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Julian in the fall: apple pie a la mode

Mountain munchies

Maybe the hottest weekend spot in Julian: BBQ keeps the lines long
Maybe the hottest weekend spot in Julian: BBQ keeps the lines long

Sometimes, you’re thankful to just sit down somewhere. You don’t care about the food, the cushions, or the view. This is one of those moments. I collapse onto this bench seat among the ancient native pines — or are they cedar? — in the garden of the oldest house in Julian, among a zillion ravenous eaters. What a difference an hour makes!

Diane and I, together with our friends Kim and Pam, have just come off Volcan Mountain in the Cuyamacas. Me, only just; some vital part of me may still be up there. Not sure if it was altitude, attitude, sunstroke, sheer unfitness, the fact I hadn’t eaten or, more importantly, drunk any liquids all morning, but I am beat.

At first, it was a grueling but delicious climb. Up an ancient bulldozed track that cut through the trees, passing signs warning of rattlesnakes and mountain lions, then veering right to climb around the shoulder so that we got these incredible views out through red-barked Manzanitas to the valley below. The only sounds: our heavy breathing, and those ever-singing cicadas, sounding so danged happy.

Can’t say they didn’t warn you: a sign tells you how to handle a mountain lion

By the time we did get up to the top, we were hot, and, speaking for myself, dehydrated. “Downhill from here,” said Kim. “Then lunch, and the best beers in Julian.” He’d done this climb before. And Lawdie, he was right. It was downhill — with a vengeance. Problem: that can of beer he handed me. A victory slug. I sipped, and before I knew it, I was suddenly dizzy. Should never have drunk it. They say alcohol does that to you when you’re dehydrated. My legs started getting wobbly. I started leaning backward like a drunkard. I had to sit down again and again. I’d been the fastest climber uphill, but on the way down, I ended up holding on to Kim’s arm. It took the two of us what felt like hours to catch up with the girls at the trail’s carved wooden gateway.

I glugged the water we had left in Kim’s car, kinda swooned a bit, and then suddenly, there we were among these huge old trees on Julian’s Main Street. And I was feeling, yes, hongry.

Now, the four of us have dropped into a line with dozens of other lowlanders outside Julian Beer Co. It was the delicious smell of BBQ smoke wafting out that drew us in, across a deck to these red-fronted old barn-like buildings. And it turns out they are really old: one is called Bailey House. Drew Bailey, turns out, started work on this structure in 1869. His cousin, Mike Julian, helped discover gold. Got the whole settlement named after himself.

A century and a half later, like, today, Saturday, the old place is rockin’. Nice long line, so plenty of time to look at the wall menus. They have starters like cheesy bites ($9) and smoked wings ($14), salads like the Caesar ($8) or The Wedge ($9.25), pizzas ($18-25), or, what Kim’s looking at, BBQ. The Kielbasa sausage is the cheapest at $8.50 and a pulled pork sandwich is the next-best deal at $10, but you can go as high as the $28 Flintstone, “an extra-large beef short rib smoked low and slow.”

“Oh yeah. Ribs,” Kim is saying, “I’ve had ’em here before. And I’ll need them, specially after carrying my buddy’s sorry carcass halfway down the mountain.”

Our lunch: three sandwiches and a half-rack of ribs

“Only because of that cerveza you forced on me at the top,” I say.

“Sir?”

The counter guy needs us to get on with it.

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Sponsored

“D’uh,” I begin.

“Pam and I know what we want,” says Kim.

He goes for a brisket sandwich for Pam ($13) and a $19 half rack of pork ribs for himself. The half-rack is six pretty big ribs, which makes me half-decide on rib tips ($13.50 for smoked pork rib cut-offs with a sauce choice of Buffalo, habanero, BBQ, or honey mustard), but Diane pipes in. “Too messy. Get a sandwich.”

“Which sandwich?” I ask.

“You choose,” Diane says. “And, darling, sweetheart, no beer, please? You just about fainted up there.”  So hey, I order us pulled pork on toasted brioche sandwiches. It mentions add-ons like cheese sauce, onions, grilled onions, or dill pickles. Nice. ’Course now I see we coulda gotten a la carte meats: Half a pound of brisket for $10, or pulled pork or chicken for $8.

