Phil's BBQ San Diego
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People like their BBQ a certain way. Some like it wet, others smoked. Some folks like Texas BBQ others like midwest BBQ. Whichever way you like your BBQ in Southern California one restaurant chain provides the goods better than anyone else. Phil's BBQ with 4 locations in the San Diego area offers some of the best tasting BBQ on the West Coast.
Owner Phil Pace started the restaurant chain back in 1998 with a hole in wall spot located in Mission Hills. The business built great word of mouth and growing local following due to the great tasting BBQ sauce and tender fall off the bone baby back ribs. Before long the small location could not support the demand of the public and Phil moved the business to a large location equipped with catering and event facilities in Point Loma next to the Sports Arena. The legend grew from their and Phil’s BBQ became a landmark in San Diego with lines wrapped around the restaurant to “get your dibs on the ribs”. We will get into the food here soon but it must be noted to always order the Onion Rings! They are the most perfectly prepared rings you will find anywhere in Southern California.
Don’t be scared by the line. The wait goes by quickly and the food gets out to you hot and fresh. The self serve restaurant reminds us of the old Sizzler restaurant chain popular in So Cal back in the 1980s. You wait in line to order your food and then get a light up alert signal to pick up your food. Phil’s BBQ employees a large staff that is their to help you pick your table, grab the utensils you will need and get your food for you. The staff is always friendly and helpful. If you want to avoid the lines and it isn’t your birthday go grab a seat in the sports bar and order your food and drinks directly their.
We have tried most of the items on the menu and can say it is hard to go wrong at Phil’s. The BBQ sauce is the star of most items. The flavor is sweet and not so thick it over powers the meat. The fall off the bone baby back ribs are the stand out on the menu. The BBQ chicken and beef ribs are plentiful and good. The sandwiches are all prepared to fill you up with some newer items that include combinations of beef and pork. The sides especially the fries and cole slaw are yummy. If you don’t want to get too messy eating Phil’s BBQ does offer a ribless and chickless choice to help avoid a BBQ face and sticky hands. The BBQ sauce reminds us of sweet and sour sauce you get at Chinese restaurants. It is tangy and best when hot. Phil's has their BBQ Sauce for sale at the restaurant and local Costco locations. I would recommned if using the sauce at home with your own BBQ meats to for sure heat up the sauce in a pan before pouring it on your food. The sauce is not as flavorful when at room temperature and since the meals are soooo big at the restaurant as everything starts to cool down you can taste that it loses some flavor as your meal cools. So just be aware eat it while it is hot!
The newer items on the menu include the Philibuster and Cheese Burger Po'Boy. These new items taste great again with hot BBQ sauce, but your stomach and appetite better be large to get this all down. The Philibuster is a mix of the BBQ broham, hamburger, onion rings and bacon. I know that you are reading this with your heart rate rising and wondering if this is the best choice on a health level... It is not! These items are delicious and a welcome change of creative BBQ compared to the more traditional choices. The Po'Boy is a cheese burger with BBQ sauce and Phil's fresh cut fries. Again tasty for sure but it is a lot of food and will not look good if you go into a physical the next day.
The BBQ tri-tip sanwich which was featured on an episode of Man vs Food in our opinion is good but not great. On the TV show it was the host's favorite item and the entire segment on the show was based around the Tri-Tip Sandwich. This is crazy to not only us but the management and ownership at Phil's BBQ. They are known and famous for their baby back ribs, BBQ Broham and onion rings. I mean lines around the restaurants are for these main items. The BBQ Tri-Tip does not get this kind of love and here is why... It really is not all that great. Is it good? Yes. However the ribs, Broham and onion rings are great. The Tri-Tip is not prepared the way many people are used to. When you think of tri-tip you think of thinly sliced cuts of meat that are hot and rare on the inside. Phil's tri-tip is much more shreeded tri-tip placed on bread drenched in BBQ sauce. If you are thinking that does not sound great, well it isn't. The BBQ sauce tends to over power the meat and since it is shreeded anyway it just does not have the same texture as the tri-tip meals we are used to.
The BBQ Broham is wildly popular and for good reason. This meal is shredded pork on top of cole slaw and layered in BBQ sauce. The char-grilled seasoned pork is not too dry and not too moist so it delivers. Again we love the cole slaw so the pairing of it together is an excellent choice.
