5754 West Adams Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016
The Los Angeles Foodie Rating:
Like many of Los Angeles Foodie’s favorite places, J N J Burger & Bar-B-Q is like no other. Tucked into a corner of the Culver City area, it’s not likely a place you would drive by and notice without somebody’s telling you where to look. This roadside food stall hides some of the best barbecue in town and also a perfectly acceptable hamburger. The folks are friendly, and the prices are reasonable.
Jonathan Gold wrote a great review of J N J for LA Weekly a couple of years ago. It’s definitely worth reading for its insightful conversations with the husband and wife team that run the place. J N J is divided into three parts. The anchor is a permanently moored food truck with a tiny enclosed counter-space on one side. A window at the front of the truck is where orders for burgers are placed and fulfilled. The second module of J N J is the “Bar-B-Q” side that is nothing more than a perimeter of wooden fence roofed with corrugated metal. Two smokers, one built to look like a locomotive, billow mouth-watering hardwood smoke. The third branch of J N J is on the opposite side of the truck and houses several plastic chairs and tables that are covered with vinyl tablecloths.
I have tried two different burgers at J N J, and they are tasty. I have yet to try to fabled 4 Finger Burger, but I will someday when my appetite is truly angry.
But the burgers didn’t blow me away, and I would never put them in the same category as some of the best in town. It’s hard to explain why I wouldn’t give a good burger a positive review, but it’s mostly because there is nothing that makes this burger unique. If somebody were to grill you a really good hamburger at a backyard cookout, you would be happy and full, but you probably wouldn’t go around telling all your friends about it.
The real star is the barbecue. I recommend the beef brisket.
This is the real deal. Loyal readers of Los Angeles Foodie know that I am a Kansas City boy, and barbecue is close to my heart. When I can find a spot in Los Angeles that delivers the real thing, I get excited. J N J cooks good meat the way barbecue is supposed to be cooked – slow and low. The care and attention that goes into the food here is not lost on me. The ribs are nearly as good, but it’s hard for me to get anything but the brisket, which I usually order by the pound with a side of sauce.
Jay Nelson Jr., the pit master and co-owner of the place (along with his wife, who runs the burger part of the business), seems happy to talk about his methods and the woods he uses to smoke (hickory, pecan, and oak). He personally delivers your order to your table, and both Jay and his wife make sure all of their patrons are happy and full when they leave.