Art by Dave Shulman
Authentic Texas Barbecue
The proprietors here fly in all their barbecued meats from Clark's Outpost in Tioga, Texas, a well-regarded pit just south of the Oklahoma border. Barbecued hot links, though — garlicky, sliced Polish sausages instead of the coarser Elgin sausages known as hot guts — take well to the reheating, remaining perfectly crunchy and moist. And the baby back pork ribs are just swell, meaty things that are crisp-skinned and deeply smoky, rendered of almost all of their fat, a wonderful chaw. As for sides, soupy black-eyed peas are laced with just enough minced jalapeño pepper to keep things interesting; stewed collard greens seem to be as much fatback as vegetable; beans are too liquid and oversweet. Still, somebody at the deep fryer really knows what he or she is doing: Cornmeal-dusted nuggets of okra are as carefully fried as any hushpuppy, and the spice-dredged fries have been great. 909 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood; (310) 649-1740. Open daily 11 a.m.9 p.m. Lunch or dinner for two, food only, $20$36. Beer and wine. Takeout. Lot parking. MC, V.
Dr. Hogly Wogly's Tyler, Texas, Bar-B-Que
A waitress trips out carrying an enormous platter of mastodon-size beef ribs that look like the ones that tip Fred's car over in the credit sequence of The Flintstones. The ribs are charred and crusty, bursting with grease and sweet juice. You tear at one with your teeth, and a great strip of meat comes off the bone. You experimentally taste the mild sauce — tomato-based, not too sweet, lots of garlic, enough black pepper to set off a marvelous slow burn — and find it among the best, most complex mild sauces around. Barbecued chicken, too, is huge, the Bubba Smith of the poultry kingdom, with turkey-size legs and pecs the size of mangoes. It is crisp-skinned and juicy, and has absorbed the smoke flavor better than any other meat in the house. The sweet-potato pie, if you have room, is awfully good, and it tastes like sweet potatoes (no mean feat). 136 Sepulveda Blvd., Van Nuys; (818) 780-6701. Lunch and dinner seven days. Lunch or dinner for two, food only, $20$30. Beer and wine. Lot parking. AE, MC, V.
What Flossie's serves is mostly daily specials, except for the perfect Southern fried chicken, which is always on hand. Wednesday brings soft, sweet mountains of meat loaf; Thursday, long-smothered pork chops cooked so that they fall apart when you look at them. Entrées, with a starch and three vegetables — red beans and rice, or collard greens spiked with chunks of yam sweet as Frosted Flakes — are shoveled from steam-table bins into Styrofoam containers, even for people who decide to eat in the restaurant. (Flossie's does about 90 percent takeout.) Two fragrant corn muffins are twisted into a link of foil and piled atop the closed containers. One of Flossie's dinners, at $5.95, feeds two with leftovers for breakfast. And your car smells like heaven all the way home. 3566 Redondo Beach Blvd., Torrance; (310) 352-4037. Open Tues.Sat. for lunch and dinner. Dinner for two, food only, $12$18. No alcohol. Takeout. Lot parking. Cash only.
The pride of Valley Village and the toast of greater North Hollywood, Joe Peep's is often called the best pizzeria in Los Angeles, particularly by Long Island expatriates. One section of the paper menu is labeled “5,969 Calorie Pizzas.” Another lists everybody's least-favorite pizza fish as “anchovies (ugh!).” There is something for everyone — although I can't see a sane man ordering a large with meatballs, sautéed onions and extra sauerkraut. The sauce on a Peep's is garlicky, rough-textured stuff with a hint of caramelized sweetness and more than a hint of cheese. This is a brawny pie, solid as steel plate, dusted on the bottom with burnt bits of cornmeal, distinctly undoughy but thick enough to hold its heat and crunch for hours. You could possibly fold a slice of Peep's in half in the ritual so beloved by New Yorkers . . . but only if you had the upper-body strength of Sammy Sosa. 12460 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; (818) 506-4133. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Dinner for two, food only, $8$14. No alcohol. Takeout and delivery. Lot parking. AE, MC, V.
The Philadelphia Connection
The cheesesteak at the Philadelphia Connection, probably the most authentic joint of its kind in town, is an overstuffed thing as long as your arm, cemented together with molten white American cheese, made with beef so overcooked that you cannot imagine eating it outside the context of this particular sandwich. It is impossible to tell where the cheese ends and the meat begins, whether you are eating onions or just something flavored with onions, or whether that stringy bit stuck between your teeth is beef or a fragment of roll. There is a definite groove to a cheesesteak, and the Philadelphia Connection catches the beat as well as it does the tune. 633 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena; (626) 304-9944. Open Mon.Sat. 11 a.m.8 p.m. Sandwiches $5.25$9.95. Parking available. Cash only.
Rubin's Red Hot
In L.A. County, the temple of the dog is Rubin's Red Hot, a drive-through Chicago-dog joint on a sliver of a lot, built using a slice of Chicago el-track steel, massive and rivet-laden and as mystically baroque in its Midwestern way as something from early Gaudí. No matter how deconstructed the architecture, though, the hot dog is the thing. The red hot is served in a steamed, seeded roll, moist but not soggy, with the requisite pickle spear, tomato wedge, chopped onion, and a schmeer of piccalilli dyed a violent green you might better associate with some of the less subtle Op Art paintings of Bridget Riley than with something actually eaten as food. And while Rubin's Red Hot does commit the mortal sin of using a kosher-style dog that, while large, is not Vienna brand, still, you could do lots worse. 15322 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 905-6515. Open daily 11 a.m.9 p.m. Dinner for two, food only, $10$20. No alcohol. Takeout. Lot parking. AE, Disc., MC, V.