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.
3302 32nd Street, North Park
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.
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.
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.