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Your Guide to LA’s Best and Boldest BBQ

[dropcap size=big]F[/dropcap]ire in the sky. Fire in the grill. Fire in your belly. It’s BBQ season, Los Angeles (isn’t it always?). Also known as “crack open an ice cold Tecate and take a bite of some bold ass, mouth watering carne” season.

And L.A. Taco’s got you covered with the ultimate guide to the boldest BBQ in Los Angeles, from the delicious slices of Santa Maria tri-tip at Barrel and Ashes to the spicy perfect mess that is a slab of Bludso’s Bar & Que ribs. But don’t worry about the heat. We got your drinks covered too. We’ll tell you where the micheladas are tastiest and where the Tecates are coldest.

Here are 10 must eat spots doing bold BBQ right in the City of Angels.  

Barrel And Ashes

Winner of multiple awards, this valley BBQ place takes everything to the next level, amping up the flavors at every turn. Barrel And Ashes is a catchall, serving the best from different regions all under one roof. So basically, you’re going to want to sit at the bar and get ready for a long night of meat and Tecate.

Start with the Santa Maria tri-tip, thin slices of heaven. Then buckle up for some Louisiana hot links. Maybe some braised greens. You know? To be healthy. Ish. At this point, you’re going to want to switch to Tecate Light and make room for brisket. Another slice of paradise.

For “dessert”, get the chicken and hoe cake, and set a reminder to call the car service. Don’t forget to wash it all down with an ice cold Tecate light before your double XL Plus arrives to haul you away in heavenly bliss.

Bludso’s Bar and Q

After years on the road hitting the South as much as possible, I was thrilled to come home to find that the South had come with me. The first time, I tried Bludso’s Bar and Q, was at 11 am, no shame, in my car, parked outside the tiny shed of a restaurant on Long Beach Boulevard. It would sell out so fast that, unless you were there right when it opened you’d miss out on some of the best Texas BBQ in Los Angeles.

From a tiny shop in Compton, Bludso’s has flourished into a full scale catering king based out of its new location on La Brea Boulevard in Hollywood. This year, they even opened a stand in Exposition Park at the brand new Banc of California Stadium, home of LAFC soccer club. Bludso’s is so good, it’s even gone international with a sister location in Melbourne, Australia. And why not? Bludso’s simplicity is mind blowing.

Grab a plate of rib tips, pulled pork, corn bread and pickles, and settle in with a roja, a red can of Tecate. Everytime feels like the first time. And you don’t even have to worry about getting a parking ticket while covered in BBQ sauce. RIP, Compton location.

Sonoratown

Sonoratown

Of course, this is L.A. so you know BBQ also means carne asada. And Sonoratown’s mesquite-grilled short rib asada tacos are everything. The downtown taqueria is modeled off chef Tro Rodriguez’s hometown favorite, Asadero Campas.

Asadero Campas’ owner consulted on everything like how to perfect the asada, how to grill the pollo just right, and how to get those crispy tripas. He also assisted on the salsa, a spicy chile de árbol and a cooling avocado sauce made with pureed iceberg lettuce, ensuring that everything there is just as it is at his spot in northern Mexico.

Sonoratown isn’t just some of the best asada tacos in the city, they also happen to be some of the most affordable. So get up in there and get some tacos, some smoky caramelos, a bean and cheese burrito and anything else you might fancy. Then take a walk down 8th Street to your favorite watering hole, order a tecate and rejoice in the variety of Los Angeles.

Rays Texas BBQ

Located in an orange strip mall in the Latino immigrant enclave of Huntington Park, Ray’s is a little slice of Texas heaven. There may honestly not be a better piece of meat on this list than Ray’s perfectly smoked beef brisket. “The secret is in the simplicity,” Chef and owner Ray Ramirez told L.A. Taco while fielding questions from his loyal customers about how to best roast an entire pig in their own backyard.

Ray’s specializes in traditional Texas flavors with a little bit of Los Angeles street food magic. Chef Ramirez was inspired by his trip to legendary Austin joint Franklin Barbecue to bring Texas to his hometown HP. But he added his own touches inspired by his Salvadoran heritage, like the jalapeño sausage. He also serves one of the best burritos in town, a meat extravaganza served on a giant flour tortilla and mixed with baked beans and macaroni.

But the real winner is the brisket, which you can and should order by the pound. Now you might be tempted to request a lean cut on the brisket, where they slice off the fat. But honestly, don’t do that.

