Brisket dinner with sweet potatoes and greens
4227 Market Street, San Diego
A lot of people will tell you that their favorite restaurants are “holes in the wall,” or “hidden gems,” or at the very least, “obscure.” It’s seldom true.
Then, there’s Kim’s Texas Barbecue, down in Mt. Hope, which has amassed fewer than ten Yelp entries after years of operation.
Note how the fence is all bashed to smithereens by careless drivers!
Whether it’s the aimless-looking folks milling in the liquor store parking lot across the street, the sound of the not-so-distant freeway, or the general bleakness of Southeast; Kim’s won’t soon win any awards for ambiance. Nevertheless, the place has its charms. Wilbur, the proprietor, seems to operate the restaurant from a position of grace, awaiting the occasional customer with a well-worn copy of the Bible near at hand, prepared to send dinner guests across the street to the ATM when the try to pay for their barbecue with credit cards.
Does he spring into action, excited that someone chose his diminutive restaurant from the panoply of available barbecue joints?
Hell no. He takes his sweet time, thank you very much; and how about we “in a hurry” kind of people do the same? Maybe we will live a little longer, although the ‘cue at Kim’s won’t help with that.
Kim’s may be a legitimate “hole in the wall,” but it’s no “hidden gem.” The only thing it really has going for it is that the food is cheap. Really, about as cheap as you can get outside of the scrumptious “sloppy Joe” at the BBQ House. Dinners at Kim’s come in at $9 for meat and two sides, with roughly the same amount of loot buying a rather large serving of just meat.
Beef "jerky," er...I mean...ribs!
It doesn’t look like Wilbur sees much business, so the meat gives the impression that it was cooked days ago, then microwaved (inside a styrofoam container, which is a bit unseemly) and doused in very tangy BBQ sauce; which would be perfect for the pulled pork that isn’t on the menu, but is a bit sharp for ribs and brisket. The prolonged sitting around does great damage to the beef ribs, which come off as desiccated and tallowy, but the pork ribs and brisket are exactly OK. Not good. Not bad. Just perfectly OK.
Beans from a can and cornbread from a Jiffy box (surprisingly delicious — contains actual lard!) tell the rest of the story.
Would you drive to Mt. Hope for just-OK ‘cue?
Probably not, but it makes a heck of a story and goes to show you what really makes a “hole in the wall.” Whip this one out next time some Yelp dork tries to apply that epithet to, say, Mama’s Bakery.