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June, 2018

BBQ Advisory–BigMista’s Barbecue & Sammich Shop, Long Beach, CA

I was going to post this in a few days, but I just saw this in Jenn Harris’s June 19th “Daily Dish” column for the Los Angeles Times:

“Long Beach is about to lose some serious BBQ. Neil Strawder and his wife Phyllis announced they would close Bigmista’s Barbecue & Sammich Shop in a cryptic post on the Bigmista’s website. The restaurant’s last day of service is July 1. Strawder, who started barbecuing as a hobby, then joined the competition circuit and sold his barbecue at farmers markets, opened his first bricks-and-mortar restaurant in Long Beach in 2014. He opened a second restaurant, Big Mista’s Morning Wood, in 2015, but closed that location earlier this year. In the post, Phyllis writes that she and Neil are moving out of state. You can still get your BBQ fix from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays, until the end of the month. Here’s to hoping wherever the Strawders land, there will be BBQ. 3444 N. Los Coyotes Diagonal, Long Beach, (562) 452-6565, www.bigmista.com.” 

Of all the things that I tried here, I thought the ribs, hot links and mac ‘n’ cheese were the best. Please note that there is very limited seating at this restaurant. Probably best to do takeout. Also, it’s only open from Thursday to Sunday.  

BigMista’s Barbecue and Sammich Shop
3444 N. Los Coyotes Diagonal
Long Beach, CA
(562) 452-6565
www.bigmista.com.” 

BBQ Advisory–Bludso’s Bar & Que, Los Angeles, CA

This is a throwback post! I was in Los Angeles last January for the 2018 NAACP Image Awards. My book, The President’s Kitchen Cabinetwas nominated for “Outstanding Literary Work–Non-fiction.” As you probably know, I’m always “researching” soul food and barbecue whenever I travel. My friend, Eddie Gehman Kohan, told me about a place called Bludso’s. By the time I got to LA, the original location in Compton had closed, but there was another location in the city.

 

Here’s my rundown:

Meat

Pork spareribs: a true delight! It was everything I want in a sparerib: tender but with a slightly crunchy exterior, and a wonderful smoky flavor.

Beef brisket: If the option is available, I always get a mix of lean and moist (fatty) brisket slices. It too was tender, and had a good smoky flavor.

Hot link and jalapeno cheddar sausage: These were also tasty. The jalapeno cheddar sausage had a nice kick, and I love that the cheese was oozing out as I bit into it.

Sides

Baked beans: Pretty standard, and wonderfully spiked with small chunks of brisket.

Collards–With so many restaurants serving vegetarian greens, I was surprised to find nice, delicious bits of pork to season this dish. Very solid culinary performance.

Potato salad: This version is creamier than what one might expect, headed in the direction of mashed potatoes. I like mine a little chunkier, but this was fine nonetheless.

Cornbread: a nice sweet, soulful cornbread.

Drinks

Cheerwine: This cherry-flavored drink is a local favorite in North Carolina.

Hibiscus agua fresca: My heart leapt for joy when I saw this on the menu. Hisbicus drinks connect this African diaspora, but in the U.S., they are more associated with herbal tea companies and Latinx. Hibiscus is native to West Africa, and is used to make a popular drink called bissap. As a consequence of the Atlantic Slave Trade, that drink was transplanted in the Caribbean, particularly Jamaica, where it is known as sorrel. As it spread throughout the region and was embraced by Latinx, it became agua de Jamaica (literally “Jamaica water”). It has a tart cranberry taste that is mellowed out with some sweetener. This is a WONDERFUL soft drink, and I hope that you will try it.

Dessert

Chocolate chess pie: As Nancie McDermott writes in her authoritative book Southern Pieschess pies are similar to custard pies and are “a luscious combination of eggs, butter, and something truly sweet, such as molasses, sorghum syrup, or brown or white sugar.”

Sweet potato burnt sugar ice cream: Just like a dream. I was expecting a heavy-handed approach with this ice cream, but the flavors are subtle. A great way to end my meal.

I highly recommend this place!

Bludso’s Bar & Cue
609 N. La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036

 

BBQ Advisory: Hungry Wolf BBQ & Catfish, Denver, CO

My friend Mark Antonation, a food writer for Westword, tipped me off to Hungry Wolf BBQ and Catfish–a new barbecue joint in my part of town. Although he did so under whack circumstances. It turned out that right after Hungry Wolf opened, someone STOLE THE SMOKER SET UP IN THE FRONT OF THE RESTAURANT!!  I mean, seriously, who does that? Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident. Several barbecue joints in Colorado have either had their smokers stolen or vandalized.

Hearing about what happened, and that it is an African American-owned barbeue business, I rushed to support them. I went there yesterday, and this was a very welcome sight:

The smoker is fully-operational! I was there for lunch, and I got a nice sample of most things on the menu. I ordered the “Hungry Wolf Platter”: a pork sparerib, a beef short rib, a quarter of smoked chicken, a split hot link, a fried catfish filet, two fried shrimp, and a choice of two sides (I got red beans and rice and coleslaw).

Here’s my assessment:

Pork spareribs–a nice smoke flavor, and my piece was on the lean side.

Beef rib–I was expecting a big rib, but this was more like a short rib. It was tender, and had great flavor. Not too chewy and stringy like so many other beef ribs that I’ve had.

Catfish–fried hard so that it had crunch, but the coating didn’t have a lot of seasoning. Fortunately, there was hot sauce nearby to do the trick.

Chicken–the quarter had good flavor, but the breast was a little dry.

Hot links–had some nice kick, but it wasn’t the really spicy, coarsely-ground hot links that I’m used to getting in an African American-run barbecue shop.

Fried shrimp–they were lukewarm by the time that I got them. Just OK.

Red beans and rice–this was a very good side dish. Please note that all of the sides here are pork-free. As good as this was, I really missed having some Louisiana-style sausage in the mix.

Coleslaw–much too creamy. So much so that the cabbage gets lost.

I was too full for dessert, but I’ll be back. I hope that you’ll give Hungry Wolf a try as well.

I got a chance to speak with the owner who said that he offers “Oklahoma-style barbecue.” I tried to get a fuller description, but his answer was cryptic. I’ll keep investigating!

Hungry Wolf BBQ & Catfish
9865 Hampden Avenue
Denver, CO 80231

  • June 16th, 2018
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