Monday, May 20, 2013

A Little Bit of Texas in the Shadow of the Hollywood Sign

Bludso's Bar-and -Que
609 N. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

To wrap up our day trip up the 5 Freeway, both Katie and I wanted to have some dinner. We had crammed two restaurants into our six hour LA adventure so far, so neither of us was overly hungry when we decided it was time to hit a third restaurant for dinner. Before we had left the house, I had mapped out where I had wanted to eat. The third, and final restaurant I wanted to try was Bludso's Bar and Que.

Bludso's has been on my list of places to try forever. In fact, it was number four out of the over 70 restaurants that we have on our list of restaurants to try. I got this suggestion way back in 2009, when a reader of the blog, Joe C., had told me that I needed to try Bludso's in Compton. Compton is a little out of the way for us, but I was surprised and happy to learn that Bludso's had opened another location in the West Hollywood area of LA. This was way more convenient, as we were up this way running a Mother's Day errand and playing tourist.

Bludso's serves Texas style barbecue. I love all kinds of barbecue, but Texas style is my favorite. This kind of barbecue is characterized by having the sauce on the side, or none at all. I really like having the option of trying the meat without sauce first, then using my desired amount of sauce. The man behind this restaurant is Kevin Bludso, who comes from a long line of barbecuing masters. Using the barbecuing techniques of his great-great grandfather, and the recipes of his grandmother, he has amassed a cult like following in Southern California for his fantastic barbecue. Over 750 reviews on Yelp, and nearly 700 of those gave 4 or 5 stars to this restaurant. To say that I was excited to try this barbecue would be an understatement.

We got to the restaurant just before seven on a Saturday night. There is no parking lot here, they offer valet parking, but we found a spot on the street pretty close to the restaurant. As soon as we walked in the front door, we got hit with the sweet smell of barbecue. I was surprised there was no wait, and we were ushered to a table near the back of the large one roomed restaurant. The openness of the restaurant is heightened by the lack of decor on the walls, which have large, flat screened TVs hanging on them, showing the latest sporting events. This restaurant can best be described as comfortable. Large wooden tables really allowed the two of us to spread out. My eye was immediately drawn to the window that allows customers to take a peek inside the kitchen.

We were greeted promptly by a waiter that gave us our menu, which really just amounted to an order sheet. You check off any of the six kinds of meat and the quantity that you want, along with the seven side items offered. Very simple ordering process. If you are with a large group they have an option called The Tray ($85), which gets you everything on the menu. I saw a couple of tables of six get this, and they had enough to bring home. Unfortunately, Katie and I did not have a large group with us, so we only ordered three kinds of meats, and two sides. Let's see if this place can live up to the hype.

Here's a quick shot of the tray that came our way. Our food came out pretty quick, maybe about ten minutes, if that. Let's take a closer look at the three meats that made up our meal.

Starting with the Half Pound of Brisket ($11). Quite simply, one of the best briskets I have had. The first bite really highlighted the smokiness of the meat. The only way I can imagine someone not liking this is if they are sensitive to smokiness in their meats. The brisket itself was very tender, with a great flavor. There was just a small amount of fat on some slices, which definitely gave this meat even more flavor. Wow, is all I can say.

I was a little skeptical ordering pork in a Texas barbecue joint, because they are more known for their beef, but this Half Rack of Pork Ribs ($14) has helped change my mind about that. If the brisket was the best I have had, these are definitely the best ribs I have had in Southern California. The meat was very tender, with just enough pull to it. The smokiness was very evident here as well. Each rib had lots of meat on it, with not a bad one in the batch. I guess this is a good time to mention the barbecue sauces here. They of course are served on the side, a sweeter one and a spicy one. I, of course was more partial to the spicier version, but the sweeter sauce was fine as well. Both sauces coated the meats nicely, while allowing the flavor of the meats to still be front and center.

I am usually against getting chicken in restaurants, because most of the time they are over cooked and dry. This was not the case with the Half Chicken ($9) at Bludso's. This chicken, like the other meats, had a great smoky flavor, while being very tender. When I had this the next day for lunch, people were raving about the smell of this chicken in my break room at work. I was stingy though, and did not share with anyone though.

We only selected two of the sides to try, because we knew we would be stuffed by this point. The Regular Size of the Baked Beans ($4) really woke up my taste buds. This had a real kick to it, without being overpowering. The beans were cooked well, there were little bits of meat in here, and the consistency was just on the verge of becoming too soupy, but did not cross that line. The Regular Size of the Mac and Cheese ($5) was good, but not great. They really went easy on the cheese with this version. After a few bites this, it kind of got boring. Since they do not have sandwiches on the menu, I guess they provide the white bread if you would like to make an impromptu sandwich.

Even though we were full, there was just enough room for Banana Pudding ($5). This classic dessert came with two Nilla Wafers wedged into the pudding. The banana flavor was very subtle here, but the texture of the pudding was smooth. A very nice dessert, which did a great job of complimenting the savory meats.

If you have not read any of the above and only looked at the pictures to this point, you are probably not aware how much I loved this restaurant. No beating around the bush here, I am ready to declare this the best barbecue restaurant in Southern California. It is that good. Even thought it has been three weeks since we have been to Bludso's, I still find myself thinking about the meats here. Each one blew all other barbecue we have had in California away. This is real deal barbecue that could easily be served in any barbecue rich state in the nation. It's hard for me to pick out something I did not like here, but if pressed, I would say it is the lack of sandwiches on the menu. Any of the meats here would go great made into a sandwich. The service was good for us on this night. The food came out nice and quick, and we really had no other issues. Glad we could find time to fit Bludso's into our LA day. Now we just have to make up more excuses to come back this way again soon.

Out of five pecan trees, (the official state tree of the state of Texas, and because this barbecue is good enough to be served in the Lone Star State), five being best to zero being worst, Bludso's Bar-and-Que gets 4.5 pecan trees.

For more information on Bludso's Bar-and-Que, click here:

Bludso's Bar & Que on Urbanspoon


  1. Texas and Kansas City BBQ joints routinely provide a couple of slices of either plain white bread, or toast diagonally cut. I never have been sure what for either, but that is why you got the bread. Also usually there should be a few hamburger dills.

    The sides unless you get something like the corn cheezy bake type sides they have in KC or other, should be eaten interspersed with bits from each part of the meal, not taken all at once as you did the mac & cheeze.

    the sides are what they just don't get out here, I guess because delivering the meat and not loosing their shirts on the costs is enough of a challenge. Check out the KCMO and Dallas Tx BBQ restaurants and you'll see way better sides, though the beans are a staple.

  2. Anonymous - Thanks for all of your insights. I really enjoyed this restaurant, but it just makes me wonder why more places can not get BBQ right. Bludso's proves that it can be done, but others fail when it comes to either the meats or the sides. Very frustrating. Thanks for taking the time to read the blog.

  3. I must go soon!!! Thanks Mike for another spot to hit!

  4. Sammy - You need to make a special trip here right away. Well worth the driving time. Let me know what you think when you go. Thanks or reading the blog.

  5. I went on a Sunday and when I got there they were closed :( on a brighter note I walked over to pinks across the street! :) cant say ot wasnt worth the drive either way! I will def head back again for another shot cause I love bbq!!

  6. Sammy - Man what a bummer to get all the way up there and they are closed. It's been over a month and I still think about Bludso's often. They were just on Diners, Drive-In's and Dives a week ago. Glad Pinks was good. I still want to try that location on my next visit up to LA. Thanks for the comment.