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All Things BBQ: Cali Comfort

The second-best barbecue on the Bancroft Road exit off the 94

Place

Cali Comfort BBQ

8910 Troy Street, Spring Valley

What’s a Kamenitza beer, from far-off Bulgaria, doing in Cali Comfort?

Long story short, the owner is Bulgarian. The place has been in his family for some time. Used to be a breakfast place, but the barbecue smoker went in during the two-thousands, and they haven’t looked back at omelets since! Now, the one clue to Cali Comfort’s BG pedigree is that Kamenitza lager on the menu.

It’s too bad they don’t sell Kamenitza Fresh, the low-alcohol, citrus-flavored beer beverage that the company produces for the Bulgarian market. Fresh looks like it’s in the long tradition of lemonade-spiked alcoholic summer beverages, in the company of the classic shandy (beer and “lemonade,” which is basically Irish for 7-Up) and tinto de verano (the popular Spanish drink made from red wine and lemon Fanta).

Here in the US, beer-and-soda combos refuse to catch on. The ill-fated El Take It Easy tried to sell calimocho (red wine and cola) to the masses, but nobody was buying. It might be that American audiences don’t want to pay full price for low-alcohol beverages, though some restaurants sell lemonade and iced tea without the privilege of refills, which is more or less the same deal. It’s still a pity that beverages like Kamenitza Fresh don’t pop up on more local menus, regardless of why.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand, Cali Comfort’s actual barbecue is OK. Ribs get the trim treatment, removing the succulent rib tips and making it less bang for your buck. All the meat has the smokiness we want to see, but they don’t manage to hit that magic trifecta of smoky/barky/fatty that gives good ‘cue its luster. Underwhelming brisket doesn’t do much one way or the other, but the pulled pork is pretty good. It’s at least fatty and succulent.

Unlike a lot of other barbecue places, which sling ribs for days but little else, Cali Comfort is less of a single-issue candidate. The sprawling menu lists off sports bar favorites (jalapeño poppers and potato skins aplenty!), burgers, entrees (including an ornate mac 'n’ cheese dish with chicken, bacon, and sour cream), and even breakfast.

Cali Comfort’s best feature might be the drinking options. “Fish Bowl” drinks (for two or more people to share) are big enough that little rubber duckies can float on the top. The restaurant’s Bloody Mary looks delicious, and there are these little chocolate “martini” drinks that could bridge the gap between alcoholism and insulin-injection dependence.

Call it crazy, but it might just be fun to get wrecked on housemade Jungle Juice and try to eat an order of San Miguel Firefighter Wings, which are so hot they require a waiver.

If you want barbecue, however, go up the street to Valley Farm.

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1

Or go up the hill to Coop's BBQ on Lemon Grove Avenue. At that "bar food" at Cali Comfort is heated up frozen goods from Sysco.

March 11, 2014

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Place

Cali Comfort BBQ

8910 Troy Street, Spring Valley

What’s a Kamenitza beer, from far-off Bulgaria, doing in Cali Comfort?

Long story short, the owner is Bulgarian. The place has been in his family for some time. Used to be a breakfast place, but the barbecue smoker went in during the two-thousands, and they haven’t looked back at omelets since! Now, the one clue to Cali Comfort’s BG pedigree is that Kamenitza lager on the menu.

It’s too bad they don’t sell Kamenitza Fresh, the low-alcohol, citrus-flavored beer beverage that the company produces for the Bulgarian market. Fresh looks like it’s in the long tradition of lemonade-spiked alcoholic summer beverages, in the company of the classic shandy (beer and “lemonade,” which is basically Irish for 7-Up) and tinto de verano (the popular Spanish drink made from red wine and lemon Fanta).

Here in the US, beer-and-soda combos refuse to catch on. The ill-fated El Take It Easy tried to sell calimocho (red wine and cola) to the masses, but nobody was buying. It might be that American audiences don’t want to pay full price for low-alcohol beverages, though some restaurants sell lemonade and iced tea without the privilege of refills, which is more or less the same deal. It’s still a pity that beverages like Kamenitza Fresh don’t pop up on more local menus, regardless of why.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand, Cali Comfort’s actual barbecue is OK. Ribs get the trim treatment, removing the succulent rib tips and making it less bang for your buck. All the meat has the smokiness we want to see, but they don’t manage to hit that magic trifecta of smoky/barky/fatty that gives good ‘cue its luster. Underwhelming brisket doesn’t do much one way or the other, but the pulled pork is pretty good. It’s at least fatty and succulent.

Unlike a lot of other barbecue places, which sling ribs for days but little else, Cali Comfort is less of a single-issue candidate. The sprawling menu lists off sports bar favorites (jalapeño poppers and potato skins aplenty!), burgers, entrees (including an ornate mac 'n’ cheese dish with chicken, bacon, and sour cream), and even breakfast.

Cali Comfort’s best feature might be the drinking options. “Fish Bowl” drinks (for two or more people to share) are big enough that little rubber duckies can float on the top. The restaurant’s Bloody Mary looks delicious, and there are these little chocolate “martini” drinks that could bridge the gap between alcoholism and insulin-injection dependence.

Call it crazy, but it might just be fun to get wrecked on housemade Jungle Juice and try to eat an order of San Miguel Firefighter Wings, which are so hot they require a waiver.

If you want barbecue, however, go up the street to Valley Farm.

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Comments
1

Or go up the hill to Coop's BBQ on Lemon Grove Avenue. At that "bar food" at Cali Comfort is heated up frozen goods from Sysco.

March 11, 2014

Sign in to comment

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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