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Best BBQ in San Diego?

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Anyone heard of Big Jim's Old South Barbeque? It looks good? Any other reccomendations?


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  1. Big Jim's looks good, but it's pretty disappointing. San Diego doesn't have any good barbecue options, honestly. Not compared to the real thing (i.e. Texas).

    49 Replies
    1. re: Js

      Ah yes - one of the oft-repeated SD Chowhound topics: San Diego sucks for BBQ. Too bad Buddha isn't around to tell us why. :)

      I don't know, JS - some people might not think that Texas BBQ is good, or is BBQ, but that is a general food topics discussion, I suppose.

      imsofull points out Joey's Smokin BBQ. Gayle asked about this place back in December and a poster named "Melissa" gave them a good mark. Have other Chowhounds tried this place?

      This week's Thursday insert in the Union Tribune North County (their annual Shilling Around, I mean "Dining Around", magazine), says that in addition to the Carlsbad (La Costa) and Carmel Valley (Torrey Hills) sites, Joey's will soon be opening a third site in Poway.

      1. re: RB Hound

        What about Kansas City BBQ? I've never been to SD, but among KC ex-pats craving cue, they seem to think it's OK.
        Or maybe it's that they can watch sports there...

        Link: http://www.kcbbq.net

        1. re: pepper anne

          KC's is a wretched tourist trap with tough, inedible meats. The only reason they're still around is their convenient location.

          1. re: Steve Green

            thanks. I'm PO'ed they take the KC name in vain.

          2. re: pepper anne

            If you like par boiled ribs you'll love KC bbq. Yuck. BIg JIm's sucked and is out of business. JOey's is edible but you won't crave it. As much as I dislike the fact that Phil does not smoke, he does make the best q in town by a long shot.

            1. re: pepper anne

              Worst BBQ I've had in the city. Interesting to go once for the tourist aspect, maybe.

              1. re: DoctorChow

                Do you suppose that after nearly 7 years, this poster is still monitoring the thread? :)

                Thanks for the update on the Clairemont place - I probably will make a lunch visit at some point this winter.

                  1. re: Fake Name

                    Im currently figuring out how I can NOT watch this one without affecting other threads. This one has turned into a huge yawner.

                  2. re: RB Hound

                    @RBH. Doubtful. But I saw a post to this thread this morning from "poolpaul" (which evidently got deleted), and while here decided to poke through the others. Then I decided to add my two cents to a few.

                    Might have been mostly a waste of electrons, but that's how I came to post to this very old thread.

                    1. re: DoctorChow

                      I see, Dr. Chow, I see.

                      I have no problem with old threads being updated, Fakey - just making sure the respondent didn't think they were being ignored. :)

                      1. re: RB Hound

                        I guess I'm The Respondent in this case. No worries about me being ignored -- I can deal with it if no one cares. [Sob, sob...]

                        Cheers & Happy New Year.

              2. re: RB Hound

                Not sure how anyone could claim that Texas BBQ isn't BBQ considering that Texas is one of the ancestral homes to this style of cooking. BBQ has a few homes in the US: St. Louis, Alabama, Kansas City. I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone knowledgeable on the topic that wouldn't include Texas in that list.

                San Diego's best BBQ is merely OK compared to what you find in Texas. I too was skeptical about that claim until I actually visited Texas and ate the best damned BBQ I've ever had.

                Before I had traveled there, Phil's was my favorite in San Diego. Phil's has tasty food, but I have to mark them down on two major areas: sauce, and smoke. Their meat does not taste smoked, and their sauce is too sweet. Sauce in Texas is sweet too - but it tends to be spicier than Phil's, and not as sugary. The sweetness seems to have a bit more depth.

                However, the meat is so delicious from the smoke that sauce is only needed as an accent - if at all.

                One place I went out there, Rudy's, completely redefined BBQ for me. Had brisket, hot links, and turkey breast. Brisket was tender and juicy (first time I've had bona fide juicy BBQ brisket), and the turkey was as well. Think about that - smoked turkey breast that was totally juicy, yet smoky as well.

                I think it's hard to pull off the real deal in SD because there's just not enough customers for it. The meat has to sit around too long, and it dries out. Most places out here also don't make good sauce.

                I'm open to trying BBQ out here. Pretty much any place I hear about I'll go and try - and I'm always disappointed. Nothing here lives up to what you find in the great homes of real BBQ.

                1. re: JS

                  Wow, JS, you really took a leap when you thought I was saying that San Diego BBQ was better than Texas. :) I agree with everything you said.

                  I was joking that fans of Carolina-style BBQ (generally featuring pulled pork) often don't consider the brisket style BBQ of Texas (or its relative in Kansas City) "real" BBQ. It's an amusing ongoing war between BBQ aficianados.

                  Once you get in third-order BBQ restaurants like those in San Diego, it is rare you find anything that specializes in any particular style, anyhow - it ends up being a mishmash to accomodate as many people as possible.

                  1. re: RB Hound

                    Don't get me wrong, RBH. I wasn't thinking you preferred San Diego over Texas. I just thought (mistakenly, my bad) that you were dissing Texas 'cue. Jokes are hard to convey on the internet sometimes. There was a study done recently where they found that people misinterpret others' comments in emails something like 70% of the time.

                    It would be nice if San Diego had a really great BBQ place.

                  2. re: JS

                    Rudy's does a great brisket especially if you don't get the lean . Not a big fan of Rudys sauce with the giant chunks of black pepper. P.S. Rudy's ribs are not so good, but the brisket is great.

                    1. re: SeanT

                      Where is this Rudy's BBQ located?

                      1. re: SeanT

                        Rudy's Sause is a texas sauce..not your sugary sweet KC Masterpiece style sauces...was also at Salt Lick and Stubbs and neither of those sauces were sugary sweet so that is how they do it down in those parts...options are pure hot sauce, coffee or beefy broth based sauces, or no sauce at all.

                      2. re: JS

                        Ahh...Rudy's Country Store and BBQ...my first true BBQ joint I went to....served on butchers paper, with wonderbread, all those big vats of Rudy's Sause....all the onions and pickles you want for those sandwiches...unique hand washing mechanism....been twice and ordered moist brisket from point verses lean from the flat...remember the turkey being moist...ribs were good, sausage of course good....question...I am going to SD in a few weeks and staying near Phil's...want to try the Tri TIp sandwich where you cannot get here in Canada, nor in TX, AL, or TN where I have also travelled for BBQ....heard about these lineups at Phil's and my only option is Sunday afternoon as they are closed on Mondays... my question...is Phil's worth the half hour walk from my hotel and will the lineup be murder? thanks in advance....bob

                        1. re: ebay3392

                          If you enjoyed those other places as much as you say (and I have little doubt) you will find Phils amazingly disappointing. I wouldn't wait 5 minutes for Phils.

                          You can have a pleasant meal there, but BBQ, it ain't.

                          1. re: ebay3392

                            The wait for Phils can be 1 hour+ if you get there at 7pm on a Fri or Sat night. During the week it's not as bad but I would expect to wait 1/2 an hour or so at least during normal dinner hours.

                          2. re: JS

                            They make some decent BBQ in Texas but if you want the real-deal authentic BBQ you need to go to the Caribbean Islands and Caribbean Mexico. Traditional authentic BBQ derives from the Taino Indians who cooked meat in pits with hot coals or over open flames on wooden grills. Typically cooking whole lamb or goat. BBQing pork is not authentic BBQ as pigs did not arrive in the Americas until the Spaniards, while the Tainos had been BBQing long before that. The many and varied moles and salsa de molcajete were the first barbecue sauces.

                            1. re: steveprez

                              lambs and goats came with Spaniards also.

                              1. re: Ed Dibble

                                Yes,that's correct! I was just trying to use a subtle form of sarcasm to point out the ridiculousness of the arguments whereby something is described as bad if it's not "authentic". IMO there is too much time wasted on arguments like 'Phil's BBQ is not good because it's not what i had growing up in (Texas, KC, Northeastern (but not Northwestern) Carolina, etc.) and that's "real" barbecue. Well, none of that is actually real anyway. We should focus on food quality, flavor, cooking technique, etc.

                                Based on the continuing discussion at the bottom of this thread, I've failed in my attempt. Maybe I was too subtle! ;)

                                1. re: steveprez

                                  RE: " 'Phil's BBQ is not good because it's not what i had growing up in (Texas'"


                                  "Based on the continuing discussion at the bottom of this thread, I've failed in my attempt."

