Is it myth or truth that white men can’t “Q”? (Got your attention? Kickle kickle.) Barbecue — meaning Southern-style barbecue — is a black art indeed, requiring a magical confluence of technique, timing, and taste-buds — and a smoker. A majority of America’s top pitmasters (including the Oakland and Chicago franchises of the South) are African-American. East Texas Q is different, with a whiter shade of smoke: San Antonio’s renowned German smokehouses, creating great bacons and sausages, have made a powerful contribution to Texas barbecue, and may have been the original inspiration for all of America’s smoked Q. Reputedly, LBJ (remember him?) was a great amateur pitmaster at his ranch on the Pedernales River, just west of Austin.

To barbecue fanatics, only smoked Q is true Q, not the suburban backyard “barbecue” of heavily sauced protein sizzling over briquettes in a Weber (much less, some newfangled gas grill the size and price of a used SUV). Direct-flame cooking is not Q — it is grilling. Southern BBQ is, first and foremost, smoking meat “low and slow” on indirect heat (with just enough air to keep the flame from dying out), over wood — mainly chips or charcoal nowadays — until the meat tastes smoky and the long, gentle cooking tenderizes the flesh so you don’t even need teeth to eat it.

Some pitmasters use a complex dry-rub of mixed spices on the meat (e.g., Memphis ribs); some use only salt, pepper, cayenne, and brown sugar. Others use a wet marinade, or a “mopping sauce,” as they call it in Texas, periodically swabbing the meats with a flavorful liquid throughout the smoking process (as done for a good Texas-style brisket). At the end comes “sopping sauce” — barbecue sauce — spooned over the meat, and/or brushed on to caramelize as the protein gets a final, crisping finish over direct heat on a grill. Not all sauces resemble the sweet-tangy, maybe-spicy tomato colloids like those from the supermarket; they vary regionally. Some (e.g., the vinegar-mustard pork sauces of North Carolina and Alabama) bear no resemblance to KC Masterpiece.

In the South, sides gravitate to soul food — cornbread, mac and cheese, smoky greens, sweet potatoes, peach cobbler, sweet-potato pie. In Texas (and San Diego too), they run to church-picnic dishes such as potato salad, mac salad, green salad, fruit pies. Baked beans and coleslaw seem common to all regions.

But barbecue in San Diego rarely has “black magic,” since, due to the relatively low percentage of African-American residents (compared to the South or Chicago or Oakland), it’s never become a regional specialty like, say, fish tacos. Our most popular purveyor, Phil’s, is not a real Q but a mesquite grill, finishing pre-cooked unsmoked meats over direct heat. So if you’ve got a Southern-schooled mouth craving the deep smoke, tangy regional sauces, and soulful sides of Southern Q, you’re generally in for disappointment. It’s not a question of race, finally, but of region. When Big Jim (now retired), a tall ol’ bubba from Alabama, opened his eponymous BBQ in Encinitas, he proved that those of the Caucasian persuasion can Q — if they have the taste of the South in their mouth.

* * * * *

Bull's Smokin' BBQ

1127 W. Morena Boulevard, Linda Vista

Frankie “The Bull” Terzoli isn’t a Southerner, but he’s obviously been there: he had me at filé gumbo and kept me at cornbread. A local who competed on America’s Top Chefs (came in high, didn’t win), he’s that rare San Diegan chef with some built-in Southern soul.

Outside the restaurant is an iron sculpture of a rampaging black bull. The interior has a quasi-Western saloon look. The ambient music is a tasty tape that co-owner Tony Iaquinta created, gentle Latin American sounds ranging from Oaxacan folk-tunes to Cuban and Brazilian tropicalismo.

On the patio (there’s only one heat stanchion, so dress warmly) a sepia mural depicts cowboys cooking over campfires, and a peculiar craft object made of an old wine-barrel depicts a well (please don’t drink from it!) with a big stuffed black bird (convincing enough that local crows sometimes attack it) perched on the pump. Quoth the raven, “Nevermore” — which is what we were saying about ever getting any food, until we tortured a passing staffer into disclosing the procedure: You place your order and pay at the counter inside (like a fast-food joint), and somebody will deliver it to you. Another secret: The restaurant’s beer and wine license is pending, and they’re being ultra careful, so I’ll hide the trick inside the curtains of parentheses, and take the blame — but please be adult about this and follow instructions. (If you must BYO beer or wine, be over 21, be quiet, and be as super-sneaky paranoid as a Nixon-era pothead when one ounce was a felony bust and the Feds were aprowl. Don’t force the staffers to notice what you’re doing. Eat on the patio, hide your stash in a backpack or the like under the table, and take your empties with you when you go. To get glasses, ask for water without ice — water is served in opaque cardboard take-out glasses. Unwanted H2O can go into the “well” sculpture. Really, these seem like good people, so please don’t endanger their license application by flaunting your sins!)