Maple Block Meat Company

The Maple Block Meat Company on Sepulveda Boulevard in Culver City may feel a little small. But that’s just because the portions are so damn big. It ain’t the “Maple Bite Meat Company.”

Chef Adam Cole is a master smoker, who traveled all over the country to acquire a collection of the best BBQ from all over the U.S. And he brings it big time.

Take a load off and order up a pound of brisket, a boldly seasoned cacophony of beef and smoke in every perfect bite. If that’s not enough for you, try a pound of pork ribs. Try a giant sausage. Try it all! “Another Tecate, for you sir?” Yes, please. And some more meat!

Seriously, this is great food served greatly. It’s the perfect place to take a group of friends or the family. Because the portions are healthy and you can order platters and eat family style.

Ragtop Fern’s BBQ

This underground BBQ popup in Koreatown is run by one of the coolest guys in the business. Patrons sign up on Instagram and line up to get their hands on some of LA’s boldest ‘q cooked to perfection in towering black smoker named Lucifer.

Fern is usually parked outside an apartment building on Westmorland. But his famous “I got the Q and you bring the brew” pop ups are a can’t miss. Bring him a case of Tecates and maybe you can earn some good luck from Goddess Fortūna. You’re going to need it if you don’t get there early enough.

Fern’s brisket is always the first thing to sell out, so get there early if you want a slice. And you’re definitely going to want to eat a whole rack of ribs. Add a quick splash of smokey BBQ sauce and you’re good.

La Huesuda Tacos

Chef Pablo Vega took nearly six months to create La Huesuda’s first ever menu. And he hasn’t stopped since. Each taco that goes on the menu goes through a trial and error process to get the flavors just right.

At the moment, the pop up – at Los Angeles Ale Works – serve four signature tacos, the best of which is La Castilla. You’re going to need a lot of napkins to tackle this one. The slow braised pork rib comes grilled with guajillo sauce and served in a handmade tortilla topped with homemade bbq sauce, arbol pepper aioli and pineapple. In a town full of fusion tacos, La Castilla is in a world of its own, putting a bold twist on a BBQ, tacos and life itself.

Park’s BBQ

The other great L.A. contribution to the U.S. BBQ scene is the abundance of great Korean grillers. Los Angeles cuisine and culture has thrived due to its large Korean and Korean American populations. Korean barbecue is a staple of Los Angeles food culture.

And no BBQ list would be complete without mentioning the best of the best Korean BBQ. It’s certainly the most celebrity-filled: the walls are covered with photos of meat-sated famous faces from around the world.

With the finest quality meat, there’s no doubt why this spot made our Rogue 99 list of LA’s most essential restaurants. Park’s is widely considered to be best quality KBBQ in town. Order anything made of beef, since the restaurant focuses more on cows than on pigs. Stuff your face with some galbi beef short ribs while a photo of Nicolas Cage enviously stares at you. I can eat bulgogi for hours.

Rich’s BBQ

Rich’s is your classic L.A. street food winner. Another pop-up spot that operates late nights in Silver Lake with the feel of backyard BBQ. Everyone raves about the BBQ chicken. But the best plan for a Rich’s night involves a quick hit of the snapy hot links before catching a movie at The Vista. Then take a stroll down sunset to find a Tecate or six. Before going right back to Rich’s to find some meaty dessert.

Salazar

Another Sonoran inspired spot, Salazar’s kind of got it all. It’s an outdoor, mesquite grilling beauty of a spot sitting right along the L.A. River in Frogtown. It’s a little hard to navigate to if you have never been before. And the gravely steps can be hard for anyone on crutches or a chair. But it’s the perfect place to grab a beer and a grilled asada taco on a Sunny L.A. day.

Esdras Ochoa and Billy Silverman opened Salazar two years ago with a social media splash and it has consistently turned out good food and strong cocktails. Silverman's the sole owner now and the outdoor gem continues to shine under his stewardship.

They serve their grilled meats on planks and the tacos on flour tortillas made in house. Order a michelada and a couple of carne asada taco served with avocado, salsa vaquera, cilantro and red onions. If you’re feeling fancy get the pollo asado con papas, a grilled chicken and potato dish served with tomatillo vinegar. If you’re feeling really unfancy, get the grilled asada fries, a beer, and a belly full of the boldest BBQ L.A.’s got to offer.

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