It turns that Diane’s warning against beer goes unheeded, but it’s not my fault. Kim appears with a Howl Stout (5.5 percent, $7), brewed right here on the spot, in this ancient building.  Diane lifts her eyes in an “I give up” expression. “To history,” I say, lamely, raising my pint. But it is delish, have to say. My eyes catch a little sign: “Buy the kitchen a beer, $3.” Huh. Might just do that, cuz those guys are definitely sweating it out back there.

Is the pulled pork sando delish as well? You betcha. Along, natch, with the Howl Stout. Kim slides me a little pot of BBQ sauce he doesn’t need. That clinches it. Pam’s happy with her brisket, Kim’s a little disappointed with his ribs. “Maybe it’s the memory of that fabulous first time. Nothing beats the first time.” He looks at Pam and laughs.

This is my first time. Diane’s, too. I love the pulled pork. She’s so-so on it. What she’s crazy about is the apple pie a la mode we have next at Miners Diner, 2134 Main Street. (Yes, we had to do apple pie. This is Julian in the fall.) Cost, $8 each. “Super-fresh apples!” she raves.

Out on the street, I feel more than recovered. Maybe it’s the mountain air, up where the rattlers and mountain lions play. Whatever, I swear Mike Julian’s town is a life-saver. Vuelve a la vida!

The Place: Julian Beer Co., 2307 Main Street, Julian, tel: 760 765-3757

Hours: 11am-8pm, Monday thru Thursday; 11am-9pm, Friday, Saturday, Sunday; Sunday breakfast, 9-10.30am

Prices: Cheesy bites, $9; smoked wings, $14; Caesar salad, $8; The Wedge, $9.25; Mountain Margherita pizza, $22.50; Bacon Blue pizza with honey, $26; BBQ’d Kielbasa sausage, $8.50; pulled pork sandwich, $10; brisket sandwich (prime beef), with add-ons like grilled onions, cheese sauce, $13; pork ribs, 1/4 rack, $11; 1/2 rack $19, full rack $30; rib tips, $13.50; The Flintstone (“extra-large beef short rib smoked low and slow”), $28

Buses: (warning: country service. Infrequent!) 891, from El Cajon Transit Center; also 892

Nearest Bus Stop in Julian: Washington Street and Highway 78

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Maybe the hottest weekend spot in Julian: BBQ keeps the lines long
Maybe the hottest weekend spot in Julian: BBQ keeps the lines long

Sometimes, you’re thankful to just sit down somewhere. You don’t care about the food, the cushions, or the view. This is one of those moments. I collapse onto this bench seat among the ancient native pines — or are they cedar? — in the garden of the oldest house in Julian, among a zillion ravenous eaters. What a difference an hour makes!

Diane and I, together with our friends Kim and Pam, have just come off Volcan Mountain in the Cuyamacas. Me, only just; some vital part of me may still be up there. Not sure if it was altitude, attitude, sunstroke, sheer unfitness, the fact I hadn’t eaten or, more importantly, drunk any liquids all morning, but I am beat.

At first, it was a grueling but delicious climb. Up an ancient bulldozed track that cut through the trees, passing signs warning of rattlesnakes and mountain lions, then veering right to climb around the shoulder so that we got these incredible views out through red-barked Manzanitas to the valley below. The only sounds: our heavy breathing, and those ever-singing cicadas, sounding so danged happy.

Can’t say they didn’t warn you: a sign tells you how to handle a mountain lion

By the time we did get up to the top, we were hot, and, speaking for myself, dehydrated. “Downhill from here,” said Kim. “Then lunch, and the best beers in Julian.” He’d done this climb before. And Lawdie, he was right. It was downhill — with a vengeance. Problem: that can of beer he handed me. A victory slug. I sipped, and before I knew it, I was suddenly dizzy. Should never have drunk it. They say alcohol does that to you when you’re dehydrated. My legs started getting wobbly. I started leaning backward like a drunkard. I had to sit down again and again. I’d been the fastest climber uphill, but on the way down, I ended up holding on to Kim’s arm. It took the two of us what felt like hours to catch up with the girls at the trail’s carved wooden gateway.

I glugged the water we had left in Kim’s car, kinda swooned a bit, and then suddenly, there we were among these huge old trees on Julian’s Main Street. And I was feeling, yes, hongry.

