Tucked into a little strip mall on Sepulveda with a Chase bank and a Starbucks, you could be forgiven for walking straight past Holy Cow without giving it a second glance. If you do see it, you might assume that it’s a chain, much like the businesses that surround it. That would be a mistake.
Holy Cow does have more than one location, but only two restaurants – this one in Culver City and another in Santa Monica. There is also a cloud kitchen for carryout in Downtown LA, and a food truck. But this is no corporate mega-chain. The meat is smoked in-house at both restaurants, and the staff clearly cares.
We were first served the BBQ Plate with a choice of three types of meat. Ours came with brisket, the tri-tip, and baby back ribs. All were juicy and tender, with a glorious smoky flavor. The brisket was our winner though; the flaky meat falling apart in the mouth. The meat came with house-made pickles which are both tart and sweet, and a slab of crisp Texas toast.
Holy Cow offers a choice of four barbecue sauces, and it’s entirely down to personal taste which one you’ll prefer. We liked the original and the Carolina mustard. There’s also a smoky ketchup and a sauce that looked a little spicy for our taste.
The loaded Cheesy Taters are stunning; fried potatoes smothered in cheese bacon, chives, and sour cream. They’re not healthy, not by any means. But they’re crisp, decadent and delicious. Meanwhile, the mac & cheese has a perfect layer of crunch on top, while the cheese sauce is rich and creamy.
The slab of nachos is clearly made for sharing. We didn’t make a dent in it, despite dipping in more than once. Brisket, beans, slaw, jalapenos, and cheddar is piled on top, and they’re impossible to eat neatly.
The Southern chicken salad offers diners the idea that they might be eating something low-calorie. It might be lower, but the chunks of fried chicken are moist and tasty. The salad does offer some respite from the glorious heaviness elsewhere on the menu, and the combination of bacon, greens, cherry tomatoes, scallions, charred corn, white cheddar and the honey mustard vinaigrette is magnificent.
We had no space for dessert, but we got one anyway – a dreamy house-made banana pudding. What is traditionally a kid’s dessert is perfect here – the vanilla and banana flavors blending beautifully, and the vanilla wafers offering some crunch. Topping it all off are some caramelized slices of banana brulee.
There’s really nothing to knock about Holy Cow. The cocktail menu looks fantastic but as we were driving, that was a no-no. The food is wonderful though. One taste and you’ll be sold.