I hardly know where to start with Bludso’s. A respected, award winning Los Angeles BBQ hole in the wall when it was in Compton (that location has since closed) to being venerated by none other than Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer Prize winning LA Times critic himself as being the best Que in LA.
I searched for that award and found it was a Hoodie award. Those awards, more formally known as the Neighborhood Awards, which was TV host, Steve Harvey’s baby for more than 16 years that honored businesses in the hood, was won by Bludso’s BBQ back in 2012 in front of an audience of thousands and the video alone, with a very long and funny intro in the BBQ category by comic George Wallace is worth watching. Well done Kevin Bludso and now I can see why.
Even though I grew up in LA and only left there a short 9 years ago, I’ve grown to love several BBQ places here in San Diego where I now reside. And I have to apologize. To all of them. Especially the joints I constantly go on about. Because I found a BBQ restaurant that has now won a place in my heart and is my current favorite. That’s right, it’s Bludso’s.
Kevin Bludso also grew up in LA like I did, but spent summers as a kid cooking Que with his grandma in Corsicana, Texas. It served him well. He may have hated doing it as a kid, but it kept him out of trouble in Compton and he learned how to do Que right. But before he perfected that BBQ thing, he was a correctional officer, for 11 years! Yikes. He hated that and moved onto BBQ which we all need to be grateful for.
He teamed up with the Los Angeles Gastropub, Golden State on Fairfax and started Bludso’s back in 2012 on La Brea near Melrose. Because we had mutual friends in common in the BBQ world, we hooked up on Facebook awhile back and I vowed to try it out next time I was in LA, which is not very often because…well, it’s LA and I hate driving anywhere around there! I wish I could say I got to meet him that day, but he seems to like hanging out in Texas lately, so someday Kevin!
Ok, enough background. Onto the vittles. And wow, gotta get right to the heart of it all for me. THE BEST PORK RIBS this rib girl has ever tried! I mean wowza! These ribs were beyond seasoned just right. There is some magic trick in there, not sure what, but a little tug and they came right off the bone. The smoke was perfect. The apple wood maybe? Look at that pretty ring of pink just waiting for my teeth to sink into it. The flavor…..man, it’s beyond good. See the sauces above the ribs? Good, but SO not necessary. Did I say wow already? I think so. Next to those are his Red Hots, which if you adore spicy, you’re going to love these. They were too spicy for this girl. His chicken sausages which you can see in the full tray above were more my speed.
Next on the parade of hits, was some of the most unctuous brisket I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying. I get teased a lot (you know who you are!) by some of my fellow Kansas City BBQ Society judges at competitions about how I dread the brisket category. Why? Because it can suck. A lot. It is so very rarely a wow (for me at least) and we know what a tough meat it is to cook. This one at Bludso’s was a revelation. I’m not kidding one bit. Of course I always ask if they do burnt ends and most places won’t because it’s not cost efficient and it takes away from the many slices you need to yield from the point. They still managed to serve me some end pieces that along with the slices, were so (seemingly) candied (with no sugar!) from just the salt and pepper bark, that I was in heaven over the way they sorta stuck to my teeth after each bite! I’m dreaming about this brisket along with those ribs! Nice fatty ridge on top. If I catch you ordering their lean brisket….I’ll know you’re from LA!
His chicken alone could win an award for best looking skin! I mean, nothing is more of a turn off when there is no color or browning on a skin. His was delicious and a bit crispy too. Moist and tender, not to be missed. If you don’t eat pork or beef, you won’t feel like you missed anything. I’m a good liar, right?
Here’s their pitmaster Kent with the 411……
His manager, also named Kevin, brought out a bit of most everything for me and my friend to try. This is where I like to say that some of the portions you’re seeing may not be the same as what you order from the menu. So, don’t shoot the messenger. I can’t wait to get back there and try their beef short ribs which are only served at dinner time (I was there for lunch) Thursday through Monday.
I do love that this place pays close attention to their side dishes, which as you know, can really get ignored at many BBQ places as they put the emphasis on their meats only. Shame on you! All of their sides are made from scratch. The greens here have pieces of rib tips in them. Or was that the beans? They were both delish! Loved the potato salad too and the cole slaw. While the mac and cheese was better than most, I’ve still not found one that beats the one from Pitmaster Rick Daniels at Iron Pig Alehouse in Pacific Beach in San Diego. He’s also from Texas.
Their cornbread gets a special mention because it’s that good! Served with some honey butter, I was a very happy girl. Nice thick slice by the way. I’ll also need to make room next time for National Pie Champion, Nicole Rucker’s pies!
Nothing tops off a great BBQ meal like sweet tea or Topo Chico. Their sweet tea isn’t overly sweet and compliments the Que just right. But the refreshing bubble of the Topo is one of my faves.
Man, this place ALMOST makes me wish I still lived in LA. Almost. I’d be there at least once a week if I did. Y’all are so lucky to live there…well, at least for this reason.
Bludso’s Bar & Que
609 N. La Brea Ave,
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Monday – Friday 11:30am – 3:00pm, 5:00pm – 10:00pm