On the recommendation of Das Ubergeek, I went to the Swinging Door BBQ on Vineland and Vanowen in NoHo last night. It was incredible. I knew I was in the right place before I even saw the restaurant... the smell of hickory smoke was everywhere. Tucked in behind a gas station was one of those huge BBQ kettles. The restaurant itself is tiny and unassuming. I sat near the pickup window, and carried on a conversation with the nice old fashioned girls behind the counter. The prices were great too.
I had the all you can eat special for $16. They had chicken, pork spare ribs and brisket. (They were out of links) I had a bunch of sides too. The cole slaw was great (and I'm picky about slaw). I also liked the potato salad and the mac and cheese. The sweet beans (only on Fridays) were good with big chunks of bacon, but I didn't care for the regular beans. They had some spice in them that bothered me.
One of the girls brought in a new batch of meat from the grill, and I overheard them talking about how good it looked. BBQ is an art. You can follow recipes and measure carefully, but it's always going to be a little different every time. The girl in charge of the BBQ was obviously an expert at making sure everything turned out right.
The meat was quite different from what I'm used to from Hogly Wogly or the Bear Pit. It was all served dry with sauce on the side. At Hogly, the meat arrives in a pool of juice. Here it was cleanly sliced with no juice. But it was still plenty juicy. The chicken was a LOT better than at Hogly. It was sliced breast... not wet and blubbery, but meaty textured. The brisket was also great. Smokey and rich. The spare ribs were to die for. I've never had ribs like this before. They were good even without bbq sauce on them. The meat came right off the bone.
I'll definitely be back.