99 Essential Restaurants 2014


photo by Anne Fishbein

There’s now a version of Bludso’s in Hollywood, which serves good enough food to warrant a spot of its own on this list. Sadly, space constraints force us to choose one Bludso’s, and the consensus is that even the charms of the new location on La Brea (a stylish room, flat-screen TVs, cocktails) wouldn’t stop us from making a trip to Compton for the original. Basically, it can’t be beat. Kevin Bludso’s Long Beach Boulevard shop is barely a shop at all — it’s more of a vestibule from which you order the fourth-generation pitmaster’s brisket, ribs, chicken and smoky, smoky pork. Greens, baked beans and mac and cheese are all commendable foils for the tang and smoke of the barbecue. You can hover a while longer in the vestibule to chow down, or take your meal home with you, though the smell might be too much to resist. Bludso’s has supplied many a sticky barbecue stain to the car upholstery of food lovers who can’t wait to dive into that Styrofoam box.

-- Besha Rodell