Barbecue Valley Village

AJ’s Tex-Mex BBQ Showcases Twin Specialties in Valley Village

At AJ’s Tex-Mex BBQ in Valley Village, Anthony Chin and John Carrizales combine their talents to serve Texas-style comfort food.

Barbecue has never been more popular in L.A. Smoked meat is now served at restaurants, breweries and, heck, it’s even possible to find some killer pop-ups in backyards. Valley Village is the latest recipient of this comforting trend, thanks to the recent opening of AJ’s Tex-Mex BBQ.

Their three-meat plate is AJ’s most expensive item at $32, but it provides considerable variety. I recommend their juicy half-chicken, followed by spice-rubbed pork spare ribs and brisket. Each meat sports a different spice rub and luxuriates in a Southern Pride smoker that slow-burns local oak and olive woods that are both fairly mild and don’t dominate the meat. BBQ meats come with house-made black cherry espresso chipotle barbecue sauce that delivers depth of flavor.

Each combo plate comes with a choice of sides. AJ’s distinguishes themselves from other BBQ eateries with thoughtful options like sweet Mexican-style corn that’s shucked, sautéed with butter and topped with mayo, crumbled cotija, Tajín and chopped cilantro. Buttermilk-based cole slaw is a cool, tangy complement to the meat, cut with apple cider vinegar and mayo. Mac ‘n’ cheese is the most impressive side, sporting a creamy béchamel base, folded with shredded cheddar and Jack cheeses, and finished with Parmesan crisps.

In a fun twist, tacos filled with breakfast fare are available all day and appear on thick, sturdy, house-made flour tortillas with chunky pico de gallo and cotija. A single breakfast taco is practically a meal—co-starring fluffy scrambled egg, torn tater tots and sliced beef. Tacos come with a pair of house-made salsas: tangy salsa verde with tomatillo and jalapeño, and spicy salsa roja with Roma tomato, charred guajillo and chile de arbol.

AJ’s Tex-Mex BBQ also sells sandwiches, queso, brisket chili and wings. Their creative Southwest salad combines chopped romaine, corn, pinto beans, pico de gallo, red onion, cotija, tortilla strips and chipotle Caesar dressing.

The only thing you won’t find here is fusion. When it comes to AJ’s barbecue and Tex-Mex food, never the tween shall meet.

Anthony Chin and John Carrizales (AJ is an amalgamation of their first initials) previously worked together at Horse Thief BBQ, which Anthony co-founded in DTLA. John is Mexican-American, grew up in Houston and worked in fine dining restaurants like The Bazaar by José Andrés. The friends used to drink at Pat’s in Valley Village and now serve food to bar patrons through a window. The duo took over Texas Best BBQ on August 1 and resurfaced with AJ’s Tex-Mex BBQ one month later—a welcome twist to the local barbecue scene.

12123 Riverside Dr., Valley Village 818-505-8865

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