                                  I have to wonder about your perceptions, since I clearly wrote:
                                  "Phil's is good for what it is. It's just not BBQ."

                                  And Cpt. Jack wrote:
                                  "If you like Phil's great. It is just not BBQ as Josh states above."

                                  So please let's not pretend that anyone has said Phil's doesn't offer a tasty grilled meat product.

                                  As for what constitutes authentic BBQ, the earliest origins of this food's history isn't really a settled matter. Mexico has a dish called barbacoa, involving slow, moist cooking, and some historians suggest that could be as much of an inspiration as the Caribbean.

                                  Either way, I'd argue that the regional southern American traditions of BBQ, while all different in terms of seasoning and saucing, all share the common characteristic of long, slow cooking over smoke. To say that you can parboil some ribs and grill them over mesquite with sweet sauce and call it BBQ based on the fact that in North Carolina they like mustard sauce vs. the dry rub of St. Louis style seems a little silly.

                                  Phil's grilled meat product in sauce is tasty, sure. It just bears no relationship to traditional BBQ from any region of the country.

                                  1. re: Josh

                                    I never really saw much dry rubbed bbq in St. Louis. It was more like a sauced Memphis style prehaps a little spicier. I found this in both the black and white communities.

                                    1. re: Josh

                                      Sorry, Josh. My post was not targeted at you and I apologize if it came across that way. I chose Phils as part of an arbitrary statement since it's a favorite topic on this board. Not to refer to anyones comments in particular.

                                      I agree with your other statements, though. Phil's is not like BBQ from other parts of the country. Though BBQ from other parts of the country bears little resemblance to traditional barbecue as originally practiced. Traditional barbecue is closer to what we call grilling. BBQ from Texas and the South is better refered to as hot smoking. In fact, there is a movement starting to call this type of cooking hot smoking and not barbecue to distinguish it from traditional barbecue. Very confusing!

                                    2. re: steveprez

                                      "We should focus on food quality, flavor, cooking technique, etc."

                                      Huh, I thought I covered basic BBQ cooking technique in my "continued discussion at the bottom of this thread."

                                      Just because I think your argument about Spaniards and pigs is weak, does not mean that you were "too subtle." That statement is condescending.

                                      1. re: Captain Jack

                                        Ditto my comments to Josh above. Wasn't targeting any particular statements. As to being condescending, i was actually trying to have a little fun. Sorry if it came across that way. Text is a por medium for conveying context.

                                      2. re: steveprez


                                        "Authentic" matters not one whit. Authentic could just as easily be described as consistent. Or repetitive. Or boring. Indeed, one of my favourite cuisines (Vietnamese) is a mix of French and southeast Asian style cooking. Not authentic French, not authentic Asian, but damn delicious.

                                        1. re: Indirect Heat

                                          AMEN to that Indirect Heat! Authentic is the most overused word in regards to food. That and "Meh". What's authentic barbeque anyway? Are we talking authentic to Chicago, the Carolinas, Tx, GA, St Louis? Dry rub, sauce? All different. My Italian grandmother put fresh mint in her meatballs and they were awesome! Someone would probably say they weren't authentic. To what? Can't get more authentic than Nonnie off the boat with a handed down recipe from the homeland.

                                          1. re: Island

                                            Non-authentic food can be as tasty as authentic food. To describe a certain dish or restaurant as "authentic" helps to understand what to expect. If for example somebody describes an Italian pasta dish as authentic I expect it to resemble what you would get in Italy, e.g. focus on the fresh pasta not the sauce, different pasta to sauce ratio than in most restaurants in the US etc.
                                            The word "authentic" doesn't say anything about the quality of the dish/restaurant but a lot about the style of cooking.

                                            1. re: Island

                                              To reiterate - St. Louis, Carolinas, Chicago, TX...doesn't matter. While the sauce/seasoning may be different, it's all cooked over smoke at low temperature. You can't escape that fact.

                                              Authentic is a meaningful term, like it or not. It seems to me the people who hate it the most are the ones who profit from muddling the meaning of words.

                                            2. re: Indirect Heat

                                              That comment about Vietnamese food is truly bizarre. Vietnam had an indigenous cuisine that adopted influences from various occupiers, but that doesn't make the food inauthentic anything - it's its own distinct cuisine. What's the parallel in French cuisine to the banh mi? Or the parallel in Chinese food to pho?

                                              Authentic does matter if someone says they want BBQ. If you get someone in SD who's from a region that has any kind of BBQ tradition and send them to Phil's they'll think you're joking them. Phil's is great BBQ if you have no idea what the word means.

                                              1. re: Josh

                                                Ummm... where do you suppose the baguette in the banh mi came from? 200 years ago, I'm sure someone in Vietnam said, "Banh mi isn't authentic Vietnamese!" And yet now it's a signature Vietnamese dish.

                                                What is authentic bbq? What is authentic?

                                                Point is, you're saying that folks who like Phil's BBQ (never been, can't comment on food) don't know that it's not bbq. But if they think it's bbq, and Phil's calls it bbq, and they think it's tasty, who cares? Who gets to be the arbiter on what real bbq is? Someone from South Carolina? North Carolina? How about Canada? California? Texas? I've lived a lot of places, and seen a *lot* of definitions of bbq, and they're all different. Just like I've seen a lot of definitions of "authentic" pizza and "authentic" pyrogi.

                                                1. re: Indirect Heat

                                                  Not sure your point. I pretty clearly stated that the Vietnamese adopted influences from their occupiers. In any event, you're kind of screwing up the argument - what makes an authentic banh mi, not is the banh mi authentic Vietnamese. Vietnamese food encompasses the cuisine of a nation - BBQ is a regional speciality. BBQ is a regional specialty of American cuisine, so BBQ's parallel is more something like the banh mi than Vietnamese cuisine as a whole.

                                                  So in that respect, if someone made a banh mi with no pickled veggies, no cliantro, and instead stuck some grilled meat on a baguette, then you'd be right to challenge its authenticity as a banh mi, since it's missing the very components that define the item.

                                                  While you may think you've seen a lot of definitions of BBQ, one element authentic BBQ has, regardless of region, is slow cooking over smoke. Anything else is grilling, not BBQ.

                                                  1. re: Josh

                                                    "While you may think you've seen a lot of definitions of BBQ, one element authentic BBQ has, regardless of region, is slow cooking over smoke. Anything else is grilling, not BBQ."

                                                    That is your definition of BBQ. It's a definition that's quite common, all across the southern U.S. I've seen quite a few definitions that included neither smoke, nor slow cooking. Indeed, BBQ in Canada is anything with BBQ sauce on it. Ever heard of Brazilian BBQ? Good quality meat cuts, skewered on a sword, over a fire. Argentinian BBQ is most commonly done over woodfires. Of course, now you'll say none of those are "authentic" bbq, which certainly is your right.

                                                    Best of luck! And happy eating.

                                                    1. re: Indirect Heat


                                                      Churrasco is the Brazilian dish you're talking about - "Brazilian BBQ" is a name bestowed on it so that Americans don't have to learn how to say "churrasco", or "churrascaria".

                                                      It's not "my" definition. It's the historical definition. Canadians thinking meat with sauce on it is BBQ means nothing - Canada has no history with this dish. That's like saying if I stick some chicken in a pot of white beans I just made cassoulet, and who cares that there's an actual traditional recipe of what cassoulet is?

                                    3. re: RB Hound

                                      I've tried the Joey's in Carmel Valley for take out - I liked it, but I am very much not an expert. I had a sampling of the sweet ribs, dry rubbed and wet. I didn't care for the dry as much as the wet and sweet - which I thought were very good. I also got a 1/2 of the beef brisket - it was just okay.

                                      I've been meaning to get takeout from them again - and I'm excited if the Poway location does open. I think enough people are fans of good ribs and the associated foods - we could use more but I've never been to Phil's and that Big Jim's was just okay the one time we went.

                                      1. re: RB Hound

                                        I have tried Joey's BBQ and for starters, I am not a BBQ expert and it is not my first choice for food, although I had a good bit of it when I lived in S. Carolina.

                                        re: Joey's, we had the brisket with coleslaw and beans. I thought the meat was on the tough and drier side. Using the sauce helped for flavor. Coleslaw and beans were average. My take on it--expensive for what you get and not that great overall. My husband liked it better than me and ate the leftovers.