The owners understand the Louisiana custom of lagniappe, “a little something extra.” Soon after we sat down, Tony brought out a ramekin of andouille sausage in a sauce as spicy-sweet as Tony himself. (At the end of dinner, he brought another ramekin of fresh mozzarella balls seasoned with salt and pepper, as a palate-cleanser.)

The dish not to miss is the spectacular filé gumbo — thick, rich, emphatically piquant, dark as Hades, loaded with bay shrimp, shredded chicken, andouille, red and green peppers, and carrots, based on a foundation of deepest-mahogany, near-smoky roux (Louisiana’s long-cooked flour-and-oil blend.) Best filé gumbo in SD since Juke Joint closed, equal to Louisiana’s finest! Three cheers for line-chef Mike, who stirs that ol’ black magic nonstop for 45 minutes. It doesn’t include rice (no room for it in the tiny kitchen). No prob to me (who needs those carbs?), but it’s spicy enough that some may miss it. To soothe your mouth, the dish comes with a superb corn muffin (included on all barbecue plates, too) enlivened by sweet corn kernels and bits of jalapeño — so moist and creamy, it tastes like it’s been buttered from the inside. It’s better than Southern cornbread, which dries out even as it cools. (Grrrr-eat for breakfast the next day, if you can save one.)

Heading due north to Memphis on the Blues Highway, we tried a pulled-pork sandwich, made from smoked shoulder: tender pork shreds, less smoky than I’d like, with a good tangy sauce mixed in, served on Italian bread from Frank’s Bakery and Gibaldi’s in Little Italy, with coleslaw on the side. (In Memphis, the meat’s typically served on a burger bun, with a tall topping of coleslaw, but Frankie wanted to be different.) The lively coleslaw would do Memphis proud, sporting a thin clean dressing with no nasty sugar-added taste, just carrots for the sweetening. Well-seasoned thin “Cajun fries” come, too, although my friends in Eunice and Opelousas might wonder what’s Cajun about them.

The smoked proteins actually tasted smoky — if less than I’d like. The menu splits the difference between the deep South, where pork and chicken dominate the Q, and Texas beef country — and adds a California touch with salmon. The chicken is tender, and smokier than the rest. The pork ribs and beef back-ribs are also very tender — I could bite through one beef bone, which gave away that the red meats are pre-steamed before smoking — manager Joey Hoisescu later confessed that they need to do this since, as a start-up, they can’t afford someone to man the smoker 24 hours (as smoked brisket requires). Moist, tender, smoked Atlantic salmon (for health-conscious eaters) comes both on sampler platters and à la carte. Texas’s beloved smoked brisket is available only as a sandwich, which I didn’t try. (I believe to my soul that only My Ancestral People really know brisket, and Jews don’t Q.)

Aside from the tangy sauce in the pulled pork (and on the brisket sandwich), there’s little sauce on the meats, just a thin glaze. Frankie’s makes two sauces (“barbecue” and a sweeter “South Carolina,” contributed by a line-cook from there, plus one that’s a combo of both). But sometimes less is more: Authentic Memphis pork ribs are all about smoke and spice rub. You can get extra sauce if you can grab a staffer (or a squeeze-bottle from the counter). Service isn’t bad, merely minimal.

Entrées offer a choice of two sides. Elegant, roasted-corn salad might come from Avenue 5, Jsix, or Nine-Ten. Mac and cheese tastes like home-made mom-comfort, not Kraft, or some mad genius’s frightful experiment. Texas beans had genuine Texas flavor but undercooked beans. If Southern Q at its best can be bone-chilling thrilling, this isn’t quite. (For that, head to Barnes’s BBQ in Lemon Grove, my favorite local practitioner.) But it’s reasonably authentic, the vibes are sweet — and that voodoo gumbo is so thrilling, it alone makes Frankie’s worth the trip.

