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BVM BBQ Grill Pizzeria: beef brisket in a Charles Dickens factory scene

This eatery has been set up in what was once a post office for the Encanto region

Kevin’s brisket dinner combo. Unexpected star? The collard greens.
Kevin’s brisket dinner combo. Unexpected star? The collard greens.

“Eat hot to cool down,” my aunt used to say. “And drink hot, too.”

“What does that mean?” says my neighbor Kevin when I quote her to him on this stinking hot day last week. Auntie Ros came out with her prescription back on one of those Indian Summer evenings when I was a kid. I was hungry, but not that hungry, and certainly not for the lamb chops and boiled spuds and beans she was cooking up for us. All we knew was, the stove was making us hellishly overheated. Her solution was to keep up a mantra of: “Fight fire with fire. Just ask the Koreans!”

Beautiful mess: my pulled pork fries.

So today, neighbor Kevin and I are testing this out. We haul up to Lisbon and Imperial, outside this “BVM BBQ” place in the Encanto area, kill the engine, and feel the midday heat plunge in as the A/C shuts down. “Oh man,” says Kevin. “Sure hope they have air conditioning inside.” Uh, no. No air-con inside. In fact, you go through BVM’s open door and it’s like walking into the proverbial sauna. Woompf! “It’s 100, at least,” says Kevin. “Inside! I can’t believe it.”

Place

BVM BBQ Grill Pizzeria

625 69th Street, San Diego

“Hello!” I say. Don’t see anybody here.

“Coming!” says a guy as he appears behind the counter. “There’s only one of me. We’ve been having...problems this morning. The heat...” We’re in this big, old-school joint. Reminds me of a Charles Dickens factory scene from the 1800s. It turns out this eatery has been set up in what was once a post office for the Encanto region. Amazingly, given this heat, there are other customers here. “I was driving towards Spring Valley, needed some food,” says a gal standing beside us. Maritza. “I found this on my phone, and saw they did pizzas with, like, BBQ meat chunks on them. I thought that was original. So I stopped.”

Chris, working the brisket.

The real hero here is Chris, the one-man band behind the counter. He’s laboring away, dunking fries into pots of boiling oil, grabbing sides of ribs and cutting them on circular meat saws, pouring vinegar over collard greens, scooping out spoonfuls of frijoles, mac ’n cheese, and cornbread from buckets.

So now Kevin and I are checking out the menus on the walls. Mostly BBQ items, pizzas, and sandwiches. Whatever, we’re talking about meat here. Except, best deal? It’s tacos, mostly $1 each! Carne asada, pollo asado, adobada, one buckeroo. OK, fish is $1.75, and so are the pulled pork and pulled beef. But these are deals. Prices start climbing when we get to the rest of the menu. Six pieces of “jumbo wings” cost $7.99, a plate of baked beans goes for $4.99, and breaded fried okra is $6.99. They do sandwiches with BBQ meat inside, like the pulled pork or the beef brisket sandwich ($10.99). And under “new items,” BBQ “beef spuds” for $7.99.

Huh. Baked potato under BBQ meat? Sounds good, but it turns out it’s academic. “I don’t do those,” says Chris, simply. He does do pulled pork fries, or carne asada, or beef brisket, though. Cost $9.99 each. Hmm. And with the pizzas, I see what Maritza means about BBQ influence. They have choices like chicken BBQ pizzas, pulled pork pizzas, or brisket pizzas for $16.99. But actually, the dinner combos may be the best deal going: a three-piece chicken combo with two sides costs $10.99. A pork rib tip and chicken combo, including two sides, is yours for $14.99. Of course, in these temperatures, common sense says we should be having salads, or a cold soup like gazpacho. Sigh. Hope you’re right, Aunt Ros. In the end, Kevin gets the beef brisket combo with sides of mac’n cheese and collard greens ($14.99), and I go for the pulled pork fries ($10.99).

The meal plan is agreed!

