[Larger-size photos, in-line with text, at http://theoffalo.com/2013/07/pork-bel...]
Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice has always had an interesting food scene, with some newcomers mixing it up with long-time establishments. One of the newest places is Pork Belly's Sandwich Shop (originally named Belly Up--BellyUpLA.com registered and everything), which just opened yesterday.
I had wanted to go opening day, but circumstances prevented me. I was not going to be stopped today, however. To avoid any potential lunchtime rush, I arrived just before 11 AM and actually found a parking spot less than a block away. Upon arrival, I was greeted warmly by one of the owners, Jon Swire, who told me about their smoker and went over the menu with me briefly.
I had already perused the menu online before arriving and had a good idea what I was going to get. I knew I wanted to try both the smoked pork belly and the beef brisket, but I didn't know if I wanted to eat two sandwiches on my own. I also wanted to try the tater tots, so in the end I went with The Belly Up sandwich and the Chop Tots, thus fulfilling all of the above requirements.
Everything was to-go as their dining space was still under construction next door. I received my food in short order and skedaddled back to the office to enjoy my early lunch.
The Belly Up: "Our signature sandwich. Smoked BBQ Pork Belly topped with homemade coleslaw on a brioche roll. You’re gonna love it!" ($8.95)
This was a great sandwich. The pork belly slices were THICK, fatty, smokey, and crispy around the edges. The cole slaw did not have much mayo, and the crunchy vegetation complemented the fattiness of the meat. Simple, well balanced, delicious.
Chop Tots: "Tater Tots covered with ... Brisket and topped with melted cheese." ($4.99)
This poutinesque side was also quite good. I'm not actually a huge brisket fan, as I like my beef as medium-rare steaks, but I enjoyed the brisket. The chopped chunks from the outer edges had a nice smokiness that I wish carried through a little more to the chunks from the center. The BBQ sauce is not too sweet and not too heavy. The tots were not too oily and held up well in this dish.
Bonus: A mini chocolate chip cookie was wrapped up with the Belly Up, and was warmed by the sandwich. It was still warm when I popped it into my mouth at the end of my meal. A nice touch!
I will definitely have to come back to try at least two other sandwiches: the PBLT ("Thick sliced Pork Belly, lettuce, tomato and mayo on toasted sourdough.") and the Smoky Balls ("Our Pork & Beef meatballs smoked then thinly sliced. Served with our homemade tomato sauce, peppers and onions on a grinder roll. All topped with melted cheese.").
Pork Belly's Sandwich Shop
1146 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291