* * * * *

Lil’ Piggy’s Bar-B-Q

1201 First Street, Coronado

Lil’ Piggy’s claims to serve “Memphis style” Q. When Saint Steve (now moved to Denver, alas) ate there, he found the meat smoky enough and recommended that I try it, but when Sam and I did, we tasted no smoke at all. I don’t know what went wrong. They have a huge smoker fueled with hickory, running 24 hours, according to manager Eddie, who swears they don’t pre-cook anything — it’s all smoked all the way through.

Nonetheless, the meats seemed bland. The un-Southern sausage was an instant turn-off — what, kielbasa? The meats exhibited a range of textures: dry brisket, marginally tender pulled pork and baby-back ribs, chicken so moist and ultra-tender that even the bones were soft enough to chew.

The sauce, billed as “spicy Southern BBQ sauce,” is tangy-sweet but not what I’d call spicy, resembling the milder supermarket sauces. All barbecue orders come with white bread (just like at Southern Qs) and a choice of two sides. The sides are edible, but awfully Yankee. Potato salad features skin-on red potatoes with a mild mayonnaise-laden dressing. (A Southern one would add Creole mustard, scallions, and chopped cooked egg whites, with the cooked yolks blended into the mayo.) The coleslaw, like Frankie’s, follows the smart Memphis-style, thinly dressed and sweetened with carrots instead of sugar. The baked beans, with a pleasant molasses sweetness, are dotted with bits of meat, but the lack of smokiness in the meats negated the idea.

Since I was buying takeout, I didn’t invest in eat-now sides such as mac and cheese or corn fritters. Wish I had, because I liked Lil’ Piggy’s more than a lil’ bit better after trying the next newcomer on the list. This isn’t horrible food, but from what I tasted, it wasn’t great Q, and I don’t know why. So look at this as a preview, with final judgment pending after more meals. They did land-office business Memorial Day weekend, so whatever I think, Coronado loves ’em.

* * * * *

EMSTA College

11489 Woodside Avenue, Santee

The lighted sign in the parking lot reads: House of BBQ Dentistry Investigations.

The mind seeks to link these into a logical sequence: “The speck of charred beef rib the dentist extricated from the corpse’s molar sent Phillip Marlowe off on a quest for the perp…” Well, “perp” is right. This is a crime in the name of Q.

House of Root Canal calls itself “Chicago style.” By the time you read this, it may have changed its name to Chicago BBQ, per the owner’s plans. Does that mean Glencoe or Evanston? Because this is certainly not what Barack and Michelle doubtlessly enjoyed en route to Hyde Park blues clubs. I’ve tasted gorgeous barbecue in Chicago — and in Southeast San Diego too, from old Chicago expats manning impromptu street-front oil-drum smokers. Oy, this is not that!

I called to find out how they cook their meats: they said in the oven, then grill-crisped (charred, actually), no smoker involved. The meats taste cheap, with tough textures. On the table are two sauces, “House” (very sweet, which drenched our pulled pork) and “Spicy.” About as spicy as iced tea.

We started with a “munching plate” of appetizers — three mini baby-back ribs (sweet, no smoke), plain fries, curly fries, and battered zukes, mushrooms, onion rings, mozzarella fingers, and mild jalapeño poppers, filled with yellow cheese. All the batter-fried goods had coatings of identical composition and thickness. I can’t swear to it but have a very strong impression that they come machine-made and probably frozen from a restaurant-supply house, ready for the roto fryer.

The coleslaw was sweet, thick, heavy with mayo. Curly fries were good but the baked beans were bland, tasting canned. Meats? Flintstone beef ribs, stringy meat heavily charred from a caramelized mop of sugar-heavy sauce, added during reheating on the grill. Pulled pork: smokeless, chewy, coarsely knife-shredded (not pulled — fingers wouldn’t do it with this tough meat), drenched in sweet sauce but still tasting dry.

Otherwise, the restaurant floats between Italian and Greek sandwiches and Angus burgers. Bloggers on Yelp like the Greek chicken sandwich. Then there’s a “Louisiana Style Cajun Chicken BBQ Sandwich” — “Cajun chicken topped with mozzarella cheese, sliced bacon, and our famous BBQ sauce.” Sounds like a Churkendoose, but maybe Sysco is selling Redi-Serv cayenne-rubbed breasts. Again, oy. Whatever you order, the owner is evidently ogling the bottom line: You gets no bread with one meatball or even a full slab of ribs, unless you pays three bucks for it. Under “Italian Sandwiches,” there’s an extra charge for cheese or peppers. Now, on Mulberry Street, charging for peppers on a sausage sandwich could bring a scary visit from the Red Swan Social Club. In North Philly, charging for cheese and peppers on Italian beef sandwiches might get you the Bristol Stomp. Opposite of Louisiana lagniappe, it’s “We’re gonna get a little something extra from your wallet.”

