I can't believe this place has been just a few minutes from my office all these years and I never tried it. In search of mid-city barbecue, I've been to the truly scary (but pretty tasty) Greece's, the Pig (blah), and Zeke's (usually blah). Years ago, we used to go to Carl's on Pico for the 99 cent bbq pork pieces sandwich -- I used to say it was the absolute best dollar meal in town. So when I heard that JJ's sauce was reminiscent of Carl's, I took the barbecue loving karate master (my teenage son) for lunch on Saturday. JJ's is easy to find because it's hard up against a huge firewood yard, which at first we took to be the wood supply for their smoker. I don't know if the two businesses are connected, but it's certainly a fortuitous pairing.
JJ's is two ramshackle stands in one -- in front, a massive menu offers everything from burgers to Mexican to grilled red snapper to grits -- we didn't try anything from the front menu. If you want barbecue, you go around the side, where the counter fronts an open patio sporting a huge smoker in the shape of a locomotive. There's all the usual suspects, in even more permuations than usual -- sandwiches, lunches, dinners, racks, sides, etc. Sam's brisket sandwich (about $5.00) was thick slices of meat, some fatty and some a bit tough, but the overall effect was hearty and tasty. He loved the potato salad, which was more like mashed potato salad. "Sometimes you just forget how good potatoes are!" he commented. I had the rib lunch, which was a huge stack of meaty pork ribs and a side of beans at the unheard-of price of about $5.00. The ribs were kind of chewy, not exactly falling off the bone, but the sauce was as good as promised, and the beans were smoky and flavorful.
The verdict: I liked the funky patio, the beans and the brisket. The prices were truly amazing. We'll be back again to try the chicken, the hot links, the collard greens and the burgers.
JJ's BBQ & Burger
5754 W. Adams