Driving up Crenshaw Boulevard, Tom and I were nearly distracted from our mission by a roadside barbeque laid on by the local Baptist Church. Three enormous, black, oily grills belching fragrant smoke, surrounded by eager, happy diners: it was almost enough to send us screeching to a halt. Instead, however, we opted to drive on, for the same reason that we eschewed both Phillips and Leo's that day: we wanted to eat in.
Sure, we could have hung out in the parking lot outside Phillips, or taken Leo's back to my apartment, but we were just too hungry to wait, and there was no way Tom was going to let me, messy eater that I am, chow down on ribs and brisket in his pristine motor car. So, Tasty Q it was.
Tasty Qs got character, no doubt about it. Theres a pair of Big-mouthed Billy Basss at the counter and prints of pre-Civil War sketches of slave life in the Deep South on the walls. There are plastic plants on the table and floors, and a sign saying; Teenagers and young adults tired of being hassled by your stupid parents ACT NOW move out, get a job, pay your own bills while you still know everything!! This legend is also printed on the back of the takeout menus, in case you dont get the message when youre ordering.
If the place looks vaguely familiar, it may be because it used to be a Taco Bell. The owners, who really are from Shreveport, La., have painted the place white with a green trim and daubed a mural featuring pigs, cows and fish on the outside. Round back of the parking lot are a couple of caravans, which the owners use when they go touring to barbecue competitions, and the air all around the place is redolent with the sweet smell of sauce and oh, that smoke!
Tasty Q looks the part, and it certainly smells the part, but it isnt built for friendliness. You place your order through a serving hatch and pickup through another. Not exactly conducive to a friendly chat. But I did my best, and poked my head through for a glimpse at what went on behind those walls
I saw immediately that I was in for something special. The kitchen range, blackened and shining, looked like an indoor version of the grills at the Baptist church down the road. Each of the burners was topped by a gently bubbling cauldron full of sauce or beans. I half expected to smell burning, but there was nothing in the air other than the encouraging scents of steaming greens, the hot beef being sliced for a sandwich and the wood smoke.
I wasnt allowed to gawk for long, so I ordered. Just pork ribs and beef ribs, with sides of potato salad and beans. Four pork ribs and two sides for $7, and three beef ribs and two sides for $8.50. Tom had the pork rib sandwich, which was three ribs for $6.
Its Louisiana style, of course, so everything came slathered in our choice of sauce hot mild or medium, ladled right out of one of those brewing cauldrons and over the meat. No trimmings here, by the way. Your food gets placed in a takeaway box (whether youre taking out or not) and you get a neatly packaged bundle with two slices of bread, knife fork and napkins.
Tom and I repaired to one of the comfortable booths at the front of the restaurant, right under the enormous boombox, which was pumping R&B so loud that we couldnt hear the golf on the TV. Not that Tom needs to watch any more golf.
I was suspicious at first. Some restaurants use sauce as camouflage, to cover up their disappointing fare, and there was plenty of sauce on our food. But the pork ribs didnt disappoint. Each about six inches long, and loaded with meat, theyd been smoked to perfection, and the meat was falling off the bone. It tasted superb, and I suspect it would have tasted just as good without the gallon of sauce in which it came. Next time Ill be getting that sauce on the side. The sauce, by the way was hot. Lingering hot, with a long, slow burn that didnt scorch either of us, but which stayed on the tongue for more than an hour after wed left.
The beef ribs, sorry to say, were a little disappointing. They were short and very greasy, and there wasnt much meat on them. That said they were better than most of the beef ribs that Ive tasted in this town. At least I could dunk them in the sauce.
The potato salad was dry and compact, not too liquid, but well-chilled, making for a welcome break during our voyage through the sea of hot sauce. The beans, on the other hand, werent exciting. They were peppery, not sweet, and well-laced with chunks of pork, but Tom found them dry and congealed, as though theyd been cooked too long. Indeed after fifteen minutes, they began to look suspiciously like refried beans.
Tasty Q does sliced beef, chicken and links, none of which we tried. You can get catfish and red snapper dinners for $8, and theres a short soul food menu, with things like neck bones and giblets. Green, yams and slaw on the side and sweet potato pie and peach cobbler for dessert. We didnt taste any of these, it being a hot day, and we being full of the main event, but well be back, if only to deep fry my turkey at Thanksgiving.
2959 S. Crenshaw Blvd. (at 30th St.),
Hours: Mon/Tues: 10:30 am-10 pm,
Wed/Thurs: 10:30 am-10:30 pm,
Fri/Sat: 10:30 am-11:30 pm,
Sun: 10:30 am-9 pm.