Brothers Jim and Frank McGuire got the idea in 1957 of mounting a 7-foot-long, 4-foot-high plastic cow on the roof of their new barbecue restaurant, My Brother's Bar-B-Q, in the West San Fernando Valley. Back then it didn't seem so strange in a rural community where real cows grazed in nearby pastures, and storefronts and homes only occasionally dotted the mostly undeveloped land. Three generations later, kids are still asking to eat at “the restaurant with the cow on the roof,” says current owner Kevin McGuire, son of Jim. The original knotty-pine interior, red-vinyl booths and copper fixtures may hark back to the olden days — as does the broasted chicken, which few make anymore — but it's the barbecue that moos loudest: pulled-pork sandwiches, meaty ribs, tri-tip and chicken all smoked in the gas and wood-burning stove, then finished in the charbroiler. It's withstood the test of time as long-standing chains like Love's hit the dust. It'll probably outlast Wood Ranch, too. To get there, either follow your nose, or look for the cow. It's lit up at night. 21150 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills. (818) 348-2020. —Heidi Dvorak

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