Neil and Phyllis Strawder, the smoke-happy couple behind local legend Bigmista’s Barbecue, is getting ready to open their first bricks-and-mortar restaurant. It will be located at the Medallion building at 4th and Main streets in the Old Bank District downtown.
The building is a project of John Edwards, head of Raw Inspiration, a company that runs 21 farmers markets around Southern California, including three in the downtown area.
Neil Strawder says the Bigmista’s Barbecue spot will be just one of several restaurants and artisan food producers located in the project, which is planned to include a permanent farmers market as well.
The opening date has not yet been set, but the Strawders say they plan to open by the first of the year.
The Strawders started selling barbecue at farmers markets in 2008 and quickly became one of the most respected barbecue operations in Southern California. Just this Saturday, Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold included Bigmista’s among the three best barbecue restaurants in the area – even though it has never had a restaurant.
The new place is the result of a long, at times frustrating, search.
“We’ve been wanting to (open a bricks-and-mortar restaurant) for a while,” Neil Strawder said. “We’ve been looking for locations, but as soon as we’d find one, we’d be told there was a bid on it already and somebody else would get the place.
“But I guess all of that was just a blessing, because we’ve found a good spot and it’s with a guy [Edwards] we know very well. He knows our food and he wants to have us there.”
At first, Strawder says, the restaurant will serve only breakfast and lunch. “After it becomes more of a destination, we’ll add dinner.”
In addition to the traditional barbecue menu – brisket, ribs and pulled pork – Strawder says the restaurant will also feature some more unusual items, such as pig candy pancakes and barbecue eggs Benedict for breakfast and brisket chili fries for lunch.
The north end of downtown is already one of the hottest restaurant areas in the city. Within a very short walk, Josef Centeno has Baco Mercat and Bar Amá, and Jean Louis de Mori and Antonio Tomassi have Maccheroni Republic, in addition to the renovations at the Grand Central Market, which have brought in food booths such as Sticky Rice, Valerie at Grand Central and G&B Coffee.