Best Barbecue in Los Angeles - Moo's Craft Barbecue
(Recommended by: Burt Bakman - Trudy's Underground Barbecue / Slab)
The Los Angeles food scene continues to evolve. The best food in our city are the places one might discover by chance or accident. You might even get a tip from someone or discover the many chefs that eat there. Since LA is home to a large population of immigrants, you will find many authentic restaurants trying to appeal not to American, but people longing for a taste of home.
With barbecue, competition is increasing with backyard pit masters trying their hand at a barbecue they experienced maybe while visiting another state like Texas. Maybe the pit master is from Texas and they want to bring the flavors of their childhood to Angelenos.
One of the early lessons I learned over the 5 consecutive years visiting Austin, Texas for SXSW is to show up early for barbecue. The most popular places run out of barbecue by 1 pm.
I've waited around 5 hours for Franklin's BBQ in Austin starting before 7 am and even woke up before 6 am to drive an hour and a half to Snow's BBQ in Lexington on a Saturday morning for breakfast brisket and pork ribs.
(Snow's BBQ ships barbecue out on their website BTW.)
My first year in Austin for SXSW, I showed up at around 1 pm for Franklin's Barbecue (at the time rated #1 for Texas barbecue) and to my dismay, they already sold out. They sent me to Smitty's in Lockhart about 45 minutes from Austin. All their employees told me that Smitty's was the best barbecue in Texas. For the next three years, I would eat only Smitty's.
Three years later, I decided to try another barbecue other than Smitty's and Rudy's (I love their sides). There was La Barbecue, Black's, then finally the top-ranked Franklin's and Snow's BBQ, currently ranked #1 on Daniel Vaughn's annual list in the Texas Monthly.
I have tried Texas-style brisket in Los Angeles and not many come close to the brisket in Central Texas. Barrel & Ashes? Not even close. Maple Block? My most recent visit was disappointing. Horse Thief? Someone told me it wasn't special. Bludso's? I've had a delicious brisket sandwich. Ray's? Not close. Dr. Hogly Wogley's? Nothing like Tyler, TX barbecue I've tried. Swinging Door? It's OK. Boneyard Bistro? Surprisingly good brisket. Smoke City Market had my favorite brisket until they closed down.
Most recently I read posts on IG about how popular Moo's Craft Barbecue is at Smorgasburg. In addition, an LA barbecue insider told me that Moo's was his favorite barbecue in LA. That gave me the push to brave the crowd at Smorgasburg for a taste.
What I learned from experience is that every cook, chef, or restaurant has a specialty. The one dish they do really well. It's rare to find a place that excels in everything they do. For Moo's Craft Barbecue, it's all about the brisket. Moist and flavorful, it's a delicate piece of meat that almost melts in your mouth. Its texture is also true to the appearance of the best brisket I've had in Texas. I can close my eyes and transport myself back to the Lone Star State.
A woman I met outside Smorgasburg who had their barbecue before said that her favorite is their beef ribs. There are handmade sausages are probably worth a try.
All I need is their brisket, burnt ends, and white bread. That to me is my kind of Texas barbecue experience in LA. Brisket and white bread is all I usually eat in Central Texas for barbecue.
I recommend following them on IG and seeking them out at one of their pop-ups. Go early to avoid the long wait or taking the risk of them running out of meat.
I love exploring Los Angeles like a tourist. I have as much fun in my hometown as I do traveling to another country. I hope my adventures inspire you to eat well and travel often.