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Barn House arrives as the last smoked meat standing in Lemon Grove

As a Texas BBQ joint closes, a new spot opens with dreams of Kansas City…

BBQ plates (clockwise from top left): smoked chicken and kielbasa, spare ribs, smoked turkey sandwich, and beef ribs.
BBQ plates (clockwise from top left): smoked chicken and kielbasa, spare ribs, smoked turkey sandwich, and beef ribs.
Video:

FEAST!: Barn House BBQ arrives as the last smoked meat standing in Lemon Grove


I had not yet heard that Lemon Grove was about to lose its best barbecue restaurant, when I walked into its newest. Last week, Coop’s West Texas BBQ announced it would close its retail counter on Lemon Grove Avenue, and shift its focus to catering.

Place

The Barn House BBQ

8099 Broadway, Lemon Grove


But I can’t pretend Coop’s didn’t cross my mind when, only a few days earlier, and just a few blocks to the northeast, I sat down to a tableful of the Kansas City style barbecue offered at newly opened The Barn House BBQ. This much larger restaurant takes over the space previously known as short-lived Italian eatery, InPasta, and in fact, the charge for my feast of smoked meats still registered as Inpasta on my credit card bill.


What used to be a large pizza and paste place is now a large BBQ spot


And yet, there’s no mistaking the changes inside. Frosted glass and greenery have been replaced with whitewashed brick and vintage auto repair shop imagery, and the gelato bar has been replaced with the promise of smoked cheesecake.


We needn’t get caught in the weeds over the differences between Texas and Kansas City BBQ, but so far as a menu comparison, Coop’s brisket, jerk chicken, and hot links are replaced here by beef ribs, smoked chicken, and kielbasa.


The availability of beef ribs are what convinced me to show up, to be honest. Most of the promotional press I’d seen beforehand highlighted the restaurant’s so-called Grove Burrito: “Smoked BBQ pulled chicken, BBQ aioli, fries, cheese, avocado, and pico de gallo.” Obviously, this is a BBQ-inflected take on the California burrito, and maybe it’s enjoyable. But I love burritos too much to sully their name with BBQ sauce, wherever it may lie on the spectrum between sweet and tangy.

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Smoked beef ribs


Unlike burritos, beef ribs are a rarity in San Diego, so I ignored the fusion and stuck to plates featuring a few BBQ standards: pork ribs ($26 half rack, $31 full), smoked chicken ($14 half, $25 full), and a smoked turkey sandwich ($16), to go with those beef ribs ($21 for two). Plus a kielbasa for $8.50 because clearly I was hungry. And the beef ribs definitely stood out as well-trimmed and tender, with subtle smoke and tangy sauce.


A bit more vinegar than I expect from a Kansas City sauce, but I prefer it that way, so approached my spareribs with the same optimism. These were not as tidily trimmed as I’m accustomed to, nor were they even chopped into individual bones. Rather, the half rack arrived with a layer of meat and fat thick enough to obscure any signs of the ribs themselves.


Unsliced pork ribs


Armed only with a plastic knife and fork, I asked that the kitchen slice them for me, thinking maybe they had forgotten. By they seemed more surprised that I asked for sliced ribs, than I had been to receive unsliced ribs. Maybe there’s a KC pitmaster out there who can straighten this out for me, but in the meantime the rib meat proved so tender that a plastic fork could tear it apart. Put that rib meat on a California burrito, and I may bite.


The Barn House BBQ game room


I walked away feeling that Barn House offers more highs than lows, but needs to add a bit of polish to its BBQ game. And I remember thinking, it will play second fiddle as long as Coop’s is around. Which wasn’t long enough, I guess. So, given that Barn House gets to move forward as the top BBQ spot in Lemon Grove, I’ll leave you with an impression of the restaurant’s secret weapon. It's not the (less intriguing than it sounds) smoked cheesecake, but the game room in the back. Head past the dining room to find a spare room featuring foosball, two pool tables, vintage arcade games, and walls covered in vivid spray paint murals.

