Kirbie's Cravings

Brazen BBQ

It’s been a while since I’ve written a poor review of a place….

Coop’s BBQ opened my eyes to genuine Texas-style bbq. Since then I’ve been curious of other bbq joints that smoke their meats. Brazen BBQ opened recently in Hillcrest. According to their website, the owners slow cook and smoke their meats and have won multiple BBQ awards.

The reviews on yelp were mixed about Brazen. Many complained of their limited menu options during their soft opening. As a result, I waited a couple of weeks before heading out to check it out.

The way the place is set up, you go to the counter and place your order and are then given a number to take with you to your table, where you wait for your food to arrive.

Once we arrived, we were told that there were still operating under a limited menu and gave us a menu to browse. The meats we were most interesting in trying, pork ribs and brisket, were both on the menu, so I wasn’t too bothered by the limited menu options.

I spotted a family platter, that allows you to choose three kinds of meats, three sides, and comes with corn bread. I thought it might be a good option for my family but I was trying to gauge how much meat we would be given.

Unfortunately, the employee taking our order wasn’t very helpful. He wasn’t able to give me any idea of how much meat there was other than telling me “it’s more food than for one person.” I decided to go ahead and order the family platter, and when I selected my meats, at this point the employee informed me they were out of pork ribs that night.I don’t know why he didn’t mention it early. Especially since he mentioned pork ribs in our conversation at least three times when I was asking about the family platter.

So we ended up selecting brisket, pulled pork, and chicken hot links.  For our sides we chose cole slaw, baked beans, and fries.

At our table, we found two sauces. One was a little sweet, and the other a little spicy.

Soon after we were seated, our order arrived. The platter of food was a good amount for 3, and maybe 4 people, depending on how big the appetites are. We finished everything for our party of four, though if my brothers had been a little more hungry that night we might have needed slightly more.

Let’s start with the good. The pulled pork was moist and tender. It was probably the best thing on the platter. It wasn’t anything particularly special though and was missing a smoky flavor.

The hot links, like the pulled pork, were good but not anything special. They tasted similar to ones I purchase at Costco for our bbqs. I preferred the homemade chicken sausage I had at Coop’s.

The brisket was the biggest disappointment of the night. Many pieces were very charred. And it was dry, dry, dry. And flavorless. And I don’t know how one cooks such a fatty cut of meat so dry. It tasted like the meat had been sitting under the heat lamp all day.

Onto the sides. To my great relief, the fries were still crispy and tasted alright. Not the best fries, but better than the other sides we had chosen.

The beans tasted like they were straight out of the can.

Coleslaw was watery, and tasted like it was made from a mix.

The cornbread was interesting. It was very moist and had chunks of jalapeno inside as well. The outside was glazed with honey. My brother enjoyed the cornbread. I enjoyed how moist it was, but I felt it needed more corn.

We left the night really disappointed. I pretty much stopped eating halfway through because I wasn’t enjoying my food and didn’t want to stuff myself with food I didn’t like.

I understand that Brazen BBQ is still trying to settle down out and perhaps things will get better later on. But I feel that if they aren’t ready yet to serve good food, then they shouldn’t bother being open. Serving bad food will only result in negative reviews. Perhaps if, later down the road, I hear positive reviews, I may check it out again. But as of right now, I definitely would not return.

Brazen BBQ
441 Washington at 5th
Hillcrest, San Diego, CA
(619) 816-1990
Brazen BBQ on Urbanspoon

16 comments on “Brazen BBQ”

  1. The pulled pork looks delicious! So sad about the brisket, that’s one of my fave barbecue pork dishes. I was never really a fan of cabbage anything, and preshredded cabbage from a bag is the worst! I don’t know if it’s because it’s not fresh or if additives has been added to the bag to keep it “fresh” longer or a combination of both. Usually coleslaw is watery if the cabbage had not been dried properly before mixing with the dressing or the coleslaw is old. From the picture I’d have to say that it looks old. The red cabbage looks really light in color.

  2. Thanks for the review. I had heard about the place and had been thinking about checking it out but the negative reviews on Yelp kept me away. Was hoping there would be a good BBQ option that didn’t require a drive out to East County but no such luck it seems.

