Texas BBQ Authority Highly Rates Several San Diego Barbecue Restaurants

March 9, 2024

A Texas BBQ authority has published an article giving high praise to several San Diego barbecue restaurants. 

TexasMonthly magazine has published an article entitled "Sunny San Diego Proves to Be a Bright Spot for Barbecue," wherein the publication extols the barbecue at a total of six San Diego restaurants. The bulk of the barbecue bluster was aimed at Papalo restaurant in San Diego's La Mesa, where Chef Drew Bent cooks up his take on Mexican-style smoked meat. 

"While there are a handful of great Texas-style joints in the area, it was the Sonoran style of Papalo that most wowed this barbecue editor," reads the article's byline. 

Last fall, Chef Andrew "Drew" Bent reopened his Papalo Sonoran BBQ concept in the over 2,250 square-foot space previously occupied by Boss Bird Kitchen in the heart of downtown La Mesa. The menu of slow-smoked, Sonoran barbecue meats come in both sandwich and platter form, along with a distinctive selection of specialty dishes and rotating menu items. Highlights include the Mole BBQ chicken, Mexican saffron fried rice, ground brisket smoked cheeseburger, and beef short rib. The restaurant also features a full bar offering craft cocktails, local beer, agua fresca and Mexican sodas.

In addition to Papalo, the Texas Monthly article praises Lemon Grove's Coop's BBQ, as well as Smokin' J's BBQ, which has branches in Poway, Miramar and San Diego's Gaslamp. The piece goes on to mention Grand Ole BBQ and even longtime San Diego hotspot Phil's BBQ, which is frequently criticized by barbecue purists for not smoking their meat with the traditional low and slow cooking method. 

"Out in El Cajon, about thirty miles inland, Grand Ole BBQ converted an old biker bar into one of its locations," writes author Daniel Vaughn. "I appreciated the nod to Texas in the Lockhart TX Charcuterie plate, featuring excellent house-made hot links, Saltines, jalapeños, pickles, and mustard barbecue sauce for dipping. The cooks just need to trade out the thick wedges of American cheese for cheddar if they want that to taste just like Lockhart. And it’s not Texas-style, but I’ve got to give a hand to Phil’s BBQ for its impeccable onion rings."