If the owner’s Greek, he ought to be wary of the hybris of calling this food “Chicago BBQ.” (Hey, just make it a nice Greek restaurant, fughettabout Q!)

Frankie “The Bull’s” BBQ
(Worth a Try)
1127 West Morena Boulevard, Bay Park, 619-276-2855, frankiethebullsbbq.com.
HOURS: Daily, 11:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.
PRICES: Starters and salads $5.49–$8.49; Sandwiches $6.49; BBQ entrées $8.49–$18.49; Samplers $22.49–$29.49; Sides $1.49. (About $20 each for a shared pig-out).
CUISINE & BEVERAGES: Meats, chicken, salmon, smoked over applewood and mesquite chips, plus gumbo. No alcohol.
PICK HITS: Filé gumbo, pork or beef ribs, chicken, cornbread, corn salad, mac and cheese, coleslaw.
NEED TO KNOW: Indoor or outdoor seating. Order at the counter inside, food will be brought to you. Warm but minimal service.

Lil’ Piggy’s Bar-B-Q
(Too Soon to Rate)

Coronado Ferry Landing, 1201 First Street, Coronado, 619-522-0217.
HOURS: Open daily, 11:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. (till 10:00 weekends).
PRICES: Starters $6–$10; Salads $6–$11; Sandwiches $9–$11; Entrées $7–$21; combos $19–$40; Sides $2–$6; Desserts $5–$8; Kiddie plates $5–$6.
CUISINE AND BEVERAGES: Mildly hickory- smoked meats, chicken, etc.
NEED TO KNOW: No alcohol, but outdoor seating nearby to accommodate BYO. Delivery available on Coronado, elsewhere for large orders.

House of BBQ (aka Chicago Barbecue)

3959 India Street, Mission Hills, 619-298-7176.
HOURS: 10:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m. (10:30 weekends).
PRICES: Starters $3 (for bread)–$10, sampler $17; Sandwiches $6–$9; Salads $6–$13; Entrées $10–20; Sides $2.50; Kiddie plates $7–$8.
CUISINE AND BEVERAGES: Baked/grilled meats, fried pub-grub starters, burgers, Greek and Italian sandwiches/ salads. Wine, beer, soju cocktails.

Share / Tools

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • AddThis
  • Email

More from SDReader


One correction .. Lil Piggy's Bar-B-Q does serve alcohol. In fact, they have nearly 100 different beers to choose from as well as merlot and chardonnay. It is also important for readers to know that you can NOT BYO alcohol and dine in the nearby seating. Consuming alcohol outside of a restaurant is a ticketable offense, especially in a beach community. Finally, Lil Piggy's serves the best ribs and baked beans I've ever had.


I cannot believe you omitted Barnes BBQ from this list.

I never made it to their new, more central location so I don't know if they're still smoking like they used to.

You should make a trip out to see if it's as good as what you turned me on to.



Epicurious gives three definitions of the noun barbecue:

n. 1. Commonly referred to as a GRILL, a barbecue is generally a brazier fitted with a grill and sometimes a spit. The brazier can range anywhere from a simple firebowl, which uses hot coals as heat, to an elaborate electric barbecue. 2. Food (usually meat) that has been cooked using a barbecue method. 3. A term used in the United States for an informal style of outdoor entertaining where barbecued food is served. Id at barbecue.

meat that has been barbecued or grilled in a highly seasoned sauce a cookout in which food is cooked over an open fire; especially a whole animal carcass roasted on a spit barbeque: cook outdoors on a barbecue grill; "let's barbecue that meat"; "We cooked out in the forest" a rack to hold meat for cooking over hot charcoal usually out of doors wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Google BBQ on Google images and grills appear? Dictionaries as far back as the 1800's define barbecue with "gridirons" so what does this author know? Isn't she from New York?

You must have been at the wrong place...Maybe you went to the dentist by mistake and got novacane.



