Baby Blues BBQ
There is every reason to be suspicious of newfangled barbecue joints, the kind that try hard to look hip and homespun. The retro-cool menu here would never fly on Crenshaw, but damn if the Carolina-style pulled-pork sandwich is not a world-class creation: hog shoulder and fresh slaw on a grilled artisan-caliber roll, waiting to be doused with peppery, vinegary “XXX” sauce. » 444 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, 310-396-7675; 7953 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, 323-656-1277.
J n J Burgers & Bar-b-que
The hand-painted counter reads since 1993, but Jay Nelson Jr.’s family-run smokehouse looks as if it’s been teetering since 1953—a rugged coop of patio fencing, corrugated siding, iron bars, and firewood piled according to genus of tree. The spareribs are dense and ruddy, the meat distilled by a sooty fog of oak and pecan. Save room for Mama Nelson’s sweet potato pie. Cash only. » 5754 W. Adams Blvd., West Adams, 323-934-5390.
For a generation of Angelenos, the take-out window of this Leimert Park hole-in-the-wall has been an initiation of sorts, the first taste of honest wood-meets-pig, burn-your-lips barbecue. Some claim Phillips has grown blasé, diluted by expansion, but those pork ribs, especially the charred, caramelized nubs known as short ends, remain civic treasures—especially when swimming in a tray of piquant, lava-colored sauce. » 4307 Leimert Blvd., L.A., 323-292-7613. Also in Inglewood and Mid City.