Opened by Johneric Concordia and other family members, The Park’s Finest is a kickback, family-style American BBQ joint, through the eyes of the Filipino-American family that grew up doing Barbecue regularly, turning it into a full-time endeavor.
(Note: This shouldn’t be confused with the more famous Korean BBQ restaurant “Park’s BBQ”, which is excellent in its own right.)
While The Park’s Finest has been around for 10 years (they just celebrated their 10 Year Anniversary last week), the last 2 years since the pandemic started could have shut them down completely, if not for a wonderful opportunity to turn their restaurant kitchen into a place to cook what turned out to be thousands upon thousands of meals for our Healthcare Workers and First Responders, delivering them directly to the hospitals and fire stations around Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
They’ve finally reopened, with limited hours & days (currently Wednesday through Friday only, for Lunch and Dinner), and it was time to pay them a return visit.
As you glance over the menu, it’s clear that there are familiar American BBQ staples, but described with a Filipino twist.
Mama Leah’s Coconut Beef (16 Hour Smoked Top Round, Cubed, and Stewed in Coconut Cream, Vinegar, Chili and Fish Sauce):
Just a tasty as before the pandemic! While it might not look like much visually, taking a bite with some Steamed Rice:
Tropical Coconut, tempered immediately by the 16-Hour Smoked Beef Top Round, Vinegar, a bit of heat from Chilies and a subtle backnote of umami funk from the Fish Sauce (just hiding in the background). And it’s absolutely delicious!
The Top Round can be a bit firm and maybe overly meaty in parts, but with that Coconut Cream Stew, it’s just fantastic.
Ann’s Cornbread Bibingka (Special Take on Cornbread, Cornmeal is Combined with Rice Flour and Baked on a Banana Leaf to Bring Elements of a Traditional Filipino Dessert):
Thankfully this was another recipe that tastes just as delightful as before COVID-19 hit. Some of the most delicious Cornbread I’ve ever had, period!
It’s more moist, aromatic, and lighter than most traditional Cornbread. I’m not an expert on Filipino Bibingka, but even those that don’t know about it would enjoy this wonderful twist on Cornbread with Filipino flavors.
Short Rib (Smoked, Seasoned, Meaty Beef Rib Paired with our Horseradish Crema):
But the one dish I was looking forward to the most on our return visit was their simply named “Short Rib”: A monster Beef Rib, smoked, slowly cooked and so beefy and tender and meaty! This was our favorite item on The Park’s Finest menu before the pandemic, and on this return visit 2 years later, the flavors have remained intact. Phew!
As before, their Housemade Horseradish Crema is a great pairing.
While the more recently opened Heritage BBQ has a more traditional and more luscious Smoked Beef Rib, the version at The Park’s Finest still stands up beautifully and remains our favorite in L.A. County. A must order.
Noel’s Smoked Gouda Mac (Macaroni with a Creamy Gouda Mac Sauce Topped with Cheddar, Toasted Parmesan, and Panko Bread Crumbs):
The Park’s Finest’s Mac and Cheese has actually improved since before the pandemic. Prior to COVID-19, when we tried this dish, it was a bit too liquid and watery. On this return visit after they reopened, the Mac & Cheese was very good: A crusty, crunchy top giving way to lightly cheesy, but creamy pasta shells. It was more balanced and had the right balance of cheesiness & creaminess.
Mount Taal Manok (Chicken) (Crispy, Seasoned, Smoke-Roasted Chicken):
Normally when you order Chicken at a many local BBQ joints, the bird turns out to be overcooked and mostly dry. But The Park’s Finest’s version has been consistently solid. Still smoky and full of flavor that seeped to the bone. The Smoked Chicken Breast portion was a touch overcooked / slightly dry on the edges, but most of the Chicken pieces were still moist and tender.
Ligaya Veggie Medley (Pan-Finished Dish Using Olive Oil and Our Seasoning Blend in a Mix of Italian Squash, Yellow Squash, and Bell Peppers (Vegan)):
The Ligaya Veggie Medley is a bit straightforward: It tastes like the sum of its parts, which is a variety of Squashes and Bell Peppers cooked with an Italian-ish Herb blend and Olive Oil, however it’s still a great veggie complement to balance out the rest of the dishes.
That is one area that The Park’s Finest feels a bit short on: Not enough veggie sides (in fact, they only have this one), but maybe they might add something in the future.
San Pablo Pulled Pork (16 Hour Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder Confit):
Ultra tender, decadent morsels of Pulled Pork served with a “Sauce” that was like liquid Pork Juice and Pork Fat. Before the pandemic, this was an OK dish, lightly seasoned and tasty, but on this return visit, this was the one dish that felt like it had declined slightly: It was quite salty and had even more Pork Fat than before. Still, if you took a small bite of it with their Housemade BBQ Sauces (both are excellent), it balanced out the flavors, especially with some Steamed Rice.
Timuay Beef Trip-Tip (A Half Pound of Tender, Season-Crusted Sirloin Beef, Cut Deli-Thin and Paired with Horseradish Crema):
This was the sleeper hit of the return visit! BBQ Tri-Tip can be a bit too lean, and as a result it turns out dry at many local places. The Park’s Finest’s Timuay Beef Tri-Tip is a beautiful rendition, with gorgeous smokiness, moist, tender, meaty with a little bit of fat, and a gorgeous crust. Pair that with their Horseradish Crema and you have a leaner, but still moist and flavorful analog to their BBQ Beef Short Rib.
Walking into The Park’s Finest feels like walking into a welcoming, family-style, neighborhood establishment. There’s no pretension, no fancy BBQ, just great down-home BBQ that happens to be through the lens of a Filipino-American family that grew up here in the U.S.A. Most of the BBQ / Smoked Meats could pass for straight up “American BBQ” and great BBQ at that.
And while some folks eschew The Park’s Finest, saying that it’s not “real American BBQ,” we’d eat at The Park’s Finest over most of L.A.'s current BBQ landscape any day. Their BBQ Pork Ribs & Riblets have been consistently moist, smoky and tender, their Smoke-Roasted Chicken was a pleasant surprise and tasty, and their Smoked Spicy Hot Links are also very good.
I love the Mama Leah’s Coconut Beef, which is definitely more Filipino than American, but if there’s one thing we can’t wait to return for each time, is their Smoked Short Rib. That, and the Cornbread Bibingka that’s just ridiculous! (And don’t forget to try Johneric Concordia’s excellent Timuay Beef Tri-Tip, which is probably our favorite BBQ Tri-Tip in the area by a large margin.)
For Southern California in general, Heritage BBQ is still the bastion of great Texas-style BBQ, but given its distance (San Juan Capistrano), The Park’s Finest is this welcoming family-focused, neighborhood gem that is still making our favorite BBQ in L.A. County proper.
The Park’s Finest
1267 W. Temple St.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tel: (213) 481-2800