California Barbecue in Venice.
The screen door creaks as I walk inside. The air feels heavy with dust and age as I work my way inside.
Feels heavy. It’s not really.
Did I mention I’m in Venice? Did I mention I’m at Baby Blues BBQ?
Yeah, the main dining hall has a bit of simulated age to it. Hand-me-down furniture. A good wood floor. Are those Paper Towel dispensers I see?
Okay. Okay. All good touches.
Baby Blues BBQ is one of the most popular places for Barbecue in Los Angeles.
Yeah, I’ll be the judge of that.
I’m sorry. I keep hearing this nonsense from Angelenos. “Oh yeah, we’ll just go to RESTAURANT X for some Barbecue. It’s the BEST.” Or I’ll hear, “Yeah, I just go down to RESTAURANT Y. They’ve got that Texas style Barbecue. Best in show.”
I’m sorry. I’m sorry, but Californians…native Californians…I don’t know how to put it.
YOU ALL DON’T KNOW JACK ABOUT BARBECUE!!!
Sorry, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time. I make no bones about it. Texas Barbecue is the only form of (American) Barbecue. Everything else (especially Kansas City Style) is a sin against God.
“California” Barbecue is in truth a mishmash of styles. They throw little bits and piece of their favorite styles against the wall and see what sticks. It leaves people like me, who’ve grown up with Texas Barbecue, feeling a little cold.
I will give Baby Blues BBQ some credit in this regard. Everything I’ve said, everything I’ve just attacked California BBQ on, they see as a virtue.
They don’t claim to be perfect. They know their style is a “hybrid” style, featuring a little Memphis this, a little North Carolina that, and so on…
Good. I’m glad they’re upfront about it. I’m glad they’re proud of it.
Still leaves me cold.
Not unsatisfied cold. Baby Blues BBQ serves a perfectly fine meal. Meat’s…ummm…decently prepared. You have a lot of choices when it comes to sauces (their “BBQ”, Sweet, XXX and Hot sauces). Closest thing to Texas style was the XXX, and…well…no.
So, in the end, let me say it plain. Baby Blues BBQ is okay.
Yeah, that’s about it.
Okay, on to the food.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: It is part of my sad duty as your local Food Blogger to report when I @#$% up. And man, did I @#$% up.
The way I judge Barbecue places is…basically I get the same thing every time. I get something as close to Texas style as possible. That means I get the Texas Trinity of Sausage, Ribs and Brisket. The three prime Texas meats, then go find a Barbecue Sauce that does Peppery without being Sugary. Only then will I be happy.
Well, I saw the “Rib Picker” which is Ribs and another meat, but I didn’t see the Big Blue two inches away, which would have allowed me to pick three kinds of meats.
So that’s on me.
So I just had the Ribs and Brisket, and I was only moderately happy…which is typical for California Barbecue Joints.
That’s on them.
Again, like most California Barbecue places, the meat was decently prepared. A little dry for my tastes, but all right. And the sauce was…the sauce was…
Well, the sauce…was…
Like I said, I don’t like sweet in my Barbecue Sauce…at all. Anything close to sugary, and I’m accusing you of First Degree Kansas Cityism (Shudder). Even the XXX Sauce, the hottest thing they had (not the one with the most pepper) has raspberries and mangos in it. So it’s not sugary sweet, but it is sweeter than I was prepared for.
This is never going to work.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Is it just me, or is it a little weird that this place is a chain, with locations in West Hollywood, Venice (where I was), San Francisco, and…Philly.
Yes, Philly. As in way the hell across the country…Philly.
Other than that, nothing too strange to report. It’s a straight ahead restaurant. You’ll navigate it just time.
PARKING: Okay, here’s where there is going to be an issue.
Baby Blues BBQ, at least the Venice branch, sits at a corner, and it…well…doesn’t have it’s own Parking Lot.
I came at Lunch, so if there’s a late night Valet, it wasn’t operational when I was there.
Venice’s Lincoln Blvd. is notoriously difficult to find parking along, at least close to wherever it is you want to go.
Baby Blues BBQ’s front door face a Drug/Grocery Store concern with a large parking lot. Tempting as it may look, I doubt it’s a good to park there. The signs around the lot didn’t suggest they’d be in sharing mood. So be vary.
I wound up parking along Venice’s Sunset Ave. about a block and a half from the restaurant. Bit of a hike, but even though it was residential, signs said I could park there. At night, I don’t know.
Baby Blues BBQ (Venice)
444 Lincoln Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
Daily: 11:30 am – 10:00 pm