Is It Any Good?

Texas style Barbecue in North Hollywood.

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My quest for Barbecue in California has been, as you know, a painful one…or rather a pain in the ass.

Those of who you’ve read my other Barbecue related posts know that there are Churches within the Barbecue community of nations, and I myself (being raised by Texans) am an adherent to the Church of Texas Barbecue. To me, the tastes I want and crave are more savory than sweet. In fact, the presence of sugar in my Barbecue is not something I’m fond of…at all. (Scratch Kansas City). I do like sauce on my Barbecue (some parts of Texas won’t even give you sauce, so I may not even be a good Texan). I like my sauce both Peppery, a touch tangy, very savory, and…if it really works…with a kick.

I don’t always get that in California. In fact, a lot of times, I get one-hundred and eighty degrees away from what I want. So, it is an actual fact that I wind up not liking a lot of the Barbecue I’m served.

I’ve said it before, I’ve thought long an hard about calling this Blog “Barbecue Hardass”.

So I’m here in…here in…where am I again?


Yeah, Swingin’ Door BBQ is in a part of town that you might not associate with great Barbecue, or great restaurants period. You’re in a part of town that you might one might be charitably called “industrial”. There are businesses like Yahoo around, but a bunch of little small businesses, some supporting the Entertainment Industry, some living off the nearby Burbank Airport.

Swingin' Door BBQ in North Hollywood.

It took me a couple of laps around Swingin’ Door BBQ to get ahold of where it was, and what the parking situation was. It turns out that Swingin’ Door BBQ shares the block with a Gas Station. And you might be forgiven for getting the line where the Gas Station ends and the Restaurant begins a little confused.

But you walk in, and it looks…like your standard Barbecue joint. You know, cheap tablecloths, Cartoony Pig drawings up, down and everywhere. It’s the stereotype of the standard “yawn” Barbecue Joint. My gut is preparing me for disappointment.

Gotta say, Swingin’ Door BBQ surprised me in a good way. I liked it. It’s now my second favorite barbecue joint in California, right behind Gus’s, whom I like just a little bit better.

Then again, Swingin’ Door BBQ is the first place I’ve come across that claims Texas heritage, that actually tastes like the stuff I had in Texas. Would it survive in Texas? Ehh, maybe. I want to bring my Texan father over to give it a try before I drop that hammer.

I’m almost at a loss to tell you what made the meal as good as it was, but…I have to say, and this is a rarity for me, one bite into my plate, and I wasn’t disappointed with what I was tasting. It’s as simple as that. The sides were equally awesome if not better, and I walked out of there I felt like I had a good meal at a great price.

I still have many more places to try, and my recent Barbecue run has been…oh, so disappointing, but this place? This place worked.


WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Couldn’t get the whole Texas Trinity at Swingin’ Door BBQ, so I went for just the Brisket and Sausage. First off, let’s start with the sauce. The sauce was pretty good, the best I’ve had in California so far. It’s a touch too tomatoey for the Texas sauces I’m used to, but overall they’re on the right track.

Brisket and Sausage at Swingin' Door BBQ in North Hollywood.


As you can see, your plate comes with the two meats, some really good, fluffy bread, and a small salad of picked vegetables.

Overall, the meat was good, wonderfully prepared. The Brisket was delicious, and comes smothered in sauce (which is a good thing). The Sausage was also good, not the best I’ve had in town, but good. I’d have both again in a heartbeat.

My two sides, Greens (some of the best I've hard) and Mac adn Cheese at Swingin' Door BBQ in North Hollywood.

The plate also comes with two sides, in my case I went with Greens and Macaroni and Cheese. The Macaroni and Cheese was damn good, made with actual cheese. I’ve heard complaints about it, but I think they’re wrong.  You’ll taste the oils and the sharpness of the cheese, and to me, that’s a good thing.  It tastes handmade.

But the revelation was the Greens, these were excellent. Outstanding. I took a bite of these, and started going in on them more than the Brisket and Sausage, and I like me some Brisket and Sausage.


IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: If you read how I took a lap or two to get into my parking space, you might want to know that the Restaurant is actually pretty visible…depending on where you’re coming from.

I was coming in from Burbank, so I was coming Westward on W. Vanowen, so all I saw was the Gas Station at first. Coming north on Vineland, you’ll probably run into the same problem.

Driving in East along W. Vanowen, the restaurant is more than visible. It’s got a bit yellow sign. You should see if from a ways off.


PARKING: Equally difficult, as I mentioned above is the fact that a newcomer to the restaurant might struggle seeing where the neighboring Gas Station ends and Swingin’ Door BBQ begins. There are notch of spaces right up alongside the long side of the restaurant. I got lucky and found a space there. A primo space if there ever was one.

Failing that, try parking along W. Vanowen.

Swingin' Door BBQ in North Hollywood.

Swingin’ Door BBQ
11018 W Vanowen St.
North Hollywood, CA 91605

Tel: (818) 763-8996

Monday-Thursday: 11:00 am – 8:30 pm
Friday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 12:00 – 9:00 pm