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Great BBQ in San Diego

  • b

So I think this is my last question. Who has the best BBQ in San Diego?

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  1. In someone's backyard. Or a Chowhound BBQ when Buddha does pulled pork and chicken.

    The highest volume BBQ place in the city is probably Phil's in Hillcrest/Mission Hills, on Goldfinch a block north of Washington. People either like it or they don't. Purists or folks that have migrated here from parts of the country with a rich cultural heritage and tradition in BBQ generally don't care for Phil's. For those of us that don't care about being a BBQ purist and whose taste buds aren't educated enough to know the difference, Phil's is fine. If you're a BBQ afficianado, you probably won't be satisfied with Phil's. There's also Magnolia's, but I think that's more southern than BBQ.

    You also might want to take a look at some of the Tin Fork reivews in the SD Reader. He reviews a lot of out of the way places that tend to fly under local radar, and I think he's done a couple of BBQ places within the last 6 months or so.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Gayla

      I haven't been there yet (maybe this weekend) so I hesitate to mention it but I want to check out Joey's Smokin' BBQ. They are in Carlsbad and recently have opened a closer second place in Carmel Valley. Has anyone been?

      Link: http://www.joeyssmokinbbq.com/

      1. re: Scott

        joeys smokin bbq is in lacosta and is the best bbq in sd.there pulled pork and kobe beef ribs are the best out side of memphis...the suh-weet tea is the real deal

        1. re: Scott

          joeys smokin bbq is in lacosta and is the best bbq in sd.there pulled pork and kobe beef ribs are the best out side of memphis...the suh-weet tea is the real deal

          1. re: Scott

            We ate there tonight and we liked it.

            All the meat was tender and juicy. I liked the ribs the best, but the pulled pork and brisket were also very good.

            My honey had the chicken and he was a happy man.

          2. re: Gayla

            While not claiming to be a BBQ guru - we enjoy Phil's as excellent BBQ. It's probably our fav in SD.

            1. re: Gayla

              I am not BBQ expert but I liked Barnes BBQ.


              1. re: Gayla

                If you come from someplace with great regional BBQ, then you will find San Diego's offerings poor.

                There're really only two passable BBQ spots I've been to. Phil's, and Abbey's Real Texas BBQ. Abbey's has good meat (for the most part), since they use a real smoker. However, you want to go when it's busy, otherwise you're getting meat that might be dry from sitting under a heat lamp. Also, their sauce sucks.

                Phil's is decent, though they tend to over-sauce (really, they overdo the sauce a lot) their food so you might want to order it SOS. They are probably the best we have in SD, but it's not really all that authentic if you've been somewhere that really has a BBQ tradition.

                1. re: Gayla

                  The Wrangler on El Cajon Blvd. in El Cajon (near Cunningham BMW) is not bad.

                  1. re: Gayla

                    Phil's BBQ is the best BBQ in San Diego hands down. Their sides are also highly ravishable.

                    I've also tried Abbey's and also Kansas City and they are not worth mentioning, felt like eating a leather shoe on both occasions. Abbey's has no BBQ ambiance whatsoever. I would rate Kansas City over Abbey's, but Kansas City ain't that good either.

                    1. re: Gayla

                      Phil's in Hillcrest/Mission Hills closed and moved down to the Sports Arena area. The old location has a sign up stating that it will reopen as soon as possible - it's been up for at least 6 months. :( I miss the smoky smell on my way up Washington.

                      1. re: Gayla

                        Fat Ivors in Valley Center. They smoke and they are great!

                        Fat Ivor's Rib Rack. 27959 Valley Center Rd Valley Center, CA 92082 Phone: (760) 749-0600

                      2. No personal experience (as I'm about 100 miles N of SD) but I have some long-time friends who have lived in SD for 20 years now and they are big fans of "The Bar-B-Que Place". Apparently, 2 places now, after feuding brothers split up...one in El Cajon and the other in La Mesa.

                        On my "need to try" list next time I visit.

                        I have tried Phil's and enjoyed it...not great but definately more than serviceable.

                        1. There is no great BBQ in San Diego. That is why I purchased my own wood fired pit. Low and Slow baby. Sauce on the side.

                          1. I have recently been swayed to Abby's Real Texas BBQ on Miramar Rd.

                            Their beef brisket is very much like what I've had in Texas. Their sauce isn't so hot, but we have bottles of Rudy's sauce at home from our last visit to Waco.

                            Other meats there aren't very good, IMO. The chicken, for example, is pretty dry. I increased the deliciousness by reheating it in a foil packet with some beef broth. That helped a lot.

