Kickstarter has funded some wonderful things: the coolest cooler in the world, Reading Rainbow, potato salad to name a few. It also funded the new Max City BBQ in Eagle Rock, and I’m thrilled the $25,000 goal was reached. Jason McDonald and Melaine Blair had a catering business for years before deciding to open a brick and mortar restaurant. It opened earlier this year, and after visiting once to find a ‘CLOSED’ sign in the window, we finally got our smoked meat craving filled a few weeks later. We’ll hopefully be going back soon.
The restaurant has a hipster vibe (what can you expect from a joint in Eagle Rock?), with indoor and outdoor seating. We sat at the bar, were served excellent Arnold Palmers in mason jars and awaited our meats: brisket, St. Louis style ribs, and pulled pork. When they came, all of us made one sound in unison, “Oh.” After eating at so many places serving horrible excuses of BBQ, this was different. The brisket was cut correctly. It was on butcher paper. It looked liked the real deal. It looked delicious.
Let’s start with the most important of those meats, the brisket (cue angry emails, tweets, and comments from everyone not born in the greatest state in the world, AKA Texas). The most striking feature of the beef is its thick and sweet jet black bark. This take on brisket was very un-Texan, with a brown sugar (or maple syrup) based rub, opposed to the Texas-style salt and pepper. Yet, the meat is cooked as if by a Texan pitmaster, perfectly tender. Some more smoke would have been nice, but in this town, I’ll take Max City’s brisket over most any other in the city.
Next up are the less satisfying ribs. Again, these were very sweet but lacked smoke. The tenderness was there–not too tender and not too tough–but that sublime bite just wasn’t followed by necessary flavor.
Last and least is the pulled pork. It was very dry and flavorless, and I wouldn’t recommend it.
The sides were more on par with the brisket. The mac and cheese was rich and creamy, and we ate every last bite. The potato salad stood out, and you could taste the labor poured into it. All made by scratch with a mayonnaise base, it was a welcome change from the typical potato salad you’d find in a grocery store, and unfortunately in many BBQ joints around Los Angeles.
We didn’t try any dessert, but for what it’s worth, the lady next to us couldn’t stop talking about the pies.
Food: 3.75 stars: The sides and brisket were some of the best in LA, the ribs were better than average, the pork not so much.
Ambiance/Atmosphere: 3.25 stars: The mason jars were a nice addition to the hipster-vibe, but seating was limited, and Max City was closed for lunch the first time we tried to go.
Overall: 3.5 stars: There’s definitely room for improvement, but in its first months in business, it looks like Kickstarter funded the right place.
Max City BBQ
4729 Eagle Rock Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90041