clock menu more-arrow no yes
Tray filled with BBQ and sauces Buckboard’s BBQ & Brew/Facebook

Where to Eat Barbecue in San Diego Right Now

Chow down on pulled pork, tender brisket and more

View as Map

San Diego might not be known as a barbecue hotspot 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 18 top options around town where the smoker is always on.

Restaurants have been placed on the map in geographical order, from north to south.

Editor’s Note: The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions.

For all the latest San Diego dining intel, subscribe to Eater San Diego’s newsletter.

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

1. Abbey's Real Texas BBQ

Copy Link
6904 Miramar Rd #211
San Diego, CA 92121
(858) 566-2333
Visit Website

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.

Slab of ribs Abbey’s Real Texas BBQ/Facebook

2. Grand Ole BBQ Flinn Springs

Copy Link
15505 Olde Hwy 80
El Cajon, CA 92021
(619) 312-0714
Visit Website

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.

3. Buckboard's BBQ & Brew

Copy Link
975 Greenfield, Suite A
El Cajon, CA 92021
(619) 334-4400
Visit Website

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.

4. The Pioneer

Copy Link
8622 Lake Murray Blvd
San Diego, CA 92119
(619) 825-7787
Visit Website

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.

Tray of cornbread, coleslaw, corn, pickles and ribs. The Pioneer/Facebook

5. Iron Pig Alehouse

Copy Link
1520 Garnet Ave
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 412-4299
Visit Website

Visit this spot for Texas-style barbecue and don’t pass on the rib tips. Meaty, tender, slightly sweet, and served with your choice of sauce. Also notable are the baby back ribs and smoked chicken wings, along with well-seasoned fries and collard greens.

Several plates of BBQ Iron Pig Alehouse/Facebook

6. Bull's Smokin' BBQ

Copy Link
1127 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 276-2855
Visit Website

You’ll feel like you just stepped into the old West at this saloon-style spot — and don’t forget to bring your pup to their dog-friendly patio where they’ll be treated to meaty bones. Highlights on the menu include brisket, smoked pork ribs and lamb.

7. Corbin's Q

Copy Link
6548 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92115
(619) 913-3287
Visit Website

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 dripping over pulled pork Corbin’s Q/Facebook

8. The Barbecue Pit

Copy Link
2888 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 298-2400
Visit Website

Head to the BBQ Pit’s locations in Fletcher Hills, National City or North Park for plates piled high with beef, ham, ribs, hot links or chicken. Whole and sliced meats are also available by the pound.

9. BBQ House Bar & Grill

Copy Link
5025 Newport Ave
San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 222-4311
Visit Website

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.

Ribs and sweet potato fries BBQ House Bar & Grill/Facebook

10. The Pig's Gig BBQ

Copy Link
2820 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego
CA 92106, United States
(619) 241-2431
Visit Website

This meaty temple from the minds behind Mastiff Sausage can found at Liberty Station Public Market. Line up for juicy smoked breast of turkey, deliciously tender and succulent ribs, very good house made hot link, and tri tip.

11. Cali Comfort BBQ

Copy Link
8910 Troy St
Spring Valley, CA 91977
(619) 337-0670
Visit Website

Spring Valley’s popular choice for barbecue has a menu loaded with specialities 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.

BBQ board filled with meats and pickles Cali Comfort BBQ/Facebook

12. Coops West Texas BBQ

Copy Link
2625 Lemon Grove Ave
Lemon Grove, CA 91945
(619) 589-0478
Visit Website

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.

Lone Star Style: Coop’s West Texas BBQ

13. BBQ Boss

Copy Link
1017 Front St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 432-2677
Visit Website

Hours are limited at this downtown concession stand but if you’re in the area between 11:30 a.m. and2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, you’ll be rewarded with pulled pork or brisket or smoked chicken sandwiches made special on a pretzel bun. Barbecue is also available a la carte as well as sides like coleslaw and baked beans.

BBQ sandwich BBQ Boss/Facebook

14. El Barbecue

Copy Link
549 25th St
San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 944-8181fv
Visit Website

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.

15. Bowlegged B.B.Q

Copy Link
4255 Market St
San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 301-7105
Visit Website

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.

Styro form container filled with bbq ribs and coleslaw. Bowlegged B.B.Q/Facebook

16. HottMess (& Sideyard BBQ)

Copy Link
1735 National Ave
San Diego, CA 92113
(619) 650-2251
Visit Website

Barrio Logan’s HottMess features all the usual barbecue suspects plus lesser-seen departures like green chorizo sausage and grilled cauliflower steak. The spot is also home to HottMess WoodFired Pizza.

Tray of BBQ and sides HottMess (& Sideyard BBQ)/Facebook

17. Lil Alex B.B.Q.

Copy Link
4020 Bonita Rd
Bonita, CA 91902
(619) 240-7785
Visit Website

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.

