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Barrel & Ashes

PHOTOS: Holly Liss

Ahhhh, the Valley. That sweet, steaming dump pile of studio lots and never-ending urban abyss. With more space and lower rents, it long ago became the unhip, suburban answer to the chaos south of the hill. But with a constant influx of young people looking for cheap apartments and new restaurants that cater to them, those sleepy neighborhoods along Ventura Boulevard are finally waking the f*ck up. Swallow that pill, Cher Horowitz.

And when a former chef of French Laundry (arguably the best restaurant in California) announced he’d be opening a casual BBQ joint in Studio City, it’s fair to say the entire city of Los Angeles woke up. Barrel & Ashes is the kind of place every neighborhood in the city needs – but its bright interior, front patio, and picnic-style dinner tables all add up to a cool, lively atmosphere that the Valley needed most. Sure, everything on the menu is $5 more than you want it to be, but this is still LA.

The BBQ is all good, but the ribs and pulled pork need to be priority. Just leave some room on the table for the hoe cake and fried chicken sandwich, because they might actually be the best things here. The space is casual and flexible, ideal for anything from a midweek lunch with coworkers to a birthday dinner throw down. Evenings do get crowded, so make sure to grab a reservation beforehand. The last thing anyone wants is to stand around watching other people eat BBQ, though you could just head upstairs to Fiscal Agent and sip on some cocktails while you wait to hear your name called.

Barrel & Ashes means that the Valley finally gets to enjoy a big-name chef and the kind of food that comes with. But more importantly, it means that the LA-proper restaurant scene is finally heading north. Time to make moves, Ms. Horowitz.

Food Rundown

The Platter

If you’re here for lunch, this is the best way to experience as much of that premiere BBQ as possible. You get smoked chicken, pulled pork, sausage, collards, and beans. If that’s a problem for you, then we have a problem.

Spare Ribs

Don’t let anyone tell you differently, this is the best meat at Barrel & Ashes. Get the half-rack if you’re normal, get the full rack if you’re eyeing world domination.

Hoe Cake

Have we finally found a replacement word for “bae”? Definitely not. And don’t ever call someone a hoe cake. Anyways, this is the must-order side item. More maple butter please.

The Best Damn Chick’n Sandwich Ya Ever Had

At only $9, this baby is a total steal. Not to mention F*CKING AMAZING. Can we all just agree to start eating more pimento cheese?

Pulled Pork Sandwich

That glorious pork from the platter is back in action, but this time it’s combined with their fantastic cole slaw and drizzled in vinegar.

Shrimp & Grits

Only served at brunch, this Southern staple is arguably the star of the morning program.

Banana Pudding

Why would you even think this would taste bad?

Oaxacan in Memphis

This tequila shandy is fairly sweet, but the bitterness of the grapefruit and Belgian blonde ale mixed in offset it. A couple of these and you’ll be cartwheeling down Ventura.

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