One recent evening, as J and I sat in the car, our conversation turned to a familiar topic: "What should we eat for dinner?" On this evening, we both craved something heavy. Hearty. Filling. And we were willing to make a trek for it. We quickly arrived at the same conclusion: BBQ.
Although questions of where to find good BBQ in Los Angeles are often polarizing (any given BBQ joint is often the absolute "best" or "worst" place someone has eaten), the praise has been almost unanimous for one place--Bludso's BBQ.
Located in Compton only a stone's throw away from the Long Beach city limits, Bludso's BBQ serves Texas-style BBQ in Texas-sized portions. Owner Kevin Bludso hails from a barbecuing family and relies on the BBQ techniques of his great great grandfather and the recipes of his grandmother. I'm a sucker for food with history.
As J and I examined the menu, we vacillated over what to order: Should he order ribs? Or perhaps pork? Should I branch out from my favorite--pulled pork--in order to try something new? Finally, something caught our eye: the Texas Sampler ($28.50) which comes with two large sides and one of every kind of meat except beef rib. Except beef rib? We then added two beef ribs to our already sizeable order for $4.00.
Although Bludso's tiny interior holds a countertop and barstools, there is also an area behind the restaurant with a picnic table and chairs. The area is also home to Bludso's two large smokers so, while you wait for your food, a preview of what is to come may waft through the air.
Although Bludso's of course provides napkins and wet wipes for its messy fare, the restaurant also gives you two slices of white bread with your order--an edible alternative for your face-wiping needs.
The greens--our first side--were less than impressive, lacking the depth of flavor usually imbued to greens by the smoked meat with which they are cooked.
The mac and cheese was a surprise--dry and crumbly rather than creamy and gooey as with most Southern versions of this dish. Despite its unexpected consistency, this mac and cheese was none the less rich and cheesy, which is what really counts.
Although the meats were all stacked on top of one another, each retained its unique flavor--the beef links, dark and smoky; the pork ribs, bright and tangy. Every item was technically "BBQ" but at no point did the flavors become redundant; every meat was completely different than the others and delicious in its own right.
Despite the fact that we already had enough food to feed us for days, we also had our two extra beef ribs. Almost the size of my forearm, these were wonderfully meaty and tender. Although I rarely order ribs and generally avoid spicy food, I ate every last piece of meat off my rib.
We did our best, but our box still did not fully close when we left, and the Bludso's crew jokingly voiced their disapproval. In the end, our substantial Texas Sampler platter from Bludso's provided around five separate meals--each of which was somehow even tastier than the last. I foresee a return trip in my near future. After all, I still need to try the pulled pork sandwich...
811 S. Long Beach Blvd.
Compton, CA 90221