BBQ King

What better way is there to finish up a trip to downtown Los Angeles, than with some BBQ? My first inclination was to take my wife (Cutty) and my niece (Missy) over to the Spring Street Smokehouse, but it seems that they are closed on Sunday. Fortunately, I had a plan B that wasn’t too far away. A quick right turn on Cesar Chavez Ave. and a few blocks up the street turns into Sunset. You go a little further to Figueroa St. and there is the BBQ King restaurant. I had driven by BBQ king after leaving Dodger Stadium once and have wanted to stop by ever since. It was as though the moons were aligned.

Parking is a little tight, but it is downtown L.A. and this place looks pretty popular among the locals. Once parked, we gaze upon all of the barrel smokers on the side of the restaurant… I am in heaven and I am ready to eat. We order, or at least, try to order. The cashier is very nice, but can’t seem to get our order right. After about five minutes of going back and forth, we believe that we have things straightened out. Many people rave about their burgers so much so that these burgers were actually featured on one of Bobby Flay’s shows on the Food Network. Imagine that? But, when I’m craving BBQ… a burger just wont do. I ordered the BBQ rib dinner (sauce on the side) with a side of BBQ beans and coleslaw. Cutty, had the hotlink (Pete’s link on the menu) sandwich combo, which included fries and a drink. Missy ordered the smoked chicken BBQ dinner with two sides of greens (she really likes greens). To finish off the order… strawberry sodas all around and a couple of apple cobblers.

The dinners came and those ribs looked so delicious… minus any apparent smoke ring. There I was, with a boatload of ribs in front of me… I’m lucky I got any pictures off at all. Then I took a bite, or should I say, “tried” to take a bite. These BBQ spareribs were very tough and chewy without much BBQ or smoke flavor. Not what I was expecting at all. The sauce on the other hand, was terrific. It had a great BBQ flavor that blended the sweet and the spice. It worked well with all of the dishes at the table. It helped out the flavor those ribs tremendously, but all the BBQ sauce in the world wasn’t going to make them tender.

BBQ beans are one of my favorite sides, and these were no exception. These were good and satisfied all of my BBQ been desires. The beans were the first dish to be entirely consumed. The coleslaw on the other hand was pretty darn soggy. They served their meals up with a sweet little cornbread muffin that turned out to be pretty good. I split mine with Missy so she could add it to her greens. That girl loves greens.

Missy’s BBQ chicken came covered in BBQ sauce. It was probably a good thing, because she was complaining that the chicken meat was a little dry. She wasn’t impressed with the chicken but did work her way through her meal saying, “hunger is the best seasoning.” I did taste her chicken and found that indeed it was dry but it had more smoke flavor than my ribs did. “Hey, these greens are pretty good” Missy said. She offered me a taste and I agreed with her. They were pretty tasty.

Cutty’s hotlink was swimming in a pool of BBQ sauce on the bun. But, as we found out later, was a very delicious. They had two choices on the link, beef or chicken. She chose the chicken. Her order came with french fries which she didn’t care for. They were of the thick and slightly greasy variety. She is more of a McDonald’s french fry type of girl. I, on the other hand, loved the fries. Great flavor and slightly greasy, what else could you ask for?

Half way through our dinner we realized that they hadn’t brought our apple cobblers. We had to go back up there and request them. No problem. The flavor was good, but the consistency was a soupy and the crust was a little soggy… or as Missy said “where is the crust?”

The people were nice and the restaurant was unique which also included a carwash next door… just in case you wanted to go cruising after dinner. And, they have a great view of downtown Los Angeles. The hamburgers might be the way to go here, which is what they are famous for. Or, you can go with the hot link. I wouldn’t recommend the spareribs or the coleslaw. If you have been here or go, I would love to hear about your experience. Just post a comment below.

Barel smokers
A few smokers on the side of the restaurant

BBQ Ribs
Delicious “looking” BBQ ribs

Beans, slaw, sauce and cornbread
Good beans, soggy slaw and some sauce on the side

BBQ chicken and greens
BBQ chicken and greens

BBQ hot link and fries
BBQ hotlink and fries

apple cobbler
Apple cobbler

Los Angeles
View of downtown L.A.