                                        1. re: RB Hound

                                          The Joey's Smokin' BBQ in Carmel Valley is legit. I go with my Memphis-raised neighbor and she says it's the closest she's tried to what she eats back home. The pulled pork sandwich is fantastic; you'll never stop craving it.

                                        2. re: Js

                                          Hey guys. There is good barbecue in San Diego you just have to know where to find it. There's this small outfit named Coop's West Texas Barbecue that smokes some of the best meat I've ever tasted. What he does is smoke meats, vaccum seal it, and freeze it. He calls it "Barbecue in a Bag". All you do is heat it up in the microwave or the oven in its concealed pakage. I was amazed at the quality of the taste. I have'nt tasted anything like it. I ran into him at a barber shop in Southeast San Diego where he was sampling his chicken and ribs and boy was I impressed. He has a website up it's coopsbbq.com. I would recommend him to president.

                                          1. re: bradrick

                                            Got turned on to Coops in Lemon Grove a while back by FN. Very appreciative for that! Best that I've had.

                                          2. re: Js

                                            That's why I make my own BBQ. Buy a Weber Smokey Mountain (you can find used ones on craigslist for $100), learn how to use it (The virtual weber bullet is a good place to start) and test out rubs, buy them etc. Over at the Virtual Weber Bullet, bbq aficionados pointed me to Texas BBQ Rub (http://www.texasbbqrub.com/) and while I make my own rubs still when I want a different flavor, nothing beats their rub recipe. The original or brisket blend are both great, some people mix it.

                                            I don't serve it sauced and frankly you don't need to sauce it, but sometimes I might put a bowl of Bone Sucking sauce (hot) next to the meat for those who must dip.

                                            1. re: deeznuts

                                              I agree with you. Dry rubbed smoked meats do not need a sauce. It only hides the awsome flavors of the rub (that you or I create) and the meat itself.

                                            2. re: Js


                                              1. re: montdaddy

                                                Consistently tought brisket. Very good slaw, with almond slices.

                                              2. re: Js

                                                I've had "the real thing" at Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City, Missouri.

                                              3. Phils is pretty darn good!

                                                1. Big Jim's is a Big Disappointment. All fluff and no substance. I would say hands down the best BBQ is
                                                  Phil's in Hillcrest. In North County, Joeys Smokin
                                                  BBQ is pretty good also

                                                  1. I am a fan of Phils, but I also like HUFFMANS. Huffmans lacks the ambiance of Phils, it is all take out and everything is stacked on white bread. They also have fried chicken. The chicken is not started until you order it.

                                                    1. I am a fan of Phils, but I also like HUFFMANS. Huffmans lacks the ambiance of Phils, it is all take out and everything is stacked on white bread. They also have fried chicken. The chicken is not started until you order it.

                                                      1. Phil's Barbeque has the best chicken and ribs ever.

                                                        1. Technically speaking, Phil's isn't true BBQ. They'll be the first to admit it. At their current location in Hillcrest they pre-cook the meat in the kitchen and it's finished on the front grill. That's not BBQ. They can't cook true BBQ there because the people living in the area complained quite loudly about all the smoke. I hear they are planning on moving to a new location where they can cook BBQ the way it's supposed to be cooked.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. Way back in the late 70s to 80s, there used to be a great Texas bbq joint, in of all places, La Jolla. It was called Clay's and the proprietor was a black guy from Texas who happened to be Jewish.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Encinitan

                                                              OMG!!!! Clay's!!! I did'nt think I would ever hear that name again! That place was GREAT! I was just a teenager then, and my dad would take the whole family there, it was right on La Jolla Blvd. My dad is from Abiline TX. and that is the only place he ever found here in San Diego that compared to home. Please please please....someone tell me what happened to that man. Did he relocate? (I would drive three hours in each direction to find that man's resurant). If anyone knows where he his, can you please post? Many thanks in advance.

                                                              1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                                                I'll second Huffman's, it's the best in SD, though the bar is pretty low. Back in the 80's and early 90's there was a place on Ash called Gellarosa Ranch. The BBQ there was head and shoulders above anything we have today. Too bad the old lady retired and it's now a parking lot.

                                                                1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                                                  Huffmans is inedible and way too high priced. I see talk about The BBQ Pit on Fletcher Pkwy which is pretty good. There used to be a location in PB also.
                                                                  For western style BBQ, I prefer Wrangler BBQ in El Cajon. It's right off the El Cajon Blvd exit as you enter EC. Smoked overnight,decent sides and anbience that will take you back to the late 50's/early 60's (Formica tables,knotty pine and deer heads on the wall) Has reamined the same since I started going there back in the mid 70's.

                                                                  Link: http://www.wranglerfamilybarbecue.com/

                                                                  1. re: motes

                                                                    impossible to count the number bbq beef sandwiches that I've eaten there

                                                                2. FWIW, Big Jim's is closed, so we don't have Big Jim to kick around anymore... ;-)

                                                                  1. Wasn't there somewhere near El Cajon that people were talking about on here?

                                                                    I hesitate to say it but I went to the new chain of Dave's Famous BBQ in Vista. Never again. Yikes!

                                                                    I have been to Austin about 7 times in the past year and love Rudy's. There are also many small BBQ joints, one is out of a person's home, you pull up to their double wide and order!

                                                                    Different from Oakland BBQ but both are good.

                                                                    We need a good BBQ place.


                                                                    14 Replies
                                                                    1. re: stangoldsmith

                                                                      Stan, I think there is, or used to be, a BBQ place in Fletcher Hills. It was supposed to have been related to Huffman's.

                                                                      1. re: stangoldsmith

                                                                        Do you have specific complaints about Famous Dave's in Vista?

                                                                        1. re: mikec

                                                                          I happened to drop into Famous daves before they officially opened to get a menu and taste the sauce. Such was my luck that they were having their last training day. We had just eaten at Philly Franks in San Marcos so we were stuffed. However i wanted to taste their sauce at Daves so we stopped by. Long story short they let us order three entres , an appetizer and dessert. I actually liked two of the sauces, devils spit(most like rudys minus the huge chunks of black pepper) and the sassy sauce. I ordered the st. louis ribs (real ribs not sissy back ribs) MY buddy got the brisket, I think his girlfriend got a caesar salad,. Ribs were ok but could not taste any smoke and no outer crust. Brisket was flavorless with no i repeat no not even minimal smoke ring. Salad was, well salad. The app was rib tips and very similar experience to the Ribs. The sides were pretty good. I recall a decent potato salad and some very good beans. I would eat the beans again in a heartbeat.

                                                                          The best part of the deal other than this was FREEEEE, was the bread pudding. It was flat out goood.

                                                                          I would eat there again in a pinch but the only memorable food items were the beans and bread pudding.

                                                                          1. re: SeanT

                                                                            From other Famous Dave's I've been to (Fresno last week and multiple places in Minnesota/South Dakota, including their original in South Minneapolis), their brisket is definitely their weakest offering. Ribs usually had a meager smoke ring (typically under 1/16", but at least they had a smoke ring, unlike, say, Phil's or "Smokin'" (not) Joey's). But execution in a national chain like FD's probably depends upon the fastidiousness of the local owner/manager. I thought the Fresno FD's was decent and as good as other ones I've been to in their "home" territory.

                                                                          2. re: mikec

                                                                            Well the baby back ribs I had were just OK. I mean, it was somewhat bland, the meat was a little overcooked and stuck to the bone a bit. Not a lot of sauce and the sauce was too sickly sweet, too much molasses or something, and too chemically, couldn't taste any down home spirit in them. Their muffins were too sweet too and tasted like they were full of chemicals, like those blueberry muffins you get in plastic at 7-11. And their rotisserie chicken was way too salty, though the chicken was cooked nicely.

                                                                            We got takeout but the place was jam packed, I heard someone say 1.5 hour wait. It was your typical chain joint, which for me is not a plus usually, though their staff were friendly.

                                                                            My big complaint!: Their little "FIRE!" BBQ sauce (sorry forget the name right now but it's their hottest one (with warnings on the pack/bottle!)) they give you in the packets by the door tastd like little more than Arby's BBQ sauce in the packet. I mean there's a picture of HELL on the packet but it tasted more like a sweet trip to the taffy factory instead! I am tired of being promised hot spicy food and getting nothing! (Sorry for the rant!). My father in law defended them saying it might be hot for people in Ohio, where they probably also have Famous Dave's.

