Ask the typical Angelino what they know about Santa Clarita and ‘ridiculous bbq’ likely won’t be anywhere near the list of things that come to mind. But ask anyone who’s been to Smokehouse on Main, and they’ll likely start to salivate at the very mention of the name. Yes, pit masters, home grillers, smoker enthusiasts and fans of all things American comfort food, you’ve got a solid reason to venture up north to get your hands on what the local community has treasured since day one.
Smokehouse on Main is appropriately located smack in the middle of downtown Newhall, a cute little strip that plays home to the ‘Walk of the Western Stars.’ And if John Wayne was still around, you bet he’d be a regular. A massive menu that covers all things brisket, tri-tip, ribs, sausage and chicken, each dripping with succulent flavor and made all the more better with nearly a dozen creative bbq sauces. One of the biggest challenges is choosing which smoker-born masterpiece to focus on, and that doesn’t even account for Smokehouse on Main’s artful selection of burgers, sandwiches, salads, seafood dishes and even chicken ‘n’ waffles.
Let’s backtrack a second though, and talk about Southern Hospitality. Where else in LA are you going to find a place this good that starts you off with complimentary hush puppies and what seems like crack-infused honey butter? Oh, and if you really can’t decide what to order, they’ll bring out a complimentary meat sampler to give you a taste of four top-sellers. Does this now make it even harder to decide? Absolutely, but that’s a first-world problem most guests are happy to deal with.
In the end, those beef ribs are hard to beat, ordered with extra Jack Daniel’s bbq sauce that caramelizes with the heat for added sweetness. It’s a coin-toss with their two briskets, one firmer with more smoky flavor, the other juicier with decadent consistency. Served with a 5-cheese blend mac ‘n’ cheese, hearty mashed potatoes or a dozen other side options.
If it’s burgers you’re after, Smokehouse on Main’s creations are as creative as they are delicious. You can’t go wrong with the bacon blue cheese, nor the Kansas City. And if you’re feeling adventurous, the PB&J may be up your alley. Yes, it’s exactly as it sounds. To go the extra mile, order just a smidge of the ‘53’ bbq sauce…it ranks 6 million on the Scoville scale, which means it’s spiciness level borders boiling-lava hot. Wash it down with one of the many craft beers on tap, or perhaps a nice wine or soju cocktail.
Dessert is a bonus round if you have the room. The deep-fried bread pudding is as rich as you’d imagine, served with delectable bourbon vanilla sauce and bourbon maple syrup. The monster cookie is your classic cast-iron pizookie, and the Texas canoli gets a gold star for creativity by deep-frying cheesecake wrapped in phyllo dough.
There’s a good reason why there’s an hour-long wait at Smokehouse on Main most nights. Come prepared; it’s well worth-it.
Smokehouse on Main is located at 24255 Main St, Santa Clarita, CA 91321. Open 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Mon, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Tue – Thur, 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. Fri, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Sat, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sun.. Avg. out-the-door price for split appetizer, entrée, side and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$40/person. For more information call (661) 888-4585, or visit Smokehouse on Main online.
Steps off the sand and just a block from Hermosa Beach’s main drag, The Standing Room hosts the same fun-loving ambiance you’d hope to find in a South Bay Beach Bar, with a level of sophistication in its food that isn’t nearly as easy to come by. While others may be grasping at straws for how to become something new and different in the age of the gastropub, The Standing Room has owned its distinguished culinary identity for nearly a decade. So step inside this rustic place and see what American-Korean is all about.
Biting into The Standing Room’s tuna poke nachos unleashes a myriad of lovely emotions associated with the indulgence of rich, fresh, crispy and velvety. A mountain of ahi makes this starter a meal in itself, and perfectly-fried wonton makes you wander what made tortilla chips so good in the first place. Then witness the soft shell crab sliders, with black buns colored with squid ink, to confirm that Chef Lowell Bakke is going to wow you every step of the way
The Napoleon burger is another bucket-list item—cleverly described by the friendly wait staff as ‘having a burger complex.’ The description alone takes up two lines across the entire page on the menu, including three kinds of cheese, three kinds of meat [bacon and a huge slab of braised short rib], Korean aioli and fried egg, served with ever-so-lovely parmesan truffle fries. This is definitely a fork-and-knife operation…and note that the burger goes all the way up the knife when cutting.
A seasonal restaurant, The Standing Room rotates several items in and out. If the healthier-minded happen to catch the buratta and pear salad on the menu, they will certainly appreciate the fresh baby arugula made sweeter with pecan crumble. Those with decadence on the mind will enjoy the chicken ‘n biscuit, with bite-size passion fruit tea-brined fried chicken and super-thick gravy. Don’t forget about a fun list of sandwiches, highlighting Asian-inspired meats that meld harmoniously with comfort-style classics.
An extensive beer list is every bit as adventurous as the food menu, followed up by a good wine selection and fun seasonal cocktails. The drink menu definitely highlights the latter part of the night, where droves of partygoers flock to The Standing Room for loud live music. The transformation from rambunctious sports bar to popping city bar is seamless; just prepare to move outside if you want to continue conversation after the music starts.
The Standing Room is located at 1320 Hermosa Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. Redondo Beach location at 144 N Catalina Ave, Redondo Beach, CA 90277. Open 11 a.m. – 1 a.m. Mon - Fri, 8 a.m. – 1 a.m. Sat/Sun. Avg. out-the-door price for split appetizer, entrée and 1 – 2 drinks is ~ $46/person. For more information call (310) 318 1272 or visit The Standing Room online.
Qdoba, the national fast-casual Mexican chain known for customized burritos, tacos, bowls and other favorites, has unveiled its new ‘United by Flavor’ campaign to celebrate “flavorful food, flavorful places and flavorful people.” The campaign builds on Qdoba’s approach to personalizing every dish to the guest, and welcoming “people of all flavor profiles” to walk in through their doors.
“We love giving our guests the freedom to try our food and create their own meals. In fact, we think that’s where the real magic happens, when people pair the most unlikely ingredients and make their own masterpieces,” said Jill Adams, vice president of marketing, QDOBA. “As great as our ingredients taste individually, they taste even better when the flavors are united together.”
Qdoba backs up this statement in full by charging nothing for guacamole, queso and other premium ingredients. Their ‘Our Good Guarantee’ also allows guests to try new and different flavor combinations risk-free—if you don’t like what you ordered, Qdoba will make you something different for free.
The campaign also highlights Qdoba’s focus on fresh ingredients and maximizing in-house preparation. Everything from avocados to jalapenos are carefully sourced and stored. Staff slice vegetables and fire-grill steak and chicken on a daily basis.
Qdoba is also remodeling several of its restaurants to better represent the united by flavor campaign, as well as delivering an expanded alcohol menu to a select few. Some Qdoba guests will be able to treat themselves to draft and bottled beer and margaritas.
For more information, visit Qdoba online.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.