The Original Texas BBQ King
867 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Mon. – Sat.
6AM – 10PM

6AM – 8PM

downloadable BBQ King menu

32 thoughts on “BBQ King”

  1. This location is CLOSED! They have moved to Vermont and 53rd. I was going to go there for the 1st time last night, but the parking lot is being razed and the store looked hollow. So I called them, and sure enough, they’ve moved. Now I have to drive even further for some good BBQ.

  2. Having been to the king quite a few times I can say that the ribs are indeed dry and lacking, sad indeed seeing as how good ribs should be the staple of any proud BBQ establishment. I have however had quite good luck with the beef tri-tip which I noticed has been sorely lacking from peoples responses here. This along with the delicious fries and ICE COLD ketchup ( literally kept on ICE ) has made me return over and over again. For a first time visit I recommend getting a tri-tip lunch with side of fries and mac and cheese or beans.

    Even with varying meat quality the sauce is the true star and pairing it with good sides and tri-tip, pete’s links or pork loin are your best bet.

    Regarding comments on the ambiance I feel the outdoor seating and smoke are more than charming as is the ragtag feel, I came here for BBQ not as an alternative to Patina.

  3. Being from North Florida, where folks like their BBQ smoked, I’d been pointed to this place. Well, they certainly smoke their meat, but like the review above indicate, service is sloppy and the sides aren’t anything to write home about. That said, not too bad. Better than Spring Street, IMO… at least they smoke the meat! 🙂 They DO have good sauce, though. I seem to remember thinking the place was kinda more expensive than it should have been, someone correct me if I’m wrong. On the universal BBQ scale I’d give this place a 4. The LA scale? 7.

  4. i’ve tried the tri-tip and the hot link… both pretty decent. my buddy from NC Jon had the pork loin and i think he found it servicable too. best part of this place is being able to sit outside with the smell of smoke hanging in the air. be prepared for a wait tho.

  5. Unedible food…everything was dry. Pigeon’s crap all over the tables…long wait. We dumped the ribs, chichen, beans, and cole slow in an overflowing trash can and walked out. On top of everything else the woman taking the order was extremely rude…I wonder how they remain open.

  6. Where’s the love, people? This has to be one of the best BBQ joints in the city, which prob’ly isn’t saying too much, but it is good.The rib tips are my personal favorite, and all of my friends seem to love the tri- tip sandwich. Anyway, anytime I’m going to the Dodger game I try to vivsit the King. Way better than Dodger dogs!


  8. I heard some great reviews about this place and it was somewhat near my old workplace. I admit the atmosphere wasn’t the greatest. I always order to go anyhow. Employees are very nice (but sometimes slow on service) but I always get my order in 10min or so.

    I love ordering the sampler basket (lunch) because it has a little of everything (ribs, chicken, links, brisket) that comes with two small sides and a cornbread all for $10 which is a good deal.

    Definately would recommend their links and chicken. I like their portions on fries and their beans are good. Don’t like their cornbread though. Overall, a good treat for the humble hardworking man — good people, good food. I need to try Phillips in Crenshaw to compare the quality of ribs.

  9. oh ya and as to the neighborhood and the help
    that comment was crazy this area is fine

    and the help was very nice
    and the atmosphere is absolutely great

    – jru

  10. i drove by this place at about 10 am the other day and the street was filled with delicious smelling smoke

    i decided i had to try it
    so i looked it up on line and came across this site, my heart sank a little when i read the earlier reviews and i almost didn’t go just based on the comments posted. Thank God I Did go, my experience was pretty darn amazing !

    i think maybe the former reviewers consider themselves bbq experts or something, i myself am just a dork who likes good food, so all you other normal people out there should read this one and give this place a chance.

    i had the baby back pork ribs witch where anything but dry, they where fall off the bone delicious and filled with smoky flavor, some guy earlier said they probably just finish them in the smoker, oh no my bbq savvy friend i watched them pilling raw meat on those huge grills, there is no precooking done here.

    i also had the chicken – delicious
    the burger – not the best but pretty good certainly not as dry and the people about would suggest
    the beans – WOW so good
    slaw – soggy yes but tasty
    corn bread – a little dry but perfect for absorbing sauce
    French fries – so so good any one who prefers Mcdonald’s over these should be shot

    that it i guess

    all i am saying is don’t not go based on the reviews here, because i thought it was fa nominal, maybe not for the deep south but guess what we aren’t there

    happy eating

    – jru

  11. Q with a view ! My daughter, who is an SC student, and I visit every couple of weeks. Just like any BBQ joint, you have to know the ropes. Call ahead during lunch hours. When you get there don’t worry about the neighborhood, just plop yourself at one of the tables, and hope the breeze is blowing your way. It was the smoke that drew me to this place, and it’s the smoke that keeps me coming back.

