The Barbecue Pit
2388 Fletcher Parkway, El Cajon
Four other San Diego locations
Virl's the man. He stands at his station with a huge "clog" (shoulder) of slow-roasted beef, carving away at it with a long floppy knife. He never stops slicing, filling sandwich buns, laying out slices on gold polystyrene plates. He tries to fill a sandwich every 20 seconds. Behind the counter a kid has hauled in a huge turkey-sized lump of roast beef from a black barbecue pit. "Going to be a 16-clog Saturday," says Virl, slapping the steaming meat down on his board next to the ham. He slices away all the outer fat. "About eight hams too." The Barbecue Pit also does ribs and combos, but it's those generous, dripping dark-skinned wads of beef he slices that mesmerize the waiting mob. The owners have been sticking with the formula since 1948. "We cook them all out back, on oak," says Virl. "Five hours. Oak gives the meat color and flavor. Better than hickory or mesquite."