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BBQ plates (clockwise from top left): smoked chicken and kielbasa, spare ribs, smoked turkey sandwich, and beef ribs.
BBQ plates (clockwise from top left): smoked chicken and kielbasa, spare ribs, smoked turkey sandwich, and beef ribs.
Video:

FEAST!: Barn House BBQ arrives as the last smoked meat standing in Lemon Grove


I had not yet heard that Lemon Grove was about to lose its best barbecue restaurant, when I walked into its newest. Last week, Coop’s West Texas BBQ announced it would close its retail counter on Lemon Grove Avenue, and shift its focus to catering.

Place

The Barn House BBQ

8099 Broadway, Lemon Grove


But I can’t pretend Coop’s didn’t cross my mind when, only a few days earlier, and just a few blocks to the northeast, I sat down to a tableful of the Kansas City style barbecue offered at newly opened The Barn House BBQ. This much larger restaurant takes over the space previously known as short-lived Italian eatery, InPasta, and in fact, the charge for my feast of smoked meats still registered as Inpasta on my credit card bill.


What used to be a large pizza and paste place is now a large BBQ spot


And yet, there’s no mistaking the changes inside. Frosted glass and greenery have been replaced with whitewashed brick and vintage auto repair shop imagery, and the gelato bar has been replaced with the promise of smoked cheesecake.


We needn’t get caught in the weeds over the differences between Texas and Kansas City BBQ, but so far as a menu comparison, Coop’s brisket, jerk chicken, and hot links are replaced here by beef ribs, smoked chicken, and kielbasa.


The availability of beef ribs are what convinced me to show up, to be honest. Most of the promotional press I’d seen beforehand highlighted the restaurant’s so-called Grove Burrito: “Smoked BBQ pulled chicken, BBQ aioli, fries, cheese, avocado, and pico de gallo.” Obviously, this is a BBQ-inflected take on the California burrito, and maybe it’s enjoyable. But I love burritos too much to sully their name with BBQ sauce, wherever it may lie on the spectrum between sweet and tangy.

Sponsored
Sponsored


Smoked beef ribs


Unlike burritos, beef ribs are a rarity in San Diego, so I ignored the fusion and stuck to plates featuring a few BBQ standards: pork ribs ($26 half rack, $31 full), smoked chicken ($14 half, $25 full), and a smoked turkey sandwich ($16), to go with those beef ribs ($21 for two). Plus a kielbasa for $8.50 because clearly I was hungry. And the beef ribs definitely stood out as well-trimmed and tender, with subtle smoke and tangy sauce.


A bit more vinegar than I expect from a Kansas City sauce, but I prefer it that way, so approached my spareribs with the same optimism. These were not as tidily trimmed as I’m accustomed to, nor were they even chopped into individual bones. Rather, the half rack arrived with a layer of meat and fat thick enough to obscure any signs of the ribs themselves.


Unsliced pork ribs


Armed only with a plastic knife and fork, I asked that the kitchen slice them for me, thinking maybe they had forgotten. By they seemed more surprised that I asked for sliced ribs, than I had been to receive unsliced ribs. Maybe there’s a KC pitmaster out there who can straighten this out for me, but in the meantime the rib meat proved so tender that a plastic fork could tear it apart. Put that rib meat on a California burrito, and I may bite.


The Barn House BBQ game room


I walked away feeling that Barn House offers more highs than lows, but needs to add a bit of polish to its BBQ game. And I remember thinking, it will play second fiddle as long as Coop’s is around. Which wasn’t long enough, I guess. So, given that Barn House gets to move forward as the top BBQ spot in Lemon Grove, I’ll leave you with an impression of the restaurant’s secret weapon. It's not the (less intriguing than it sounds) smoked cheesecake, but the game room in the back. Head past the dining room to find a spare room featuring foosball, two pool tables, vintage arcade games, and walls covered in vivid spray paint murals.

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