Saturday, June 12, 2010

Baby Blues BBQ

444 Lincoln Boulevard

Venice, CA 90291

Open M-Thur 11:30-10, F-Sat 11:30-11, Sun 12-10

Have you ever noticed that every show on the Food Network or Travel Channel that features BBQ across the country, they'll go to the hot spots like Texas, North Carolina, Memphis and Kansas City which are deep in 'cue tradition, then they always have to include some joint from New York and L.A. just to please some producer who doesn't know squat about smoked meat? Well, Baby Blues BBQ in Venice, California is one of those places.

After paying more than I ever have for a three-meat plate ($30), I had it wrapped up to go. This plate included a huge beef rib (I think an entire short rib), some "Memphis" ribs (St. Louis cut) and some brisket (pulled since sliced was not an option). I was starving when I finally dug into them at the hotel. The sides of creamy mac & cheese, dense sweet potato casserole and some cornbread with whole kernels and a nice spicy bite were all excellent, and may be worth returning for alone. The meat was another story.

I know this is California, and they have different definitions for things that Texans take for granted. For instance, sauced and grilled meat is called barbeque. There's nothing wrong with this type of meat, but it has no smoke flavor whatsoever. I know the proprietors say they smoke everything for like 82 hours after it marinates in the rub for weeks (my exaggeration), but the smoker they use must be some gas fired model that takes a few sticks of kindling during the "smoking" process. This stuff tasted like chargrilled sauce, not smoke.

On the brighter side, all of the meat was beautifully tender and moist. The beef rib didn't have a speck of inedible fat, and the St. Louis ribs were just as pleasing to eat. My only warning is that Texans need not expect smoke flavored meat, and you must know that there ain't no $10 combo plates on the beach.

Rating **
Baby Blues Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon


3rd Degree Berns said...

Agreed 100%. Back when I was living in California, a group of friends and I went a day or two after an episode about Baby Blues showed on Food Network. There was an enormous but lively crowd and morale was high. And then we sampled ribs, pork, and brisket. All short of expectations. I should have somehow anticipated this after watching the proprietors of this outfit braising the pork shoulders in shallow dishes of Guinness during the smoke process. Unbelievable.

Winning credit card roulette was definitely the highlight of my experience.

Anonymous said...

We are Texans living in Las Vegas. We had to go try this eatery on a LA summer vacation trip afters eeing it on Triple D. It was high priced for sure & we enjoyed the food overalll but the sides stole the show. We have tried to recreate the smothered okra ourselves. It gave us a small reminder of home but did not hit the nail on the head and now I realize why. Lack of smoke!Nice try for beach bbq place in CA.

OK BBQ Eaters Anonymous said...

I couldn't really compare this place to what I eat in Oklahoma. I just didn't feel it was fair.

For California Q I think it was pretty tasty.

I was disappointed that after flying from OK to CA and then fighting the traffic to get to this place that they didn't have any beef ribs the day I was there.

Darryl said...

If you want to find something reasonably close to Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas City, etc. barbecue in California, you're not going to find it in Venice; you have to go to South Central L.A., where pit barbecue has lived and thrived for decades. There are many other places scattered around the state (Back 40 Barbecue in the Bay Area; Mr. Tibb's Ribs in Bakersfield, etc.), but you have to ask locals who know what they're talking about.


Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.