Credit: Kambria Fischer / Ranch 45
Credit: Kambria Fischer / Ranch 45

Holy Smokes! 6 SoCal BBQ Spots That Are Finger-Lickin’ Good

SoCal’s BBQ Scene Is Hotter Than Ever

Southern California is known for its stellar surf, sandy beaches and creative cuisine. It is also home, however, to some by-the-book BBQ joints that are just as great as what you’ll find in the South. From juicy brisket to tender ribs that fall off the bone, these are our favorite spots in SoCal for a good ol’ BBQ meal. Best BBQ Southern California

 

Orange County

Heritage BBQ

Credit: John Troxell

Located in San Juan Capistrano, Heritage BBQ is best known for its Texas-style smoked meats and laid-back atmosphere. From the spacious picnic tables to the nostalgic metal lunch trays, everything at Heritage works together to create a casual and cozy space for the community. The portions are massive, making it a great place to go with a group. Once you make it to the front of the line (be prepared—there will be a line), order at the counter and snag a spot while you sip on a canned michelada or pint of Capistrano Brewing Co. beer. The menu changes based on the seasons, but some can’t-miss items include the brisket and pulled pork with potato bread on the side. 

Location: San Juan Capistrano

Best BBQ Southern California

Smoqued BBQ 

Between the rustic brick walls and the sports bar setup, Smoqued BBQ in Orange is one of the best places to watch your favorite teams while grubbing on some classic comfort food. The joint was started by two friends who wanted to bring locals together over great beer and food, and it has since become one of the most popular BBQ restaurants in the area. Start your meal off with Smoqued’s signature avocado fries and decadent smoked candied bacon. Once you’re ready for the main event, choose a combo plate so that you can taste a few different types of meat along with some traditional sides like coleslaw, BBQ beans and corn on the cob.

Location: Orange 

 

San Diego

Ranch 45

Credit: Kambria Fischer / Ranch 45

Looking for a barbecue joint that sources locally? Ranch 45 in Solana Beach places a huge focus on supporting local and humane farms, ensuring that you can trust where your meat is coming from. The restaurant itself is on the smaller side, but the spacious patio features plenty of wooden high-top tables where you can sit down for breakfast or lunch, and dinner is served from 5-8:30 p.m., Thursday-Saturday. Ranch 45 puts an elevated twist on classic dishes, such as crispy potato skins with truffle crème fraîche. Since it doubles as a butcher shop, grab your lunch and some high-quality meats to-go and feast at home. 

Location: Solana Beach 

Best BBQ Southern California

Park 101

Credit: Mary Carol Fitzgerald

Whether you’re with family or friends, Park 101 in Carlsbad guarantees a good time. Located in the middle of Carlsbad Village, Park 101 boasts an 8,000-square-foot, multi-level property that is more of a complex than it is a restaurant. The stylish patio features striped umbrellas and string lights, creating a comfy and cozy space to unwind with a crisp brew and BBQ. The neon Carlsbad sign can be seen from the upper patio, and the plush booths are the ultimate place to sit during sunset. Though you’ll undoubtedly come for the BBQ brisket tacos, pulled pork sandwich and bacon-infused potato salad, you’ll stay for the live music and good vibes.

Location: Carlsbad 

 

Los Angeles

Slab

Credit: Wonho Frank Lee

Slab is a special collaboration between the famous h.wood Group and Burt Bakman, the mastermind behind Trudy’s Underground Barbecue. Everything at Slab is slow-cooked, resulting in melt-in-your-mouth meats that’ll have you drooling. From spare ribs to smoked chicken, everything is finger-licking good (literally). When it comes to sides, the creamy mac and cheese takes the cake, but the collard greens cure even the most savory of cravings. Though it is listed under dessert, order the cornbread with honey butter with your meal and let your taste buds soar with this sweet and savory combo. 

Location: Los Angeles

Best BBQ Southern California

Moo’s Craft Barbecue

Credit: John Troxell @troxphotos

What started off as an underground pop-up in East LA has since turned into one of the hottest BBQ joints in the state. Moo’s Craft Barbecue blends traditional Texas techniques with CaliMexi flavors, resulting in mouthwatering barbecue that is innovative yet nostalgic. Though Moo’s still participates in regular pop-ups, their permanent location in Lincoln Heights is the perfect place to grab a pint and some pulled pork. While you can’t go wrong with any of the meats, definitely save room for dessert and order the banana pudding. Also, Moo’s Craft Barbecue has been known to sell out, so do your best to get there early and beat the dinner rush.

Location: Los Angeles

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.

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