We drag a high-legged table out to near the front door, and settle down in the shade. A slight breeze comes in. We get a couple of sodas and pay $26.92 for the lot. Not too bad; say, thirteen bucks each. “A little chewy,” says Kevin as he attacks a slab of brisket. “But you know what’s best? It’s these collard greens. I’m getting bacon, garlic, onions...these are the greatest!” He says he hadn’t even heard of collard greens before today. I had, natch, and knew they have been a staple in the deep south ever since slavery days, when collard greens (“cabbage plant,” from “col wort,” think cole slaw) often made the difference between surviving and starving. What Kevin’s tasting is the classic slow-cook of collard greens with garlic, bacon, and onions added in. Meantime, I’m chomping into my pulled pork fries, basically a mess of liquidy, rich, stringy pork on top of a pile of the fries Chris has just cooked in front of us. I don’t know how he does all of this in the heat, but it comes out great.

We could have gone for the basic classics: the full rack of pork ribs ($28.99, or half, $17.99), or meats like the beef brisket ($14.99 lb), but in this roasting weather, it just seemed like it’d be too much. And we weren’t wrong. When we finally head for the door, we are both stuffed to the gills. (Oh yeah, they did have fish, too, like a whole fillet in a sandwich for $11.99, or a shrimp po’ boy, also $11.99.) We head for the “cool” of the 90-plus weather outside. “Chris,” says Kevin before we leave. “You are a hero. I don’t know how you stand this.”

“You do what you’ve got to do,” says Chris.

We say goodbye to Maritza, who’s still waiting for her pizzas. “That’s cool,” she says, when we apologize for leaving.

“Uh, maybe not the best word, today,” says Kevin.

  • The Place: BVM BBQ Grill Pizzeria, 625 69th Street, Encanto, 619-586-6491
  • Hours: 11:30 am-9 pm daily
  • Prices: Full rack of pork ribs ($28.99, or half, $17.99); beef brisket, $14.99lb; fish sandwich, $11.99; shrimp po’ boy, $11.99; jumbo wings, $7.99 for six; baked beans plate, $4.99; breaded fried okra, $6.99; pulled pork sandwich, $10.99; beef brisket sandwich, $10.99; BBQ “beef spuds,” $7.99; pulled pork fries, $9.99; carne asada fries, $9.99; beef brisket fries, $9.99; chicken BBQ pizza, $16.99; pulled pork pizza, $16.99; brisket pizza, $16.99; three-piece chicken dinner combo with two sides, $10.99; pork rib-tip chicken combo (plus two sides), $14.99
  • Bus: 4
  • Nearest Bus Stop: Lisbon and Imperial Avenue
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Kevin’s brisket dinner combo. Unexpected star? The collard greens.
Kevin’s brisket dinner combo. Unexpected star? The collard greens.

“Eat hot to cool down,” my aunt used to say. “And drink hot, too.”

“What does that mean?” says my neighbor Kevin when I quote her to him on this stinking hot day last week. Auntie Ros came out with her prescription back on one of those Indian Summer evenings when I was a kid. I was hungry, but not that hungry, and certainly not for the lamb chops and boiled spuds and beans she was cooking up for us. All we knew was, the stove was making us hellishly overheated. Her solution was to keep up a mantra of: “Fight fire with fire. Just ask the Koreans!”

Beautiful mess: my pulled pork fries.

So today, neighbor Kevin and I are testing this out. We haul up to Lisbon and Imperial, outside this “BVM BBQ” place in the Encanto area, kill the engine, and feel the midday heat plunge in as the A/C shuts down. “Oh man,” says Kevin. “Sure hope they have air conditioning inside.” Uh, no. No air-con inside. In fact, you go through BVM’s open door and it’s like walking into the proverbial sauna. Woompf! “It’s 100, at least,” says Kevin. “Inside! I can’t believe it.”

Place

BVM BBQ Grill Pizzeria

625 69th Street, San Diego

“Hello!” I say. Don’t see anybody here.

“Coming!” says a guy as he appears behind the counter. “There’s only one of me. We’ve been having...problems this morning. The heat...” We’re in this big, old-school joint. Reminds me of a Charles Dickens factory scene from the 1800s. It turns out this eatery has been set up in what was once a post office for the Encanto region. Amazingly, given this heat, there are other customers here. “I was driving towards Spring Valley, needed some food,” says a gal standing beside us. Maritza. “I found this on my phone, and saw they did pizzas with, like, BBQ meat chunks on them. I thought that was original. So I stopped.”

Chris, working the brisket.

The real hero here is Chris, the one-man band behind the counter. He’s laboring away, dunking fries into pots of boiling oil, grabbing sides of ribs and cutting them on circular meat saws, pouring vinegar over collard greens, scooping out spoonfuls of frijoles, mac ’n cheese, and cornbread from buckets.