Naomi, I can't believe what you said about the Chicago BBQ. I have had there food and it is "GREAT" you review about it was and is dead wrong. To me it seemed rude and boarder line racist!! I don't know what kind of food critic you are, but it seems you need a new profession. You have bad taste if you think the food at The House BBQ ( Chicago BBQ) is bad.


Nieceev99, what exactly makes Naomi's review "borderline racist?" The play on "white men can't jump (Q)?" or the puns on "black art" or "black magic?" While a bit cheeky, I honestly don't see how her owning that authenticity of a cuisine tends to be regional and ethnically oriented is borderline racist.

You are incensed about your favorite BBQ place not getting the credit you think it deserves, so let's not up the rhetorical ante based on this peeve alone.

Instead, why not write your own review, in the form of an intelligent response describing your favorite dishes, and cooking methods, showing exactly why you think this place and its food deserves higher marks and merit? This way, you can at least attempt to back up your opinion that better reviews might be written.

Uh, ditto for posts #6 and 7. By the way, the spelling is "retarded," and you need to turn off your caps lock. We can all 'hear' you just fine with proper punctuation.

I'm still trying to figure out how a food review can possibly be racist...

Wow... That is all I have to say about this review. Way off base and I can see why a few people are irate about it (including my wife and I).

We moved here from Savannah, Ga. (Actually know Paula Dean's sons), lived in the south for 35 years, know a thing or two about BBQ and all other forms of southern food (oysters, crawfish and fried shrimp are staples along with the ribs). My wife used to work at "Stickyfingers" (a famous rib joint in the south) for years so she knows good bbq too. Recently stopped by the famous "Rendezvous" and "Corky's" in Memphis. In short, we know and love ribs--both rubbed and sauced and Chicago House of BBQ has so far been the best we have tried here in SD. We have brought numerous friends there and they all agree that the BBQ is off the chart. Not to mention, it is almost completely family owned (when they first opened, it was all family I believe) and operated and they are wonderful people. This is why I find it very disturbing to read this hateful review. I honestly do not understand how a critic can be so smarmy and condescending while at the same time trying to convey an authoritarian perspective on BBQ--the most blue-collar of cuisines I can think of! I have not been to the other places (besides Phil's) mentioned in her review, and I am sure they are all descent, but if you want to feel at home and enjoy some of the best comfort food you ever had, try them out and ignore this pretentious, un-funny, elitist critic. What was with the slanderish comments? Is she actually trying to put these good folks out of business? And if so, why? That is what I had to ask myself after reading this because it surely was not an objective review with comments like "House of Root Canal calls itself 'Chicago BBQ'" in the opening lines. Honestly, if you are trying to gain some sort of cultural capital to help you obtain more status as a food critic, don't do it by putting these hard-working people out of business with your snarky little witicisms. There are real lives at stake here.

If you want a real review folks, just ask the people that leave the restaurant after eating--they will tell you how great the food is. When you go there as often as I do, you also see a lot of familiar customers who are returning for the food (as well as workers from the surrounding restaurants coming for to-go!).

In regards to comments by SDaniels, my personal review is in the next message since it would be too long to submit if included here

(Part 2, for SDaniels)

I knew Miss Wise (ironic, huh) had no clue when she wrote bad things about the pulled pork sandwich--it and the brisket are the best I ever had, period (and, again, I should know). If you are not hungry enough for a full rib plate and try only one item, let it be one of these--loaded with sauce, meat and of course slaw, I swear my mouth is watering as I type!

The beans are homemade and wonderful, as is the potato salad and slaw. And, to take this reviewer to task even further, Pete, the owner, makes all the soup from scratch as well. If you get a chance try the split-pea when available--thick, creamy, very healthy and delicious!

Let's see, oh yeah, the Greek chicken sandwich and plate are incredible (why is the reviewer citing a blog for her own review, btw?). Tangy and spiced to perfection (again, mouth watering as I type).

And finally the ribs. If you like the Memphis dry-rub better than ribs with sauce, well then you will probably have a bias going into it. My wife, having worked at and managed an award winning BBQ joint that specialized in the dry-rub had this bias but she was floored by the homemade bbq sauce they had (both of them). The meat falls off the bones, and is as tender and juicy as can be. Again, it is the best in SD so far for us, and rivals our favorites in the south (besides "Sticky's", Bono's & Sonny's in N. Fla--very blue-collar and delicious).

