Hollywood treatment. Yes, going down to the OG Compton location is still a must for any true meat-lover, but no one’s complaining about the new digs on La Brea with a full bar, tons of TVs, and the same excellent BBQ.
There are a lot of new BBQ spots around LA, Phillip’s old-school style remains one our city’s best. Why? The sauce. Spice levels are no joke at Phillip’s, so if you can’t take the heat, make sure you order mild. Phillip’s actually has two locations, but the Leimert Park walk-up window is the go-to. And here, everything starts and ends with the rib tips.
This 45 year old hole-in-the-wall in Van Nuys probably doesn’t have the best cuts of meat in town, but who cares? That’s not why you’re there. You’re at Hogly Wogly because of their famous sweet and smoky BBQ sauce, the gigantic portions, the crusty waitresses, and the feeling that you’ve fallen into a 1960’s time warp and never want to leave.
A lot of people probably wet themselves when they heard that a former chef of French Laundry in Napa was bringing casual BBQ to LA. And though lines were pretty much out the door from the second it opened, the good news is the hype is real. It’s definitely more expensive than some would prefer to pay for BBQ, but we’ll tell you right now the meat holds up. As do the cocktails. And the hoe cake. And the frito pie. And the... OK just go.
Baby Blues is one of those places that never seems to get the respect it deserves. Sure, it’s Weho location resembles more of a Bubba Gump’s than a legitimate BBQ joint, but it’s original no-frills Venice spot remains one of the best pulled pork operations in town. And if you roll in with a big party, their family-style platters (anywhere from 6-20 people) will make sure everyone leaves happy.
J “n” J is as old-school as you get. Residing in what’s basically a lean-to with a smoker in it, J “n” J has something for everyone. Burgers? Hotdogs? Bacon sandwiches? It’s all here. And while the burger situation is definitely one you shouldn’t pass up, the true move at this West Adams landmark are the beef ribs. And the collards greens. ORDER ALL OF THE COLLARD GREENS.
Hiatus Urban BBQ isn’t even a year old yet, but it’s already a game changer, because this is a fresh, customizable, and on-the-go BBQ concept that doesn’t exist anywhere else in LA. Our move is the Sweet Boar BBQ plate - pulled pork, Asian slaw, and spicy peppers all on Hawaiian sweet rolls. It amounts to what are basically the best BBQ sliders of your life.
Gus’s is actually the oldest spot on the list, but this South Pasadena BBQ joint is not some hole-in-the-wall. It’s actually a pretty trendy spot, but happens to be serving some of our favorite BBQ in LA. And while you can’t go wrong with the St. Louis spare ribs or Carolina pulled pork, the real winner might be that Southern Fried Chicken. It’s spicy, crunchy, and greasy in all the right ways. Whatever you do, just don’t leave without ordering the cornbread.
You’ve heard of Carolina, Texas, Kansas City, and Memphis-style BBQ. But Santa Maria? Not so much. The central California style centers around tri-tip cooked over native Red Oak wood. It’s phenomenal, and Boneyard is one of the few places in LA where you can find it. The Sherman Oaks spot is also known for its impressive beer stock, so saddle up with an IPA and full rack of the beef ribs and die in bliss.
Located on that bizarre Eastern fringe of Culver City where every major street merges into one, you’ve probably passed JR’s a thousand time on your way to LAX, and never knew it. So next time you’re headed out of town, give yourself an extra half hour and go stop by the best Memphis-style BBQ in LA. The ramshackle space is a complete throwback, and sitting on that U-shaped bar while going to town on some ribs and baked beans is our definition of personal success.
When it comes to Eastside BBQ, it doesn’t get much better than Max City. The newer spot has a cool industrial space that might give off the vibe they aren’t serious about their BBQ. But they very much are. Everything is good at Max City, but the bird is definitely the word here. The crisp-skinned chicken wings with a cucumber side salad is perfect, and we’re definitely taking home a side of mac for later. P.S. They bake their own pies too, so save room for dessert. Or at least save room for another order of wings that you call dessert.
Horse Thief is one of the most popular spots in LA right now, mostly due to it’s Grand Central Market-adjacent location, and this Texas BBQ spot (founded by native Texans) is cranking out meat that lives up to expectations. This is Texas-style, so obviously the star here is the brisket, but sinking your teeth into some of that Mary’s organic BBQ chicken isn’t a waste of your time either. Big props to the new GCM liquor license, meaning everybody’s now able to wash the good stuff down with an ice cold beer on that fantastic patio.