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Huston's Pit BBQ - A Barbecue Shack In Hollywood???
Huston’s Pit BBQ is a bit of an anomaly. It’s an aging, yellow-painted shack smack in the middle of Hollywood, on a stretch of Cahuenga that is also home to such hip, happening spots as Citizen Smith and the Hotel Cafe. You could easily walk right past it and not even register that it’s there. I know I used to, until one day one of our supervisors at work had them cater lunch – he carried in six or seven trays heavy with barbecued pork, beef, and chicken: and such fatty, moist pork! Such sweet, meaty beef! I imagined the place to be a vast, billowing cavern, filled with massive barbecue apparatus of all kinds – grills, pits, ovens, even rough holes dug in the ground, tended to by hardened, sooty gnomes wielding sauce-covered tongs crafted from mithril.
In fact, it’s nothing of the kind. It’s a teensy little place that holds nothing more than a few formica tables, a minimal menu, and behind the counter, a steaming, fiery hole next to the oven. The savory, sweet scent of old fashioned pit barbecue emanates from the void – and then, suddenly, huge, slow-cooked beef and pork ribs emerge, already painted with layers of sweet, spicy sauce – are we still in Hollywood? Hello? Oh, wait a second – okay, okay, there’s a selection of salads, and the coleslaw is pretty free of mayo, and yes, there is a wide array of barbecued chicken to go with the beef and pork. Just in case you think you might have lost your way and wandered into South Carolina. Okay, no, that wouldn’t happen.
Ribs aren’t the only item on the menu – you can also indulge in pulled pork sandwiches or beefy Sloppy Joes. The baked beans are pretty standard; the potato salad tastes rather strangely of dried shrimp – not a flavor I want to encounter while eating barbecue, but that’s just me. The coleslaw more than makes up for the shortcomings of the other sides – it’s crisp, refreshing, and has a hint of mango. I like to pile it on top of my barbecue beef sandwich to add extra flavor and crunch. As users over at food site Yelp.com have noted, it’s open late enough to serve bar-hoppers who need to satisfy their late-night booze-induced munchies (or any kind of munchies, for that matter).
We took a South Carolina native there this weekend to introduce him to a taste of L.A., and perhaps unsurprisingly, he was not terribly impressed, but certainly not disgusted. While we wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to pick up some Huston’s (if you’re from the Valley, say, or even Glendale, you’ve probably got tasty places of your own to slum at), it’s great if you’re craving a quick fix of slow-roasted pork, or if you need to feed a large crowd – they cater, and they will deliver to local businesses and offices. The prices are nice as well: sandwiches for five bucks and under. The guys behind the counter are friendly and fast – you wonder why the place isn’t more crowded during a sunny Hollywood lunch hour. Maybe the gnomes would help after all.
Huston’s Pit BBQ
1620 N. Cahuenga Blvd.
Open til 1am-ish.
Photos by Carrie Meathrell