In 1967, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue began as a small drive-thru diner in Honolulu. Over the next several decades, the eatery expanded to more than 175 franchise locations across its home state and the continental United States. Though they have maintained their original base of operations and continue to draw on its local inspirations, L&L's owners take pride in introducing new communities to their take on traditional island comfort fare. Dishes such as fried chicken katsu, shredded kalua pork, and blends of mixed Hawaiian-style barbecue draw from Asian and American culinary influences, and ice-cold drinks pay homage to the frozen strait that first brought explores from Hawaii to the mainland.
At 4 a.m., when most of Westlake Village is still asleep, the pitmasters of Famous Dave's are already at work, firing up the hickory logs that'll be slow-cooking pounds of pounds of meat that day. As the wood smolders, the team hand-rubs spices into award-winning ribs, Georgia chopped pork, Texas-style brisket, hot links, sweetwater catfish, and several other meats. Barbecue sauce even drips onto the cocktail menu, where guests can find a bloody mary ignited by house mix made with their Devil's Spit sauce.
From the bustling streets of Times Square to the equally vivacious streets of Hong Kong, people walk around with smiles after enjoying the japanese barbecue cuisine at Gyu-Kaku. The restaurant has more than 700 locations worldwide, each rooted in the belief that some of the strongest bonds between friends are forged at the dinner table. Groups dine on a huge variety of Japanese dishes, from popular meat and veggie dishes such as Harami Skirt Steak, Kalbi Short Rib, and Mushroom Medley - to unique Japanese-American appetizers such as the Spicy Tuna Volcano, Pork Gyoza Dumplings, and Chicken Karaage. The real excitement takes place around individual grills, however, where diners can barbecue their own slabs of filet mignon, grilled ahi tuna, or chicken with basil sauce until they are ideally tender or encircled by on-duty firemen.
When the KTLA morning news crew was looking for someone to teach their viewers barbecue recipes last Fourth of July, they called up Lenny Bent. A chef and blues musician who's made his name catering the production lots for shows such as American Idol, Lenny wowed the hosts and crowd alike with his four-hour smoked, whiskey-glazed baby-back ribs. These?alongside smoked whole chickens and beef tri-tip?are some of the star attractions at his restaurant, Cookin' with Lenny's Smokehouse. Here, Louisiana-style recipes weave throughout the menu, topping tables with everything from deep-fried catfish to jambalaya with hot links. And guests would do well to save room for dessert, too, since the restaurant's signature treat, bananas foster, is prepared tableside.
Mijin Namgoong couldn't shake the feeling that something was missing from Westside Los Angeles. The diverse community had plenty to offer, but there wasn't a restaurant dedicated to the sort of healthful, contemporary, Seoul-style Korean cooking that Mijin and many of her friends enjoyed. She decided to remedy this situation by founding Wharo Korean BBQ in 2004. Thrillist took note of this approach and placed the restaurant on its list of The Westside's 9 Best Korean BBQ Spots.
In Korea, family-style meals are traditionally cooked in a large stone pot, around which family members gather and socialize as they eat. At Wharo Korean BBQ, Mijin strove to capture this communal spirit by equipping each table with a central grill that diners huddle around while cooking their own meals. Charcoal-stoked flames flicker beneath the surface of the grill, lending a smoky flavor to certified Angus rib eye steak, thin-sliced pork that marinated in a spicy miso sauce, or tuna seasoned with sesame oil, salt, and black pepper.
What if You Don't Want to Grill Anything?
Back in the kitchen, the chefs keep themselves busy preparing a wide assortment of traditional Korean dishes as well as slightly updated versions of familiar classics. This selection includes pan-fried, Korean-style pancakes with crabmeat, chives, or homemade kimchi as well as salads of sauteed tofu and organic baby greens tossed with sesame dressing. Additionally, Wharo Korean BBQ deviates from its roots a little bit by offering Japanese-style shabu shabu meals, which allow diners to cook their own meats and vegetables using heated pots of savory or spicy broth.
Famous Dave’s dishes out a hearty menu of down-home barbecue drawing on founder Dave Anderson’s 25 years of culinary exploration and experimentation. Diners can kick off the carnivorous carnival with buffalo-style shrimp ($9.99) sporting spicy cornmeal breading and tiny Bills jerseys. To sate hungrier stomachs, pit masters slow-smoke ribs over smoldering sweet hickory fires to create The Big Slab of 12-bone ribs ($22.99). After first passing through a sauce-slathered shrink ray, Dave’s BBQ Buddies ($9.99) offer bite-size versions of the restaurant’s most popular sandwiches, including Georgia pork, Texas brisket, pulled chicken, and hot link sausage. Afterwards, a lineup of sugary treats, such as Dave’s famous bread pudding smothered in pecan-praline sauce and vanilla-bean ice cream ($6.99), pleases even the sweetest of teeth. The laid-back barbecue mecca also keeps eyes and ears entertained with its playful décor and blues- and klezmer-spiced soundtrack. Diehards can join Famous Dave's P.I.G. Club, designed to keep members current on the restaurant's happenings via email.