This past weekend, FH and I met up with a bunch of San Diego food bloggers to participate in a BBQ crawl. Our group consisted of Carol of CAB Cooks (who organized the event. Thanks again Carol!), CC from Pink Candles of Ridgemont High, Dennis from A Radiused Corner, Mary (and Jake) from Foodies: A SoCal Food Blog, Marie (and Dan) from Meandering Eats, and Leanne (and Travis) from Three Dog Kitchen.
Since I’ve been regularly conversing with these bloggers but haven’t met most of them, it was great to finally meet so many people at once, and spend a Saturday afternoon doing what we all love to do: eat!
I know nothing about real BBQ, making this crawl a great learning experience for me as well.
Our first stop was Coop’s West Texas BBQ.
2625 Lemon Grove Ave
Lemon Grove, CA 91945
Coop’s is located in Lemon Grove. I have to confess, in all my years living in San Diego, this was my first trip to Lemon Grove. On our way in, we saw the giant lemon, but I forgot to take a picture. You can see a picture on CC’s post.
One criteria for the bbq crawl was that the meat had to be smoked. Coop’s is a small location, but it was easy to spot when we saw this smoker outside. The owner, Coop, was really friendly. He helped put a few tables together so that our whole group could sit down and eat. Despite the fact that we took up most of his dining space and were only sampling a few items, he didn’t seem to mind.
It was decided that we should try the ribs and brisket at each place. We ordered two slabs of ribs and one pound of brisket.
I was surprised to see how much meat was in two slabs of ribs. Everyone had at least one, some seconds and thirds, and we still had leftovers. Included with the ribs were the rib tips.
The bbq here is served without sauce, though there is sauce on the table for your dipping pleasure. I loved that we got to experience the meat as is because it showed how well the meat was cooked. Coop’s advertises that it smokes its meat, and it really showed. The smoked flavor had seeped through all the way down to the bone. Having never really experienced Texas bbq before, I didn’t have much to compare it to, but I knew I was tasting something delicious.
The brisket was very tender, and the cuts were thick, which I enjoyed. Unfortunately, one pound ended up being about one piece per person. I think everyone wished for more.
For our sides, we chose collard greens and baked beans. I love collard greens, but I haven’t been a fan of how most places prepare it. I loved how the greens were prepared here.
The baked beans had some sweetness and some pineapple.
While we were eating, the owner offered to let us try some BBQ spaghetti, a recipe he was fiddling around with. Out came bowls of spaghetti, mixed with bbq sauce, and his housemade sausage. The sausages had a spicy kick and were quite enjoyable. In general, I liked the spaghetti, but it did pale in comparison to the other foods we had tasted.
Coop’s also served complimentary sweet tea. At the side of the restaurant is a container full of the cold sweet tea and also water. I forgot to take a picture of mine, but I really enjoyed the sweet tea here. It was sweet without being overwhelmingly tooth-achy sweet.
Everyone seemed to really enjoy the food here and we were reluctant to leave. I had a feeling, without even knowing anything about our other three spots, that Coop’s had ruined us for the other places on our crawl.
Our second stop was Barnes BBQ, also located in Lemon Grove.
Lemon Grove, CA 91945
This time we ordered twice as much brisket and less ribs, since everyone loved the brisket so much from the first spot
We were given some wheat sandwich bread to eat with our meal.
Our ribs were served slathered in sauce. I would have preferred the sauce on the side as I found it to be too sweet and hid the taste of the meat. While there was some smoked flavor to the meat here, it wasn’t as pronounced as at Coop’s.
The brisket was also smothered in sauce. The brisket here was served thinly sliced. It was nice and tender, but I preferred the thick cut served at Coop’s.
Our sides were macaroni salad and baked beans. I thought the macaroni salad tasted like the ones you buy at the grocery store.
The baked beans were extremely sweet, and contained bits of bacon.
Our next stop was the Barbecue Pit in National City.
920 E Plaza Blvd
National City, CA
BBQ Pit is located in National City. It’s a really big restaurant with lots of space and big tables. The ordering process is cafeteria style. You go to the front, order your food, get a tray, wait for them to give you your food, then pay, and then sit down to eat.
Instead of ordering slabs again, we decided to all get our own individual meals this time. I was hoping for a brisket ribs combination plate, but didn’t spot one. So instead Fh and I got a small rib plate. We also got a pulled pork sandwich. For the sides, we chose coleslaw and baked beans.
I nibbled on a rib, but I didn’t do much eating here. I wasn’t very hungry anymore, and the ribs weren’t nearly as good as Coop’s. I also was too busy talking to do much eating.
After this, we decided we were done ordering bbq, but could use some dessert. So we headed to the final location for their pies.
5039 Imperial Ave
San Diego, CA 92113
Huffman’s has been around for a very long time and serves soul food. I got pretty lazy with taking pictures at this spot though there were a lot of interesting pictures to take, including a wall of photos of the owner with famous people. You can view CC’s post for better photos.
Almost everyone just ordered dessert. FH and I shared a pecan pie and a sweet potato pie. They warmed up the pie before giving it to us.
I really liked the sweet potato pie. It was almost pure sweet potato and just a little bit of spices. The pecan pie was a tad too sweet for me.
Dennis was nice enough to get us all mini sushi toys. I opened mine soon after and set it up for display.
I had a wonderful time and hopefully we’ll be doing another crawl soon. It was great to hang out with such a great group of people and to experience some delicious bbq. FH has been hounding me nonstop about wanting to revisit Coop’s. We will definitely be going back soon to get more of everything we had and to try their other menu items.