  3. I’m sad that the food here wasn’t all that great. I’ve been wanting to try this place out too – but the early reviews of this place weren’t that great so I’ve been holding off. Their cornbread does look yummy – maybe that can be your next bread recipe?

    Was the meal pricey? How was the parking situation?

    Have you tried a place called Smokin’ Joes BBQ? They used to be in the farmers markets awhile back and they catered a bday thing i had i think 2 years ago.

    The new blog layout is beautiful 🙂

    • The parking situation was okay. They have a small parking lot right next to them and some street parking close by. You can view the menu prices online on their site. The family platter was around $46 I believe.
      I don’t know why but Smokin Joes sounds really familiar to me.
      I’m glad you like the redesign. Have you tried clicking on one of the categories? It now has a visual category index which I’m pretty excited about.

  4. The meat at least looked good from your pictures but too bad the brisket was dry. I can’t stand dried out meat, yuk. And that coleslaw looks like something scooped up from the bottom of a barrel. Sigh…too bad. Reviews have been a bit mixed so I think I’ll wait a (long) while before I visit.

    • I was pretty mad at the brisket. Haha. Yeah I’m sad about how it turned out. i think my review was more tame than had I blogged about it right after I ate here because I was really annoyed when I left.

  5. Wow. I had a completely different experience there. Everything was amazing, We have gone 3 or 4 times with friends- they too love this place. Once, i admit one of the orders of brisket was a bit dry, the owner came by, asked how things were, when he found out he promptly took it back and we were sent a beautiful portion cooked to perfection. If you don’t speak up what do you expect? The owners are very open to comments both negative (in a constructive way) and positive. It’s how new businesses get better. It IS in fact their first ever establishment. John the owner, is usually always there, instead of negative feedback on a blog or web page, You might want to meet him, express your concerns/complaints-he really is quite a cool guy….

    • Well I’m glad to hear you had a good experience. Unfortunately while I was there, the owner did not come by so I did not have an opportunity to tell him of my experience. I’m glad that he rectified the one time your brisket was dry. It’s good to know they have good customer service. But at the same time, since I’ve read many negative reviews, it seems like the food is very inconsistent. I can understand if once in a while something gets messed up. But when a lot of people are experiencing bad food, then I think readers need to know what to go in expecting and see if they want to risk it.

  6. All I am saying is you should have asked for him. And said what you say here- directly to him. He can’t be at every single table. Give the guy a chance. Go back. Eat and express yourself to John the owner….I have read some of the Yelp stuff as well… Every business has negative comments, they are very very new. I think they have great potential, and deserve a bit of a break. Again, if you don’t speak up when you are there- How will he know?

  7. Hello Kirbie, I just found your blog as I was doing a search on Brazen BBQ. I am the owner of Brazen and would first like to apologize that your experience was less then great. I can tell by the pictures, and as you said in the article, that you came in a few weeks after we opened. As a brand new concept in a fairly good size building and well visible location, we admittedly did have our share of problems early on. We started off much busier than we anticipated and were not consistent with the experience that we provided to our customers. Our earlier Yelp reviews show that as they were all over the map with good, bad, and middle of the road. Us not being as ready as we should have been is something that I still regret and take full responsibility for. Since those first few weeks we have made great strides in improving in all ways possible to provide our patrons a great experience each and every time and I am very please with the progress we’ve made. I would like to invite you to revisit our restaurant to compare where we are now with where we were 2+ months ago. As Steve said, I always appreciate feedback, both positive and constructive. It helps us to continue to improve. Oh, and please ask for John, I’d be happy to meet you. Thanks!

    • Hi John,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog. I appreciate you taking time to explain the problems that occurred during your opening and your efforts to improve since then. Between your comment and Steve’s, I do want to come back and experience it again now they the restaurant has had some time to settle. I’ll make a visit soon and report back on the changes. Thanks!

  8. Be careful when sorting the bill when with a large group. The manager doesn’t have access to transaction codes in order to clear up pending charges on the spot. They have to call off site for the codes, and if it’s a weekend…your erroneous charge could be tied up for days waiting to be closed or posted for dispute.

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