1146 Abbot Kinney Blvd · Venice, CA 90291 · Neighborhood: Venice
There’s a new pig in town and its name is Pork Belly’s Sandwich Shop. Opened just about a month ago on the trendy Abbott Kinney strip in Santa Monica, Pork Belly’s hopes to bring a little Southern BBQ flavor to the neighborhood. I was invited to sample a few of their signature sammies and check out the space. Read on for the review.
A Jersey boy who lived in Chicago for 7 years, sells apartment buildings by day and meat on the side. That’s Pork Belly’s co-owner Jon Swire. (pictured below right) “If I really wanted a chopped brisket sandwich, where am I gonna go? Our goal is to sell things that you can’t get anywhere else. I love BBQ, I love greasy food…. I always thought someday I might open a sandwich shop.” He brought in Chef Paul Mojica, (below left) and a competitive barbecue grill master, Eric Solcon to help steer the herd in the kitchen.
It’s a unique place indeed; sweet potato tater tots, tater tots smothered in brisket and melted cheese, deep fried pickles – if there’s a craving, this place will satisfy.
Their signature is the Belly Up, a smoked BBQ Pork Belly topped with homemade coleslaw on a brioche roll. It’s a tasty little bite and the flavors of the BBQ and the coleslaw are married together nicely.
The Chop is a brisket smoked for over 16 hours in an in-house smoker then chopped up into pieces. Prepared the same way as the BBQ Pork Belly with sauces and slaw, if you want something a little different, I’d recommend the Chop Melt which is the brisket combined with melted cheese and pressed on sourdough bread.
Much of the food is fried, so it may not travel well – eat it fast. I’m looking at you deep fried pickles and tater tots! These are always best eaten fresh. But that’s the idea, Jon says. Patrons order, get their meal in a little brown baggie ala school lunch style, and you even get a little cookie tucked inside - just like mom used to do for school.
You can either grab and go, or step up to the 3-inch ledge on the side of the restaurant’s main outside wall to chomp on your sammie. You’re standing in the alley, eating messy, greasy food, enjoying the good-looking neighborhood walking by — Pure Americana. Just make sure you are mindful of the cars rolling past you so no one runs you over or steals a tater tot from your sack.
I grabbed a drink from the fancy-mega-flavored-soda-machine with everything from Peach Fanta to a variety of Coke products.
When I asked Jon why they set up shop in this particular neighborhood, he quipped, “well, it’s the highest rent location we could find in LA, so we thought we set up here.” He was kidding of course. Though the rent may be high, “it’s a great community” he admits. It’s trendy and prime real estate, and the little sandwich shop is definitely visible from the street.
For the future? He says there are plans to open five more shops and they are looking into doing a truck. BBQ Brisket parked on my street corner? Follow that truck!
BYB Tip: Ribs are available Tuesdays and Thursdays.