Now, the four of us have dropped into a line with dozens of other lowlanders outside Julian Beer Co. It was the delicious smell of BBQ smoke wafting out that drew us in, across a deck to these red-fronted old barn-like buildings. And it turns out they are really old: one is called Bailey House. Drew Bailey, turns out, started work on this structure in 1869. His cousin, Mike Julian, helped discover gold. Got the whole settlement named after himself.

A century and a half later, like, today, Saturday, the old place is rockin’. Nice long line, so plenty of time to look at the wall menus. They have starters like cheesy bites ($9) and smoked wings ($14), salads like the Caesar ($8) or The Wedge ($9.25), pizzas ($18-25), or, what Kim’s looking at, BBQ. The Kielbasa sausage is the cheapest at $8.50 and a pulled pork sandwich is the next-best deal at $10, but you can go as high as the $28 Flintstone, “an extra-large beef short rib smoked low and slow.”

“Oh yeah. Ribs,” Kim is saying, “I’ve had ’em here before. And I’ll need them, specially after carrying my buddy’s sorry carcass halfway down the mountain.”

Our lunch: three sandwiches and a half-rack of ribs

“Only because of that cerveza you forced on me at the top,” I say.

“Sir?”

The counter guy needs us to get on with it.

Sponsored
Sponsored

“D’uh,” I begin.

“Pam and I know what we want,” says Kim.

He goes for a brisket sandwich for Pam ($13) and a $19 half rack of pork ribs for himself. The half-rack is six pretty big ribs, which makes me half-decide on rib tips ($13.50 for smoked pork rib cut-offs with a sauce choice of Buffalo, habanero, BBQ, or honey mustard), but Diane pipes in. “Too messy. Get a sandwich.”

“Which sandwich?” I ask.

“You choose,” Diane says. “And, darling, sweetheart, no beer, please? You just about fainted up there.”  So hey, I order us pulled pork on toasted brioche sandwiches. It mentions add-ons like cheese sauce, onions, grilled onions, or dill pickles. Nice. ’Course now I see we coulda gotten a la carte meats: Half a pound of brisket for $10, or pulled pork or chicken for $8.

It turns that Diane’s warning against beer goes unheeded, but it’s not my fault. Kim appears with a Howl Stout (5.5 percent, $7), brewed right here on the spot, in this ancient building.  Diane lifts her eyes in an “I give up” expression. “To history,” I say, lamely, raising my pint. But it is delish, have to say. My eyes catch a little sign: “Buy the kitchen a beer, $3.” Huh. Might just do that, cuz those guys are definitely sweating it out back there.

Is the pulled pork sando delish as well? You betcha. Along, natch, with the Howl Stout. Kim slides me a little pot of BBQ sauce he doesn’t need. That clinches it. Pam’s happy with her brisket, Kim’s a little disappointed with his ribs. “Maybe it’s the memory of that fabulous first time. Nothing beats the first time.” He looks at Pam and laughs.

This is my first time. Diane’s, too. I love the pulled pork. She’s so-so on it. What she’s crazy about is the apple pie a la mode we have next at Miners Diner, 2134 Main Street. (Yes, we had to do apple pie. This is Julian in the fall.) Cost, $8 each. “Super-fresh apples!” she raves.

Out on the street, I feel more than recovered. Maybe it’s the mountain air, up where the rattlers and mountain lions play. Whatever, I swear Mike Julian’s town is a life-saver. Vuelve a la vida!

The Place: Julian Beer Co., 2307 Main Street, Julian, tel: 760 765-3757

Hours: 11am-8pm, Monday thru Thursday; 11am-9pm, Friday, Saturday, Sunday; Sunday breakfast, 9-10.30am

Prices: Cheesy bites, $9; smoked wings, $14; Caesar salad, $8; The Wedge, $9.25; Mountain Margherita pizza, $22.50; Bacon Blue pizza with honey, $26; BBQ’d Kielbasa sausage, $8.50; pulled pork sandwich, $10; brisket sandwich (prime beef), with add-ons like grilled onions, cheese sauce, $13; pork ribs, 1/4 rack, $11; 1/2 rack $19, full rack $30; rib tips, $13.50; The Flintstone (“extra-large beef short rib smoked low and slow”), $28

Buses: (warning: country service. Infrequent!) 891, from El Cajon Transit Center; also 892

Nearest Bus Stop in Julian: Washington Street and Highway 78

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