Long Beach has built a barbecue scene in the past few years with places like Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Bigmista’s BBQ & Sammich Shop and Robert Earl’s BBQ. Robert Earl grew up in nearby Compton and has family from Houston and Mississippi who helped set him down the smoky path. He and wife Latonia opened up shop on the north side in 2013 with son Robert Earl, Jr. working the window. The space features tables red and white checked tablecloths, red and brown walls lined with model cars, wagon wheels and wise sayings like “Don’t cry over spilled milk…it could have been beer.” Robert Earl mans a system of barrel smokers in back, which burn pecan wood most days, but house the occasional hickory.
Robert Earl’s Rib Platter ($13) features four pork spare ribs that cook for 4-5 hours and arrive lacquered and tender, but don’t feature meat that falls off the bone. That kind of rib is normally baby back. Spare ribs require more gnaw, and it’s worth the effort, especially at Robert Earl’s. Each order comes with two different sauces, a basic sauce that has good tang, and a spicier, darker sauce that delivers more heat. Mix and match to find your comfort level.
Sides like peppery mac and cheese lip-licking collard greens cost $1 extra, and they’re both worth the premium upgrade. After all, people can’t live on pork alone.
Dose of Vitamin P spotlights my favorite pork dish from the previous week.