clock menu more-arrow no yes
Iron Pig Alehouse
Iron Pig Alehouse
Bradley Schweit

Where to Eat Barbecue in San Diego Right Now

A pro weighs in on 10 essential spots

View as Map
Iron Pig Alehouse
| Bradley Schweit

San Diego might not be a hotbed of barbecue, but there are still enough dedicated barbecue practitioners in town to satisfy your need for sweet smoked meat; just ask a barbecue judge — we did.

Four years ago, local blogger and barbecue fanatic Mercy Baron was certified as a barbecue judge by the Kansas City Barbeque Society; since then, she's judged competitions around the world, from festivals and county fairs to prestigious competitions including the Sam's Club Regional and the World Food Championships. In addition to co-hosting the radio show 'Food for Thought' on KNSJ, 89.1, Baron reviews San Diego barbecue on her blog, Baron's BBQ Beat.

Here, in her own words, are 10 worthy pit spots in the local barbecue landscape.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Iron Pig Alehouse

Copy Link
1520 Garnet Ave
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 412-4299
Visit Website
Their chef is from Texas and he makes the Lone Star State mighty proud with his succulent and fatty brisket. Try it as a sandwich on their thick, Texas toast. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention his excellent smoky collard greens and his grandma's key lime pie recipe. Some tender smoked chicken wings here round it all out.

2. Grand Ole BBQ y Asado

Copy Link
3302 32nd St
San Diego, CA 92104
(760) 525-0773
Visit Website
At this Central Texas-inspired spot, the meat shines here because nothing is drowned in sauce (on the side please!). The beef short ribs served on Saturday nights only are the best I've ever had — they melt like butter in your mouth with a smoke-kissed salt and pepper bark that will make you want to slap yo momma! Their smoked turkey is also unlike anything I've had, it's as far from dry as white meat could possibly get. Meats sold by the pound and when they run out, they're out!

3. Cali Comfort BBQ

Copy Link
8910 Troy St
Spring Valley, CA 91977
(619) 337-0670
Visit Website
I'm a rib girl. I'm not an easy-to-please rib girl. Cali Comfort does a 5-pound rib rack while all others only do a three and a half pound one. Theirs are fall-off-the-bone delicious — meaty and tender with a caramelized glaze on them. They are not to be missed. Also tasty is the moist jalepeno corn bread.

4. Coop's West Texas BBQ

Copy Link
2625 Lemon Grove Ave
Lemon Grove, CA 91945
(619) 589-0478
Visit Website
Another spot that rightfully claims Texas as their influence, in this case West Texas. Basically, Texans do NOT like sauce on their beef and want the meat to shine, and here it certainly does. It's another great place to get brisket, but Coop's pulled pork should also be on your plate — tender and juicy in a sandwich or all on its own with a dash of sauce. His ribs and fried chicken rock too.

5. The Deck at Moonshine Flats

Copy Link
335 6th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 255-7625
Visit Website
Though this East Village spot is more known lawn games and line dancing, their barbecue also kicks up its heels. I've had some pretty delicious, smokey sweet ribs here and their sausage had a spicy punch — corn pudding is a must side dish. Eat some great 'cue and then work it off on the dance floor!

6. Brazen BBQ Smokehouse & Bar

Copy Link
441 Washington St
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 816-1990
Visit Website
The competition team here has won many awards on the barbecue circuit and their trophies are displayed right in the front when you walk in. Must-orders are the smoked Pig Candy and their tri tip. The pig candy is slices of bacon sprinkled with a "Barnyard Dust" that made me want more with each bite and tri tip, which can be a tough cut of meat if not sliced just right, really stood out here too.

7. BBQ House

Copy Link
5025 Newport Ave
San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 222-4311
Visit Website
Reveling in a recent remodel after so many years of being a "joint", this Ocean Beach staple is hitting their stride these days with a fabulous rip tip sandwich. The meltingly tender tips blend so well with their homemade barbecue sauces in mild, medium and spicy. Try their housemade potato chips too.

8. Ranchwood BBQ & Catering

Copy Link
7229 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92115
(619) 337-0740
Visit Website
Still a mainstay at several local farmer's markets, they opened a brick and mortar place a couple of years ago, Ranchwood is known for their BBQ parfait, a cup which has several layers of perfectly mashed potatoes with pulled pork or brisket and some sauce thrown in between; it's so satisfying and lip-smacking good. They recently dealt with a kitchen fire and should be back open soon.