                                                                            Hey, I did eat the leftovers....

                                                                            1. re: stangoldsmith

                                                                              "I am tired of being promised hot spicy food and getting nothing!"

                                                                              Serious. Go to Ba Ren, when they say spicy they mean it.

                                                                          3. re: stangoldsmith

                                                                            There's the Barbeque Pit on Fletcher Parkway, and alot of people swear by it. I haven't been there in years, so I can't speak for the quality, but I remember liking it when I went.

                                                                            1. re: phee

                                                                              We went there once (the BBQ Pit) and really liked it, but on subsequent visits the meat has been a little dried out. I also don't like their sauce - waay too much clove. I thought it might have been a fluke the first time, but it's not.

                                                                              The odd thing is they run out of stuff all the time, they were out of pork ribs on our first visit, so we tried the brisket, chicken, hot links and beef ribs (we had leftovers!)and they've been out of beef ribs and chicken on subsequent visits.

                                                                              1. re: fingerlickin

                                                                                From a BBQ perspective, although Joey's claims to "slow smoke" nearly everthing on their menu, I couldn't find any evidence of it. No smoke ring, no smoke flavor, not even smoke wafting from their restaurant (at least Phil's has that going for, and against, it...). I'd rate it pretty equivalent to Phil's: a decent eat, but it's not going to satisfy real BBQ afficionados of any strain.

                                                                                1. re: Alice Q

                                                                                  That place is a little odd, and I totally agree about the sauce! Not good. But the meat was prepared fairly well, I thought. Also, kinda like we were in a time travel...transported out of SoCal altogether!

                                                                                2. re: phee

                                                                                  My family has been going to The Barbeque Pit in National City (Plaza Blvd) since it opened. My great-grandfather took my mother, and they both took me. I love their BBQ, and am surprised that it's not mentioned more. The inside of the restaurant takes you back to 1950.

                                                                                  I'd say it's way better than Sonny Bryan's (in Texas), but that doesn't say much. I've never been to Phil's, so I can't compare.

                                                                                  1. re: ekomega

                                                                                    There are various Barbecue Pit's around. They were old and seedy in 1975 (worn formica tables and scratched up correlware straight out of the 50's). I assume they're related, including ones on University near 30th and also in El Cajon in addition to the one in National City. There at least used to be one on Garnet in PB near Cass, I went to that one about weekly in the late 70's, and there was also one on Balboa near 163, but that one closed about five years ago. They've been solid when I've gone. Not great, but solid. Meat was good, sauce was good, sides were industrial standard potato salad/macaroni salad/beans. I haven't been to one since the Balboa location closed.

                                                                                    1. re: mikec

                                                                                      There is one in El Cajon, Fletcher Parkway. Seedy and always crowded. Occasional coupons in the PennySaver.

                                                                                      1. re: Cathy

                                                                                        The BBQ PIt in North Park closed for dining room service a few years ago, but the owner keeps the spot for catering. You can also get him to smoke your own roasts. We've had him smoke turkeys for us--yummy.
                                                                                        The one in El Cajon is indeed a throw back to 1950. I grew up on these when they still had the PB branch. When we discovered this time warp in El Cajon I jumped for joy! I don't know about the potato salad, because I can't get past the fries and coleslaw. We order a beef sandwich plate, and another ala carte sandwich and split the generous sides.
                                                                                        If you are looking for even more baby boomer nostalgia--go next door afterwards and try a double scoop of 31 flavors from Baskin and Robbins.

                                                                              2. Now by no means am I a BBQ guru but I used to enjoy the Barbeque Burrito down at The BBQ House on Newport in Ocean Beach. It is BBQ chicken or pork, baked beans, cole slaw wrapped in a giant flour tortilla. You can get the sauce spicy or mild.

                                                                                1. I've never been to Big Jim's in North County but I do love the old German butcher shop named Specialty Meats at 1945 E. EL Norte Parkway in Escondido. Not only are they the best specialty butcher shop in North County but on the weekends they also slow smoke a whole range of meats. They do it right mesquite smoking the ribs & meats for 8 hours so that it's as tender and flavorful as can be. The only hitch is they don't sell individual portions and you have to buy a whole slab of ribs or what not. Still, just invite some friends over and eat the whole thing enjoying it with a fresh local wine. It's great.

                                                                                  1. I don't know if it's the BEST in San Diego, but there is a good new little place in Santee called KB's. It is supposed to be Memphis Style and the whole place is decorated with Elvis memorabilia. The pork ribs were excellent, but they also have baby backs and beef ribs. We had the cole slaw which was very good-not too sweet or mayonnaise-laden like some places. I didn't eat the cornbread, but my companion said it was dry. He also loved the beans. I had the garlic rosemary fries and they were good, but not served hot enough. The place has only been open a week or so and the owner said they are getting feedback from customers right now about what they like and don't like. It's at 9225 Carlton Hills Blvd. between Hungry Howie's and a taco shop. Closed Mondays.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: marymbs

                                                                                      Thanks for the tip, Mary! Right in my own backyard, so we'll be checking it out - maybe this week.

                                                                                    2. There's a relatively new place that opened up in 4S Rancho Bernardo area called "Brett's BBQ-If it's not smoked, it's not barbeque". (www.brettsbbq.com


                                                                                      With a name like that I thought they had the right idea for 'good bbq'.

                                                                                      We tried them at work during lunch the other week - I got the pulled bbq pork sandwich - pretty darn good. I may go back and try the ribs as I'm getting pretty good doing them myself at home.

                                                                                      Anyone else try Bretts?


                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Erik Tracy

                                                                                        I tried the baby back ribs at Brett's. I didn't like the sauce/marinade. It was too spicy for my taste. My fav place is Famous Dave's in Vista. I love the sampler:
                                                                                        Dave's Sampler Platter
                                                                                        Barbeque spareribs, chicken wings, chicken tenders, catfish fingers and onion strings.

                                                                                        1. re: Erik Tracy

                                                                                          Also tried the pulled pork sandwich today. It's good. Definitely smoked (unlike Phil's), the pork was a little dried out, but the BBQ sauce helped. BBQ sauce is fairly vinegary, more like a Texas style BBQ sauce, but oddly spiced for that (a fairly dark brown). Didn't find the sauce terribly spicy at all. Generous serving of pulled pork on a large hamburger bun for $7.50. Side of potato salad was OK, above average industrial (Phil's has them beat there). Aside from the sandwiches, everything else seemed a tad expensive: $14-$15 for a half-rack of baby back or spareribs plate, $20 for the sampler.

                                                                                          All in all, if I lived in that area, it's a place I'd go to somewhat regularly. I don't think it's worth making a trip for, though. It's not convenient to get to.

                                                                                        2. I still like Love's BBQ in Chula Vista. There used to a bunch more around town but
                                                                                          just one remains...as far as I know. They have a pretty good menu with other items if someone in your group isn't in the mood for bbq. Their clam chowder is pretty
                                                                                          good...it might come from a can but i like it.


                                                                                          1. West Coast BBQ opened up last month in the Ross shopping center on Lake Murray Blvd, where the Russian place used to be. Wasn't terrible...portions were decent, and unlike Phil's, I definitely detected a smoke ring on the baby backs. The chicken was tasty but dry, and the beef brisket quite good. Evidently the same family owned a couple of joints on Mission Gorge Road years ago, and recently got back in the game.

                                                                                            Maybe Dining Diva remembers them??

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: DBrooks

                                                                                              Bekkers. It is still on Mission Gorge but has done only catering for many years. In same mall with the Jack in the Box.(Go up Mission Gorge from the 8- to the right where it splits to Friars and keep going.)

                                                                                              1. re: Cathy

                                                                                                Got it--by the storage place. Thanks!

                                                                                              2. re: DBrooks

                                                                                                Hi DB

                                                                                                I am late to the game, however, I can tell you a bit about West Coast BBQ.

                                                                                                The owners also owned Beckers, or Bekker's Catering. They had a retail restaurant along with another space next door or one down, where they did big catering. The restaurant thrived a long time. They closed about 10 or 15 years ago. They concentrated on their catering. Then he went to jail for bombs. Then they decided to try a restaurant again, hence, West Coast. It was small. It was good. Great pulled pork, great ribs, great beans, pretty good 1/2 chicken, always sauce on the side please. And they made a pretty decent chili that they offered as a side. They often ran out of that. Many of the family worked there.