When we moved here from the south 5 years ago, we had a really hard time finding two things: Good Crawfish and down-home bbq. We found the first in a place called "Bud's" (now in terrasanta--check it out too!), and now have our favorite rib-joint. If you want a fine dining bbq experience (sort of a oxymoron if you ask me), then this is not the place. If you are a blue-collar, hardworking, rib-joint loving person, give it a shot. If you are a snooty, elitist, cultural critic who claims to know "authentic" southern cuisine, yet finds charm in bbq joints with "gentle Latin American sounds ranging from Oaxacan folk-tunes to Cuban and Brazilian tropicalismo", you may want to avoid this simple pleasure.

(how's that?)

Well! First: Saint Steve -- this was a review of three brand-new Qs, and no older ones. Omitted, along with Barnes, were Abby's, Tyler's, West Coast, KC, and several others. To review them all would have taken at least 10,000 words, and I only have 2700 max. I did mention Barnes BBQ at the end of the review of Frankie the Bull's, parenthetically, comparing it favorably to Frankie's -- stating that it is actually my favorite.

As for the rest -- I don't think BBQ is haute cuisine, but still I see nothing wrong with having pleasant music at a Q. I must say I'm a bit bewildered as to how people from the south who know their BBQ can prefer oven-cooked and grilled meat with ultra-sweet sauces (But I guess one man's meat...) And at least the night I ate at House of BBQ, the meats were NOT tender at all! The beef ribs were tough and stringy, and the pulled pork the toughest I've ever encountered. Does this make me an incompetent reviewer? I didn't cook them!

As to the post about coming from NYC, that doesn't disqualify me from talking about Q -- not after numerous trips through Texas & Louisiana, and a few through other parts of the south -- including THE BEST, a fabulous spicy heap of ribs at the long-gone but never-forgotten Red Devil BBQ in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Plus 30-odd years of eating great smoky meat with vibrant, spicy sauces at Flint's and Everett & Jones in Oakland and at Brother in Law's BBQ and Memphis Minnie's in SF. So I won't recuse myself from talking about Q.

(By the way is Niece the owner's niece? You, too, could use a refresher course in spelling and grammar, along with Scout. I didn't intend to say anything about that, but the issue came up in some of the other posts.)

Naomi sounds like you have a personal vendetta against Chicago BBQ. Are you being paid off by their competitors to write such slander? I have not met a single person that shares your view. I and many of my co-works and friends meet there for lunch a few times a week. Service is always great and the food is so fresh you can taste it. A lot of heart is in that place and it's a family owned and operated business. I think it is a crime that you are permitted to deface a hard working family owned business especially during these tough economic times even if there was an ounce of truth to anything you said. Chicago BBQ offers GREAT food and EXCELLENT BBQ. I think you needed to retire your pallat. You've lost it!

Good restaurant reviewers are a rare breed, and I not only enjoy reading Ms. Wise's reviews, but I have learned quite a bit from them--and I was a cook and foodie long before Wise arrived at The Reader.

Reviews of restaurants do not make or break a restaurant just as film reviews (for example, "Dunc's" reviews) do not make or break a film. Well-conceived, thoughtful reviews stimulate us, teach us how to become our own best reviewers, and sometimes prompt us to try a restaurant (or film or music venue...).

The negativity of many of the comments posted above makes me uneasy. I mean we are talking BBQ. Not nukes in North Korea or the California budget deficit or carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Let's face it: we experience the same foods and movies and music differently. My taste buds are not your taste buds. And as far as I am concerned, Ms. Wise lives up to her surname. Week after week she provides us with detailed, amusing, intelligent--and yes, wise--reviews. Of course, we the readers are entitled to disagree with a review and to express our disagreement (best done thoughtfully, using concrete detail from experience, avoiding faulty logic and sweeping generalizations) without resorting to name-calling and insults to Ms. Wise's palate (yes, that is spelled PALATE).

I am not an aficionado of BBQ, mainly because I grew up here, where BBQ usually means backyard grill and bottled sauce. However, I have dined on some truly succulent BBQ with great sides a few times in my life--once in St. Louis, for example. Locally, I used to like Kansas City BBQ. In any case, if I were in a BBQ mood, and Ms. Wise were to recommend a place (whether it had Oaxacan or Bavarian music--who cares?) I might do well to give it a try. But if I did, and I disagreed with her assessment, I would not find it necessary to hurl insults at her background, her knowledge, or her PALATE.

