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Mutt and meat in Fallbrook

Arrive early for Firehouse Que and Brew's daily lunch specials

Firehouse’s Mutt light amber complements a grueling summer day
Firehouse’s Mutt light amber complements a grueling summer day

Like most of the county, Fallbrook has been plagued by fire throughout its history. Most recently, over 200 structures were destroyed in the 2007 “Rice Fire,” which found the region’s resources spread thin for a number of other blazes under unusually strong Santa Ana winds. Today, it’s safe to say that where there are smokers, there is fire. At least that’s the case at Firehouse Que and Brew, located at the former muster area for the town’s bucket brigade.

The smokehouse debuted in February as a collaboration of the Rib Shack on Old Highway 395 and Fallbrook Brewing Company, which has been stewing up suds about a mile north for the past three years. Strewn with old black-and-white photos from the Fallbrook Fire Department, Firehouse concerns itself chiefly with the celebrated alchemy of smoked meats and fermented starches. They also make a mean selection of sides, with standouts such as fried pickle wedges, spicy corn, and garlic smashed potatoes.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, locals chat over post-work brews on the patio and families share a meal at the booths while bartender Kenny cues up “Wish You Were Here” on the stereo. The rotating tap list offers five Fallbrook beers and guest pulls from Lost Abbey, Alesmith, Ironfire, Great Divide, and Mason Aleworks. I ask Kenny for something to complement the grueling summer day and he pours me the Mutt light amber.

“We got a messed-up shipment late one night so we threw everything together and were pleasantly surprised by the result,” he says. “It’s the only beer we have right now that’s not named after a street.”

The bright, caramel-y brew makes for a refreshing companion to my plate of greasy fried okra. Fallbrook Brewing owner and brewer Chuck McLaughlin, meanwhile, says his favorite pairing is the mac and cheese pulled pork jalapeño fries with an Ammunition IPA. As a close second, he suggests the brisket with spicy corn or fried pickles and a Calavo Cream. When available, Ironfire’s Stetsons and Sombreros Mexican lager is perfectly suited for pulled pork.

Firehouse’s offerings are best sampled from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, when daily lunch specials include tri-tip, ribs, brisket, and catfish with slaw and fries for $9.99 each. Arrive early, as it’s not uncommon for specials to sell out.

You got your meat. You got your malt. That, fam, is fire.

Place

Firehouse Que and Brew

1019 South Main Avenue, Fallbrook

Prices: $7 pints; $3–$5 wine

Food: West Coast BBQ and San Diego brew

Capacity: Sits about 70 indoors, 30 on THE patio

Parking: Plenty of space behind the building

Hours: MON, 4–8PM; TUES–THUR, 11:30am–8pm; FRI, 11:30am–9pm; SAT, 11am–9pm; SUN, 11am–7pm

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Firehouse’s Mutt light amber complements a grueling summer day
Firehouse’s Mutt light amber complements a grueling summer day

Like most of the county, Fallbrook has been plagued by fire throughout its history. Most recently, over 200 structures were destroyed in the 2007 “Rice Fire,” which found the region’s resources spread thin for a number of other blazes under unusually strong Santa Ana winds. Today, it’s safe to say that where there are smokers, there is fire. At least that’s the case at Firehouse Que and Brew, located at the former muster area for the town’s bucket brigade.

The smokehouse debuted in February as a collaboration of the Rib Shack on Old Highway 395 and Fallbrook Brewing Company, which has been stewing up suds about a mile north for the past three years. Strewn with old black-and-white photos from the Fallbrook Fire Department, Firehouse concerns itself chiefly with the celebrated alchemy of smoked meats and fermented starches. They also make a mean selection of sides, with standouts such as fried pickle wedges, spicy corn, and garlic smashed potatoes.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, locals chat over post-work brews on the patio and families share a meal at the booths while bartender Kenny cues up “Wish You Were Here” on the stereo. The rotating tap list offers five Fallbrook beers and guest pulls from Lost Abbey, Alesmith, Ironfire, Great Divide, and Mason Aleworks. I ask Kenny for something to complement the grueling summer day and he pours me the Mutt light amber.

“We got a messed-up shipment late one night so we threw everything together and were pleasantly surprised by the result,” he says. “It’s the only beer we have right now that’s not named after a street.”

The bright, caramel-y brew makes for a refreshing companion to my plate of greasy fried okra. Fallbrook Brewing owner and brewer Chuck McLaughlin, meanwhile, says his favorite pairing is the mac and cheese pulled pork jalapeño fries with an Ammunition IPA. As a close second, he suggests the brisket with spicy corn or fried pickles and a Calavo Cream. When available, Ironfire’s Stetsons and Sombreros Mexican lager is perfectly suited for pulled pork.

Firehouse’s offerings are best sampled from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, when daily lunch specials include tri-tip, ribs, brisket, and catfish with slaw and fries for $9.99 each. Arrive early, as it’s not uncommon for specials to sell out.

You got your meat. You got your malt. That, fam, is fire.

Place

Firehouse Que and Brew

1019 South Main Avenue, Fallbrook

Prices: $7 pints; $3–$5 wine

Food: West Coast BBQ and San Diego brew

Capacity: Sits about 70 indoors, 30 on THE patio

Parking: Plenty of space behind the building

Hours: MON, 4–8PM; TUES–THUR, 11:30am–8pm; FRI, 11:30am–9pm; SAT, 11am–9pm; SUN, 11am–7pm

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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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