9040 Campo Road, Spring Valley
Part of the Valley Farm BBQ Stand’s charm is its utter lack of ambiance. The place is nothing but a shack in a grocery store parking lot, with a few patio tables for “seating.” Hulking smokers lurk right behind the unremarkable building, belching the occasional cloud of promising woodsmoke into the air. Yet somehow, even with the sun down and a chill in the air, the barbecue stand remains a welcoming place.
It looks and feels like a fond memory, as though some old-timer should be telling a story that begins, “Well, it sure don’t look like much, but that little stand has some mighty fine ‘cue!”
Or maybe it’s just the humility. “Some of the best smoked and grilled meats in San Diego,” says the Valley Farm Market website. That’s right, they claim to have some, not all, of the best meats. How’s that for a little good, country sensibility?
And it is some of the best, for sure. The tri-tip is phenomenal. Valley Farm Market is known for good butchery, and they send some of the nicest meats out for smoking. Getting a deep, smoky flavor into beef that’s still served medium to medium-rare is no mean feat!
The pulled pork also commands respect. Tender and flavorful, it wants only for a sharper sauce than the stand’s house brew, which is very sweet and better used in moderation.
Pro Tip: Valley Farm's beans are OK, but lack kick. Splash a healthy dose of that sweet barbecue sauce into the beans and they become mighty fine.
Someone gets a little overzealous with the crutch when it comes time to cook the ribs, and Valley Farm's aren’t as barksome as they could or should be. Even so, the dry rub and smoker put plenty of great flavor into the meaty, almost country-cut spare ribs.
Best of all, it’s cheap. A $12.99 sampler plate is enough food to feed two regular humans, and every other combo and sandwich plate is under ten bones. They take credit cards, even though it doesn't look like they would. It makes you want to celebrate by marching straight into the market, buying a jug of Ole Smoky Peach Moonshine, and passing that sucker around like it’s real country and not just Spring Valley.