So now Kevin and I are checking out the menus on the walls. Mostly BBQ items, pizzas, and sandwiches. Whatever, we’re talking about meat here. Except, best deal? It’s tacos, mostly $1 each! Carne asada, pollo asado, adobada, one buckeroo. OK, fish is $1.75, and so are the pulled pork and pulled beef. But these are deals. Prices start climbing when we get to the rest of the menu. Six pieces of “jumbo wings” cost $7.99, a plate of baked beans goes for $4.99, and breaded fried okra is $6.99. They do sandwiches with BBQ meat inside, like the pulled pork or the beef brisket sandwich ($10.99). And under “new items,” BBQ “beef spuds” for $7.99.

Huh. Baked potato under BBQ meat? Sounds good, but it turns out it’s academic. “I don’t do those,” says Chris, simply. He does do pulled pork fries, or carne asada, or beef brisket, though. Cost $9.99 each. Hmm. And with the pizzas, I see what Maritza means about BBQ influence. They have choices like chicken BBQ pizzas, pulled pork pizzas, or brisket pizzas for $16.99. But actually, the dinner combos may be the best deal going: a three-piece chicken combo with two sides costs $10.99. A pork rib tip and chicken combo, including two sides, is yours for $14.99. Of course, in these temperatures, common sense says we should be having salads, or a cold soup like gazpacho. Sigh. Hope you’re right, Aunt Ros. In the end, Kevin gets the beef brisket combo with sides of mac’n cheese and collard greens ($14.99), and I go for the pulled pork fries ($10.99).

The meal plan is agreed!

We drag a high-legged table out to near the front door, and settle down in the shade. A slight breeze comes in. We get a couple of sodas and pay $26.92 for the lot. Not too bad; say, thirteen bucks each. “A little chewy,” says Kevin as he attacks a slab of brisket. “But you know what’s best? It’s these collard greens. I’m getting bacon, garlic, onions...these are the greatest!” He says he hadn’t even heard of collard greens before today. I had, natch, and knew they have been a staple in the deep south ever since slavery days, when collard greens (“cabbage plant,” from “col wort,” think cole slaw) often made the difference between surviving and starving. What Kevin’s tasting is the classic slow-cook of collard greens with garlic, bacon, and onions added in. Meantime, I’m chomping into my pulled pork fries, basically a mess of liquidy, rich, stringy pork on top of a pile of the fries Chris has just cooked in front of us. I don’t know how he does all of this in the heat, but it comes out great.

We could have gone for the basic classics: the full rack of pork ribs ($28.99, or half, $17.99), or meats like the beef brisket ($14.99 lb), but in this roasting weather, it just seemed like it’d be too much. And we weren’t wrong. When we finally head for the door, we are both stuffed to the gills. (Oh yeah, they did have fish, too, like a whole fillet in a sandwich for $11.99, or a shrimp po’ boy, also $11.99.) We head for the “cool” of the 90-plus weather outside. “Chris,” says Kevin before we leave. “You are a hero. I don’t know how you stand this.”

“You do what you’ve got to do,” says Chris.

We say goodbye to Maritza, who’s still waiting for her pizzas. “That’s cool,” she says, when we apologize for leaving.

“Uh, maybe not the best word, today,” says Kevin.

  • The Place: BVM BBQ Grill Pizzeria, 625 69th Street, Encanto, 619-586-6491
  • Hours: 11:30 am-9 pm daily
  • Prices: Full rack of pork ribs ($28.99, or half, $17.99); beef brisket, $14.99lb; fish sandwich, $11.99; shrimp po’ boy, $11.99; jumbo wings, $7.99 for six; baked beans plate, $4.99; breaded fried okra, $6.99; pulled pork sandwich, $10.99; beef brisket sandwich, $10.99; BBQ “beef spuds,” $7.99; pulled pork fries, $9.99; carne asada fries, $9.99; beef brisket fries, $9.99; chicken BBQ pizza, $16.99; pulled pork pizza, $16.99; brisket pizza, $16.99; three-piece chicken dinner combo with two sides, $10.99; pork rib-tip chicken combo (plus two sides), $14.99
  • Bus: 4
  • Nearest Bus Stop: Lisbon and Imperial Avenue
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