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All Things BBQ: Lightnin' Jack's

Clairemont barbecue joint dishes up huge piles of mediocre meat for cheap, proving that there's no way to cut corners.

Now this right here is a grisly piece of meat.  You SHOULD be intimidated by this.
Now this right here is a grisly piece of meat. You SHOULD be intimidated by this.
Place

Lightnin' Jack's BBQ

4705-H Clairemont Drive, San Diego

Lightnin’ Jack’s (4705 Clairemont Drive) has some things going for it, not the least of which is the movie deal: 10 percent off if you show a same-day movie ticket from the Regal across the way. The restaurant’s front window proclaims the fact loudly, via a big banner. As spaces go, Lightnin’ Jack’s is curious. It’s in a huge, towering building, but the actual restaurant is small and cozy, with red gingham tables and seating for maybe thirty.

Lightnin' Jack's mallside window, advertising super sweet moviegoer pricing bargain times.

The other advantage is one of generosity. Less than twenty bucks gets you a “meat sampler,” a veritable mountain of roasted and grilled meats, towering high atop a styrofoam plate. It’s enough food for two hearty eaters, three with a couple sides added, and includes brisket, chicken, pork ribs, beef ribs and half a hot link split lengthwise. Oh, and there’s a piece of corn on the cob, too.

Seldom has a plate of food so fiercely imposed itself. A meat monolith, or a sacrifice to some pagan carnivore god.

Jack’s cornbread, surprisingly, is good enough to warrant a special callout. Tender, sweet, and cakey, the cornbread comes out of the kitchen piping hot with a generous portion of sweetened butter on the side. Hungry moviegoers could make a killing out of a few sides of cornbread and a cheap-o basket of “rib tips,” the little chunklets removed from the ends of spareribs.

The downside is that “roasted” is much more accurate than “smoked” to describe Jack’s meats. The unimpressive smoker in the kitchen doesn’t do a good job of infusing the meat with the rich, smoky flavor that epitomizes good ‘cue at a place like the Wrangler. Jack’s also doesn’t quite get the tender slow-cooker style of a BBQ House, and the meat comes out too tough and chewy, demanding undue mastication. Rather than “the meat falling from the bone” (the tried and true barbecue adage), it’s more like peeling meat from a bone, which satisfies some primal urges, but gets old fast.

This...This right here...This is what happens when you try to put the rush on some ‘cue!

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Now this right here is a grisly piece of meat.  You SHOULD be intimidated by this.
Now this right here is a grisly piece of meat. You SHOULD be intimidated by this.
Place

Lightnin' Jack's BBQ

4705-H Clairemont Drive, San Diego

Lightnin’ Jack’s (4705 Clairemont Drive) has some things going for it, not the least of which is the movie deal: 10 percent off if you show a same-day movie ticket from the Regal across the way. The restaurant’s front window proclaims the fact loudly, via a big banner. As spaces go, Lightnin’ Jack’s is curious. It’s in a huge, towering building, but the actual restaurant is small and cozy, with red gingham tables and seating for maybe thirty.

Lightnin' Jack's mallside window, advertising super sweet moviegoer pricing bargain times.

The other advantage is one of generosity. Less than twenty bucks gets you a “meat sampler,” a veritable mountain of roasted and grilled meats, towering high atop a styrofoam plate. It’s enough food for two hearty eaters, three with a couple sides added, and includes brisket, chicken, pork ribs, beef ribs and half a hot link split lengthwise. Oh, and there’s a piece of corn on the cob, too.

Seldom has a plate of food so fiercely imposed itself. A meat monolith, or a sacrifice to some pagan carnivore god.

Jack’s cornbread, surprisingly, is good enough to warrant a special callout. Tender, sweet, and cakey, the cornbread comes out of the kitchen piping hot with a generous portion of sweetened butter on the side. Hungry moviegoers could make a killing out of a few sides of cornbread and a cheap-o basket of “rib tips,” the little chunklets removed from the ends of spareribs.

The downside is that “roasted” is much more accurate than “smoked” to describe Jack’s meats. The unimpressive smoker in the kitchen doesn’t do a good job of infusing the meat with the rich, smoky flavor that epitomizes good ‘cue at a place like the Wrangler. Jack’s also doesn’t quite get the tender slow-cooker style of a BBQ House, and the meat comes out too tough and chewy, demanding undue mastication. Rather than “the meat falling from the bone” (the tried and true barbecue adage), it’s more like peeling meat from a bone, which satisfies some primal urges, but gets old fast.

This...This right here...This is what happens when you try to put the rush on some ‘cue!

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Comments
7

Can never understand why anyone wants cornmeal "cake." The world's best cornbread is salty and buttery. Make it with salted butter, add salt, no sugar. You haven't lived till you make and eat cornbread this way.

Dec. 12, 2013

There's truth there. You should give us a good recipe ;)

I think that cornbread can be delicious from either end of the spectrum, so long as it doesn't fall to drab mediocrity. Anything is better than "meh"

Dec. 12, 2013

Reading Cinema, not Regal--Clairemont Town Square.

Dec. 13, 2013

Gracias. Must've gotten my R's confused. Someone should by out the theater chain and change it to something that starts with Z

Dec. 16, 2013

Ian, Historian Edward E. Dale wrote in 1947 that "People in the North often put sugar in corn bread, which Southerners have always asserted was one of the primary causes of the Civil War." And in a 19th century Virginia cookbook, it says "under no circumstances should a Cook so far depart from the good Judgment of Generations of Virginia Housewives as to permit Sugar in any variety of Corn Bread."

Here's the recipe for classic Dixie cornbread:

  • 450-degree oven; greased 10-inch cast iron skillet

1-1/2 cups white cornmeal

3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups buttermilk

1 egg

2 tablespoons bacon drippings (or melted butter or margarine)

Sift dry ingredients, add egg, buttermilk, fat. Mix gently just to evenly moisten. Bake in greased pan for 20 minutes. Serve hot or eat cold for breakfast next day!

Jan. 21, 2014

That's a good looking recipe. Very high cornmeal to flour ratio. I shall have to make this. Thanks!

Jan. 21, 2014

You are welcome. It's an easy recipe to adjust, too. You can add a bit more flour/less meal, if you want. Ground pepper, crumbled bacon, pork cracklins, green or any kind of onions, any kind of diced peppers or herbs, a little grated cheese, ...whatever...can be added to the batter. Also, if you want to tinker with the liquid, instead of buttermilk you can curdle milk with lemon juice or vinegar and add whole plain yogurt or sour cream. And...if you want some sweetness, add it after baking by smearing pieces with honey or maple syrup or jam.

Jan. 22, 2014

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