When I moved to Vista in the 1980s, there was a barbecue place located in a run-down shack on S. Santa Fe Avenue which served great food, but the venue took some getting used to. Now there’s a barbeque place that serves up ribs and coleslaw in a Chevron gas station on the other side of town.
What is it about barbecue joints in Vista?
When Pigs Fly (not to be confused with the Flying Pig restaurant a few miles away) opened in 2014 after Dale and Tammy Ginos, the owners of a busy Chevron on E. Vista Way, decided to create a permanent spot for their barbecue which they had been serving at Country-Western concerts throughout the U.S. An unused section of their gas station seemed like the obvious spot, I guess.
I was on my way out of town when I decided I’d had enough Mexican food to last me a few months when I spotted a flying pink pig on the window of the gas station mini-mart. All things barbecue get my motor running, so I went in and perused the menu.
While customers came into the Chevron for gas, sodas, and Snickers, I ordered a full slab of beef back ribs, $22.95 with one side dish. I chose coleslaw and added corn and macaroni n’ cheese sides for $1.95 each. I planned on sharing it all, so I also ordered a piece of peach cobbler for $3.95.
I took the large order back to my friend’s house and laid it all out on the kitchen table. It was a lot of food.
The short ribs had a dry rub, and I could taste pepper, cayenne, and paprika, but I’m sure there were a lot more spices in the mix. When I bit into one, it fell off the bone. I was told they are slow smoked over a hickory wood fire, and I could tell. I had a choice of three homemade sauces to choose from, and I went with the bold — the extra bold scared me a little.
I shared the meal with a like-minded friend, and we both agreed that the coleslaw, with the fresh mix of cabbages, had just enough vinegar and sweetness. The smokey corn was fresh, but there wasn’t much to say about it, being that it was corn. The mac n’ cheese had a smokiness to it and so much gooey cheddar that it made up for the corn. The peach cobbler was juicy and sweet. The crust had just enough butter in it to make me realize it was homemade.
The food in most gas stations is bad enough to give you actual gas, but When Pigs Fly will make anyone who loves barbecue fill up time and time again.