Going to high school in the suburban San Fernando Valley is a terribly lonely adventure and so I often took the Blue Line down to Long Beach to visit friends. One day, we hopped on a bus down to Redondo Avenue, following a local rumor floating around that said Snoop Dogg's mom had opened a soul food restaurant in town.
In these pre-Google, pre-smart phone, pre-rational thought days, my buddies and I wandered up Redondo aimlessly for what felt like hours, somehow expecting to find the establishment, which we could only hope was called "Snoop Dogg's Mom's Soul Food Restaurant."
Instead, we found Porky's BBQ, a Southern-style 'cue haven that despite having nothing to do with the famous rapper or his mother's country cooking still satisfied our cravings with its slow-cooked meats, fried chicken and home-style sides.
And now that I live nearby (and sadly discovered that Mrs. Broadus' restaurant was just a cruel rumor), Porky's remains my monthly go-to for soul-satisfying lunches in Long Beach.
An inconspicuous walk-up food stand in a strip mall parking lot serves as Porky's Long Beach outlet, with a few gated-in sidewalk adjacent plastic tables sufficing for a dining area. The menu is actually three different menus--Porky's BBQ, Muggie's Chicken and Biscuits and Fat Moe's Burgers--all created by Earl, a mononymous barbeque expert who decided to start his own spot after decades of judging, competing in and eating at BBQ contests around the country.
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At Porky's, the meat is the centerpiece of every meal--each slab trimmed to its best parts, hand pulled, rubbed down with spices and cooked slowly over hickory-fired pits for up to 16 hours until it's tender and warm. The rest of the animal is used to flavor Porky's sumptuous side dishes such as its Mean Greens (collard greens with little pink pieces of pork in it), Dirty Rice (a pilaf made "dirty" with chicken liver) and BBQ Beans (which may have more beef fat in it than actual beans).
Over the years, I've ordered all kinds of pork, beef, chicken, ribs and catfish from Porky's--usually as a combo with choice of side item--and never been disappointed. Last time, I got the sliced beef brisket lunch combo with mean greens and BBQ beans and, as usual, the meat came painted with just the right amount of their signature sweet and tangy BBQ sauce. The thinly sliced cuts (which stay a little pink when barbequed right) easily broke into bite-sized chunks, and fit perfectly atop a beans-dipped slice of buttery, grilled Texas toast like a haphazard open-faced sandwich.
The lunch combos are big enough to leave leftovers, though, so plan your appetite accordingly. And don't be afraid to eat your meal on the meager patio--you may not see Snoop Dogg, but there is definitely some choice people watching.
Porky's BBQ is located at 937 Redondo Ave., Long Beach. (562) 434-9999.