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BBQ 81

Stopped by BBQ 81 on El Cajon Blvd today after seeing their sign out. This is the kind of BBQ place I like- family-based, the place is named for the owners' father's NFL number, 81. That's be close to the limit of my understanding of football.

Owner stopped by the table to say hi- nice guy!

And I'm always eager for a new BBQ place. I agonize over my own 'Q, and it ain't bad. At least one CH will stand up and testify for me.

So. I went for lunch, had the 1/2 rack of ribs with coleslaw, beans and cornbread. I've thoughtfully uploaded an image for you.

They had a great soundtrack playing- blues and soul. Ray Charles "I Gotta Woman" and Sarah Vaughn's version of "Whatever Lola Wants". Loved listening to the music- it's a style of which I'm particularly fond.


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  1. How was the BBQ? Smoker? Style of sauce? Cornbread looks good sides meh. Sorry I was Supposed to go to my favorite BBQ place today but put it off till Thursday so I'm jonesing.

    4 Replies
      1. re: Fake Name

        lol at least we know Fakey enough. Perhaps you forgot to have a couple of craft beers to wash it down?

        1. re: Fake Name

          Well then, guess you better stick with your own Q. I can testify!

          1. re: Fake Name

            Ah, I see.

            This is a music store. Cool.

        2. The website is nice and straightforward. Seems family run, and serious about 'cue. Good find there, Fakey.

          1. Is that bacon on top of the ribs? looks like it. Did MR 12 partake?

            When you post about the food, it's a good thing! Now the music......well.

            1. Appears I'm once again too positive and too subtle.

              8 Replies
              1. re: Fake Name

                No, I don't think so...Music - 10/'Cue - 0

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  I have the highest hope for their future- maybe they'll get it sorted out.

                    1. re: cstr

                      I feel so much better when someone else can do the dirty work for me.

                      1. re: Fake Name

                        It's like you are the Emperor and DD is the Sith.

                        1. re: Dagney


                          You're good!

                          There's a good reason they call you Madame Clouseau down at the old precinct house, am I right?

                          Keep this up, you'll make Detective in no time, no time at all...

                          (this is the internet, and I wish to be clear- the above post is typed with a big smile and a chuckle)

                          1. re: Dagney

                            Whoa...since they only exist as master and apprentice I guess that means I'm VADER.

                            Bet ya'll didn't know I'm a Star Wars geek ;-)

                            1. re: DiningDiva

                              Ha! I'm glad everyone got reference. I had to explain to my partner at work the meaning of "Padawan" the other day.

                  1. So they finally have a brick & mortar location? Nice.

                    They catered a party we threw about three years ago when they only did catering. They didn't smoke the meats - only barbequed - but they did a great job on the catering. We were very happy with them, as were the guests.

                    1. I tried it the other day - my significant other suggested we order chicken wings and tri-tip. The wings weren't crispy and the meat was rubbery and just not great. The tri-tip was moist and fairly tender, and the sides (green beans and collard greens), were good. There was one sauce at the table which reminded me of Bullseye, etc., and not in the best way. Without trying the pulled pork or the ribs, I can't say much more, but it didn't feel like a barbeque place.

                      1. We had lunch at BBQ 81 today. FN is right. The music is the tops.

                        The pulled pork was the consistency of mushy oatmeal. I am not well-versed in various styles of BBQ. Theirs may be a certain style of pulled pork from a specific place, and maybe some people enjoy it, but I thought it was over-sauced mush. The pork flavor was completely lost.

                        The sausages were fine, not spicy, decent flavor, dense texture, though not any more amazing than a grocery store sausage. The coleslaw was a basic, proletariatish thing. It wasn't bad, but it was definitely not a high-speed-low-drag family recipe.

                        The service was odd. We were a party of 2. After waiting 30 minutes for our food, the waitress walked by and asked, "How is everything?" I thought she was joking. I mean, we had not eaten yet. About two minutes later a party of 6 walked in and sat down. Literally 10 minutes later, they all received their food, which prompted me to ask about our meal. The waitress told us it would be just another few minutes, because of the large party. I thought, uh, the large party that was seated a healthy 30 minutes AFTER us?

                        I wanted to love the food and be able to say it was worth the wait, but alas, not today.

                        Maybe they are still working out kinks? Besides our table and the party of 6, there were only two other single diners. Coop, relax. Nothing to worry about.


                        7 Replies
                          1. re: Fake Name

                            I know!...;) But I am always willing to give the benefit of the doubt, maybe that was a bad day, maybe this, maybe that...I worked enough years in restaurants to know that every house has their occasional moment in the weeds, but this poor place needs some serious fine-tuning from back to front.

                            1. re: Dagney

                              Agreed. Except for the fine-tuning part.

                              The basis of their 'q is wrong. Needs more than fine tuning.

                              1. re: Fake Name

                                Kind of reminds me of some "Mexican" food I had in a small town in Utah several years ago. The entire menu was based on a 70's type Lawry's or Velveeta cookbook or some such nonsense. What a crack up.

                                1. re: Dagney

                                  And will you doubt me again?

                                  I hope we've all learned from this experience

                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                    Ha! I am a committed skeptic. As BC pointed out in another thread, your photo is some kind cylopic looking crazy person.

                              2. re: Dagney

                                Yah but, as phee states, no smoke = no Q. More than working out kinks and fine tuning. They may need to take some lessons from Fakey.

                          2. Man, that's some bloody expensive BBQ!!! Too dear for me, I don't care how good the music is!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: deckape

                              I think it was $17 for a half-rack, on par for Coops, Phil's "BBQ" and just about any othe place I've been in our great nation.

                            2. Reviving this thread...was looking for a late lunch on El Cajon Blvd and stopped in here. I can't say the music was enjoyable, almost 30 minutes straight of disco, However, I really enjoyed the tri tip sandwich. The meat wasn't how I enjoy trip tip (pink). It appeared to be griddled slices after the initial cooking, on a hot dog style bun. Normally tri tip is too thick cut to work on a sandwich, or overcooked and impossible to bite thru on a sandwich. This was not the case here, the flavor was really really good and it just plain worked. We didn't get to try any sides, had tater tots with the sandwiches, a first but I am not complaining.

                              I didn't want to risk a chance on the ribs since more often than not I can't get good ribs in SD (much less the previous posts), but I like a good bbq sandwich. Like jmtreg mentioned, I don't think of the place as a BBQ joint (sauce seemed generic Sysco bought, not house made)...they might do better with some re-branding and refocus.