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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

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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.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Abbey's Real Texas BBQ

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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

Grand Ole BBQ Flinn Springs

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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.

Buckboard's BBQ & Brew

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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 Pioneer

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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

Iron Pig Alehouse

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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

Bull's Smokin' BBQ

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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.

Corbin's Q

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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 dripping over pulled pork Corbin’s Q/Facebook

The Barbecue Pit

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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.

BBQ House Bar & Grill

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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

The Pig's Gig BBQ

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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.

Cali Comfort BBQ

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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

Coops West Texas BBQ

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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

BBQ Boss

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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

El Barbecue

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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.

Bowlegged B.B.Q

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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

HottMess (& Sideyard BBQ)

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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

Lil Alex B.B.Q.

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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.

Smokey and The Brisket BBQ

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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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Abbey's Real Texas BBQ

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.

Slab of ribs Abbey’s Real Texas BBQ/Facebook

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.

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 Pioneer

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.

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

Iron Pig Alehouse

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.

Several plates of BBQ Iron Pig Alehouse/Facebook

Bull's Smokin' BBQ

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.

Corbin's Q

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.

BBQ dripping over pulled pork Corbin’s Q/Facebook

The Barbecue Pit

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.

BBQ House Bar & Grill

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.

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

The Pig's Gig BBQ

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.

Cali Comfort BBQ

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.

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

Coops West Texas BBQ

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.

Lone Star Style: Coop’s West Texas BBQ

BBQ Boss

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.

BBQ sandwich BBQ Boss/Facebook

El Barbecue

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.

Bowlegged B.B.Q

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.

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

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HottMess (& Sideyard BBQ)

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.

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

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.

Smokey and The Brisket BBQ

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.

Courtesy photo

Related Maps