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PHOTO by ROSHEILA ROBLES
There’s no shelter from the elements at Porky’s BBQ—even with a smearing of sunscreen, those with sensitive skin are bound to get cooked while waiting for their meals. And the air off Redondo Avenue only speeds up the process, thanks to a low-lying heat that gets kicked up from the asphalt and swirled into a convection-like breeze of passing traffic.
But somewhere in that open atmosphere, Porky’s picks up a pure barbecue vision, one that hones in on only the smokiest necessities. Part of the place’s plan includes the absence of an actual dining room, leaving a few street-side seats for those who want to eat on the spot. But the restaurant is far better suited for takeout, anyway. Here, the usual kitsch is passed over for the benefit of the food—the only stereotype stuck to Porky’s is a caricature of a suicidal sow, hungry for a taste of its own flesh.
Though it hasn’t resided long on Redondo, Porky’s is already a staple of the Lakers-loving strip mall, also home to Dean’s Pizza and Thai. Despite its quick assimilation, Porky’s isn’t a Long Beach original—it’s an Inglewood import that’s been slow cooking for years. And because of the restaurant’s size (a box of a place barely bigger than a Fotomat), the Long Beach location is a pared-down Porky’s, as the original offers everything from catfish to burgers.
Still, the menu benefits from simplicity. In fact, there isn’t anything unexpected—almost every order seems to include either a rack of ribs or a pile of pulled pork. And at lunch, the menu rightfully shifts to sandwiches.
The pulled pork sandwich is at the top of the lunch heap, with shreds of the hickory-smoked stuff literally spilling out from beneath the bun. The sandwich is so stuffed that it doesn’t seem meant for the hands—any attempt at forkless consumption is bound to fail. But what makes it even messier is the sauce. It’s the restaurant’s own sweet concoction—far more Kansas City than Carolina. The sauce is served mostly on the side, though, allowing for a controlled, level sweetness that’s easily dialed up or down to pair with any palate.
Also admirable among the afternoon choices is the hot links sandwich. Though it’s just as impossibly stuffed as the pulled pork (links tumbling out with each bite), this particular sandwich seems to be even more filling, expanding in your stomach in a way most of the other meats can’t replicate. But what really makes the sandwich so satisfying are the links themselves, tender little homemade sausages that hit just the right amount of heat.
At dinner, Porky’s does best with ribs. There are beef ribs the size of a forearm and baby back racks glinting with glazed crusts. Every option is a good one, and they become even better when served with tile-sized slabs of Texas toast and a couple sides (coleslaw, potato salad, barbecue beans or greens).
There’s also a new addition to the menu—fried chicken. The credit doesn’t all fall to Porky’s, though, as the restaurant subcontracted the frying out to Muggies, which now shares space on the signage and menu. What works best about the chicken is the price point, with two pieces coming in at just under $3. The chicken doesn’t reach the lofty level of standard-bearers like Roscoe’s, but it’s still a solid addition, one that also brings along french fries and pepper biscuits, sturdy pucks of dough graced by a sprinkling of ground pepper. Most important about the chicken addition, however, is the restaurant is stepping toward a more complete menu, like its parent Porky’s in Inglewood, adding another angle to the spot’s increasingly thorough Southern style.
PORKY’S BBQ 937 REDONDO AVE | LONG BEACH 90804 | 562.434.9999 | RIBS123.COM | OPEN SUN-THURS 11AM-10PM | FRI-SAT 11AM-11PM | FOOD FOR TWO $20-40