What is Montrose? For the first 6+ years I lived in LA I probably would have answered that it is some sort of mythical creature composed of combining a mongoose with an albatross. The fact is that it is neither. Instead, it is a town up near Pasadena, built into the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. And in that town is a restaurant called Zeke’s Smokehouse.
In a city filled with all kinds of fun events, one event (aside from a plethora of farmer’s markets) can be counted on every week. It’s Smorgasburg, which originally started over in Brooklyn, and it’s kind of like a miniaturized, hipster version of 626 Night Market. On my first venture, I made my way to Ugly Drum Pastrami.
When you travel for business, you don’t really stop to think about just how much food you’re taking in. Thus, I felt it necessary to follow up my first BBQ dinner in Alpharetta, Georgia with another one. This time I went to ‘Cue and split ribs and brisket in an attempt to get enough meat to compare to the night prior at Smokejack.
Alpharetta, Georgia isn’t exactly a food blogger’s destination of choice. Yet, when the day job sends you off to such an exotic place, you make do. And that’s what I did when I made my way to Smokejack, a BBQ that I hoped would represent The South well. Smokejack is located in what can best be described as Alpharetta’s Main Street (because it is), and while all the other restaurants nearby looked good, Smokejack just drew me in.
BBQ. Those who don’t love it don’t love life. But you know where people love life? Eagle Rock. That’s where you’ll find Max City BBQ dishing out the goods. And this isn’t some Santa Maria-style BBQ that’s basically grilling, this is slow-smoked action. The only trouble is that the food comes in a limited quantity and if you show up too late the goods might be gone.
There’s been a tremendous growth in LA’s BBQ scene in the past couple of years and one of the restaurants that the growth has brought us is Maple Block in Culver City. Maple Block is definitely on the trendier side of BBQ, but the interior smelled like deliciously smoked meats and the guy that ran the place walked us through the menu to make recommendations.
Bludso’s in Compton is very often hailed as the best BBQ in LA. Yet, for some reason, a number of people find it difficult to make it to that part of town. Thus, Bludso’s spun off into Hollywood with a bar and que concept that creatively includes a bar along with BBQ. In other words, my long-awaited trip to BBQ heaven (and possibly like real heaven) in Compton was put on hold to make the trip to Hollywood.
South Pasadena is a unique place. As a wholly independent city, it’s often thought of as a more hoity toity part of the area. Yet, it retains a charm that is distinctly “main street.” The part of Fair Oaks that runs through town features a pharmacy straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, but more importantly it has Gus’s Bar-B-Q, which has been around since 1946.
There are few better things to have nearby than a solid BBQ place. Not too far from my place in Pasadena are two contenders that seem like they can fulfill my hopes, so I set out to try out the first one recently. It’s called Bonnie B’s Smokin’ and is hidden away in a little strip of shops and a payroll loan place. I would call it a hole in the wall if it weren’t for the fact that the interior features a decent set up of tables and is immaculately clean.
BBQ is a wonderful thing. And while most great BBQ is nowhere near LA, there are certainly great spots to be found. A newcomer on the scene just recently popped up in Culver City (in a corner where restaurant seem to die), calling itself Chop Daddy’s. The place has all the makings of trying to become a chain, which isn’t always the best when you’re looking for authenticity, but all I cared about was getting some good ‘cue.