Naomi, you keep on keepin' on!

Funny, I've noticed over the years -- the worse the food, the worse the spelling, grammar, and diction in the protests against the reviews.

Let's sweeten this pot: Here's an easy if sketchy recipe for making oven-baked ribs to be finished on a grill, so you can DIY what House of BBQ and Phil's do. For a more elaborate (7-hours) version, the NY Times Magazine on 5/24/09 featured a recipe for Weber-smoked, then oven-cooked beef ribs. adapted from a great bbq in -- NYC! This one isn't smoked -- starts in the oven, finishes on the grill.


Preheat oven to 250. Rub pork or beef ribs with your favorite packaged BBQ rub, or Paul Prudhomme's "Meat Magic" (adding some brown sugar), or just Kosher salt, cracked black pepper, brown sugar, and a little paprika and cayenne.

Place a rack into a rimmed rectangular baking pan at least 1" deep. Add water nearly up to the rack. Place ribs on the rack. Cover the pan thoroughly with aluminum foil, sealing it around the edges, and place in the oven. Bake about 3 - 3 1/2 hours for pork ribs (depending on thickness), 4 hours for beef ribs. (Check for tenderness with a fork.) Remove from oven. Ribs may be refrigerated for a day or two before use.

Fire up your charcoal grill or just use your stove's broiler. Reheat meat on the grill or broiler. When it's hot, brush with your favorite BBQ sauce and continue grilling until sauce is starting to char. Serve hot.

(Next recipe: Tennessee-Oakland BBQ sauce)

This recipe, devised by Michael Goodwin (reprinted from Totally Hot by Michael Goodwin, Charles Perry, Naomi Wise, Doubleday, 1986) mingles flavors from Brady and Lil's in Memphis with Flint's in Oakland, and a touch of E&J's in Oakland, too.


1/4 cup each butter and peanut oil 1/2 cup finely-minced onion 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced 1 cup chicken or rich beef stock 1 1/2 cups catsup 1 tsp. Tabasco sauce 1/4 cup molasses 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 3/4 cup water 1 Tbs. EACH lemon juice and liquid smoke 2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce 2 Tbs. brown sugar 2 bay leaves, broken in half 2 tsp. dry mustard 1/8 tsp. thyme 1 tsp. EACH paprika, cayenne, crushed red pepper, salt 1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper

  1. In large, heavy saucepan, melt butter with oil over medium heat. Add onion; saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, saute another 2 minutes.
  2. Add all other ingredients, raise heat, and cook at a full boil for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Reduce heat, partly cover, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sauce may be refrigerated (keeps for many weeks) and reheated when needed. Yield: 3 - 4 cups sauce.

Yes, but do the ribs fall off of the bones? Apparently, that's important when it comes to BBQ ribs...

Oops, I forgot to address the issue of Lil' Piggy's liquor. As mentioned, I just got takeout there. First time I called to fact-check, it turned out to be Memorial Day (Mondays are the day before my deadline -- there's such a thing as a holiday on a Monday?, and the poor overwhelmed server who answered the phone was swamped with people -- and noise that I could hear right through the phone. I'd guess that with the ambient din at her end, she didn't hear the question clearly when I asked about beer and wine, and said no. When I called the next day and spoke to the manager with more detailed questions, didn't think to ask that one again. (By the way, I did see a small group of people lounging around with beers at the Ferry Landing, not inside a restaurant. Maybe they were criminals.)

Rick: "I came to Casablanca for the waters." Official: "But, monsieur, this is the desert!" Rick: "I was misinformed."

Yes, refriedgrinto, the ribs DO fall off the bones this way! That's why you cook them over water and at such really low heat. I was amazed when the recipe worked on some ultra-cheap on-sale big beef ribs from Vons. By the way, something I thought of just now -- if you're not gonna finish them over wood charcoal (e.g., on a Weber), I think a little liquid smoke in the rub would improve the faux-Q flavors.

And -- I thank all of you who defended my viewpoint in these posts. I really appreciate the support under this sort of onslaught. (I'm used to it but doesn't mean I like the hate mail.) Funny -- y'all wrote with good grammar and spelling! So maybe the answer is, people choosing a BBQ should take a spelling test and choose their Q depending on their scores. Anyway, let me repeat St. Steve's message: Barnes is still the best of all.

