Q: Where can I find a barbecue beef brisket in L.A. that doesn’t need to be cut with a hacksaw?
A: Having spent a fair amount of time cruising around Texas looking for the next brisket down the road, I feel your pain. Really I do. Los Angeles is a rib town, top to bottom, and you’re not likely to run across anything like the beef you might have encountered at the old Kreuz, or Taylor’s, or Cooper’s, or the Luling City Market, or even Harry’s on the Loop (an old farmhouse in Willow City with a few picnic tables out back, and beef brisket smoked so deeply that the pink smoke ring extends all the way to the center of the meat).
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But there is always Zeke’s, a newish barbecue restaurant in Montrose run by Leonard Schwartz, among other people — which is to say, by the chef who reinserted meat loaf into the American canon 20 years ago at 72 Market Street and who has spent the last decade or so reinterpreting caesar salad and chicken-in-a-pot for the above-the-line gang at Maple Drive in Beverly Hills.
He’s either a compassionate conservative or a card-carrying postmodernist, and it is impossible to tell just which from the evidence of his food alone.
Anyway, Zeke’s, a rather sparkling operation that seems designed to launch a thousand franchises, sort of plays both sides of the fence in the barbecue game, serving essentially Piedmont-style pulled pork (with the controversial Carolinian mustard sauce), flaccid spare ribs in a stab at Kansas City style, and fairly magnificent Texas-style brisket, rimmed with a pink rictus of smoke that, properly speaking, needs no damned sauce at all. The side dishes, which are so beside the point at central Texas barbecue stands as to be practically nonexistent, tend to be pretty great — including hush puppies, potato chips fried to order and the only ’cue-hut coleslaw I can ever remember finishing. Zeke’s Smokehouse, 2209 Honolulu Ave., Montrose, (818) 957-7045.
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