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

Smokin J’s BBQ improves on the TV dinner

Brisket is a heck of a lot better than Salisbury steak

A TV dinner tray featuring smoked brisket, beans, and macaroni shells
A TV dinner tray featuring smoked brisket, beans, and macaroni shells

People under a certain age might know them as Hungry Man dinners: frozen meals sold in partitioned, microwave-safe trays, in order to keep entrees and side dishes separate as they’re reheated. But, back in the days before microwaves, the trays were made of aluminum, and the meals were marketed as TV dinners. The idea being that, you could simply stick one in the (regular) oven to “cook” while you watched TV, then, when it was ready, eat while you continued to watch TV. Even more convenient: you could eat straight from the tray. No dishes to wash.

Place

Smokin J's BBQ

14035 Midland Rd, Poway

The idea anyone would need marketing encouragement to eat in front of the tube might seem quaint to younger generations, digital natives who’ve likely grown up eating in front of two or three screens at once. I suppose we could draw a straight line from those old TV dinners to the home delivery services of today. Like they were the first step in the process of Americans becoming too lazy or enthralled with bingeable content to cook our own meals at home.

The country vibe is strong in Old Poway Village.

So I shouldn’t be too surprised to have found a meshing of the two concepts out in Old Poway Village. I’d finally made it out there to chase down the oak-smoked victuals of Smokin J’s BBQ. Now in its fifth year of business, the highly regarded suburban BBQ joint fits right into the country-styled cluster of old-timey storefronts and parks here at the outer edge of suburban development. Where it’s so often sunny and arid, most of the counter restaurant’s seating was set up outdoors, well ahead of any pandemic. The vibe’s as relaxing as the village is cute — it’s really a great place to hang out and enjoy smoked meats.

However, as with most restaurants everywhere, what the pandemic did bring to Smokin J’s was a more hybrid business. Though outdoor seating is plentiful, the eatery opened up a take-out and delivery window to better facilitate to-go orders, even as on-premise service carries on.

House-seasoned St. Louis-style spare ribs served by Smokin J's BBQ

And Smokin J’s came up with its own TV dinner trays. And they’re better than anything you could pull out of your freezer.

Bear in mind, this is a place that makes a signature sandwich loaded with both brisket and hunks of pork belly. Gluttony is usually in order, and to accommodate that it sells the likes of ribs, brisket, and pulled pork by the pound, usually about $25-30 per. I started out ordering a half pound each of the ribs ($16.32), and seriously delectable brisket burnt ends ($16.83).

A take out window to facilitate pick up of to-go orders and deliveries

Add a couple side dishes, and you’ve got a meal for two. Most BBQ joints are set up this way, and it works out great when you’re eating family style. But approach a place like this solo, and I don’t think you can do better than these TV dinners. For between 11 and 17 bucks, you choose a meat and two sides. That could be three bones of the St. Louis-style ribs plus candied yams and coleslaw for $15.50, or two pieces of dark meat chicken with beans and mac n’cheese for $11.50.

I grabbed a third-pound of brisket with the beans and mac for $16.50, and may or may not have watched TV while I scarfed down a fairly complete meal. Those who remember TV dinners may wonder why these don’t include cobbler for dessert. The answer likely has something to do with Smokin J’s scratch baked pecan pie ($4 per slice), a seriously better option.

For that matter, as a kid, I was no stranger to eating turkey and gravy or Salisbury steak dinners out of an aluminum tray. But one needn’t remember those made-for-TV flavors to know expertly smoked BBQ is a significant improvement. Smokin J’s will be best eaten within the confines of Old Poway Village, but if you’re itchin for BBQ from the comfort of your sofa, a true brisket TV dinner will do you no wrong.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

DJ Bassassin thugsteps to Step Brothers

“I am warning you now, if you touch my drums, I will stab you in the neck with a knife.”
A TV dinner tray featuring smoked brisket, beans, and macaroni shells
A TV dinner tray featuring smoked brisket, beans, and macaroni shells

People under a certain age might know them as Hungry Man dinners: frozen meals sold in partitioned, microwave-safe trays, in order to keep entrees and side dishes separate as they’re reheated. But, back in the days before microwaves, the trays were made of aluminum, and the meals were marketed as TV dinners. The idea being that, you could simply stick one in the (regular) oven to “cook” while you watched TV, then, when it was ready, eat while you continued to watch TV. Even more convenient: you could eat straight from the tray. No dishes to wash.

