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Restaurants & Bars

Los Angeles Area BBQ

barbeque from the opposite corners of south-central

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barbeque from the opposite corners of south-central

Stan | Aug 3, 2002 11:18 PM

To complete my barbeque odyssey through Los Angeles, I've been to two places at the opposite corners of south-central: J&J (5754 W Adams Blvd (not 5652 W Adams as someone here said), cross street Fairfax, (323) 933-7366, 37 bus along Adams or the 105 along Fairfax) and Rib Hut (9109 S Central Ave, cross street 92nd, (323) 566-1829, 53 bus or the DASH Watts shuttle, but not the 305, which passes right by but doesn't stop anywhere near it). Both are informal, friendly, ramshackle places with okay but not great food. For scientific purposes, I had a half-slab of pork ribs with hot sauce at each one, and a peach cobbler at Rib Hut. (They don't have peach cobbler at J&J.)

J&J is an appealing place, considering that its proprietors built it by hand over several years. You can eat in a covered area in back and feel remarkably rustic for a place in an otherwise nothing area of the city. The barbeque is unique, and I can imagine some people liking it. I didn't think it was so great, though. The meat reminded me of jerky. Actually, this sounds weird but I'll say it: it reminded me of dried salmon. So it wasn't exactly unpleasant, and you might be able to like it if you can take it on its own terms, but it's like no other barbeque you'll come across. The sauce is also unique. It's very shiny to the point where it doesn't quite look real. Close investigation shows that it's actually kind of thin and oily, and not very spicy. You don't get any bread with it, but you wouldn't want or need it.

Rib Hut really is a hut, with hand-painted signs, in the middle of Watts, and the very jolly proprietors seemed incredulous to have a customer from beyond the neighborhood. It's very small, mostly take-out, though they do have one table if you want to eat in. The ribs are cheap, perhaps because rents are -- or perhaps it's because of the meat. Although I did like the ribs, I found the meat, while abundant, to be a little bit fatty and tough. The sauce is smooth and tomatoey, pleasant but not wildly flavorful. It does leave a nice sting though, and it's one of the few places where I felt moved to sop up every drop of the sauce with my bread. The peach cobbler tastes good, but it's about 70% crust, which is a little odd. All in all, a pretty reasonable place.

Okay, so that is my tour of Los Angeles barbeque places. Here is my approximate ranking, which again is based only on a single visit and only on the pork ribs with hot sauce:

Woody's
Leo's
Phillip's
El Paso
Tasty Q
Rib Hut
Mom's
Hot Diggety Dog (now deceased)
Mr. Cecil's
J&J
Dr. Hogly Wogly's

This list is hardly complete, e.g., I've missed Jay Bee's, which I somehow couldn't find, and 4J's, which I just haven't gotten around to. But by this point my body is reeling from the porcine assault. So now I think I'll work on health food places or something.

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