With so many brand new hotspots in the Los Angeles dining scene, it’s sometimes hard to decipher what is really good and what’s just trendy. Luckily for me, by word of mouth and social media I came across Ragtop Fern’s BBQ which has been getting a lot of attention in barbecue circles around the city. Last week I was invited to visit their location in the northeast corner of Koreatown. While looking for a parking space, I immediately spotted folks walking with white styrofoam to-go boxes. One couple couldn’t wait, so they were sitting near their car chowing down– the look on their faces said it all, but I still had to try the BBQ for myself.
From a distance I can see a line of seven or eight people outside of a gated apartment complex. A smoker next to them is exhaling the last of its coals & pecan wood. As I begin to walk up I’m greeted with hellos and a beer. Artist / foodie / friend of TACO Galo “Make” Canote invited me to try this BBQ that I had only seen on Instagram. Fern is busy with his customers explaining the menu as we quickly greet one another and it’s back to business. Their menu that day included brisket, ribs and pulled pork. I learned the menu changes daily based on what Fern wants to cook.
While helping customers, Fern handed me a slice of his 8 hour smoked brisket. The look of this slice of meat was wonderful, with some color on the outside and a smoke ring just under the bark. It’s tender, not dry as the bark adds flavors of salt, pepper and garlic. The smokey taste brings it all together. A comment from one of his regular customers is that, “good brisket is hard to find in Los Angeles” And just like that… it was all gone. Fern tells me the brisket is first to go whenever he makes it.
After the tasting of the brisket, Fern handed me a rib. A quick splash of BBQ sauce and you’re good. There’s a nice smokey flavor that adds to the overall taste. I could definitely eat a whole rack of these ribs. Check out the photos below to see Fern’s process of cutting, admiring and the BBQ bath just below.
Next on the menu is pulled pork. Fern has his own special ingredients for this entree, and it has a distinct flavor. It’s good on its own from the smokey flavor of the meat to the thin yet tangy BBQ sauce. Grab a Hawaiian Roll and add some of his girlfriend’s homemade coleslaw right on top and it’s delicious. Fern enjoys making the pulled pork most of all, and says it’s his signature dish.
During my first Saturday visit, Fern didn’t cook the eye catching smoked green chorizo made by The Choriman – an artisan chorizo maker here in Los Angeles. I was a little disappointed, but I was reminded there’s always tomorrow. Sunday came and Fern had it on the menu so this would be my chance to try it. On Sunday morning I made my way for a second helping of barbecue as I was more then ready for a sliced link.
After some discussion on eating the green chorizo, Fern decided to take things up a notch, and came up with a crazy idea. He took two rolls of Hawaiian bread to make great a bun for the link. For some added flavor he topped it with his specialty pulled pork and I sprinkled some of his BBQ sauce on top of it. Why, you ask, would this be done? Take a look for yourself. The Chorider was born.
When you get to know Fern and listen to him talk about his method of barbecuing you understand a few things. One, he puts a lot of time and love into his food. Two, is that he will barbecue anything. He does not want to limits on his smoker, Lucifer. Nothing should be off limits. There is always an opportunity to bring something new and unlabeled. Follow @ragtopfernsbbq on Instagram for location and serving time.