Baby Blues BBQ, the successful national barbecue concept, is opening its eagerly anticipated fifth location in LA’s pulsating Koreatown, providing a traditional and mainstream counterbalance to the neighborhood’s trendy carnivorous options.
A food-centric, no frills, upscale dive, Baby Blues BBQ was started in Venice, Los Angeles in 2004 by Rick McCarthy and Danny Fisher, both transplants that found themselves sorely missing the soul food restaurants they grew up with. A bottle of bourbon lead to some recipe swapping, and eventually a road trip across the BBQ capitals of the USA until they’d perfected the regional icons they’d serve in their own place.
Over the last 14 years, the company has expanded from Los Angeles to spots in San Francisco and Philadelphia. Baby Blues BBQ has flourished in these three differing markets, showing that the brand is not only massively popular, but sustainable too.
As the restaurant brand has grown, they’ve picked up notable celebrity endorsements from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Kevin Love, Snoop Dogg, and Guy Fieri, who’s featured Baby Blues BBQ on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”. It’s also been covered on another Food Network show, “Foodiculous,” and Travel Channel’s “Ribs Paradise,” as well as honored with titles of “Best BBQ in LA” by USA Today and others.
With the Koreatown addition to the Baby Blues BBQ family, the newest spot will cover central Los Angeles, making the restaurant’s take on the classic American cuisine even more accessible for those traveling from both near and far to get a taste.
Baby Blues BBQ Koreatown will be operated by Rick McCarthy, an owner of the original Baby Blues BBQ, and industry veteran Robert Kim, a veteran of the restaurant industry for almost two decades, including a lengthy run at the world-famous Beverly Hills Hotel. Seeing the face of the neighborhood changing to a younger, hipper crowd and observing the rapid revitalization the area has been undergoing, Kim thought the brand would be the ideal eatery to open next door to his glamorous Mama Lion lounge when the unit became available — a concept that marries mainstream appeal with quality cuisine, while also being attractive to the neighborhood’s residents who love their barbecued meat.
Interior of Mama Lion lounge (Image courtesy of Mama Lion)
The cocktail menu will reflect the newest Baby Blues BBQ’s geography, offering cocktails infused with Korean spirits like Soju, in addition to an assortment of beers and wines. The food menu will feature the same hugely popular dishes that put the brand on the culinary map. Traditionally prepared Texas-style brisket, Memphis-style ribs, and Carolina-style pulled pork ensure that there’s something for every ‘cue fan to love, and are complimented by house-made sauces and sides made from the freshest, locally sourced, organic produce that have grown to be almost as celebrated as the main attractions.
A notoriously labor intensive practice, Baby Blues BBQ cuts no corners in the preparation of its crowd-pleasers, even as the crowds grow. Briskets are slowly smoked for up to 14 hours. Pork is painstakingly pulled after the nine hours it spends in the smoker following its dry rub with the house blend of 19 herbs and spices. Ribs are finished with BBQ sauce, then caramelized and charred on the grill.
McCarthy says similar consideration is given to the sides, all of which are made with fresh ingredients. The cornbread is baked daily from scratch, the show-stopping mac and cheese is made with four different kinds of cheese, and not one of the collard greens, creamed spinach or baked beans comes from a can. Even the sauces are carefully thought out, ensuring a perfect pairing for beef or pork — or whatever your heart desires in the case of the craveably spicy XXX sauce. Roasted peppers are balanced by pineapple and mango for an addictively tangy, sweet heat.
As Koreatown continues to undergo a period of revitalization and cement its reputation as the place to eat in LA, Baby Blues BBQ is an established and exciting brand with serious food chops, perfectly positioned to push K-town forward and serve the increasingly discerning and diverse demographic which now call the area home.