The Kentucky smoked lamb.
Think politics is polarizing? It’s got nothing on BBQ.
It’s a passionate topic where people have their theories on things like wood or propane. sauce or rub, and brisket or ribs.
Tri-tip at Grand Ole BBQ Y Asado
3302 32nd Street, San Diego
BBQ aficionados are picky and loyal to a particular spot. By comparison, taco shop lovers are more open-minded, willing to go to different places.
Although I am a fan of Phil’s BBQ, I have to admit my visit to Grand Ole BBQ Y Asado in North Park was revelatory in many ways — especially in relation to how the sauce interacts with the proteins.
The setup at GOBYA looks like a chuck wagon from an old western movie. Lots of picnic tables, open sheds and, smack dab in the middle, a giant wood-fired smoker. You order your meat by weight, but get there early — sellouts are common.
The Texas bean salad has corn, black beans and cumin.
Nothing fancy, but that’s part of the charm.
I like the sauce at Phil’s BBQ though I understand why detractors think it’s too sweet. The sauce at GOBYA is tangy but not as cloying. That’s a good thing: The sauce never overpowers the meat.
That’s amazing considering the turkey ($10 for sandwich/ $19 per pound) has a much lighter, almost delicate, flavor profile compared to the bold spices of the hot links ($9 for sandwich/$14 per pound). But in both cases, the sauce supported the meat perfectly, not overtaking the turkey while standing up to the spicy sausages.
I’m glad I got a variety of meats to try. Although I was fond of the turkey and links, the Tri-Tip was the star ($13 for sandwich/$23 per pound). It was cooked perfectly: crispy on the edges, pink in the middle -- would definitely get that again.
I was a fan of the lamb ($12 for sandwich/$22 per pound. It was tender and delicate — like the turkey — but with a smokier flavor.
GOBYA opens at 12 noon and they were out of the pulled pork by the time I got there around 12:30 on a Saturday. So I got ribs ($19 per pound). They were tender and nicely smoky, but I liked the other meats better.
I liked the side dishes, which sell for $3 each. The Peruvian beans were more like refried beans than the sweet beans often served with BBQ. They were great: A subtle spiciness that matched well with the different meats.
Grand Ole BBQ Y Asado's exterior.
The Texas Bean Salad is noteworthy: Slightly tangy with a nice blast of cumin. I’d consider getting this as a meal if I were feeling vegetarianish. The potato salad and cole slaw are serviceable. No one will be disappointed, but the bean dishes are outstanding.
Grand Ole BBQ Y Asado is one of those casual eateries that make people who live in North Park feel smug. With good reason: The food is good and the cowboy vibe reminds me of Knott’s Berry Farm before it got all fancy with the rides.