    Go for the Tri tip combo. You won’t be disappointed. So what if the fries are a little greasy…anyone on a diet shouldn’t be eating BBQ anyway. My daughter loved the smoked turkey. DON’T TAKE OUT !! If you do, you’re missing the best part of the experience. Where else can you rub elbows with the full spectrum of society. So shelve your class, and delve into the real world. You’ll soon be heading out of the city for the security of your home. The lucky ones are within walking distance. BBQ King gets an 8 finger lick ( and that includes under the fingernails )

  12. I live close by the BBQ King and it is very hit and miss. It depends on how busy they are. When they’re really busy, the quality of the food seems to suffer.

    First time there I had the beef ribs. They were as described previously here so there’s no real reason to go on. It took me a year to go back. Essentially I was craving smoked pork ribs but didn’t want to spend the two days it take me to make them.

    The pork ribs were OKAY. Mine are better.

    Flash forward to another year – this just last month – my lady and I go. I order the briskett dinner and it is impeccable. Really delicious. The greens were great – I got a double order.

    I guess I wouldn’t advise going during peak hours and my two experiences with their ribs have been, at best, passable.

  13. Yeah Man I went here once a year or two ago, that should tell You what I think of the ribs. I work close so I could and would go often if the food was worth it. I don’t even remember exactly what I didn’t like, but Your review sounds right.

    As for The spring Street Smokehouse, YUK YUK. I went there from a review in the Downtown LA News. It was the worse Q I’ve ever had! I had the St Louis Style Spare Ribs, they should be called the Mohave Desert Style Ribs. Hardly any meat and what was there was dry.
    I ordered a piece of Sweet Potato Pie and one Sweet Potato Cheesecake, they were both green. You were lucky they were closed.

    Of all the rib places I’ve tried I like The Prayer Assembly of God Church. BBQ on El Segundo West of Avalon. I’ve been going there since the Church was a hole in the ground. And they sold Q under a tarp held by four poles next to the sidewalk, with a line down the street. The new Church was built by selling BBQ, Fri & Sat only. The meat was tender with a nice smokey taste, You don’t need to hide them under sauce. The sides are OK but I go there for the MEAT. Their Q inspired Me to buy a smoker and the only ribs I like better are My own. They sell out of a catering truck in the parking lot, across from the three big smokers. It’s all to go, they’er pretty matter of fact at the window but the guy at the pits friendly and talkative. =Good Eating=

  14. Hey BBQ Junkie! Sorry you missed us at the Spring Street Smokehouse…we are indeed closed on Sundays, but if you get the time in your new parenting schedule to come check us out, we’d love to have you. We just did a ton of remodeling and are sporting an extensive new beer and wine selection to go along with the same great BBQ we’ve always had. Thanks for trying at least, and sorry you had to go down the street 🙂

  15. This is east Texas BBQ – forget the ribs – sliced beef is the main thing. How many of you bought a bottle of thier BBQ sauce for $2 to take home & put on your own grillings. My kids loved the sauce & I’m going back for more. The food is authentic East Texas and thier home made BBQ sauce is #1. These folks told me they are from the Longview area and the cooked sliced beef sandwich hit the spot.

  16. I’ve enjoyed every experience I’ve had at the BBQ King. I stick with the Pork Loin sandwich, fries and beans. It works for me and I look forward to each visit or excuse to swing by this unique little restaurant in downtown LA

  17. WOW, 90% of you all are pretty ruthless. I am a restaurant owner & caterer that specializes in BBQ. I am always checking out hte competition. I have been to BBQ king 4 times, although I will agree that it is probably not the best BBQ I have ever had, it has been pretty tasty on my visits. In there defense, most beef ribs tend to be on the tough side, secondly baby backs are known to have the least amount of meat on them. As for there help, well, I think most of them are family, and trust me you get what you got with family, I am sure the owners are very happy to have the help. So give them a break, they’re not that bad! I will go back when I am in the area. (P.S. you think the place is dirty, try some of the BBQ shacks in Texas or New Orleans…..

  18. yeah i ate there last week and women who was cooking the food was so rude they toss my food at me i had to wait an hour for some fries diffrent people walking all through the kitchen and theres kids taking orders giving wrong change come on now there cobblers are terrible i would never eat there again and i saw a rat in the bathroom it so filthy there and they have a B for a grade i recommend eating off the floor before eating there and the big black man at the grill stinks pee u thats all for now

  19. I was terribly disappointed with the food. In fact, I’m writing this because I’m looking for the BBQ King’s phone number to call to see if they’ll refund my money. The ribs are shoe-leather tough. I am not exaggerating much either. Neither my wife nor I could eat the ribs, literally. We could not chew them up sufficiently to swallow. The sauce is too sweet, but palatable, One last thing. The neighborhood is beginning to gentrify, but, as of Oct 14, 2006, it is still a questionable area after the downtown people get off of work.

  20. Ate at this place a couple of months back. The sauce is the best I’ve had in LA. My lunch order of babybacks, beans, slaw and cornbread could have been a bit larger for the price. The meat was a notch above good, beans in the sauce were outstanding, slaw was forgettable and the cornbread, although miniscule was tasty. The window staff could of used an booster course in English. No problems with my order though. The place appears to have been an old gas station so give the guy a break, not much to work with there. I will return just for the sauce.

  21. Had been to the BBQ King twice before. First time was chicken which was good, second time the…Hamburger. Yummy. It is always a wait, but I am okay with that. If your cooking my food and not defrosting or warming it up in a microwave I understand. Recently visited this past June just before a Dodger game with family members, 5 of them teen-age Nephews. Only one ordered because the others were too busy doubting the looks of the site and assumed it was not up to par.
    After watching the one eat his ribs, one cousin remarked..oohh that meat just fell off that. That is a serious rib. After that they all ordered. The had a variety of food, Hamburger, tri tip, ribs. Not a complaint and a promise to return the next time they are headed to the Stadium. I had the hamburger once again.
    I must add that I am not a hamburger person at all. I am more of a chicken, fish and rarely red meat at all. When I am going to have a hamburger it better be damn good. This hamburger rates all that. I am however only able to finish half as it is so big and I am a petite women. I have had no problem handing over the other half to whom ever I’m with.

  22. I keep giving this place a chance, but they are consistently disappointing. I’m not sure whether it’s the snotty folks taking the orders, the 20 to 30 minute wait for food, the leather-like ribs, the desert-dry burgers, soggy fries, the minute side portions or the high prices, but I always feel cheated.

  23. I must say i have gone there maybe 10-15 times in the 4 years of living near the area (a few miles from Figueroa and Sunset.) I’m honesty surprised at some of the un-favorable comments posted here. I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THE BBQ KING! # Number 1 the Baby Back Ribs are delicious and the sauce (which they sell in bottles to go) is possibly the sweetest tastiest i ever had.
    Yes the parking lot is gross and ive come to just ignore it chalking it up to “downtown authentic”. Ive also learned the hard way… ORDER AHEAD VIA TELEPHONE and get it “TO GO” so i can enjoy it in the comfort of my own home with a nice glass of red wine. oh yeah. I’ve only gone on weekends usually between 4-7 pm. and ive always ordered the Baby back. Never had a complaint.

    I like the greens, the coleslaw and Baked beans. The cornbread is sometimes dry but ive learned a little butter and the microwave can fix that.
    Now I dont know if its the laidback staff or lack of thereof but yes the wait IS unusually long. Phone ahead or if you have kids that annoying moon-walk balloon ride thing in the parking lot can kill some time while you wait.
    I’d go back to the BBQ King in a heartbeat. oh, and dont forget LOTS OF NAPKINS!

  24. I went down there just the other day, and I ordered the Businessman’s Special #1, with the baby back option. Some of the ribs I consumed did have some tender meat on ’em, but some didn’t have quite as much in the dead-flesh department as I would have liked, and the last piece I fished from the lake o’ sauce ate with the consistency of caramelized rope.

    The beans were indeed quite tasty, and I wished the servings were greater for those. The cornbread muffins also came in smaller portions than I would prefer, but still likewise very tasty and fluffy. The fries came in an interesting array of textures, from the aforementioned thick and greasy, to the dried and burnt variety (“well-done” fries from In-N-Out, anyone?). The sauce from the ribs made an excellent dippin’ sauce for the fries.

    My friends and I experienced no difficulties in the ordering of the food, and the parking wasn’t too bad (just had to park in the back, up the concrete hill). There wasn’t too bad of a wait for 3pm on a Sunday afternoon (roughly about 10 minutes), but as far as that goes, I’m willing to wait in a 40+ minute line just to ORDER from a place like Pink’s, so I’m no stranger to that land.

    Since we had a larger order, our food was brought to us, which was kind of cool, and my friends didn’t have any complaints about the food, even my one friend who’s had lots of southern-style BBQ. They weren’t exactly clamoring about it, but recognized that it was simply good (especially the sauce), and that for the price ($30 for three people) we’d just enjoyed a great bargain. A great, messy bargain.

    Oh, and the place has one of those inflatable castle things, for the jumpy pleasure of children, and mentally slow folk.

  25. BBQ King is okay if you are in the downtown area and need some decent BBQ and don’t want to get caught in traffic. Ribs are dry, as described in almost every response above. Try the links, chicken, or Turkey (if they have it).

    The sauce is good, but you might as well dip your finger in it rather than naw on tough rib bone.

  26. As a former Texas resident and smoker of meats, BBQ King is adequate in a town that, quite frankly, doesn’t take its BBQ all that seriously. I had the full rack of pork ribs. The sauce with its hint of sweetness was the most notable part of the food experience. By the way, parking in front was limited and I found myself watching my back as I waited for my food to go.

  27. There is something about the order takers at the window. On the two visits I made with my wife, they somehow kept confusing beef rib orders with pork(we don’t eat pork).
    But the owner always replaced our orders after our complaints.

    I found my first two visits quite enjoyable, though a group at work complained how much they disliked a phone ordere they had made. I found the barbequed beef ribs and chicken very tasty. It was the takeout my wife brought home a few years later that was unacceptable. I haven’t eaten there since. Dry, tasteless, and totally unsatisfying. And this was the large family order. We felt it was a waste of money.

  28. I’ve been three times and have enjoyed it each time, although on the second go I went during lunch (bad idea, unless you call ahead!) and waited an hour for chow. Too long!

    But this is a decent place and near where I live. I’ve always gotten the pork loin sandwich, which I think is extremely tasty. And if they have it, go for the blackberry cobbler. It will be of a soupy consistency (as stated in your comments, there is indeed no crusty “crust”), but it’s flavorful and a nice change from the peach and apple varieties.

  29. I’ve ordered the burger a couple of times, and it is indeed on the dry side. Even so, the overall eating experience is strangely compelling, as evidenced by the “disappearance” of the entire 1 lb. extravaganza on both occasions. I’m not a large woman, but surprisingly had no trouble finishing that burger, although the guys I work with swear that none of them has ever made “quick work” of one. Now that I have done the deed, there is apparently new incentive and several of the guys have recently put away the “whole enchilada.” I can now rest easy, finally able to put my embarrassment aside. Who knows? I might just lunch on a BBQ King 1 lb. burger today. If I do, I bet I’ll finish it!

  30. i love bbq but this was one experience that left a bad taste. 1st of all this place is filthy, seems like the people work on their cars and your food at the same time. price was way too high for slop. i ordered the beef ribs and they were tought as hell and had hardly any meat. i work close by so this place was highly recomended by my co-workers which clearly they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about again. but then again they also they said central market had good food. great.. more toxic cruisine.

  31. I also found the ribs to be tough. Maybe not as tough as you mentioned but very chewy and you really need to pull the meat away from the bone.

    They seemed to be cooked at high heat then smoke finished in their smokers. Not a good way to do BBQ ribs.

    I ordered the 1lb burger to go but I took a bite of it after eating the ribs. The burger is very dry. Even after taking it home I drowned it with ketchup, mayo and mustard but it was still dry.

    When I went, I was the only person there, but they took at least 20 mins to get my food.

    I will go back to take pics and give a review on my blog but that will be the last time.


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