I went to Rib Factory #1 (that's what it says on the card) in Bellflower (10113 Artesia Blvd, 562 866-0223, 130 bus eastbound from the Artesia Blue Line station). It's a small, old place in a small shopping center, with a few tables inside and a few more outside, so lacking in atmosphere that it's almost atmospheric. The sign outside promises "Texas-Style Barbeque".
I had a half-slab of pork ribs with hot sauce and a peach cobbler. Bottom line: I give the place a strong A-minus. It doesn't quite rank with the mightiest barbeque places in south-central, but it's quite good.
The sauce is top-notch. It took a few ribs before the sauce started to grow on me. It's tomatoey, smokey, and spicy, all in really nice balance, lots of flavor. The meat is mostly well-cooked, certainly getting on toward the top tier in meat quality. The peach cobbler totally rocks. The peaches are a little too obviously canned, but they use a "crumble" type crust that's just perfect. They warmed it up nicely too, which not everyplace bothers to do.
The food does have some minor drawbacks. I didn't think there was quite as much meat as I want for nine bucks. And much of the meat, though indisputably derived from the intercostal muscles of the pig, was not on the bone. (Is this something they do in Texas? I've had barbeque there, but it was before I developed proper chow consciousness and might have been seen eating at a chain steakhouse or something.) That made it a little messier than usual to eat. Also, they didn't provide bread to sop up the sauce, which really deserved it. But these, as I say, are minor issues compared to the overall quality.
It was an early Saturday night, and Rib Factory was empty. Chris' and Pitt's a couple blocks to the west on Artesia, though, was packed, with a line snaking out the door. I can tell you this: either Chris' and Pitt's makes some stellar barbeque, or people in Bellflower are dumb.
Amusing historical note. How do I know that Rib Factory is old? Next to the ordering window you'll find a magazine spread or brochure containing capsule reviews of barbeque places by a critic from a television station. Rib Factory is one of maybe four places out of dozens in the pages they've framed that gets an "A". Thing is, the other "A" places (Carl's BBQ on Pico, Hungry Al's on Western, and Barbeque Experience on Compton), don't seem to exist any more, according to yellow.com. And if you read carefully, you'll notice that the listings date from the era before Los Angeles was broken into different area codes. By Los Angeles standards, that makes Rib Factory a classic!
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