In Compton—a city, cloaked in unnecessary falsehoods and wild ideas of a rough landscape—there is an over-achiever, when it comes to barbecue. Bludso’s sits on South Long Beach Blvd, providing the hole-in-the-wall- atmosphere synonymous with “good eats.” I recently amassed a group of twelve (members of the Better Burger Bureau) to get some take out with wine, meanwhile introducing a few people to the fine smoked meats and heavenly sauces made to taste from Bludso’s.

Despite the restaurant’s petite frame, the production is colossal; two massive smokers in the back are forcing connective tissue and other tough meats into a tender submission, nearly all day. As a result, they have a deep menu.

With a group as large as ours, we simplify ordering—placing them in groups (divisible by factors of three)—by choosing the “Texas Sampler” for an affordable twenty-eight dollars, per group. * The sampler provides two sides, and a large smattering of meats: ribs, rib tips, chicken, hotlinks (two varieties) and brisket. It covers all bases and like the name implies, it is a great way to acquaint one’s palate with the house style of BBQ.

Bludso’s is keen on service too, amiable and very accommodating—I often come with bigger groups than can be supported at the four seat bar—they also sweeten the deal by adding in a free side or throwing in a drink of water.

The ribs are first to go, crowned on top of the piled-high plate of meats and poultry, which must be parceled out to get to the other items of the sampler. It is a generous portion, roughly five to six pounds, insulated by aluminum foil. The glazed ribs voluntarily separate from the bone. The hotlinks have a nice kick (mildly piquant), a little crunch from the casing, and a coarse texture that makes them satisfying but not for everyone. The chicken, from breast to legs was smothered in rich sauce and still maintained moisture in the white meat, which can be notorious for its dryness. The ultimate food item in the sampler was the brisket, buried under the other items on the plate. The brisket was fatty (in the best way) and melted on your tongue, with sweet and smoky flavors adding complexity. Truly, saving the best for last.

We paired the samplers offerings with California zinfandels: Blackstone, Stryker Kights Valley 04 and one French import:  Cote-du-Rhone from Domaine Charvin 07. The pairings yielded typical results—Charvin stood up perfectly to the rich sauce. Domaine Charvin exhibited the largest backbone (significant structure), a big full feeling across the palate and was coupled with an intense bouquet of black fruit and pepper. The zinfandels were both enjoyable but unfortunately could not support the weight of the food and the richness present in the sauce.

While Compton is not filled with poodles or kids skipping on street corners, it is not deserving of it rough and rumble reputation, at least not where food is concerned. Instead, Compton represents a value in food and it also houses a barbecuing lodestar. Bludso’s consistency and service are unparalleled in Southern California and I cannot wait to return.

* I alluded to it already, but the value in food (amount and price) cannot be rivaled. Approximately $31.00 for that much food will double at another eatery, and while I am not a fan of just going for cheap eats, the food is of high quality and worth seeking out.