Local Wally's Guide to San Diego

Local Wally's Guide to San Diego

north park

San Diego FINALLY Gets a Real BBQ Joint - Grand Ole BBQ y Asado

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GRAND OLD BBQ Y ASADO (official site

3302 32nd Street, San Diego (map)  |  619.213.3765 (Click to Call)

AT A GLANCE:  Funky picnic style eatery surrounded by smokers, authentic BBQ, they cook to capacity and when it's gone they close.  Best BBQ in San Diego, hands down.


This is it. Do not be afraid. Instead, rejoice!

I'm picky when it comes to BBQ.  Perhaps it's because in my former life I traveled to Kansas City a lot and got to taste the real deal.  After a plate of burnt ends or smokey St Louis ribs it was always hard to come back to San Diego. Fish tacos we nail, BBQ was more elusive. But that has all changed with the opening of the Grand Ole BBQ y Asado in North Park.

Grand Ole BBQ y Asado at first looks a bit, well, temporary, but don't let that scare you off. Real BBQ is all about the food and let's face it, San Diego can use a little more Portland in it's style. The menu changes depending on what they have cooked that day.

Oh the smoke, so delightful and delicious, I knew this was going to be good from down the block.

There are sandwiches (pulled pork, brisket, etc), of course, but you can also order by the pound and that's what I recommend. The day I was there the meats were going for around $18 a pound so get a half pound of whatever looks good and add a few ribs - you can tell them how many you want and they'll weigh them out.

Beans, pulled pork, more beans (my wife loves them), smoked turkey, cole slaw, potato salad, and pork ribs - and yes, white bread!

This is what I got - here's a quick review:

White Peruvian Beans:  Creamy, almost buttery, very delicious. These are NOT your typical BBQ beans. In fact, you put these in a fancy big bowl and you'll pay big bucks for these at a normal restaurant. Grade: A

Pulled Pork: Slightly smokey, tender, juicy, just aching for a bit of Carolina vinegar sauce which is on the side the way it should be. I'd like a bit more smoke so I'll give it a B+.

Texas Turkey: My wife ordered this and I didn't say anything but I thought this was going to be a disaster. Turkey breast is hard to do right but Grand Ole BBQ nailed this one, so juicy, so flavorful, I loved it.  A+

Cole Slaw:  Nice balance, not too sweet, add some jalapenos and it's perfect. B+

Potato Salad: This deserves an award, perfect potato salad. I could not have made this better if I did it myself. A+

St Louis Ribs: OK, the real test. The ribs without extra sauce had a nice smoke to it, a slightly sweet finish that suggested almost a bit of Asian flavoring, perhaps a hint of Char Sui flavors but not in a way that makes it a crazy fusion rib. No "fall off the bone" fail. Let me just say it - best ribs in San Diego. A++

And yes, for you sauce fans there are plenty of options from sweet to spicy, Texas to Carolina, and they are all very, very good. I also like that you can grab a complimentary pile of pickles or pickled onions or jalapenos to kick it all up. And sure, get a shirt to show San Diego you know good BBQ!

Yes, best ribs in San Diego!

OK, the close up!  Don't you love it that's not all smothered in sauce? White bread included so you can make your own sandwich if you want.

Smoking up some Beef Ribs at Grand Ole BBQ.

At the end I was so impressed I asked to see what was in the smoker and he opened it up to show me the Texas Beef Short Ribs. Oh my, I wanted them so bad but they needed a few more hours on the smoker so come back at 6. Dang!  The menu changes from lunch to dinner and Sunday's there's an Argentinian menu with skirt steak and chorizo and even blood sausage (don't cringe, it's really good). I haven't tried everything but what I had I loved enough to tell you to get yourself over to Grand Ole BBQ and be ready to experience San Diego's best BBQ. 

SUMMARY:  Grand Old BBQ is to Barbecue as Las Quatros Milpas is to Tacos. It's San Diego's most authentic BBQ joint and a must taste to believe experience for anyone who loves smoked meats and a funky fun dining experience.

Local Wally

Bite San Diego Review: Tasting San Diego One Neighborhood at a Time

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BITE SAN DIEGO |  619 634-8476

At a Glance: Culinary walking tour through some of San Diego's trendiest neighborhoods. Spend an afternoon sampling food from 4 to 5 restaurants in a small group of like minded food lovers.

Wally Says: Whether you're a tourist or a local, if you love food and love discovering new places to eat then this is your type of tour.

He cuts the cheese at Venissimo Cheese Shop in Hillcrest - wait, that didn't sound right but you get the idea!

He cuts the cheese at Venissimo Cheese Shop in Hillcrest - wait, that didn't sound right but you get the idea!

This is a pretty good idea! Bite San Diego is a food tour where you walk through various San Diego neighborhoods to taste what their restaurants have to offer. Started in 2010, BITE San Diego is an adventure for locals and tourists alike, really anyone who loves good food and wants to explore the San Diego food scene and maybe even learn a little history on the way.

What's cool about this type of tour is that you discover cool restaurants that you might have walked right by in your past. For example, Red Wing Bar and Grill in Hillcrest has been described as a dive bar by some, a crazy gay bar by others. I'd never been in but so glad I did after sampling their insanely fantastic hot wings, washed down with a giant PBR. Really, you like wings you need to get in there!

BITE San Diego has tours not only in North Park but Pacific Beach, Liberty Station, La Jolla, Encinitas, Downtown/Little Italy and Coronado. All of those areas have well known restaurants, places you've already been to, but that's not what BITE focuses on. Instead they find the eclectic and unusual, you know, the more foodie focused places that make you wonder why you've never been in before.

Walking to our next stop, Crazee Burger

Walking to our next stop, Crazee Burger

Mention Crazee Burger to someone who lives in North Park and they'll tell you that this is one of the best burgers in town. But I had never heard of them. That's one of the problems in San Diego - it's so big, so spread out, that it's impossible to have the insider scoop on every neighborhood. But that's exactly what BITE does - it shows you where the locals in that neighborhood eat, their favorites.

Our next stop was Berkeley Pizza North Park, a Chicago Style pie that has a crispy, buttery crust and lots of fresh toppings. Really great, authentic, and popular with the neighborhood locals. 

Deep dish Chicago style pizza at Berkeley Pizza North Park

Deep dish Chicago style pizza at Berkeley Pizza North Park

By now I was clearly stuffed. They call this a walking tour but you really only walk a mile and a half, maybe two total, over the entire afternoon so it's not like you're burning up calories like this was the Rock and Roll Marathon. So come hungry. Come super hungry, in fact.  But come on, our leader shouted, let's move on to the next stop!

We did a short pitstop to taste some lemonade at a coffee shop and then headed over to Splash Wine Lounge, a cool place where you can purchase a wine sample one ounce at a time. You insert a card, you push a button, and out comes your taste. It's a really great way to try some unusual wines. I wish Trader Joe's had this! And yes, food, more food, so much food that I could barely take a bite but there I was diving into a great flatbread. So. Stuffed! BITE San Diego says that this is supposed to be "bites', not a buffet, but really you need to be John Candy to not leave this tour feeling like you got more than your money's worth of deliciousness.  

So tourists, if you want to do something really unusual, if you love food, if you want to learn more about San Diego than the basic tourist stops, then pick a neighborhood and spend a few hours exploring the food scene with BITE San Diego. And locals, you'll love it too. Go discover a part of San Diego you might have overlooked - gather some friends and spend the afternoon on a BITE San Diego tour. You'll love it!