BBQ is on everyone’s mind right now. Neighborhood joints are on everyone’s mind right now. I am all about the neighborhood joints, and despite what The Pop Chef may suggest, there’s nothing wrong with a good “new” nabe join with soul. Hambone’s in Bellflower is such a place. (As is/was, of course, the dearly beloved Bludso’s).
Let us start with the name: Hambone’s. What a colorful word? An Afro-American rhythm beat; a blackface vaudeville actor; slang for a girl’s muffin top. Is there a word that’s blacker than hambone? Think not. There are no Mexican cooks in the kitchen here, no Jewish writer manning your grill. This place is Black owned, operated, in spirit, in food, in clientele.
Apparently this is Mississippi “style” BBQ — the sauce is thick as molasses, and nearly as sweet. There is hardly any twang, and the Scovilles aren’t very high. It’s perfect for the current LA palate so obsessed with sugary foods. With that in mind, for the love of all ‘cue, ask, and insist, for sauce on the side. The sliced beef sandwich becomes intolerable after 3 bites due to the sweet smothering, thankfully the accompanying sour collards cut right through the fructose. While the brisket is not nearly as fatty as Bludso’s, it carried gentle smokiness, and nice chew. This might fall just short of BigMista’s, but it does get a solid B for effort. A bit more moisture & less bark would’ve placed this brisket higher on the LA brisket scale.
The baby back ribs, with visible smoke rings, were very decent. There was gentle spiciness, and each bite was savory enough to not warrant sauce. Despite being baby back ribs, these are not fall-off-the-bone varieties; everyone should be thankful. The lunch combo of 3 ribs was portioned appropriately, and carried an extremely palatable price tag of $5.50. The accompanying mac and cheese casserole allowed a fun mac and cheese “sandwich”:
Vida and Kenny are the owner/operators here. Kenny (and others) mans the smoker, Vida mans the books and the customers. She suggested the tri-trip, which is very low on my list of desirable smoked meats (too short of a smoke time, too tender, too amateur, too fillet-mignon), and sadly, there is no rib-tips. Rib tips is poorman’s BBQ drug. Chicago, you know what I’m talking about. That’s all OK though, there’s pork/beef links, pulled pork, baby back and brisket. Po’boys can also be found here, but pan-soul food scares me as much as pan-Chinese cuisine.
It’s all a bit like Bludso’s — the earthy feel, the small dining space, the area code. Who can complain about another Bludso’s?
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