This recession has caused a shift in restaurant pricing. You have to stretch your dollar and Zeke’s Smokehouse’s new Build Your Own BBQ Special for $9.95 is the epitome of value. It’s not the best BBQ in the world, certainly better than any chain in LA, but today we’re talking about value.
First, “pit boss” and owner Michael Rosen is a passionate BBQ aficionado. He’s researched extensively, bought the right smoker and won awards for his skill.
Second, Michael and co-owner Leonard Schwartz have pedigrees as professional chefs at esteemed LA restaurants (Maple Drive, 72 Market). Third, Zeke’s location next to Target and Best Buy means you already are nearby all the time (at least that’s what I was told by everyone at dinner). Forth, this isn’t industrial/economy/chain BBQ. Everything from sauces, to sides are made in-house by Zeke’s staff. Last but certainly not least the huge portion size and high quality of food you get for around ten bucks is unbeatable outside of the SGV.
The restaurant is clean, the service is on point and there’s an extensive list of specialty sodas. One notable soda is Margo’s Bark Root Beer. The root beer is on the sweet side- much more than the Sprecher which they have on tap (and is from Wisconsin).
I should note the dog theme (Zeke was the BBQ-loving dog after which the restaurant was named. Margo was the dog of the boy who invented the root beer for his science project).
<-Margo’s Bark . Sprecher->
The Frito Misto is a combo platter featuring hush puppies with honey butter, onion rings and sweet potato fries. The hush puppies are reminiscent of latkes- more onion-y and moist than any I’ve had before. The onion rings are one hundred times better than Wood Ranch’s. And speaking of ranch, Zekes’ is phenomenal.
Their fried okra is a good change compared to Baby Blues’ garlic and oil drenched version.
The Build Your Own BBQ options include a choice of two meats (pulled pork, pulled chicken, dark 1/4 chicken, smoked ham and hot links) and two sides (baked beans, collard greens, mashed potatoes, green beans, potato salad, cole slaw, applesauce, kettle chips, fries).
I really liked the hot link. The flavors were well-rounded, the crunch was strong. The idea of a sausage making class came up as well, as it’s hard to do without the right equipment. The pulled pork was tender and smokey. The cole slaw wasn’t great, the rest was solid.
The brisket is serious business at Zeke’s- 10 hours in the smoker, slathered with their home made Longhorn BBQ sauce- it’s not your grandma’s brisket. You can see the ring of flavor.
Their sauce never get to vinegary, which is good in my book. They also don’t get spicy enough, which is bad.
The desserts included pecan pie, brownies and warm bread pudding with bourbon sauce (my favorite of the three). I think I’d actually just do a root beer float next time.
Overall Zeke’s is solid BBQ.