It may go without saying that authentic barbeque is one of the great traditions of the American summer. The labor-intensive ritual of cooking low and slow transforms rough slabs of meat into tender, smoky cuts. Yet, for those of us without access to 10-foot barrel smokers or the 12 free hours that proper barbeque requires, it may be wiser to leave it to the professionals. Here in Los Angeles, you’ll find all types of BBQ joints, from highbrow to down-home, where they turn out spectacular examples of the American classic.
For meat gurus Vinny Dotolo and John Shook, chef and owners of Animal, a plate of ribs on the menu seems like common sense. What is surprising is their inventive method of preparation. Racks of pork ribs are wrapped in foil and roasted slowly in the oven until meltingly tender. A trip through the broiler then produces a crisp outer crust lacquered with a sweet balsamic vinegar glaze. This alterative method may not follow pitmaster tradition, but the resulting flavors resonate as deeply.
435 N Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA
As any Texan native will tell you, Texas barbeque is a study in minimalism. Smoke City Market in Van Nuys nails many of the style’s trademarks: salt and pepper seasoning, sauce discouraged, and white bread on the side. Most important, though, is the monolithic beef rib, a charred hunk worthy of Fred Flintstone. Arrive early, as Smoke City’s overnight smoking process means that when ribs or brisket sell out, that’s it for the day.
5242 Van Nuys Blvd. Sherman Oaks, CA
Easily identifiable by the plume of hickory-scented smoke drifting down Crenshaw Boulevard, Phillips has long been touted as quintessential L.A. barbeque. Regulars debate the merits of pork ribs over beef ribs, but both possess the penetrating flavor of smoke without sacrificing the meat’s rich juices. Phillip’s homemade hot sauce, known for its blisteringly spicy kick, could double as an impromptu pepper spray if need arose.
4307 Leimert Blvd. # 1, Los Angeles, CA