Place

Smokin J's BBQ

14035 Midland Rd, Poway

The idea anyone would need marketing encouragement to eat in front of the tube might seem quaint to younger generations, digital natives who’ve likely grown up eating in front of two or three screens at once. I suppose we could draw a straight line from those old TV dinners to the home delivery services of today. Like they were the first step in the process of Americans becoming too lazy or enthralled with bingeable content to cook our own meals at home.

The country vibe is strong in Old Poway Village.

So I shouldn’t be too surprised to have found a meshing of the two concepts out in Old Poway Village. I’d finally made it out there to chase down the oak-smoked victuals of Smokin J’s BBQ. Now in its fifth year of business, the highly regarded suburban BBQ joint fits right into the country-styled cluster of old-timey storefronts and parks here at the outer edge of suburban development. Where it’s so often sunny and arid, most of the counter restaurant’s seating was set up outdoors, well ahead of any pandemic. The vibe’s as relaxing as the village is cute — it’s really a great place to hang out and enjoy smoked meats.

However, as with most restaurants everywhere, what the pandemic did bring to Smokin J’s was a more hybrid business. Though outdoor seating is plentiful, the eatery opened up a take-out and delivery window to better facilitate to-go orders, even as on-premise service carries on.

House-seasoned St. Louis-style spare ribs served by Smokin J's BBQ

And Smokin J’s came up with its own TV dinner trays. And they’re better than anything you could pull out of your freezer.

Bear in mind, this is a place that makes a signature sandwich loaded with both brisket and hunks of pork belly. Gluttony is usually in order, and to accommodate that it sells the likes of ribs, brisket, and pulled pork by the pound, usually about $25-30 per. I started out ordering a half pound each of the ribs ($16.32), and seriously delectable brisket burnt ends ($16.83).

A take out window to facilitate pick up of to-go orders and deliveries

Add a couple side dishes, and you’ve got a meal for two. Most BBQ joints are set up this way, and it works out great when you’re eating family style. But approach a place like this solo, and I don’t think you can do better than these TV dinners. For between 11 and 17 bucks, you choose a meat and two sides. That could be three bones of the St. Louis-style ribs plus candied yams and coleslaw for $15.50, or two pieces of dark meat chicken with beans and mac n’cheese for $11.50.

I grabbed a third-pound of brisket with the beans and mac for $16.50, and may or may not have watched TV while I scarfed down a fairly complete meal. Those who remember TV dinners may wonder why these don’t include cobbler for dessert. The answer likely has something to do with Smokin J’s scratch baked pecan pie ($4 per slice), a seriously better option.

For that matter, as a kid, I was no stranger to eating turkey and gravy or Salisbury steak dinners out of an aluminum tray. But one needn’t remember those made-for-TV flavors to know expertly smoked BBQ is a significant improvement. Smokin J’s will be best eaten within the confines of Old Poway Village, but if you’re itchin for BBQ from the comfort of your sofa, a true brisket TV dinner will do you no wrong.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Average rent in San Diego: $2916

Hurry! Won't Last!
Next Article

Bondage, bitches, and Divine talk at Queen Bee’s in North Park

Dark Euphoria leads to dim melancholy
Comments
2

I ate those as a kid, too. But not regularly. Mo mom still liked to cook the family meals. The TV dinners were definitely not as good as home-cooked. They were rather bland. Frozen food is so much better now.

Dec. 7, 2021

All that's missing is the dessert, a top-center square of Apple Brown Betty.

Dec. 9, 2021

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
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
Close