Territory Barbecue & Records, scheduled to open May 15, plans to offer Southern-style barbecue next door to stacks of specially cured new and used vinyl. It's the creation of ex-Bad Wizard frontman Curtis Brown and former Tee Pee Records co-executive Tony Presedo. On a recent visit to Los Angeles, where taco trucks are as common as palm trees, Brown (who is also the impresario behind the popular taco truck Endless Summer in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn), was inspired to open a restaurant that paid homage to his North Carolina roots.
"What I haven't had here is any kind of good comfort food," he says, while setting up a temporary smoker to test a new recipe. "Eating barbecue out here breaks the bank. Everywhere you go it's like fifty dollars, and then the potato salad is weird."
Some of Presedo's best and blurriest memories of Austin, Texas' annual South by Southwest music festival (Tee Pee is home to heavy psych bands such as the Warlocks and Deerslayer), involve late-night excursions to the barbecue joints that pepper the streets there. The message is music and food. "Outside of Austin, you don't see that kind of connection with records and food," Presedo says.
Territory's menu covers all the staples, including pulled pork and brisket, fried cornmeal catfish and a 48-hour brined fried chicken. Entrées come with two sides, including collard greens, baked beans, potato salad or mac n' cheese -- or you can get a simple sandwich on Wonder Bread. There's sweet tea, but bottled Cheerwine, the cherry-flavored, North Carolina-bottled soda, is sure to put a nostalgic twinkle in the eyes of Southern transplants.
"The whole idea was to keep it simple, Southern and cheap," says Brown, whose speech lacks a Southern twang. Still, he strikes an imposing figure with a shock of curly hair, tattoos and ever-present snakeskin boots. His grandmother showed him his way around a grill and, following the usual North Carolina customs, he prefers a vinegar-based sauce over other varieties like tomato or mustard. But, in the spirit of democracy, he's going to offer all three.
Located on the corner of Hoover Street and Bellevue Avenue in a mostly residential area that Realtors refer to as Silver Lake-adjacent, Territory is just far enough from the hip-kid hustle of Sunset Junction and Echo Park to make it a destination spot. It's hard to miss its sea-foam turquoise exterior, its watchtower and the clouds billowing from its two 50-gallon oil drum backyard smokers. Order at the counter, but all the seating is outdoors. You've got two choices: under the tin roof, or the open sky. For the moment, Brown has a small staff, including a chef who co-wrote the Larry Clark film "Wassup Rockers." The loose nature of the enterprise keeps the overhead low and the price point salivatingly cheap.
"I don't mind doing it myself for a little less money," Brown says. "It's not dentistry. it shouldn't cost that much."
Where: 534 N. Hoover St., L.A.
When: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, beginning May 15
Price: Sandwiches and entrees under $10; ribs priced somewhat higher, available on weekends
Contact: No phone or website yet.