I recently got the opportunity to check out a nice little BBQ place in Venice. My buddy Jason told me about Bondi BBQ and graciously offered to help me eat their food last weekend. I also got the chance to meet his awesome fiance, Angelica, and I must say that as far as girls go, she’s pretty rad.
Bondi BBQ – On Windward Ave. right by the beach in Venice
Because this place came so highly recommended, I had high expectations going into the meal. This was also my first trip to Venice as an adult, so I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect. Turns out that it’s pretty much the same as it was when I was a kid, with plenty of awesome people watching to be had.
The restaurant, itself, is not very impressive. It’s pretty much all bench seating and the tables you see out front are where we ended up eating. The weather is usually pretty good down there, so sitting outside is a great option because it can get a little stuffy inside. They also have a back patio, but when we sat down back there, to look at the menus, we quickly noticed that there were way too many flies hovering around to risk eating there. I really hope they get that sorted out, because if it were a little cleaner, it would have been a nice place to enjoy the meal.
We ended up ordering a combo meal called the Tail Gator, which included one pound of tri-tip, one BBQ chicken, a full rack of ribs, two sides and two loaves of garlic bread. The total, with soft drinks and tax, came out to about 90 bucks. So it’s obviously not super cheap, but considering the amount of food we got, I thought it was fair. They say that the Tail Gator serves 3-5 people, but I think you’re probably stretching it a bit to feed 5.
My favorite of the three meats was the tri-tip. They give you pretty thick slices that are tender and juicy. The barbeque sauce compliments the meat well, without washing out its flavor and the onions on the side are a nice bonus. It’s pretty hard to find good tri-tip and I’ve been disappointed with the last few places I’ve tried. I’m officially recommending the tri-tip at Bondi, which would make it the first tri-tip on EatMeCalifornia to get that seal of approval.
My next favorite was the babyback ribs. We were supposed to get the beef ribs, which Jason had eaten previously, but were told after we’d ordered that they were all gone. Running out of the beef ribs was a pretty big disappointment for J. Luckily, he’s a soldier about such things and after a short period of inconsolable sorrow, we put our attention to the babybacks. The ribs at Bondi are pretty darn good. In my opinion, they don’t quite measure up to the ones that Willy’s puts out, but it’s close. They have a good amount of meat on the bone and it comes to you practically falling off the bone. Also, they go the opposite way of Willy’s in the sauce department, preferring to let the smoky taste of the meat really come through.
The last meat that I sampled was the chicken. It was also the best BBQ chicken that I’ve had so far. The only reason that it didn’t rate higher than the ribs is because I’m comparing it to the poorly cooked chicken I’ve had at other BBQ places. Seriously, this was the first time that the Chicken was actually cooked properly. Most places don’t cook it enough, some commit the cardinal sin of overdoing it, but Bondi’s was just right. The thigh that I had was moist and delicious, but one step short of great. I think it was the fact that the sauce was just a condiment to it and it didn’t really seem to have marinated into the meat. Still, it was the best BBQ chicken so far and maybe I’m just being a little difficult because I prefer the red meat BBQ more.
As far as the sides were concerned, the mac and cheese was average and the creamed spinach was amazing. I’m a big fan of the mac and cheese with BBQ, but this mac lacked a little seasoning. It was pretty monotone and compared to the other food it was visually unappealing. The texture was nice and creamy and the macaroni was large and cooked well, but it just needed a little extra kick. Once I livened it up with a little salt and pepper, it was good to go. The creamed spinach was as good as I’ve had. It did cool off a little quickly because we were sitting outside, but I didn’t mind too much. It was sauteed perfectly and had just the right amount of sweetness from the cream. All in all, I would definitely order it again.
So, basically, here’s the deal with Bondi: It’s good. Sure, it’s a little expensive for how low budget the restaurant setting is, but the food is tasty and the people-watching is epic. For example, where else can you be chowing down on some tri-tip watching a lady smoke meth not 15 feet away? Only in Venice, my friends. But seriously, that happened.
I don’t tell you that to scare you off, but rather to show you a little bit of what makes Venice, well… Venice. It’s a colorful community, with a laid back vibe that is reflected perfectly in Bondi BBQ. So next time you’re down Santa Monica way and you feel like some great tri-tip, stop in and tell them that EatMeCalifornia sent you. Oh, and kids: Don’t do drugs.