Credit: Mary Carol Fitzgerald
Credit: Mary Carol Fitzgerald

9 BBQ Joints in San Diego That’ll Have You Drooling

From Traditional BBQ to a California Take on the Classic Southern Cuisine, Don’t Miss These BBQ Spots

Nothing screams summer like some good old-fashioned BBQ. From the tangy sauces to the crunchy corn on the cob, typical barbecue cuisine features bold flavors that’ll tantalize your taste buds. Though the South is known for having some of the best comfort food, San Diego is home to beloved BBQ joints that prove the West Coast is the best coast–even when it comes to ribs, brisket and buttery rolls. From Pacific Beach to El Cajon, we’ve rounded up some of the best restaurants for BBQ in San Diego to cure your cravings and kick off summer. BBQ Restaurants in San Diego

 

Park 101

Must Order: Surf & Turf

Credit: Mary Carol Fitzgerald

With more than 8,000 square feet across two levels and a spacious, dog-friendly patio, Park 101 brings the Carlsbad community together for great drinks and tasty BBQ. The twinkle lights and striped umbrellas make this a stellar spot for dining during the day or under the stars at night. In addition to traditional BBQ items like pulled pork sandwiches and potato salad, Park 101 puts a Southern twist on California-inspired cuisine for a more unique experience. Monthly rotating items for the month of June include loaded deviled eggs and tuna steak frites. For the main meal, go for one of the smoked meat combos with your choice of either brisket, pulled pork, half chicken or trip-tip. Oh, and don’t be afraid to try the decadent BBQ charbroiled oysters as you sit back, relax and watch your favorite team on the LED big screen.

Location: Carlsbad 

BBQ Restaurants in San Diego 

Ranch 45

Must Order: Smoked Tri Tip Sandwich

Credit: Kambria Fischer

Built on the farm-to-fork approach, Solana Beach’s Ranch 45 prides itself in letting the rancher, fisherman and farmer shine on each plate. The business functions as both a restaurant and butcher shop and serves a variety of top-notch Brandt Beef products. Pick up some ribs, steaks or hot dogs to grill at home, or dine in and order mouthwatering dishes like the carne asada burrito or smoked tri tip sandwich with housemade BBQ sauce, crispy onions, brioche bun, cole slaw, fries and a pickle.

Local Insight: Ranch 45 even offers curated butcher boxes, perfect for summer grilling!

Location: Solana Beach

 

Grand Ole BBQ Flinn Springs

Must Order: Texas Turkey 

Credit: Camila Badaro

Have a hankering for true Texas BBQ? Head to Grand Ole BBQ Flinn Springs for sandwiches and thick, tender cuts of brisket, turkey, pulled pork and more. This casual eatery has a fun and sporty patio complete with large picnic tables and firepits, making it a great spot to gather with friends. Once you have your protein picked, then it’s time to start pairing your sides. From coleslaw to white beans with bacon, you can’t go wrong with any of these Lone Star State-inspired bites. 

Location: El Cajon

 

Pioneer BBQ

Must Order: Party Fowl Sandwich

Credit: Cohn Restaurant Group

Smoky, tender and tangy, the food at Pioneer BBQ takes comfort cuisine to the next level. The venue features 17 flat-screen TVs, so you can always watch your favorite sports while chowing down on specialty-smoked meats and filling appetizers like BBQ loaded potato skins and brisket chili. The circular bar is pretty impressive as well, featuring 14 beers on tap along with refreshing cocktails like a frosé to celebrate summer. 

Location: Lake Murray

BBQ Restaurants in San Diego  

Iron Pig Alehouse

Must Order: Corn Muffins with Honey Butter

Credit: Jacob Scott

Looking for great BBQ near the beach? Iron Pig Alehouse cooks everything slow and low, and all sauces, meats and sides are made from scratch each day. The community-style seating and warm wooden beams set the scene for craft ales and smoked brisket tacos, though the big plates give you the best bang for your buck with your choice of protein and two sides. Just be sure to save room for dessert; we recommend indulging in the seasonal Southern cobbler. 

Location: Pacific Beach

 

Bull’s Smokin’ BBQ

Must Order: Smoked Beef Brisket

Bull’s Smokin’ BBQ is home to a huge, dog-friendly patio that offers a casual and authentic BBQ experience in the low-key neighborhood of Morena in San Diego. These smoked meats will truly transport you to the Carolinas, and everything from the sweet corn to the famous mac and cheese is made in-house. Bull’s Smokin’ BBQ is even home to the largest beef ribs in the world, making it a legendary spot for BBQ -lovers. 

Location: Morena

BBQ Restaurants in San Diego  

The Pig’s Gig

Must Order: Pulled Pork Tacos

The Pig’s Gig puts a California twist on Southern barbeque through the use of seasonal ingredients, fresh flavors and add-ons like zesty guacamole. The meals are served on classic red and white checkered paper, and the portions are hearty and heavy (just as they should be). Since SoCal is famous for its take on street tacos, what better combo than a tri-tip taco topped with homemade salsa, guacamole and house BBQ sauce?

Location: Liberty Station

Coop’s West Texas BBQ

Must Order: Homemade Texas Sausage 

All of the meat at Coop’s West Texas BBQ is slow-smoked, resulting in the most tender and tantalizing cuts of meat that are sure to make your mouth water. Everything from the sauces to the sides is handcrafted, and the rustic interior and metal trays create a casual environment that is perfect for a leisurely lunch. Since the focus of Coop’s is on the meat, keep it simple with an order of brisket or pulled pork with sides of collard greens, coleslaw and candied yams. 

Location: Lemon Grove

BBQ Restaurants in San Diego 

Bowlegged BBQ

Must Order: Sweet Potato Pie

Enjoy live music and East Texas-style barbeque at San Diego’s Bowlegged BBQ. Between the food and the sense of community, a visit to Bowlegged is good for the soul. This family-owned business specializes in traditional platters that feature all of the goods–we’re talking racks of ribs, mac and cheese and classic cornbread. The restaurant is both cozy and inviting, featuring walls covered in artwork that honor Black culture and history.

Location: Mount Hope

Website | + posts

Allie Lebos graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2017 with a BA in Communication. While in school she was a staff writer at The Daily Nexus for nearly two years. Since graduating she has written for The Palisades Magazine, as well as Hidden Hills Magazine. Currently living in Santa Monica, Allie loves to indulge in good food, hot yoga, and daily walks along the beach; writing articles on travel, special events, as well as features on local businesses and individuals.

Photographer | Website | + posts

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