                                                                                                About 3 years ago, or so, they sold to a guy who owned a totally different BBQ place in Alpine or somewhere around there. He came in, kept the name, and used the same recipes (I guess that was part of the sale, that he would get the recipes) and things were good, the same. Then he started many changes. One was he made the bar much bigger and had many more beers available on draft. I am not saying this is bad. Yes I am. Already the restaurant was too small and this took away seating. And it made it very loud.

                                                                                                The food is still good, or at least the last time I went there, and you can call ahead for take out and it will be ready. Again, the same things I like are good, pulled pork, all ribs, chicken - I get dark, don't know about white - I don't think they have chili anymore. Look on the Internet for family deals. They used to do coupons but haven't seen them in a long time.

                                                                                                Try the take out, you pick it up at the outside window, pretty convenient.


                                                                                              3. No one has mentioned FAT IVORS in Valley Center. It's the best! The original one burned down, but they finally rebuilt. They pride themselves in their smoking. I haven't been in a while as it's quite a hike, but if someone goes please post a review.

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

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: BevInSD

                                                                                                  It's coming, Bev....

                                                                                                  Also, I always buy "meat by the side of the road" there for Christmas and Easter...smoked there, but sold by the VC Optimists...

                                                                                                2. anyone been to Lightnin Jack's in Clairemont? I saw it but know nothing about it.

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: MrKrispy

                                                                                                    It's even less authentic than Phil's. No evidence of smoking whatsoever, and not even evidence of finishing over wood like Phil's. I like their BBQ sauce better than Phil's, and they're a little less expensive than Phil's.

                                                                                                    1. re: mikec

                                                                                                      well over the weekend we happened to be in the area and tried it out. It was similar to Joeys, as it had a wide range of plate/sandwhich/sides. I got no smoke flavorings either, more like it was slow roasted in an oven. The meats were tender and juicy. I actually thought it was more expensive than Phils: the pulled pork was about $6 but half the size of the broham. Same with the brisket sandwich. Plus the sandwiches don't come with anything else. Some sides are $1.70. I got sweet potato fries that were $4 (just enough for one adult and a child).

                                                                                                      They do serve beer, I got a Stone IPA on draft, $3.75 for 12oz.

                                                                                                    2. re: MrKrispy

                                                                                                      Tasty, generic, but not really worth going back.

                                                                                                    3. Phil's in Point Loma, its the best around and nothins ever gonna keep it down.

                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: milojon

                                                                                                        Phil's tastes good but it isn't real BBQ. They parbroil their ribs then put them on a smoker for 10 minutes then call it BBQ. Real BBQ has smoke rings and gets smoked for a good 8-10 hours. That just isn't Phil's.

                                                                                                        1. re: oerdin

                                                                                                          Is that what the new location of Phils in Point Loma does too?
                                                                                                          I have never been there, but hoped that the new location would bring changes in its preparation from the Hillcrest location.

                                                                                                          1. re: oerdin

                                                                                                            that sucks, but i still love it nonetheless. what's a good place with REAL BBQ ribs?

                                                                                                            1. re: milojon

                                                                                                              I don't think there's any consensus. Places worth trying that slow smoke their meats: Abby's Real Texas BBQ (on Miramar behind the Denny's), Barnes BBQ (Memphis style - Lemon Grove), The Wrangler (Texas style - El Cajon), West Coast BBQ (Texas style on Lake Murray Blvd).

                                                                                                          2. re: milojon

                                                                                                            Not from my perspective. Similar to Lightning Jacks. Not worth going back, IMO.

                                                                                                          3. In the North County, I like Enzo's BBQ at College and Oceanside Blvd. Really like their ribs and pulled pork. Great beans and slaw too. I haven't been too impressed with their other sides.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: Kuisine

                                                                                                              Enzos in Oceanside is pretty good, but I am no expert with many places to compare.

                                                                                                            2. I have to second the BBQ House on Newport in Ocean Beach. The sliced pork sandwich is moist and tender and just the right amount of flavor. You can order whatever type of sauce you want (sweet, hot, etc.). My husband likes the hot links there and the BBQ Beef.

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: LisaSD

                                                                                                                I also like the BBQ House, but I don't think they smoke the meat very much (same problem as Phil's). It is good, though.

                                                                                                                1. re: ekomega

                                                                                                                  If you are in Escondido on East Valley Parkway, there is a sign in one of the strip malls that Big Earnie's will be opening a BBQ place close to the East Valley Pkwy Post Office. Also, I didn't try it, but there is a BBQ stand at the Saturday Scripps Ranch farmer's market from 9-1 pm, approximately 2 miles east of the 15 on Scripps Poway Parkway, called Jackson & Sons Smoked Meats. He and his son sold sandwiches, ribs and prime rib and recommended calling before making the trip in case he had a catering job 619.887.4423

                                                                                                              2. Hey guys im new here but just to let you guys in on a little secret i am from Texas and Rudy's is a horrible BBQ place. i mean if you want generic for Texas then its the perfect place. But a little looking around and you can find places that make Rudy's look worse then SD BBQ. Just a heads up if you ever find yourself in Aggieland (College Station, TX) be on the look out for C&J's BBQ or look them up they have a few local awards and beat Rudy's in a taste test hands down.

                                                                                                                As far as good BBQ in SD they dont have a clue how to do it. It's either drowning in sauce or its so tuff that you cant cut it with a chain saw. but as long as im stationed here i will continue to search.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: wrangler3028

                                                                                                                  Right on, Wrangler! Crusty, smoky, and *moist* -- that's the essence of good Texas barbecue. And not drowned in sauce. With few exceptions, the farther away you get from Texas and the South, the more unreal the Q. Chicago has great Mexican food in the neighborhoods and along the avenues. Why can't California have great barbecue?

                                                                                                                2. I lived in Texas for 6 years while I was in graduate school. I'd never had real bbq before that. And I didn't learn how to make it myself until I left. (After all, it's just so easy to get down there, that why would you ever make it yourself?).

                                                                                                                  Best way to get good BBQ outside of the major BBQ centers is to buy yourself an inexpensive smoker and a good BBQ book. I'd recommend "Smoke and Spice" as a good starting point.

                                                                                                                  1. I grew up in the South and many of you are correct when you say that San Diego can't compare with Southern BBQ. The main difference that I've seen is that in San Diego, BBQ is treated as "upper-scale," whereas in the South it's more of a common-place food. Texas has some great BBQ, without the fancy restaurants and high prices. I have been to most of the BBQ places in San Diego, and without badmouthing many of them, I can say that the best BBQ comes from the places that look like a BBQ place and not a fancy restaurant. The best that I've had in San Diego:

                                                                                                                    1. Barnes BBQ (the best by far).
                                                                                                                    2. Abbey's Texas BBQ in Clairemont-Mesa is pretty good. They have two locations, but the other one is a different owner.

                                                                                                                    There are many BBQ places in San Diego that appeal to the "regular" folk and not people who are experienced Q'ers. I think that that is a reason as to why there are very few good BBQ places here. The "average" person thinks that it is good, but real Q'ers know what to look for and are a little more picky. I hate to badmouth restaurants by name, because they have a living to make, but there are some in San Diego that should not be categorized as true BBQ. I can say that Barnes is great BBQ.

                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: TH1029

                                                                                                                      Hi TH1029,

                                                                                                                      Thanks for your thoughtful and well explained response.

                                                                                                                      Would please post addresses and contact info for the places that you like?

                                                                                                                      I am San Diego adjacent, i.e. in Rosarito, Baja, Mexico, and I have to plan out how I can satisfy my cravings when I am in "El Norte".

                                                                                                                      1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                                                                                                        I am really no BBQ expert but the few times I went to Barnes BBQ I really liked their food:


                                                                                                                      2. re: TH1029

                                                                                                                        Abbey's is quite good. Certainly better than the others in the area.

                                                                                                                      3. Although the three reviewed BBQ restaurants in last Thursday's Reader review can't really be recommended, the first half of the article regarding "what is Q" is a highly recommended tutorial read. Naomi Wise hits the nail on the head when explaining the difference in method of grilling and Q, and why San Diego is a general disappointment in this restaurant category. She even shines the light on the highly over-rated, populist Phil's - revealing that "Phil's is not a real Q but a mesquite grill, finishing pre-cooked UN-SMOKED meats over direct heat." It may hit the spot for you and your taste buds, but it is not real Q.


