This past weekend, several San Diego food bloggers went on a BBQ crawl. If you live in San Diego, you might have heard a rumor that we don’t have “real” BBQ restaurants here. Some might even say that about all of California. Let’s just say that of all the BBQ joints I’ve eaten in SD, there hasn’t been a place that made me want to give up my smoker. It turns out that I really haven’t been to a whole lot of places based on the list I compiled of the most popular BBQ joints in SD. As a matter of fact, other than a handful, the rest of the places I’ve been to didn’t even peg on the SD BBQ circuit. Maybe that explains a few things. So the quest was on to find out if there is at least one good (aka, real) BBQ joint.
So what the hell do I know about real BBQ? Not a damn thing compared to those who are from BBQ country. I have eaten a lot of it though and I know what I like. The one thing I have learned is that in order for it to be real BBQ, the meat is slow cooked with wood smoke, not that thing we do on a gas grill on high heat. Oh and let’s not get into whether it’s “cue” or “que” okay? I spell it with the “q” but no matter the spelling, it’s the same criteria.So that criteria whittled the list down quite a bit and then locale narrowed it down even further until we had 4.
Canine Cologne of Pink Candles at Ridgemont High has already posted on the crawl so I won’t do repeat a whole lot and besides, her pictures are way better than mine.Her take on Coop’s, our first stop, can be found here. Here’s a shot of the pork ribs (rib tips in the back), collards and beans, all made in-house. I realized that I completely forgot to take a shot of the beef brisket but that went really fast. We had to do a trial and error when it came to ordering. BTW, the whole rack of ribs here is HUGE! We had quite a few ribs left over but then we were kind of pacing ourselves since this was the first stop.
I loved the ribs, good smoke flavor, tender and has a slight pull to it, the way I like my ribs. The beans were really good with a slight twist of pineapple in it. The collards were also really good and I don’t usually like collards. I liked the fact that the collards weren’t mushy or overly salty. Coop’s offer 2 types of sauces on the side, a mild and slightly spicy version, ketchup and vinegar based. What’s unique about Coop’s BBQ sauce is that they smoke the sauce in the smoker versus using that liquid smoke stuff. I could really tell the difference. I’m going to have to try that with my own sauce next time (hope Coop doesn’t mind). The sauces were not overly sweet and went well with the ribs. The brisket was very tender and the flavor went all the way through the meat. It was no wonder that went so fast.
Here’s a picture of Coop (Cooper) the owner stopping by our table to chat with us. He was a very nice guy, easy to talk to and I could tell he was very proud of his food. He was also very interested in what we thought about the food.
What was also cool was that he had us sample some of his BBQ spaghetti with homemade chicken sausage.
The sauce was the house mild BBQ sauce and it was good. Not sure I can eat a whole bowl of it but I loved the sausage. I told the Mister about it and now he’s jonesing for BBQ spaghetti. Guess I’ll have to take him there on a day they’re serving it. Coop mentioned that it’s a new item and they don’t always have it. So if you go and it sounds interesting to you, ask them to put it on the menu!
So did Coop’s meet my expectations by offering real BBQ? Yes and I’m happy to say there is real BBQ in San Diego. I really enjoyed the food at Coop’s as well as all the other bloggers. I enjoyed it so much so that I went back after the crawl to pick up dinner for us. I took home a half rack of ribs, a pound of chicken sausage and a pound of rib tips (only available Tuesdays and Saturdays). You’ll actually get some rib tips in your order of either half or whole rack.
Coop’s West Texas Barbeque
2625 Lemon Grove Avenue
Lemon Grove, CA
Tues – Fri 11:00 am to 7:00 pm
Sat – Sun 11:00 am – 4:00 pm