by Allan Roman Reyes
Located off Temple street, at the edge of Historic Filipino Town, sits The Park’s Finest BBQ. The place feels like your best friend’s mamas house, and the proprietor, Johneric Concordia, yourhomie. The space is warm, unpretentious and familiar. It has roots.
Johneric’s cousin greets and seats us. We excitedly read our options. The menu featured items such as barbequed tri-tip, hot links, pork ribs and riblets, pulled pork, grilled veggies, and something called coconut beef. There were also appetizers and desserts, two of which caught my eye: off-the-cob elote and a magical fusion called cornbread bibingka(more on this later). Elote is Mexican street food; a corn-on-the-cob slathered in mayo, sprinkled with chile powder, and rolled in parmesan cheese. The PF deconstructed version came sans cob and in a wooden bowl with the same ingredients. We also ordered the mixed hot links. They were served sliced, atop a banana leaf. Longanisa, a hearty, Filipino sweet sausage usually served for breakfast, was one of the delicious and surprising choices.
Grilled Veggies, Pork Ribs, Coconut Beef, Pulled Pork, and Cornbread Bibingka
Condiments! Filipino food has to have condiments! Most notable of our squeeze bottle flavors was the Park’s incredible fusion of nata de coco and garlic chili sauce; a deep, sweet, nutty heat. Other bottles included a simple mixture of vinegar with light soy sauce, ketchup and coconut vinegar.
The pork ribs and pulled pork came shortly after. The ribs glistened under the lights, their garlic-pepper skins toasty and red, the pork meat tender and smoky. The pulled pork was shredded along with rousong, a smoky flavored dried-pork topping used in many Chinese and Thai dishes. The grilled vegetables were comprised of red bell pepper, yellow squash, and earthy Creminimushrooms. The star of the show is Mama Leah’s coconut beef. Swimming in spiced coconut milk, the beef is slow simmered to perfection. The chunks of meat literally *melt* in your mouth and the stew gives you a little kick.
Ah finally…dessert. The Parks Finest offers up their version of bibingka, traditionally a Filipino desert consisting of rice flour, coconut milk, and eggs. The Park’s twist incorporates cornmeal and bakes the treat in banana leaves. The smell is fragrant, sweet smelling and aromatic.
Johneric would check on his customers personally, sit and chat, spreading the family cheer; the meal and atmosphere was without a doubt, good family time.
The Park’s Finest BBQ
1267 W. Temple Street, Los Angeles 90026
Wednesdays and Sundays, 12pm to 8pm
Thursdays and Fridays, 11am to 10pm
Saturdays, 12pm to 10pm
*Street Parking after 6pm