                            1. We love Huffman's on Imperial/Euclid. Not the best part of town, but definitely worth the trip. Check out this recent post from mmm-yoso: http://mmm-yoso.typepad.com/mmmyoso/2...

                              I like the fried chicken as well as their okra and my husband loves their ribs and the pulled pork sandwiches.

                              We used to live near Phils and it was pretty good, but I prefer Huffman's.

                              1. West Coast BBQ just opened in La Mesa. They used to be Bekker's on Mission Gorge Rd. and their food is awesome. Texas style, smoked meat, babyback ribs and they have pulled pork. I don't think any other place has that. And their baked beans are incredible. I have never had such good bbq in California. Way better than Phil's. I don't know why they're so popular. Try it. It's on Lake Murray Bl.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: mworm243

                                  I have mixed thoughts about West Coast. I ate there the first week they were open and had one of their rib plates. The flavor was good and the meat was falling-off-the-bone tender, there was a discernible smoke ring, but the meat was drier than it should have been. At the time I attributed it to the fact I was eating late (after 7:30 PM) and I got one of the last orders of ribs they had available. The BBQ sauce was also a little on the sweet side for my tastes.

                                  I ate there again last week. This time I had the pulled pork sandwich plate. The pulled pork was tasty but a little too fatty. The portion was generous, but considerably smaller than Phil's, which is a good thing, because I think Phil's pulled pork sandwich is FAR too big and cumbersome to eat. There is a choice of 6 or 7 sides with the plate and I chose the cole slaw. I'd be surprised if it didn't come straight out of carton delivered by a broadline distributor that shall remain nameless.

                                  But there are a lot of things to like about West Coast BBQ. It's not pretentious and isn't trying to prove anything, it's purpose is to just serve up some good BBQ. It has provided a MUCH needed restaurant addition to an area with not many choices. It serves good solid food at reasonable prices. They do smoke their meat. They've got a walk-up window where you can order for take out and comfortable chairs outside to sit in while you wait. They've got enough wait staff on the floor to cover the business. Service is prompt, though not especially friendly.

                                  I'd say their BBQ is good, not great and whether or not it's "authenitc" I'll leave up to the folks who like to split hairs over this topic to decide ;-). Is it worth the drive to the obscure intersection of Lake Murray Blvd. and El Paso? Yes, it probably is, and definitely is if you live in the East County.

                                2. I've never been to Phil's. But everyone I bring to "my" BBQ place says "this is better than Phil's!". "My" BBQ place is Lightning Jack's (4705 Clairemont Dr., right next door to the Pacific Theaters). I'm not a BBQ connoisseur, but just writing about this place is making my mouth water. As an added bonus, everyone one who works there is super nice, and the service (especially when you consider it's pretty much a hole in the wall) is fantastic.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: sphex

                                    I am unaware of this place but am in the area frequently, I will have to check it out!

                                    1. re: MrKrispy

                                      I've eaten at Lightning Jacks a couple times and it was pretty bad. Their baby back ribs tasted like they were microwaved (which they probably were since they came out in like 5 minutes). Had the pulled pork sandwich there once also and it was nothing special.

                                  2. I love BBQ and I love Phil's. Ignore BBQ snobs if you just want great bbq in San Diego - traditional or not.

                                    If you are in the North County area I definitely recommend Joey's Smokin over Abbeys. Our office used to get Abbey's every other week until Joey's opened up. Once we tried Joey's it was unaminous to stay there. Joey's has a much more expansive menu than either place too. Phil's is good but they don't offer a lot of sides and you are limited to sandwiches if you don't want ribs or chicken. Abbey's and Joey's both offer any of their meats standalone, combos, platters, by the pound, etc... Great when eating with several people. Enjoy!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: MrKrispy

                                      Anybody try Big Ernie's Rib Shack? http://www.bigerniesribs.com I tried their pork ribs on the 4th. It's my new fav rib place! I got a half rack and I was really full afterwards. :-) Tasted great with or without sauce.

                                      1. re: surfer1966

                                        How do you figure out where they are?

                                        1. re: mikec

                                          I see him at events in North County and he will email you where he will be if you ask:

                                    2. last night i went to joeys smokin bbq and there pulled chicken sandwhich was pretty good because there sweet bbq sauce is amazing. i also liked the coleslaw but i thought the bbq beans were way to sweet and there corn muffin tasted like pure sugar. does anyone know of a place that has actual cornbread with corn pieces inside and not corn muffins?