Lincoln Boulevard in Venice used to be a street that I dreaded going down. It's filled with auto shops, payday centers and way too much traffic. Lately though, restauranteurs are taking over a few choice spots to slowly make it a pocketed foodie street. Wurstkuche brought their sausage to Lincoln first, then Superba Food & Bread expanded further down with their light, bright cafe, and several others followed suit.
Oscar Hermosillo doesn't tend to be a follower since he launched the food renaissance on nearby Rose Avenue with Venice Beach Wines and Oscar's Cerveteca. Oscar continues his sprawl around the corner with the takeover of Benny's Tacos on Lincoln. This time Hermosillo takes to the grill with a nod to the flavors of Northern Mexico and locally sourced ingredients. Former Blue Plate taco chef Niko Trigueros is manning the kitchen.
You get the smoke thing as soon as you walk up and see the stacked logs and RV sized smoker around back. Inside is a rotisserie with chicken rolling and juicing. There's a covered patio, bar seating and casual high top tables with bar stools.
There was also a convention of lumbersexuals visiting while I was there. You know, the plaid shirt outfitted guys of a certain age with hair covering most of their face. A quick glance around showed that there was a definite uniform being sported, but then again, we're in Venice, and this look is everywhere. I digress.
Back to the BBQ. I asked the waitress for help in picking some smoked meat. She had the good insight to explain that the ribs are wonderful, but they're not the fall-off-the-bone type. I'm guessing there was an unhappy guest at some point so now there's a disclaimer, which we understood when we ordered.
They were meaty, smoky, rich and wonderful. Who cares that they don't fall off the bone. They don't stick to it like glue and I'll be returning for more soon.
They do offer platters so you can sample more than one item. We went with the $28 platter and got 2 meats and 2 sides. There's chicken and duck, but the tri-tip was too hard to pass up. It's well spiced and will have you reaching for one of their craft brews like the Santa Monica Brew Works Wit. The liquor license is in the works, but in the interim, you should be pretty happy with beer with the BBQ, though wine is also available.
The cheesy grits were hearty and decent companion to the meat, but it's chunkier in texture and got a bit thick as our meal wore on. The smoked mac and cheese is a better side if you need a cheese fix - creamy with a little chew and is a good balance to the meat.
The veggie platter was an interesting selection of smoky grilled mushrooms, beets, squash and green onions. Solid.
Oscar has created another great casual neighborhood spot for the Santa Monica Venice hipsters and locals, and it's nice to see some spots worth stopping for on Lincoln Boulevard.
427 Lincoln Boulevard