A visit to The Aero Club, Middletown’s legendary dive bar, just got a whole lot better with the addition of Space Kat BBQ, Youngstown, Ohio native Jack Zizzo’s food truck that’s slinging smoky chopped brisket, tri-tip, and pulled pork by the half-pound, sandwich, or full meal, along with bone-in chicken thighs and hot links. Tangy-sweet Texas-style ‘cue gets “a Cali flick” with Texas Twinkies—big jalapeno peppers plump with fillings like brisket-cream cheese or pulled pork-pimento cheese, wrapped in bacon and smoked until the bacon crisps and the cheese is melty. Get the goodness Thursday-Sunday from 4 pm until the bar closes or they sell out.
How to book: Order at the truck. Picnic tables are available on a first-come basis.
Buckboard’s Barbecue and Brew started more than three decades ago as a catering company, and their first brick-and-mortar venture is proving just as popular. There’s no brisket here, but they have another, hard-to-find barbecue favorite: big, meaty beef ribs, rubbed and smoked slowly until tender, plus pulled pork, tri-tip, baby backs, chicken, and links.
How to book: Reservations can be made online. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available. Order online for pickup or delivery via ChowNow.
Brothers Jeremy and Josh George are the yin/yang combo that brings some of San Diego County’s best barbecue to Poway. Jeremy handles all things smoky, gently coaxing the perfect depth of flavor with a low-and-slow approach that requires hand-stoking every 45 minutes, day in and day out, while Josh handles the front-of-house. Not only can you get whole, pulled, and sliced brisket or pork shoulder, racks of baby backs and split chickens, but if you’re lucky, burnt ends, the holy grail of barbecue, might also be on the menu. Of course, this being San Diego and all, you can get your meats burrito-ized, either at breakfast with eggs, hash browns, and cheese, or at lunch/dinner in a massive, California-style burrito that weighs in at nearly 1.75 pounds. You might not have room for it until later, but trust us, if the scratch-made Pecan Pie is on the menu, you definitely want a slice.
How to order: There are a few tables out front available on a first-come basis. Call 858-668-7131 or order online for pickup.
From the folks who brought us Mastiff Sausage Company, The Pig’s Gig features 12-hour brisket and ten-hour pulled pork, pulled chicken, and hot links, all smoked on site and paired with scratch-made sauces and sides. Choose your favorite by the ounce, in combo plates, sandwiches, loaded mac and cheese, and, since they add “California flair” to their Southern-style barbecue, there’s also tacos and nachos. A quick stop at Bottlecraft for craft beer or hard kombucha and you’re all set for a perfect al fresco lunch or dinner.
How to order: Tables are available on the Liberty Station Market patio, the Liberty Station Promenade, and NTC Park on a first-come basis. Order in person, online via Toast for pickup.
Sister restaurant to owner and pitmaster Andy Harris’s Grand Ole BBQ y Asado in North Park (currently undergoing renovations), Grand Ole BBQ Flinn Springs has two full bars, plenty of indoor and patio seating, and live music on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons. Central Texas-style barbecue is the draw, with succulent brisket, St. Louis cut ribs, Texas turkey, and hot links, plus a tempting lineup of stoner foods like Stimey’s Walking Frito Pie, chili, brisket or pulled pork nachos, and a trio of loaded fries. Wash it down with something cold from their two dozen taps or creative cocktails, including a nearly perfect Topo Chico margarita.
How to order: Indoor and patio seating is on a first-come basis. Order online for pickup via ChowNow.
Chef/owner Hanis Cavin, founder of Carnitas Snack Shack, expanded his horizons with Pioneer BBQ, and although he left San Diego for Spokane a couple of years ago, Pioneer BBQ is still dedicated to “barbecue, burgers and brews,” much to our delight. Choose from classic items like baby backs, smoked turkey, brisket, and brisket links, or novel takes on traditional barbecue such as Pork Belly Burnt Ends with elote relish and Potato Skins loaded with pulled pork, cheddar jack, and spicy chipotle ranch.
How to order: Indoor and patio seating is on a first-come basis. Order for pickup online via Toast.