Well, this is it. All Things BBQ is (for now) at an end, and the results painstakingly analyzed. It was never meant purely as a contest, more as an extended lecture on one of the richest culinary traditions of the United States. Hopefully, a few people learned a thing or two about what it means to ‘cue!
That said, every survey has its winners and losers. For anyone lacking the time or inclination to read the whole story, here are the basic facts.
901 El Cajon Boulevard, El Cajon
The Wrangler Family Barbecue
The accumulation of many advantages sets Wrangler on a pedestal above the rest. The handbuilt barbecue pit produces delicious meats and perfumes the air with woodsmoke. The side dishes and sauces have no major flaws. The prices are cheap. The decades-old decor charms, in its way. It’s a family business. All that adds up, and the Wrangler is truth in barbecue.
5025 Newport Avenue, Ocean Beach
Best w/o Real Barbecue Pit
They may not have the big, smoky barbecue pit, but BBQ House’s cooks manage to turn out some pretty succulent meat. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a neighborhood institution, and that the phenomenal “Sloppy Joe” sandwich is less than three bucks.
888 Prospect Street, La Jolla
Bubba’s Smoke House
The ‘cue is good, but not great, certainly not worth driving more than five or ten minutes for, but the spicy/smoky/tangy chipotle sauce that Bubba’s puts up is far and away the tastiest sauce around. Of every sauce tasted for the sake of All Things BBQ, only Bubba’s gets everything right. It’s not orthodox, but it respects the harmonious balance of acid, spice, and sugar that makes truly great barbecue sauce/
Wrangler Family Barbecue
The flavor of smoke penetrates all the way to the bone. The meat is tender, but still toothsome. The thick bark that coats the outside of each rib contains huge amounts of flavor, and the meat below is still succulent. Wrangler’s ribs approach perfection.
9040 Campo Road, Spring Valley
Valley Farm BBQ Stand
Astounding sliced tri-tip. Don’t bother with sauce. Just eat and eat and eat and eat. ‘Nuff said.
2625 Lemon Grove Avenue, Lemon Grove
Best Pulled Pork
Coop's West Texas BBQ
There’s a lot of tasty pulled pork in All Things BBQ, but Coops has a secret, and that secret is excellent cole slaw. Spiked with cider vinegar, and made without mayonnaise, the combination of pulled pork and phenomenal slaw gives Coop's an edge.
Valley Farm BBQ Stand
Some days, you want to be pampered..wined and dined..catered to by an expert team of servers. Other days, you just want to sit outside, underneath a gentle evening sky, and enjoy a little bit of the country life. Barbecue is rustic stuff, the kind of cooking that’s best enjoyed without pretense, and Valley Farm serves ‘cue at its most humble.