Life being short, I headed down to Phillip's BBQ today for lunch. J. Gold, who recommends the place, says that you can smell it way before you can see it, and he's not wrong. It's a take-out window with zero decor and no seating. But it smells great.
I got a half-rack of pork ribs with hot sauce, peach cobbler, and orange soda, and took them to the bus stop bench to eat. The ribs were certainly plentiful, meaty, and perfectly cooked. But the real test is the sauce, and my opinions were complex. It was thoughtfully garnished with red chilis, and justly so, since a straightforward red chili flavor was the dominant note in the mix, especially as you got down to the puddle of sauce that you sop up with bread at the bottom of the tray. The sauce is also really sweet. If you're totally into red chili flavored candy, then you're groovin'. It's got that chili bite, and it's sticky enough to scorch your mouth real good.
Still, I rated it only a B or B+. The flavor lacked depth. For example, it had none of the smoky quality that many sauces have. It was hard to identify many other notes either. So I was pretty happy, especially for the first half of my lunch, but I didn't enjoy that bread-sopping of sauce by the end.
The peach cobbler was pretty good, maybe with nutmeg which was interesting.
Okay, so that was my experience with Phillip's. Now, my understanding is that Phillip's has a ferocious following in Los Angeles -- and yet when chowhounds held a blind comparison tasting a while back, Phillip's apparently shocked everyone by coming in dead last. Although I am certainly open to other opinions and experiences than mine, I can see how that happened.
I do want to mention one great virtue of Phillip's is the neighborhood. It's in Leimert Park (4307 Leimert Blvd, (323) 292-7613), which is a center of African-American culture in LA. There are several art galleries and the like on Degnan Blvd right nearby. Everyone is friendly, and the vibe among people waiting at the window is cool. It's also very convenient by bus. The 305 goes right to Phillip's door from places like Westwood and West Hollywood. The 42 also passes right there on its way between downtown and LAX.
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