The best BBQ restaurant in LA isn't actually a restaurant. It's a cramped, broom closet-sized enclave in Compton that has a take-out window, a mocking joke of a "lunch counter", and a massive coal-black smoker in the back that acts as a sort of foodie Tesseract, opening spectral doors to let in flavors of the divine.
Bloggers have given themselves capral tunnel syndrome typing raves about the 'Q cooked up by southland native Kevin Bludso. Normally, I fancy myself an iconoclastic, go-against-the-grain contrarian (i.e. "In & N burgers are overrated and soggy!" "Fight Club was all about Chuck Palahniuk hating himself for being gay and is nowhere near as smart as it thinks it is!" "Bill Hicks was never actually that funny!") This time, however, I gotta run with the herd. Because the herd is going somewhere fucking delicious.
The basics: the char-ringed ribs are spectacular, the pulled pork is amongst the finest in town, and the sides -- collard greens stewed in a potent chicken broth, creamy-pungent potato salad, profoundly spicy baked beans -- are stellar. (Except the mac and cheese, which is stringy and underwhelming; but to be fair, I have yet to find a BBQ joint that does all sides equally well.) All that said, the brisket is where you'll find the real action.
First, a caveat: brisket is an astoundingly easy-to-fuck-up dish. Go to a place like Kansas City BBQ in North Hollywood and watch your dreams die in a puddle of overcooked brisket deluged in lukewarm sauce. Even the great Dr. Hogly Wogly's in Van Nuys can't seem to quite get the alchemy down right.
But at Bludso's, brisket is a matter of science, religion, and art. The beef comes out steaming, stacked in thick slices reminiscent of the pastrami cuts at Langer's, ringed with carbonized spice rub and marbled with little islands of juicy fat. Forget melting in your mouth; this stuff almost melts on your fork and sublimates into a rush of smoky umami the second you take a bite.The (sparingly used) spicy-sweet, homemade, tomato-and-molasses sauce lingers on your palate like the afterglow of a great first date. It's the kind of dish you want to invent time travel for, so you can experience eating it for the first time all over again.
Your list of reasons to go to Compton just got longer.