Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Chow Time: The Bear Pit Bar-B-Q

Seeing its giant, neon, billboard of a sign, advertising the finest in Missouri style cuisine, it is nigh impossible to pass up The Bear Pit Bar-B-Q in Mission Hills, CA.  While "food to go" might be their specialty, the ambience created by hand painted murals, sawdust-covered floors, and decades worth of random tschotske collecting, beckons visitors to stay and eat in. 

In a foodie world with regionally-specific cuisine becoming readily available in every region,
to "dare comparison" might be to tread into dangerous territory. 

According to the Bear Pit Bar-B-Q website, Tennessee Ernie Ford was an "early endorser of the restaurant."

"I endorse The Bear Pit Bar-B-Q, bless its pea pickin' heart!"

Although, what TENNESSEE Ernie Ford was doing endorsing a Missouri-style restaurant, is something for which I cannot account.  Nevertheless, there are many things to love about this classic 1940's roadside eatery in spite of the statehood confusion...

The wagon wheel chandeliers

The strangely-rendered but entirely-charming cartoon murals

The rustic, light box, beer sign among an assortment of interesting wall hangings

The sauce
In an effort to maintain full disclosure - I LOVE BBQ SAUCE!!!

As with all wacky tacky eateries, it is wise to remember that the quickest way to the love of these places is not necessarily through the stomach.  Sometimes we love restaurants for their delicious food, sometimes for their history.  Sometimes we love these places because despite current culinary trends, they stand resolute in maintaining a tried and true menu (even if it isn't the best that one has ever tasted) and a style of presentation that remains unchanged in three-quarters of a century.  To understand and appreciate The Bear Pit Bar-B-Q, one should follow a few simple rules.

Rule #1 at BPBBQ: Don't take a vegetarian!
Nick was limited to onion rings and what Bear Pit refers to as "Deep Fried Taters."
As delicious as fried potatoes are like to be, these potato cores, hard after a brief
 baptism in hot oil, are strange if not entirely unappetizing.  
We took it upon ourselves to bestow a more fitting moniker - "Potato Poopies."

Mr. Tiny opted for the hot link plate with coleslaw and BBQ beans.

Rule #2 at BPBBQ: Don't go expecting fine dining and culinary excellence
It is fascinating to read reviews on Yelp that go into great detail about the
lowly conditions and lacking service of a mom 'n pop-style roadside diner.
Realistic expectations appropriate to the type of establishment at which
 one chooses to dine are paramount in creating an enjoyable experience.
If there is sawdust on the floor, don't go in expecting linen napkins and
asking about wine pairings.

Rule #3 at BPBBQ: Make yourself welcome
Embrace the culture of the restaurant.  A combination of bear statues,
painted seagulls, and windmill clocks indicate that you must be someplace
that is pretty special!

Heck, if these guys like it, it must be good!!!

Although it seems contrary, I wanted to include a Tennessee Ernie Ford song that will help you boogie on down to The Bear Pit Bar-B-Q - Missouri style.

"Blackberry Boogie" - Tennessee Ernie Ford

If you remain unconvinced by Mr. Ford, how about the slickly-produced commercial from the fine folks at Bear Pit?  You're going to love it!


Bear Pit Bar-B-Q
10825 Sepulveda Blvd
Mission Hills, CA


Mr. Tiny


  1. If it's ok by Tennessee Ford and Mr. Tiny, then it's ok by me!

    I got a kick out of seeing the inside of this place (and that amazing mural...I think the one labelled "Salty" holding a thing of salt is my favorite part of this whole post). That "Blackberry Boogie" song is probably going to be stuck in my head now.

    1. PS: Have you seen this picture of TNEF and his wife on his Wikipedia page? There's a Keane big-eyed harlequin child picture right there in their living room!

    2. I love it! The fact that they're practically wearing matching sweaters just makes it even better! I don't know why but I also love the fact that in the 50's and 60's, the wives of stars always seemed to be pretty plain. Like in the Don Loper episode of "I Love Lucy," the models (real celebrity wives) were kind of dowdy. These days, Ford would be expected to marry a Victoria's Secret model. Thanks for sharing that photo.

  2. Ok, I LOVE that coy little piggie mural in the red and white striped t-shirt!!!

    1. Me too! However, it is difficult to ingest pork products while a sweet, little, t-shirt wearing piglet looks bashfully down upon you!

  3. Agreed with I. Blonde, the piggie is super cute!

    Was that sawdust on the floor?


    1. Oh yeah...saw dust on the floor to soak up all the spills and BBQ messes! I always wonder what's hiding under the sawdust and how often they change it. It always has that theme park/vomit association for me; it makes me nervous!

  4. haha! I love their commercial! I've been wanting to check that place out too.

    1. It is a hoot! A hoot AND a holler!!! I love those weird "homemade" commercials.