Strips of spicy teriyaki beef jerky cured from choice sirloin
We did not go to the waterfront in search of beef jerky. We thought we’d enjoy a nice stroll along the San Diego Bay Walk, maybe grab something from the Tuna Harbor Fish Market, held every Saturday.
But the late morning walk had us feeling snackish and, right on cue, a row of food vendor stands appeared before us. Each Saturday from 9 am 'til 4 pm, they line up along the edge of Ruocco Park, just south of the USS Midway Museum. I take it the weekly gathering had closed for a while, due to certain current global events, but resumed in September with a motley collection of trucks, carts, and pop up vendors.
I spotted the Neff Coffee truck there, and a trailer serving assorted Dole Whip concoctions. And not far away, a small shade structure with a big sign, reading We Got Beef.
Upon a closer look, it read We Got Beef Jerky. Made in San Diego.
Andre Venegas launched the brand at the beginning of this year. Venegas has plenty of experience with meat, having cooked at the old Donovan's Steak and Chop House, and aboard several food trucks. He says he started making jerky at home five years ago, mostly sharing it with friends, or bartering it for the likes of haircuts or farmers market products.
We Got Beef pops up at weekly waterfront food markets Saturday and Sunday.
He launched at local markets at the beginning of the year, including in Old Town, though when covid came along, to ship he had to resort to collecting orders through Instagram. But after the re-opening of the Ruocco Park event and a similar Sunday market half a mile north at Lane Field Park (10am-4pm), his jerky has become a waterfront specialty.
Not a huge fan of jerky that you have to tear at with your teeth, Venegas makes it on the tender side, using top round cutlets, which he sells for $5 a bag. Better still, he makes an even more tender premium version, cured from choice sirloin cutlets procured from a local butcher, for $7 a bag.
The Ruocco Park market runs each Saturday from 9am-4pm, just south of the USS Midway Museum.
We Got Beef offers a multitude of flavors, including lemon pepper, chipotle BBQ, teriyaki, and carne asada, though Venegas prefers minimal ingredients, limiting each flavor to five ingredients max. He cures the beef for about eight hours, but tells me that’s less important than the marinating process.
“The secret is the marinating,” he says, “if you don’t allow enough time for the flavor to penetrate the meat, you’re not going to get that flavorful a jerky.”
Three bags of We Got Beef jerky
We picked up a trio of flavors (he offered a deal: three premium bags for $19) and started snacking. The cowboy black peppered beef was my simple favorite, while the pronounced vinegar coming through the tabasco ranch flavor made a truly intriguing combination.
Definitely the most memorable was the spicy teriyaki. Made in collaboration with Old Town’s Awesome Hot Sauce, this jerky’s marinade gets its heat from Carolina Reaper hot sauce. That’s the kind of sweet burn it takes a cool harbor breeze to temper.