For several years now L.A.’s BBQ epicures have been lining up at Bludso’s on Long Beach Boulevard to quell their cravings for hardwood-kissed Texas-style meats. Pitmaster Kevin Bludso smokes his brisket and other large cuts for about 15 hours in the coal-black smokers round the back of his shop; it’s the low, slow 250-degree heat that seals in their moisture and flavor. But Bludso, a super-disciplined pit master and former social-services employee, takes his craft even further, going so far as to blend various woods to suit each meat type: red oak with pecan for his juicy beef brisket and for pork hickory, pecan and apple wood.
Still, Bludso’s tiny and exceedingly modest Compton shop isn’t what you’d call centrally located. And its amenities are mighty few. You can chow down at the long skinny counter but most fans order to go.
So it was no surprise that a cheer went up across the So.Cal. foodie landscape the moment we heard rumors that a second Bludso’s would be opening on the cusp of West Hollywood on La Brea in a spot that once held Chef Mark Peel’s Tar Pit.
The prime movers of this venture, Jason Bernstein and James Starr, are the guys who jumped into the gourmet burger craze early on with The Golden State on Fairfax Avenue. And now they’ve joined the current wave of wood-cooked gourmet barbecuing with Bludso who holds the title of “executive pitmaster” at the new restaurant.
But it is Noah Galuten who tends the smoker at the second Bludso’s, having apprenticed with Kevin Bludso for many months. You know from his past that this wildly dedicated food lover will be treating the ‘que craft with the same respect as does his mentor. Folks remember Galuten’s food passion from www.manbitesworld.com where he detailed eating the food of a different culture in L.A. for over 100 consecutive days.
On Galuten’s menu are Bludso-style flavor-packed spare ribs encased in a crackly charred crust. His long-smoked succulent pork shoulder oozing porcine juices is “pulled” and heaped high onto sandwich buns and whole chickens are redolent of wood flavor. Most meats are sold by the pound or fractions thereof with thick house-made sauce on the side. Tossed onto paper-lined trays, they’re served at the restaurant’s newly installed picnic tables and leatherette booths.
Presently only dinner is served (until midnight) and there’s no take-out. But plans are afoot to change that after everyone settles in.
Despite the new casual look of the space, Bernstein and Starr have retained the former tenant’s liquor license. They’ve stocked the bar with fancy whiskeys, draft microbrews and even Fernet Branca mint juleps on tap (presumably to help you digest all that Q and the irresistible desserts made by Noah’s mom.
Bludso's Bar & Que: 609 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, barandque.com; 323-931-2583.