9. Abbey's Real Texas BBQ

Copy Link
6904 Miramar Rd #211
San Diego, CA 92121
(858) 566-2333
Visit Website
Abbey's is one of the only places that serves Burnt Ends. If done right, they are crispy, fatty, smoky hunks of beefy pleasure that will make you want to pop one after another into your mouth.

10. Big Front Door

Copy Link
4135 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 255-4100
Visit Website
BFD isn't specifically known as a barbecue place but it should be. Meats, including turkey, meatloaf and ribs are smoked here. The baby back rib (bones removed) sandwich and the turkey with smoked cheddar mousse are both unforgettable.

1. Iron Pig Alehouse

1520 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109
Their chef is from Texas and he makes the Lone Star State mighty proud with his succulent and fatty brisket. Try it as a sandwich on their thick, Texas toast. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention his excellent smoky collard greens and his grandma's key lime pie recipe. Some tender smoked chicken wings here round it all out.
1520 Garnet Ave
San Diego, CA 92109

2. Grand Ole BBQ y Asado

3302 32nd St, San Diego, CA 92104
At this Central Texas-inspired spot, the meat shines here because nothing is drowned in sauce (on the side please!). The beef short ribs served on Saturday nights only are the best I've ever had — they melt like butter in your mouth with a smoke-kissed salt and pepper bark that will make you want to slap yo momma! Their smoked turkey is also unlike anything I've had, it's as far from dry as white meat could possibly get. Meats sold by the pound and when they run out, they're out!
3302 32nd St
San Diego, CA 92104

3. Cali Comfort BBQ

8910 Troy St, Spring Valley, CA 91977
I'm a rib girl. I'm not an easy-to-please rib girl. Cali Comfort does a 5-pound rib rack while all others only do a three and a half pound one. Theirs are fall-off-the-bone delicious — meaty and tender with a caramelized glaze on them. They are not to be missed. Also tasty is the moist jalepeno corn bread.
8910 Troy St
Spring Valley, CA 91977

4. Coop's West Texas BBQ

2625 Lemon Grove Ave, Lemon Grove, CA 91945
Another spot that rightfully claims Texas as their influence, in this case West Texas. Basically, Texans do NOT like sauce on their beef and want the meat to shine, and here it certainly does. It's another great place to get brisket, but Coop's pulled pork should also be on your plate — tender and juicy in a sandwich or all on its own with a dash of sauce. His ribs and fried chicken rock too.
2625 Lemon Grove Ave
Lemon Grove, CA 91945

5. The Deck at Moonshine Flats

335 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Though this East Village spot is more known lawn games and line dancing, their barbecue also kicks up its heels. I've had some pretty delicious, smokey sweet ribs here and their sausage had a spicy punch — corn pudding is a must side dish. Eat some great 'cue and then work it off on the dance floor!
335 6th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

6. Brazen BBQ Smokehouse & Bar

441 Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103
The competition team here has won many awards on the barbecue circuit and their trophies are displayed right in the front when you walk in. Must-orders are the smoked Pig Candy and their tri tip. The pig candy is slices of bacon sprinkled with a "Barnyard Dust" that made me want more with each bite and tri tip, which can be a tough cut of meat if not sliced just right, really stood out here too.
441 Washington St
San Diego, CA 92103

7. BBQ House

5025 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107
Reveling in a recent remodel after so many years of being a "joint", this Ocean Beach staple is hitting their stride these days with a fabulous rip tip sandwich. The meltingly tender tips blend so well with their homemade barbecue sauces in mild, medium and spicy. Try their housemade potato chips too.
5025 Newport Ave
San Diego, CA 92107

8. Ranchwood BBQ & Catering

7229 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92115
Still a mainstay at several local farmer's markets, they opened a brick and mortar place a couple of years ago, Ranchwood is known for their BBQ parfait, a cup which has several layers of perfectly mashed potatoes with pulled pork or brisket and some sauce thrown in between; it's so satisfying and lip-smacking good. They recently dealt with a kitchen fire and should be back open soon.
7229 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92115

9. Abbey's Real Texas BBQ

6904 Miramar Rd #211, San Diego, CA 92121
Abbey's is one of the only places that serves Burnt Ends. If done right, they are crispy, fatty, smoky hunks of beefy pleasure that will make you want to pop one after another into your mouth.
6904 Miramar Rd #211
San Diego, CA 92121

10. Big Front Door

4135 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92103
BFD isn't specifically known as a barbecue place but it should be. Meats, including turkey, meatloaf and ribs are smoked here. The baby back rib (bones removed) sandwich and the turkey with smoked cheddar mousse are both unforgettable.
4135 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92103

Related Maps