The beer selection is wide and varied but the frozen tabs and iced out glasses make these ice cold drinks refreshing to the body and compliments the food perfectly. Phil’s also has some great specialty drinks and cocktails including Moscow Mules. I don’t know if this is an ideal BBQ pairing but the drinks are tasty. Going back to the beer selections the large selection is a good and bad thing at the same time. Many people will opt for the beer they know caus ethe restaurants do have the famous staples of Coors and Budweiser, however teh local breweries like the Coronado Brewing Company and Ballast Point offer so truly refreshing beers that pair marvelously with the BBQ meals. The darker beers on tap don't really do it for us and the double IPA beers are tough to get down. For the beer connoisseurs out their Phil's will have you drooling to try just about everything on tap.
With the exceptions of Petco Park and the San Diego International Airport, their are four locations in teh San Diego area to choose from. All four locations are full service with large seating capacity both indoor and covered outdoor seating. The Point Loma location is still the most well known and is the only location that houses an event center for private parties. Point Loma is also the oldest location, which feels still very new due to a 1 million dollar renovation that took place about 2 years ago. The outdoor covered seating to this location is okay. On both sides of the restaurant the outdoor seating fronts the parking lot so it can get noisy and irritating to say the least. The bar area is surrounded with TVs featuring local and national sporting events. Their is seating for larger parties in the bar area and the servers are quick to get your order and drinks to you. The main room over at the adjacent event center is relatively dark inside even with the house lights up all the way, but it has a warm home feeling to it equipped with a fire place and full audio visual plugins for rehearsal dinners or corporate functions. I will say the atmosphere in this room is not reflective of San Diego in general and feels like yoou are somewhere in the mid west which does go back to where Phil Pace is from originally.
The Sam Marcos location was the second location to open. This location is located in North Eastern San Diego. The size of the San Marcos location is much smaller compared to Point Loma. Much of the same decor makes up the look of teh restaurant. The funny thing about this restaurant is the steps painted into the line where you wait to place your order. The TVs at thjis location surround the entire restaurant and the bar area despite a renovation a little more than a year ago is small. Food and service are still top notch at this location and compared to Point Loma the traffic is not anywhere as bad. The outdoor covered dining area is situated away from teh parking lot so it is a pleasant dining area.
The third location to open in San Diego is located in Santee. Now many San Diego locals know of the not so pleasant nickname of Santee. Insert your laugh here now if you know what I am saying. Located in East San Diego this location is at the trolley station stop in Santee. The traffic to this location can get hectic for dinner and lunch, but again not as bad as Point Loma, however if you are a visitor to San Diego I can't really think of a reason you would venture out to Santee? Anyway service and food are great and the large bar area features massive TVs and the covered outdoor seating is far enough away from the street and parking lot the noise does not effect your overall dining experience.
The fourth location is by far our favoite location of the bunch. Rancho Bernardo is home to the latest Phil's BBQ which opened a little more than a year ago. While not as large as Point Loma or Santee this location's overall design both exterior and interior leaves an impression on you. The exterior features so relics of the opriginal Gold Finch location and consists of a large water tower with the Phil's BBQ logo all lit up at night. That alone makes this place pretty cool. Inside the outdoor covered seating and main dining areas are pretty standard. However the glass doors open to reveal one of the coolest bar areas we have seen in San Diego. The bar seating is abudndant and the main bar area wraps around about 90 degrees equipped with large TVs and a constantly updated sports ticker giving news and information. The glacier tabs sit right in front of your face and you can reach out and touch them to feel that freezing ice. The best part about the bar is it opens in the back to the outside where you can order and pick up drinks to enjoy ooutside which is perfect for the fast approaching summer months. This area though small and not covered is a great outdoor lounge area. The lines at Rancho Bernardo are not as bad as Point Loma and more in line with the other locations.
If you are in a crunch and not sure what location to visit go onto Phil's BBQ Website and under locations you can select to view their live camera streams so you know which locations have long lines and which do not.
This is one of the best reataurants in San Diego. The food and service are top notch and even with a bit of a wait the experience is worth it. Next time you journey to San Diego or are looking for a reliable fun spot to grab dinner Phil's BBQ is the standard. And the ice cold beer hits the spot. You have many choices in San Diego to eat. Lots of great spots and some tourist traps here and there, however Phil's BBQ provides a wonderful tasting BBQ joint. Phil's is also available for catering and events at their Point Loma location. Ideal for rehearsal dinner they are a fully stocked A/V system in the event center. Visit Website Now