As is right and proper in California, you have to go to the seedier part of town to get the best authentic Southern barbecue. Baby Blues BBQ (444 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, 310/396-7675, www.babybluesbarbq.com, Mon.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Sat. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m., Sun. noon–10 p.m., $10–30) disobeys the haute Venice rule of AWOL (Always West of Lincoln), sitting right on Lincoln Boulevard with its grubby sidewalks and elderly strip malls. This disreputable street corner location (really, it’s not that bad) does not dissuade locals, who line up at lunchtime to grab a plate of ribs or chicken.
The menu pays little attention to cholesterol or carb counters. Choose from sausages, pulled pork, beer-braised brisket, barbecued chicken, and pork or beef ribs, all covered in homemade sauces and spice rubs. The cooks know their business, and regional specialties from different parts of the South are created with specific intent and understanding of the cuisine. Fixin’s (side dishes) include Baby Blues’ famed hot cornbread, baked beans, slaw, mac and cheese, and other appropriate stuff.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition