JR’s Might Be the Most Likable Barbecue in L.A.


If you want the best barbecue in all of Los Angeles, go to Bludso’s in Compton.  Sure, it’s out of the way and doesn’t really have any seating- save for a few bar stools across from the ordering window. But it all becomes worth it when you pull into that parking lot and see the gigantic smokers doing their thing.  It’s the kind of sight that makes you instantly realize you made the correct decision, even before having a single bite of food.  But how many of us can realistically hit up Bludso’s for a weekday lunch?  30 minutes from Downtown L.A. or the Westside isn’t going to happen on even the most loosely enforced one hour lunch breaks… so where does one go when the craving for ‘cue hits?

For me, it’s now JR’s Barbecue on La Cienega just south of Washington.


JR’s opened on the outskirts of Culver City back in 1998, and since then has quietly built up a pretty nice local following (so much so that I don’t even remember when I first heard about this place.)  The counter, combined with the laid back service (usually delivered by the owner himself), makes you feel like you’re in the south. And even though the L.A. Times’ S. Irene Virbilia now touts Bludso’s as her goto barbecue spot, there was a time when she was pretty excited about JR’s (although the time when both JR’s and SIV were truly relevant in this city is probably long gone.)


The only thing on the menu that is really in the ML price range are the sandwiches, which are all under $10 and come with your choice of your choice of a side (beans, cole slaw or potato salad.)  The brisket was decent but not nearly as good as the…


…pulled pork, which was pretty amazing. Unlike some places where the already sauced pulled pork can be scooped out of a container, this meat was clearly pulled in big thick clumps and sauced after the fact.  You get your choice of mild, medium, or hot sauce.  The medium is sweet and tangy, with the perfect amount of kick.  Want it burn your face off spicy?  Order the hot sauce, a smaller cup of thick sludge that automatically comes on the side.


They also have pork ribs, rib tips, Louisiana hot links, and homemade chicken sausage, so in order to try as much as possible we ordered a three item combo- even though it was $17.  You know… for research.  They claim to be Memphis style, although if you go in expecting a thick and super flavorful dry rub you might be disappointed.  That being said the pork ribs were pretty awesome for the price.  Barbecue aficionados will note that the meat falls off the bone a bit too easily (believe it or not that is actually a complaint when it comes to competition BBQ!) but the average barbecue fan will just think it’s perfect.  There’s also a nice amount of smoke on the meat… somewhere in between really smoky, and not smoky at all.  The rib tips are good too, but somehow not as moist as the ribs themselves.  And I’m guessing that there are a lot of people in L.A. who will be super excited about their homemade chicken sausage.  Don’t want to spent over $10 on one of the combo plates? All of the above meats (including the ribs) are available in sandwich form for under $10.

As for the sides, the baked beans are a must order.  They’re sweet and come studded with chunks of meat… you know, just in case the massive plate of barbecue isn’t enough.


But I think more than anything my favorite part of JR’s might be the drinks.  There’s lemonade and sweet tea, regular iced tea, or an Arnold Palmer (naturally).  But the drink you’ll likely see on every single table is “The Tiger Woods”, a fun mix of lemonade and raspberry tea.

You probably won’t leave JR’s saying “that was the best barbecue I’ve ever had.”  But between the atmosphere, the big portions, and the reasonable prices, you’ll definitely leave with a smile.  And on those days when driving to Compton isn’t really an option,  a smile in Culver City will do just fine.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place will say)

  • 3 delicious fall of the bone pork ribs, plus a side for under $10?  Where do I sign up?
  • I work waaay to far away from Bludso’s… but La Cienega and Washington?  That isn’t too bad for the days when my barbecue craving hits.
  • Love the counter, and the general atmosphere.  Makes me feel like I’m driving through the south.
  • The beans have chunks of meat in it!
  • Wait… you didn’t have dessert!?!  Their desserts are the best ever.
  • You know what makes this place better than Bludso’s?  They have seats and tables.

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place will say)

  • The brisket could be a bit more tender.
  • When I heard this was Memphis style, I was hoping the dry rub spice mixture would be more flavorful.
  • When you bite into a rib, the bone shouldn’t slide out of the middle.
  • The sandwich bread doesn’t hold up too well against the sauce, so you should probably ask for sauce on the side if you want to be able to pick the sandwich up.
  • I hate my tea and lemonade too sweet!
  • When that place gets crowded it takes too long.  They need to hire more waiters.
  • I don’t work that close to JR’s either… and it definitely isn’t worth the trek across the city.
  • There’s actually a Phillips’s on Crenshaw right off the 10 in Mid City.  I’d rather go there for my barbecue…

JR’s Barbecue, 3055 S. La Cienega. 310-837-6838


1 Comment

  • I ate there only once. I thought the food was quite good, but the service was terrible. You’re right that it takes way too long when it gets crowded – but it only took three other customers for it to be “crowded.”

    And my favorite part was when I got the bill and there was a mysterious $1 charge, and the waitress spent ten minutes trying to figure out what it was – even asking me “What do you suppose THAT is?”

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