                                                                                                                        1. After reading Wise's recent bbq smackdown in the READER and all the comments here and there about Barnes BBQ (Lemon Grove) I thought, Hallelujah! Real BBQ in SD! How the hell did I miss Barnes??!!

                                                                                                                          Well. I finally made a trip to Lemon Grove. Barnes was totally disappointing for this native Texan who also loves and knows NC BBQ (both east and west), KC and Memphis BBQ. Barnes was none of the above. When the plates arrived swimming in sauce that's a sure sign its hiding something, and it was: tiny bits of pork shoulder and tasteless brisket. The beans were tasty (albeit overly sweet). We liked the cabbagey coleslaw, and the ribs were good enough but not worth a long drive. (We ordered them with sauce-on-the-side.)

                                                                                                                          Mostly we were just plain sad. We wanted it to be so good. On the way home we stopped at taco truck Mariscos German Beyer on Imperial/23rd and had a few fish tacos to cheer us up and they did.

                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: pickypicky

                                                                                                                            Bummer. Spent lots of time starting my career in Texas so I sympathize. Somebody whose foodie chops (including BBQ) I trust recently pointed me in the direction of West Coast Catering in La Mesa. Don't know when I'll get a chance to make it out there but here is the info:


                                                                                                                            1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                              Thanks! I"ll save the info if I get brave enough to try again. Going home to TX in Aug and that may do me for the year.

                                                                                                                              1. re: pickypicky

                                                                                                                                West Coast BBQ has been mentioned on this board before, usually pretty favorably. It's located in a strip mall at Lake Murray Bvld & El Paso in La Mesa, next door to a Ross Dress for Less. They're not too far from where I live so by default they've become our go-to spot of BBQ.

                                                                                                                                We like them a lot. I've eaten my way through a number of their menu items. It's all pretty good, but mostly now we stick to either the brisket, pulled pork or pork ribs. Sauce generally comes on the side, or you can specify that's how you'd like it. Meat has been unfailingly tender, brisket and pulled pork usually have a smoke ring, though it's not always well defined. As opposed to Phil's which combi-cooks their ribs and then finishes them on a charbroiler, West Coast does smoke their meat. Sides are hit or miss. Like the baked beans, cole slaw is okay, potato salad so-so.

                                                                                                                                They've been in business in SD in some iteration since 1956. It probably won't satisfy Texans, North Carolinans, Tennesseeans, Kansas Citites, and everyone else who grew up with the real deal, but for San Diego it's pretty good, definitely better than Phil's...and Phil only lives a few miles away from this place ;-)

                                                                                                                            2. re: pickypicky

                                                                                                                              The only decent Texas style brisket BBQ I have found is up in Oceanside is Lone Star where they actually slow smoke the brisket. The pork ribs are pretty good too. And yes they serve it with onions, pickles and white bread if you want. The real way. Don't waste your time on the sides though.

                                                                                                                                1. re: pickypicky

                                                                                                                                  Lonestar BBQ

                                                                                                                                  (760) 231-1200
                                                                                                                                  406 N Coast Hwy, #1
                                                                                                                                  Oceanside, CA

                                                                                                                                  I actually liked the mashed potatoes with the corn in it as a side dish.

                                                                                                                            3. The best barbecue I ever had was this little biker bar in Syracuse NY called Dinosaur Barbecue - we used to stop there when we had out of town trips back when I was a paramedic - we learned of the place from other medics and police officers. They opened up other locations in Rochester and NYC. Since that is over 3000 miles away, I was happy to learn they published a cookbook that actually has the recipes they use in the restaurant - their brisket, their rub, their barbecue sauce. I have yet to find a restaurant that makes good barbecue here in San Diego, but thanks to this book, we make our own. You can buy the book and some of their sauces and rubs from their website.

                                                                                                                              Link to the restaurant's website: http://www.dinosaurbarbque.com/

                                                                                                                              If you want to read reviews from the book, Amazon.com is a good place. It has 56 five star and three 4 star reviews - no 1,2,or 3 star reviews - practically unheard of on Amazon.com.

                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: elp73

                                                                                                                                Yeah I get it SD's BBQ is bad, but You have got to be kidding that I would go to Syracuse for some good BBQ. If you not joking, have you ever been to Texas? Try Blacks, City Market, Kruez, or even the Salt Lick and tell me its not a slice of heaven. You know, i will take my mediocre Bretts BBQ, go sit on the benches overlooking Swami's and have a great experience.

                                                                                                                                1. re: littlestevie

                                                                                                                                  There is a place here in San Diego where you can get "TRUE" wood smoked BBQ and it's in POWAY! They won the NBC 7/39 Golden Local Award for the best ribs in San Diego, beating out "Phils" Located at 14034 Poway Rd. right next to Mossy Nissan, if you haven't been there make the drive and visit this Family owned BBQ you won't regret it!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: BigJimSr

                                                                                                                                    just moved back to my native Texas after 10 years in San Diego. I can't believe I even ate what yall call barbecue in SoCal. I just got so damn homesick that I couldn't help myself. But being back here now, I vow never again to eat what's not the best of a place. We're jonesing for fish tacos, fresh citrus, our dear fresh herbs, Bruno's pizza, and the Little Italy Farmer's Market-- but at least we have Luling's Central Market and La Fogata in San Antonio. . .

                                                                                                                                    1. re: pickypicky

                                                                                                                                      Hope things are going well back home. While not in the same league as the brisket we had in Lockhart or at a private party in Abilene, the brisket we had at Calypso Smokehouse in Sea World last June was really good.

                                                                                                                                      Are there carne asada and al pastor tacos back where you are that are comparable to El Gordo, El Paisa, and El Poblano?

                                                                                                                              2. there's a place across the street from my office in Oceanside called Mr. BBQ or Felix's that my co-worker has tried and said is delicious.

                                                                                                                                sorry no direct URL, couldn't find one. that's a link to a google result. I'll try it out and let you know what I get.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: krucz36

                                                                                                                                  Felix's BBQ is great! It's my fav place to go for beef ribs. http://www.felixsbbq.com/

                                                                                                                                2. Kaminski's BBQ in Poway offers both Eastern North Carolina and Texas style BBQ. One of the owners is from N.C. The servers are careful to let you know which sauce goes with which style of BBQ so you don't commit a cultural faux pas. The restaurant itself is much more upscale than the BBQ joints I'm used to in N.C. but the 'cue is fine. One complaint: there's *mayo* in the cole slaw.

                                                                                                                                  There are also many Hawaiian plate-lunch places in San Diego that serve a style of barbecued pork that, to this Tar Heel, seems very similar to Eastern N.C. style, though less vinegary.

                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: BruceT

                                                                                                                                    I still laugh from this one guy that said, "if there ain't mayo in the slaw it's a salad!"

                                                                                                                                    (i lost my taste for non-mayo coleslaw years back somehow too, so now I agree with him haha.)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: MrKrispy

                                                                                                                                      Ever try Italian style slaw, made with O&V, pretty tasty.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                        Spanish style slaw is similar. Hard to find, but much better than slaw with mayo.

                                                                                                                                  2. I love Smokin' Sams BBQ in Chula Vista near Eastlake pkwy and Otay Lakes Rd. They actually smoke all there meat daily and make everything in house. They have a wood burning pizza oven too. They have some great sauce, and the Fries are killer. Good price and value.

                                                                                                                                    You gotta try it. They have a nice happy hour menu starting at $2.50!!!

                                                                                                                                    1. Does anyone remember Backyard Barbeque on 30th St in No Park/U Heights? 2 ladies and a (very large and powerful looking) man in a little house with incredible barbeque and true southern sides? No sit down. Just take out. They closed years ago but I often wonder where they went and if they opened something else somewhere else....anyone?? Man, it was good....

