3137 South Mission Road, Fallbrook
“Good wine needs no bush,” says Annie.
We’re standing at a Mobil gas station, on the corner of 3rd and L in southern Chula Vista.
“Say again?” I say. I know I know this phrase.
“Well, just look,” she says. “Red tent pop-up in gas station forecourt, no sign saying what it is, and yet all these people waiting to buy pork ribs. Good ribs need no bush! In the old days, inns hung out bush branches, right? To imitate grape vines, to say they had wine. The ones with a good reputation didn’t need to bother.”
This is my know-it-all friend, Annie. (Still love her madly, but just good friends.) We first spotted the red tent with smoke drifting out. A BBQ pop-up. Three guys working away, two in the tent, one out back at a double smoker. Get up close and you can read their tee shirts. “Da South in Ya Mouth.” Oh yeah! Great name.
Coming here was Hank’s idea, but he’s laid low this Sunday. That flu thing. So we’re taking some back to him.
“We could go tomorrow,” I told Hank.
“No, dude,” he says. “They’re only there on Saturdays and Sundays. Father and sons. Go before they run out! And don’t forget beans. Baked beans! To die for!”
Back at the red tent, Dandra and his brother Bronson are taking orders. “Our most popular dish is the ‘Three Meat Treat,’” Bronson says. “We have pork ribs, chicken, catfish, or hot link. You choose three meats, plus two sides. Sides are mac’n cheese, baked beans, collard greens, potato salad, cajun fries, or fried pickles.”
Twenty bucks, he says. “But we have combos that are cheaper: you can get a beef tri-tip special with two sides for $14, or whiting fish with two sides for $11.”
Now I’m seeing the regular menu. BBQ pork ribs cost $12.50. Alright! A chicken quarter goes for $12, Cajun fried catfish is $12, Cajun fried shrimp’s also $12, and a half slab of BBQ pork ribs runs $18. All include two sides.
“How come no beef on the regular menu?” I say.
“Beef is a Texas thing,” says Andra, the guys’ father. “Pork is a Georgia thing. We’re from Georgia. But I can sell you that tri-tip for $14, or a tri-tip sandwich for $10.”
Andra (pronounced “André,”) is a big man. He keeps a weather eye on the smokers where he’s been flipping big slabs of pork, sausages, chicken, and tri-tip. “I’ll smoke them 4-6 hours at 190-200 degrees. This way you seal the outside and retain the juices. I’m using mesquite wood here. Good for BBQ pork. But sometimes I use apple tree, or cherry. Those woods give off a sweetness people love.”
So I’m thinking pork or beef. Can’t waste these giant smokers on chicken or shrimp, right?
“Wrong!” says Annie. “I want shrimp. But can you do them without batter or breadcrumbs?”
“No problem. I’ll just put them on the grill,” says Andra.
“Chicken!” Hank texts. “Has herbs that’ll help my condition. And don’t forget the baked beans and collard greens!”
So I ask for chicken (only $5.50 extra), baked beans and collard greens for Hank, and pork ribs for me.
Soon, we’ve laid out the chicken, shrimp, and pork ribs and the little pots of beans and greens. It fills Hank’s whole kitchen table. Not a bad feast for 30 bucks. Hank’s favorite item is his smoky, spicy chicken with a mustard sauce Andra made.
“I make it with cayenne, vinegar, cumin,” Andra tells me.
It’s certainly got a sweet thing going. Combines well with the baked beans too, and the strictly honest collard greens. “Too honest,” Hank says. “Could have done with more fat. Maybe more ham?”
Annie says the shrimp are “gorgeous.” My ribs definitely taste smoky, are crunchy on the edges, super tender inside. And Andra’s red sauce, also with cumin, cayenne, vinegar, garlic, plus celery seed, whacks up a sweeter flavor. “I use lemon juice to tenderize the meat and give it a tang,” says Andra, back at the smoker.
Turns out this venture is Andra’s way of busting out from his previous corporate life. “I was a general manager at Buffalo Wild Wings. I wanted to create something personal that I loved. And to leave something for my family after I’m gone.”
Andra credits his Southern cooking skills to his grandma Minnie. “I used to follow her around, where we grew up in Hinesville, Georgia. And she taught me to cook. She was very strict. She always said ‘If you don’t do it right the first time, when are you ever going to have time to do it right?’”
He says pitmasters in Kansas City adopted him and for three years taught him everything BBQ, from ribs to rubs.
So who came up with the name? “Rinda, my wife,” says Andra. “She just said what we were cooking was ‘Da South in Ya Mouth.’ We looked at each other. We knew that was it.”
Andra’s next big move is creating a food truck location in Fallbrook, opening early February. It’ll have sit-down, unlike here.
Back at Hanks, we gnaw on. I grab a couple of Annie’s shrimp. Simple and garlicky. Hank declares his rib the tenderest he’s had. I agree. Annie starts snarling when we try to sneak a couple more shrimp. “South in ya mouth?” she asks. “How about a knuckle sandwich in ya mouth?”
- The Place: Da South In Ya Mouth, in Mobil gas station forecourt, at 3rd and L, Chula Vista, 619-738-2918. Soon also at 3137 S. Mission Road, Fallbrook
- Hours: 8:30am - 8pm, Saturdays and Sundays only; Fallbrook, Wednesday - Saturday, 12pm-7pm, Sunday, 8am-3pm
- Prices: BBQ pork ribs, 2 sides, $12.50; chicken quarter, 2 sides, $12.00; Cajun fried catfish, 2 sides, $12; Cajun fried shrimp, 2 sides, $12; half slab BBQ pork ribs, 2 sides, $18; family deal (4-6 people) with slab of ribs, chicken quarter, 3 16-oz sides, $45; whiting fish special, 2 sides, $11; tri-tip special, 2 sides, $14; Three Meat Treat pork ribs, chicken, catfish, hot link, 2 sides, $20; corn bread, $4.50
- Buses: 704, 929
- Nearest Bus Stops: 3rd and L