Regional food pride has long been a competitive discussion between residents of urban cities throughout the United States (acutely observed here by our favorite comedian Kyle Kinane).
Food at the the top of this list, like pizza and hot dogs, are usually made with cheap ingredients infused with a local style. And of course there is BBQ, oh BBQ...."Have you ever had ribs from Stubbs in Austin?" "No, I prefer Payne's BBQ in Memphis?" "Wait, have you heard about that the one place, in that one city, that's actually just a grill in some one's backyard? No? Really it's the be--"
Aaaaaahhh. Ok, hold your horses, I get it. I like barbecue as much next as the next person, but I don't eat it enough to be an expert, nor do I even have any real preference when it comes to style, cut, or rub. I normally gravitate towards food that's satisfying and spicy, and I don't approach BBQ any differently.
But if it tastes like cardboard, fat or shit, I generally don’t like it, but that's just me. I’m simple, and perhaps I’d understand feelings like ownership and pride about any particularly culinary delight, specific to my hometown, but Las Vegas is devoid of such a food (unless Deep Fried Jack and Cokes count?).
Maybe that's why I enjoyed Baby Blues BBQ so much. The owners of Baby Blues are committed to making food they like with ingredients and flavors they enjoy. Their BBQ doesn't prescribe to a hard-lined specific style, but instead, it's an amalgam of the competing styles of BBQ, mainly from Memphis and North Carolina.
I arrived at Baby Blues with my co-worker and his girlfriend, huge fans of the restaurant. We got there at 6pm, right before the dinner rush. The interior of the restaurant is low-key, comfortable and bustling.
Awesomely, each table is stocked with a variety of condiments, including pepper infused vinegar served in old Jim Beam bottles, sweet and sour sauce, and homemade hot sauce (Radtown).
The young waitress took us to our table and gave us menus. Families were already seated, sharing racks of ribs, they looked happy and full. I was ready for that same feeling but sadly, as I looked over the menu, I realized I wasn't as hungry as I wanted to be. While we deliberated over what to have for dinner, we ordered a pitcher of beer.
Since I wasn't hungry enough for ribs we decided on two a la carte servings of pulled pork (I'm a sucker for pulled pork and wanted my own serving) and one order of brisket. I would definitely order the brisket again. I've never seen brisket prepared the way it's served here, it's shredded like pulled pork, soft, juicy and savory.
We also ordered the corn bread plate with 4 sides. We chose mac & cheese, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, and collard greens. The cream spinach and mac & cheese were fucking delicious and the potatoes and collard greens were totally ok. The flavor of the hot sauce (in the Jim Beam bottle) was good, but much more mild than I anticipated.
My co-worker's girlfriend ordered the brisket sandwich, which is essentially just the a la carte brisket served on a fluffy powdered roll, accompanied by a side of homemade cole slaw, which I don't always like but really enjoyed here.
We were stuffed, but my co-worker insisted on ordering the banana pudding for dessert, "you have to try it's ... crazy." HOLY SHIT, yes, it is crazy. I craved the banana pudding for the next few days (and crave it now as I write this). From what I can tell this dessert is homemade, banana cream mush held together with Nilla wafers, scooped onto a plate like ice cream, and tastes like it's awful for you.
We left the restaurant feeling like a stuffed gluttons and said our goodbyes. I slid into a food coma at about the same time I slid into my car and struggled to stay awake on my drive home. I was asleep before I hit the bed as the pork, mac and cheese and banana pudding worked like two valium and a glass of wine on a long flight. I slept well that night and woke up feeling shockingly good the next morning. I wouldn't recommend Baby Blues BBQ for every meal, but if you are in LA, in the mood for pork and have no plans for the evening, then it's definitely worth trying.