                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: mahealani

                                                                                                                                        YES! That was a LONG time ago, and I remember the sweet ladies.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                          Ditto. My friends and I frequented that place a lot during college.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: mahealani

                                                                                                                                          Yup yup yup -- GREAT place! I also miss Clay's BBQ in La Jolla. They did a GREAT weekend brunch, and they smoked turkeys for Thanksgiving. Heard they moved to Vegas, but was never able to track them down after the move.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: bizzwriter

                                                                                                                                            Regarding Clay's from http://claysbbq.com/history.html

                                                                                                                                            In 1977, my parents relocated to La Jolla, California and opened a 600 sq. ft restaurant - the first BBQ joint in the exclusive beachside community. Their tiny place with five booths and one long community table garnered many awards including “Best of San Diego” by The Reader and was often featured as a “Best Bets” on local television. Clay’s Texas Pit BBQ was voted “Best BBQ” by San Diego Magazine, and noted by the Los Angeles Times in a feature article.

                                                                                                                                            My parents retired to Las Vegas in 1992. In 1994, I opened “Clay’s” in Benicia, CA and for seven years created a whole new local following and served many guests who had been regulars in my parents’ place in La Jolla.

                                                                                                                                            Although my Dad passed away in 2005, he always hoped his family’s legacy would be continued by future generations. From back porch shack, to full service restaurants, to this latest venture, Clay’s BBQ is back! I hope you enjoy our new concept of “Heat ‘n Eat,” bringing you the same old great food in a whole new way.

                                                                                                                                            Here’s to you Dad.
                                                                                                                                            Darrell Clay

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Encinitan

                                                                                                                                              Wow, great to hear that Clay's is still around. I really enjoyed the food at the old Clay's in La Jolla, but especially Darrell's parents. They were the best. I grew up in the South, and I felt I was back home if only for a little while. My family will be vacationing in the Bay Area for a week this summer. We'll be sure to drop by the "new" Clay's and say hello to Darrell (and have some of that GREAT BBQ).

                                                                                                                                              1. re: bizzwriter

                                                                                                                                                There is a new place in Santee behind and left of the Costco. Smokin Joes, had it catered at a business event YUM

                                                                                                                                        3. Ok, don't hate me, but I have an honest question for the longtime posters, SD residents and displaced southerners: is Phil's bad food, or just bad traditional BBQ?
                                                                                                                                          I've eaten a lot of southern food, but little "real" BBQ. I get great service at Phil's (eat in the bar!), the meat's always tender and they don't drown the food in sauce.
                                                                                                                                          Am I a philistine? I would imagine that SD is hardly BBQ central, but for SD BBQ, how does Phil's rate?

                                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: StarvinginSD

                                                                                                                                            Phil's is good for what it is. It's just not BBQ.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                              I have to agree. For a long time, I thought Phil's was the best BBQ, mainly because I never really took BBQ seriously. BBQ was very generalized for me. If it was meat over a flame, I guess I considered it BBQ. Now I spend half my time in Texas and I've received a serious education in BBQ, specifically Texas BBQ. Smoke, smoke, and more smoke. No sauce.

                                                                                                                                              There's so many types of BBQ and what people consider BBQ. I know that if you are looking for Texas BBQ at Phil's, it ain't going to happen. It's good for what it is, but it just isn't traditional BBQ.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: psychotron

                                                                                                                                                Once again, BBQ is cooking low and slow, with hardwood smoke. You are shooting for a temperature aroung 225-250. Pork ribs take 4 to 5 hours. Pork Butt 8-16 hours. Whole brisket 10-12 hours. When BBQ is done correctly, the meat will have a visable Smoke Ring. Though most folks call the piece of cooking equipment in their backyard a BBQ, it is not, it is a Grill. A BBQ is a smoker. There are many types to be sure, but they all deploy a hardwood fire in one form or another. I for instance own a Traeger hardwood pellet smoker. While frowned upon by some offset smoker traditionalists, they can, and do win at competitions, and I love mine. If you like Phil's great. It is just not BBQ as Josh states above.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                    My smoker (BBQ pit) is the best purchase I have made in a long time. If you want to get in the game for a bargain, look at the Weber Smokey Mountain 721001. These are very capable BBQ pits and I see them priced on ebay in the sub $300 range. It is so fun when you fire up your pit, and all the neighbors start popping up to find out what is coming out of your cook. For the Fourth I'm grabbing the twin pack of bone in pork butts from Smart & Final and will be cooking up pulled pork sammies for a crowd with a Carolina vinegar-mustard based sauce on the side. I am using a combonation of Hickory and Cherry for the fire. I may also smoke up some Atomic Buffalo Turds, and a couple of Fatties for snacks during the cook.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                  Depends. If you are of the prescriptive or descriptive dictionary type. People all over the nation use the word in two ways. Purists use the word only to describe slow and low, with smoke (although there are slow and low'ers who only use coals no hardwood). Then there are those who use it for both. Slow and low, grilled directly, or anything cooked over an open flame. Or anything cooked with a "bbq" sauce. I mean, you can cook a chicken in the oven, take it out, and slather sauce on it, call it BBQ and not many would even bat an eye.
                                                                                                                                                  Wait, did I just inadvertently describe a bunch of BBQ places?

                                                                                                                                                  "lets have a barbeque." So, if you are prescriptive, that is wrong. if you are of the descriptive type, then it is what it is.

                                                                                                                                              2. I'm no expert on authentic regional styles, but for good quality smoked puled pork and brisket I like Ranchwood Barbecue and Catering, they do several local farmers' markets including North Park and Adams Avenue. I've never been disappointed. I get the sandwiches, they add just a squirt of sauce, not even enough for me to really have an opinion of it, but I find the meat really tasty.

                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: juantanamera

                                                                                                                                                  I think they are at Little Italy Mercato on Saturdays as well. Pretty good stuff.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                                                    I concur. Had their brisket sandwich at Little Italy FM (sans sauce) right before I moved to Texas -- and almost cancelled the move . :-)

                                                                                                                                                2. We just tried T&H Prime Meats' barbecue a couple days ago. It was hands down the best I've had since moving out here. It had a proper smoke ring, but wasn't too smokey. No lines like Phils.

                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: beth1

                                                                                                                                                    And T&H Prime Meats would be where?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                        yes, it's in San Marcos. They have pretty short hours right now. I think they are only open to 4 or 5 til they can build enough business to be open later. Though they've been a meat market for a long time, the BBQ counter opened recently. I've had the Pork ribs, Beef Ribs, Pulled Pork. Ribs were nice and smokey, not saucy. Pulled pork was just ok.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rolandyung

                                                                                                                                                          I did not know T&H is serving BBQ, thanks for the info. I had lived in Valley Center for quite awhile, and made MANY trips to T&H for cuts of meat and SAUSAGES!!! This guy is a master at making flavored sausages, I think he has like 50 different flavors, ALL amazing...They don't call him the sausagemeister for nothing.
                                                                                                                                                          Many posts here have been talking about BBQ in SD. They have mentioned that is doesnt compare to anything in the BBQ belt. There are MANY reasons why, some posts giving reasons along the lines of "it just isn't popular enough..". Well... take a look at the lines outside, every night, at Phil's BBQ. We DO like our BBQ! There are plenty of midwesterners and southern transplants to support great BBQ. I am definitely not a big fan of Phil's, liquid smoke in the baste and a quick grill over wood chips does not constitute traditional deeply smoked meats...Phil's DOES have some delicious items BUT...Also, when we say San Diego, what part are we talking about? There are plenty of great BBQ places in East County, Abbey's Texas BBQ in Clairemont-Mesa (pretty good), BBQ house in OB and some newer places I havn't tried yet, its just after all the meat and sides are ordered...its expensive... For the average San Diegan, living on the westside, driving 45 mins to an hour to eat damn good, less expensive BBQ in a questionable location is a stretch...My point is this, land and leases are a tad more expensive than in the BBQ belt... It takes a little longer to smoke meats, thus more expenses due to labor involved (how long does it take to slap a NY on the grill at your fave steakhouse?) Equipment costs and permits due to controlling heavy smoke fumes are another huge expense (ask Phil about his old location in Hillcrest..). The expense's go on n on. It is just VERY expensive to make high quality smoked meats in the big city here in CA. PERIOD. So the only way around that is to throw a ton of money at it, be lucky enough to have started sometime back or open up in a less expensive semi-rural location...If a LEGIT BBQ restaurant, that fits the demographics, and isn't overly expensive hits the scene I think it would do very well...Brazen BBQ here I come! lets see how the prices are!

