San Diego might not be known as a barbecue hot spot but there’s still a strong and growing contingent of smoked meat pros specializing in various styles of American barbecue, turning out their own interpretations on pulled pork, brisket, beef ribs, and chicken. Read below for top options around town where the smoker is always on.Read More
Where to Eat Barbecue in San Diego Right Now
Chow down on pulled pork, tender brisket, and more
Abbey's Real Texas BBQ
This Miramar restaurant has become a hub where local business workers go for their barbecue fix, meaning it can get pretty busy during the noon hour. Lunch specials ring in under the $10 zone and include your choice of sandwiches loaded with beef brisket, pork shoulder, ham, chicken or kielbasa.
Grand Ole BBQ Flinn Springs
The East County outpost of this well-admired barbecue spot is a sprawling campus for dining as well as entertainment. Serving mostly Texas-style smoked meat, the restaurant recently opened a station inside Petco Park.
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Buckboard's BBQ & Brew
A popular catering company since 1999, this is Buckboard’s brick-and-mortar and a popular joint for ribs. Don’t miss out on sides like hush puppies with smoked jalapeño cream cheese, mac ‘n cheese balls with pasilla chile dipping sauce and a corn muffin with maple butter.
The sides at this La Mesa restaurant are just as important as the barbecue. Find beans with smoked bacon and pork belly, and crunchy, addicting onion rings. Feed the whole gang by ordering family meals with a selection of meats and sides to satisfy everyone.
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Smokey and The Brisket BBQ
Getting good marks in La Mesa, this spot smokes meat ‘round the clock, offering prime brisket, giant beef ribs, and smoked chicken a la carte along with sandwiches and barbecue-topped flatbreads.
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Barbecue and craft beers make a tasty pairing at this El Cajon destination. The speciality is California-style barbecue tri-trip, smoked over red oak. Order the tri-tip in sandwiches and atop salads but don’t sleep on the smoked wings.
BBQ House Bar & Grill
Open since 1991, the restaurant features a menu item that you can’t find anywhere else: a barbecue burrito. There are different versions: one lets you choose your own meat, one is made with rib tips, and the third is a riff on a Sloppy Joe with chopped up burnt ends. All come wrapped in a large flour tortilla with coleslaw and beans.
Grand Ole BBQ Y Asado
This North Park meat dealer is not just a second location to the Flinn Springs barbecue phenom — take the smoked Kentucky lamb, for instance, the $12 sandwich available only at this outpost. A few items are cheaper, too, like the St. Louis ribs which go for $19 a pound rather than $25.
Spring Valley’s popular choice for barbecue, which also has locations on El Cajon Boulevard and in Barrio Logan, offers a menu loaded with specialties like ribs, tri-tip, rib tips, chicken, pulled pork. Feeding a big crowd? Consider the Tailgater BBQ Feast packed with enough meats to feed four to five guests plus mac ‘n’ cheese, beans, slaw, potato salad and cornbread.
Coops West Texas BBQ
Still going strong after almost a decade, pitmaster Bradley “Coop” Cooper is the definition of a pro when it comes to smoking meats, specifically his ribs and brisket. Craving fried chicken with your barbecue? Also check out Da Chicken Coop, his adjacent fried chicken shack.
Bringing barbecue to Sherman Heights, this industry-friendly spot offers an eclectic menu that ranges from classics like beef back ribs and pulled pork to Scottish salmon served with charred lemon aioli.
This longtime spot on Mount Hope focuses on East Texas-style barbecue. Owned and operated by the Stance family, the menu incorporates family recipes passed down from generation to generation. Head in and dig into ribs, tri-tip and brisket. Save room for dessert like the lemon cake.
Lil Alex B.B.Q.
Lil Alex BBQ is a community favorite in Bonita for its ribs (beef or pork), chicken and wings. Satisfy your meat cravings by ordering the mesquite-grilled steak. Built as a feast for two, it includes two small sides or one large side.
Papalito, the in-house food offerings focused on Sonoran-style barbecue, is nuzzled deliciously inside of this North Park wine bar. The smoked baby back ribs, $16 for two pieces soaked in booze and cherry sauce, comes draped in pecans with cornbread on the side.