18. Smokey and The Brisket BBQ

Copy Link
5465 Lake Murray Blvd
La Mesa, CA 91942
(619) 439-6544
Visit Website

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.

Courtesy photo

Loading comments...

1. Abbey's Real Texas BBQ

6904 Miramar Rd #211, San Diego, CA 92121
Slab of ribs Abbey’s Real Texas BBQ/Facebook

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.

6904 Miramar Rd #211
San Diego, CA 92121

2. Grand Ole BBQ Flinn Springs

15505 Olde Hwy 80, El Cajon, CA 92021

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.

15505 Olde Hwy 80
El Cajon, CA 92021

3. Buckboard's BBQ & Brew

975 Greenfield, Suite A, El Cajon, CA 92021

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.

975 Greenfield, Suite A
El Cajon, CA 92021

4. The Pioneer

8622 Lake Murray Blvd, San Diego, CA 92119
Tray of cornbread, coleslaw, corn, pickles and ribs. The Pioneer/Facebook

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.

8622 Lake Murray Blvd
San Diego, CA 92119

5. Iron Pig Alehouse

1520 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109
Several plates of BBQ Iron Pig Alehouse/Facebook

Visit this spot for Texas-style barbecue and don’t pass on the rib tips. Meaty, tender, slightly sweet, and served with your choice of sauce. Also notable are the baby back ribs and smoked chicken wings, along with well-seasoned fries and collard greens.

1520 Garnet Ave
San Diego, CA 92109

6. Bull's Smokin' BBQ

1127 Morena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110

You’ll feel like you just stepped into the old West at this saloon-style spot — and don’t forget to bring your pup to their dog-friendly patio where they’ll be treated to meaty bones. Highlights on the menu include brisket, smoked pork ribs and lamb.

1127 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110

7. Corbin's Q

6548 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92115
BBQ dripping over pulled pork Corbin’s Q/Facebook

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.

6548 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92115

8. The Barbecue Pit

2888 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

Head to the BBQ Pit’s locations in Fletcher Hills, National City or North Park for plates piled high with beef, ham, ribs, hot links or chicken. Whole and sliced meats are also available by the pound.

2888 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104

9. BBQ House Bar & Grill

5025 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107
Ribs and sweet potato fries BBQ House Bar & Grill/Facebook

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.

5025 Newport Ave
San Diego, CA 92107

10. The Pig's Gig BBQ

2820 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106, United States

This meaty temple from the minds behind Mastiff Sausage can found at Liberty Station Public Market. Line up for juicy smoked breast of turkey, deliciously tender and succulent ribs, very good house made hot link, and tri tip.

2820 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego
CA 92106, United States

11. Cali Comfort BBQ

8910 Troy St, Spring Valley, CA 91977
BBQ board filled with meats and pickles Cali Comfort BBQ/Facebook

Spring Valley’s popular choice for barbecue has a menu loaded with specialities 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.

8910 Troy St
Spring Valley, CA 91977

12. Coops West Texas BBQ

2625 Lemon Grove Ave, Lemon Grove, CA 91945
Lone Star Style: Coop’s 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.

2625 Lemon Grove Ave
Lemon Grove, CA 91945

13. BBQ Boss

1017 Front St, San Diego, CA 92101
BBQ sandwich BBQ Boss/Facebook

Hours are limited at this downtown concession stand but if you’re in the area between 11:30 a.m. and2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, you’ll be rewarded with pulled pork or brisket or smoked chicken sandwiches made special on a pretzel bun. Barbecue is also available a la carte as well as sides like coleslaw and baked beans.

1017 Front St
San Diego, CA 92101

14. El Barbecue

549 25th St, San Diego, CA 92102

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.

549 25th St
San Diego, CA 92102

15. Bowlegged B.B.Q

4255 Market St, San Diego, CA 92102
Styro form container filled with bbq ribs and coleslaw. Bowlegged B.B.Q/Facebook

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.

4255 Market St
San Diego, CA 92102

Related Maps

16. HottMess (& Sideyard BBQ)

1735 National Ave, San Diego, CA 92113
Tray of BBQ and sides HottMess (& Sideyard BBQ)/Facebook

Barrio Logan’s HottMess features all the usual barbecue suspects plus lesser-seen departures like green chorizo sausage and grilled cauliflower steak. The spot is also home to HottMess WoodFired Pizza.

1735 National Ave
San Diego, CA 92113

17. Lil Alex B.B.Q.

4020 Bonita Rd, Bonita, CA 91902

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.

4020 Bonita Rd
Bonita, CA 91902

18. Smokey and The Brisket BBQ

5465 Lake Murray Blvd, La Mesa, CA 91942
Courtesy photo

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.

5465 Lake Murray Blvd
La Mesa, CA 91942

Related Maps