                                                                                                                                                          Phil's BBQ
                                                                                                                                                          3750 Sports Arena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DejaDru

                                                                                                                                                            My mom made the best pork ribs ever. From her wildly addicting rub and sauce, down to the couple of days it took to do them, they attracted people from all over San Diego County for many, many years. Alas, I have never perfected her sauce, but I clearly remember the whole process. I never met anybody who didn't love them.

                                                                                                                                                    1. New place in Clairemont, LW's, is variable. Brisket is sometimes very tender, sometimes less so. I like their in-house sauce on chicken but the bottle has to be shaken. Put a napkin over the top and shake it before using, otherwise you just get vinegar. Still getting up to speed here, with lots of issues at the register. Promising.

                                                                                                                                                      24 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                                        Do you think the meat is smoked well.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                                          This has been variable for the brisket, as with the tenderness, but when they've done it well, it's very nicely smoked and shows a distinct ring. On two of the four occasions I've had brisket here, the smoke flavor was there but less pronounced (and the meat less tender) than the other times. Good but not outstanding twice, and very good twice, so 50-50 so far.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                                            "Smoke rings" are no indicator if a piece of meat is smoked or not. There is enough literature out, e.g. Modernist Cuisine and others, that have shown that even a "properly" smoked piece of meat often doesn't have a smoke ring and that it is more an indication of the CO ot NO levels (which are effected by the type of woods, humidity etc.) during the smoking - the importance of smoke rings are an urban myth

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                              OK, thanks. Well, I'll just stick to the smoke flavor part then, which is good to very good here.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                This is all true. Somebody wrote that somewhere, and it's a gol-dang fine theory.


                                                                                                                                                                I have never enjoyed any BBQ that did not have a smoke ring, and I've never disliked any BBQ that had one.

                                                                                                                                                                It may be possible. It might have happened somewhere. It might be happening somewhere right now, right this second.

                                                                                                                                                                But it's never happened to me. Not one time.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                  I am pretty sure that is true for you but it is also well known in the (BBQ) philosophy world that you can't fight against your own perception - e.g. it can't be good because it doesn't have smoke ring (even if you pretend to be absolute openminded). I am sure if we would do a double blinded study with similar quality BBQ with and without smoking ring, preferably repeated over several days, the statistical difference between both groups for you would not be big enough to significant

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                    Well…< scratches head >…I'm not very smart, and I'm hoping you can help me understand your last post.

                                                                                                                                                                    You read somewhere that good BBQ can be made without a smoke ring.

                                                                                                                                                                    I said I've never experienced it.

                                                                                                                                                                    You say that not only does it exist (because presumably you read it somewhere) but you're "sure" I couldn't tell the difference between what you read about and what I've personally experienced if it was presented to me in a laboratory setting?

                                                                                                                                                                    Just want to be clear...

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                      I only said that your mentioning that you never experienced good BBQ without smoke ring is not surprising (but at the same time really not valid) since the moment you see BBQ without smoke ring you will automatically assume it is low quality. The whole purpose of a double blinded study is that in this case you can't see what you eat and wouldn't have a visual bias towards smoking rings.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                        Is it your assertion that the BBQ I've had without a smoke ring has *always* been "good", but my predisposition has *always* negatively biased my taste and experience of the food?

                                                                                                                                                                        Or might it be possible that I've never had good BBQ without a smoke ring?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                          Kind of your first sentence but I didn't say that BBQ without smoke ring is always good (similar as BBQ with smoke ring also isn't always good). I am overall just saying that the only way to elimate subjectivity out of issues like taste (of BBQ, cookies, wine etc) is through double blinded studies. The same reason why the FDA only accepts such studies for clinical drug evaluation which ultimately are no different than taste evaluations just different endpoints, efficacy vs quality. Every other evaluation approach includes bias.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                            "eliminate subjectivity out of issues like taste"

                                                                                                                                                                            < sighs, facepalms, walks away shaking head >

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                              Why do you think for example wine magazines use at least a simplified version of it to be objective about taste:


                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                                  Time to retreat back to Berlin.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                                    Only if you agree that BBQ with a smoking ring is a fetish, like craft beer

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, I can agree on that. I see no need for a smoke ring, and am happy to entertain the idea that good BBQ might be possible without it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I've just never experienced it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                                        How about this for non-double-blindness:

                                                                                                                                                                                        The smoke ring LOOKS RAD.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                                              I stopped in LW's for lunch and had the smoked chicken for a second time. While it had a balanced, nice smoke flavor the finishing was sub-par and seemed lazy. The first time we had the dish it had similar (tasty) smoked flavor and a fantastic grilled "crust" with blackened and crispy skin parts. This latest seemed like the chicken was pulled out of the fridge (after having been smoked) but reheated in an oven. No grill marks or blackening from flames, skin was rubbery and boring, not very juicy. Parts of the meat had a pink coloration from smoking. Overall, disappointing based on the previous visit.

                                                                                                                                                              I also tried the macaroni and slaw sides together. Both seemed to be the same ingredient list (pickles, carrots, etc), with cabbage simply substituted for macaroni. I prefer my slaw to have some tang, this did not.

                                                                                                                                                              I will try other sides on my next visit, and still want to try the ribs.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MrKrispy

                                                                                                                                                                I've only had their chicken once and on that occasion it was very good -- the way you described it after your first visit. So I guess, once again, variable. I've also had a pulled pork sandwich there, which was tasty and very tender.

                                                                                                                                                                Agree about the slaw. I use the El Yucateco on it -- definitely adds the missing tang!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                                                  Hi DoctorChow,

                                                                                                                                                                  May I recommend for your consideration some of our favorite bottled sauces:

                                                                                                                                                                  "Salsa Huichol Picante" and "Salsa Huichol Habanera"

                                                                                                                                                                  And Chilson "Salsa de Chiltepin"

                                                                                                                                                                  But, I really prefer freshly prepared salsas.

                                                                                                                                                                  I use the bottled salsas because they are right there.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                                                                                                                                                    I'll look for these. Many thanks! Can you give me a start as to where to find them?

                                                                                                                                                                    My current favorite bottled hot sauce is Castillo Salsa Habanera, but I'm always searching for something better.

                                                                                                                                                                    We put chiltepins in our cooking (I call them "little firecrackers"), so I'm sure I'd enjoy a hot sauce based on them.

                                                                                                                                                                    El Yucateco is what they have on the table at LW's (three kinds); I've always liked the Maya Kut version at home.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                                                      There is a sweets store in Rosarito
                                                                                                                                                                      named, if I remember correctly, "Dulces Anaya".

                                                                                                                                                                      It is located on the west side of Benito Juarez Boulevard, near Vince's Seafood Market and Restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                      The storefront is easy to spot because they usually have pinatas hanging outside (Homer Simpson pinatas, anyone?)

                                                                                                                                                                      Besides the eclectic collection of bottled hot sauces, they have an amazing selection of locally produced cheeses and honey and Mexican sweets and party favors jammed into a very dark and crowded space.

                                                                                                                                                                      I can't assure you that you will find the X,Y or Z item that I mention if you go looking for it, because the stock in the store changes frequently.

                                                                                                                                                                      But you will have a great adventure.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks again, GJ! I've printed out your directions. Meanwhile, I'll keep my eye out for them in town -- maybe I'll get lucky.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                                                          The area around the Rosarito Beach Hotel is not that difficult t0 navigate..

                                                                                                                                                            3. I went to the Golden Hill/grant Hill neighborhood to get some CO2 from WestAir around 25th and Market and saw a tiny BBQ shack on the corner called "Sonny's BBQ". I can't find anything about it on here and certainly don't trust Yelp for BBQ reviews. The website is quite spartan and the menu seems ambitious (although collard greens and rib tips got my attention). Anyone been?

                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MrKrispy

                                                                                                                                                                  okay, that was a lame answer.

                                                                                                                                                                  The bread is the cheapest available. It does not hold up to the meat and the sauce. The meat is "okay" tasting, but does not a candle to Coop's. When I asked for extra sauce to go, I was given tiny white plastic packets of some random mass quantity type sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                  Save yourself and go to Coop's.

                                                                                                                                                                2. Anyone checked out the BBQ at Iron Pig Alehouse in PB yet?

                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: shouzen

                                                                                                                                                                    We've been giving them a week or so to settle in, but plan on going soon. I'm cautiously optimistic.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: menuinprogress

                                                                                                                                                                      same, was going to swing by Saturday but I want to wait a bit for them to get their pacing figured out....went to Amplified Aleworks instead.