Naomi, I was sort of poking fun at one of your detractors who, apparently, filed a stellar report on the very place you didn't recommend. My understanding is that "ribs" sort of includes the bones. My tongue was in my cheek when I posted the comment.

My father makes amazing BBQ ribs. While the meat doesn't fall off of the bone, the flavor is so amazing that no one seems to care. And he uses hickory chips. I miss those ribs. Your review made my mouth water just thinking about them.

To all the the people who left their reviews for their favorite BBQ place 5 stars to you. To the comments about all the misspelled words and wrong grammar, OMG this is a debate about "Q" people. Who spells anything correct now a days with texting. So you know, HA HA there will be a lot of misspelled words and messed up grammar from me and IDGAF.we are not in school, and this is about BBQ. Naomi let me start with The House of BBQ Review, You started off from the beginning to end very mean, Everyone has different opinions on BBQ, You like it smoked till its blackened and burned, a lot of us who are leaving you our comments today, like it broiled then cooked on the grill were it falls of the bone, I had it at Frankie the Bull, OMG yes it fell off the bone, but the bone also fell apart, YUK. When I bit in the rib I bit in the bone also, I wanted to throw up, But to each it's own.If thats what smoked is then Not for me. I was dissatisfied with Frankie the Bull, You loved it. So right here you can tell we have different views on BBQ. Don't hate the public for standing up for their favorite BBQ place, Give them 2 thumbs up. You have your thoughts on how BBQ is suppose to be made, and your readers have theirs, I think what got them going is how mean you were on House Of BBQ, You slandered them from A to Z and Mission Hills We stand up for are Restaurants, You got yourself in a battle, I love Phil's and House Of BBQ aka Chicago BBQ
People you can go with Naomi reviews or just try it for yourself, BUT the pulled pork sandwich is out of this world, FLAVOR... TENDER... YUMMY.. I'm craving it now, I'll be there tomorrow w my family... Don't want to wait in Phil's line, go to House Of BBQ, they are just as good, I love them the same. Keep the support of your BBQ people, leave your comments, weather your for Lil Piggie, Frankie Or Chicago, 2 Thumbs up..

The critiques of spelling and grammar do not serve your positions well. Miss Wise, your unbalanced criticism (in tone, rhetoric, and substance) was over the top and personal. Again, I question your motives in pinning such a missive. If I had the time to peruse your archive of reviews, would I find any as vitriolic as the one you crafted here? How many other restaurants have you accused of using pre-packaged, frozen items? How many others have you jokingly reworded their names ("House of Root Canals"), or flippantly associated their food with the neighboring establishments who share signage? Perhaps this is your style, I am not sure. If so, that is another issue altogether. But the fact remains that your words do have consequences, especially in these hard times. Good reviews have far less impact than scathing ones to the bottom lines of business owners--as I am sure you are aware. What is worse is that your attack was not directed towards some faceless corporate entity or large group of restaurant investors, it was aimed at an extremely hardworking family whose complete livelihood depends on the viability of this restaurant. This is irresponsible and hurtful.

I'm going back to Austin to get some Super Moist Brisket from Rudy's.

"The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd." Bertrand Russell

This is how I feel about the review for the House of BBQ! My family and I have been enjoying the amazing food there since they opened! I was absolutely floored when I read the review! How could anyone think like this about such a wonderful place, but then I told myself its just one person's opinion!

Ms. Wise, it seems as though u were bias about the House of BBQ the second you got off the phone with them. You wrote,"I called to find out how they cook their meats: they said in the oven, then grill-crisped (charred, actually), no smoker involved." The House of BBQ has never stated or printed on their menus that they smoke cook there ribs, yet you still compared them to ribs you've had that were smoked. Not fair! Plus you imply that you think a lot of the appetizers were store bought, frozen. Yet again, the House of BBQ have stated and written in their menus what is or isn't freshly breaded or homemade! Most restaurants don't have the common decency to even do that!

One of my hubby's favorite freshly breaded item is the calamari. I'm not a big calamari fan, but I tend to devour this amazing dish only at the House of BBQ. My two youngest children tend to lean toward the freshly breaded chicken tenders, which are excellent for those two finicky eaters. Plus, thanks to the house of BBQ, my youngest have now become a lot more adventurous in trying new foods. They see how scrumptious the food looks and ask for a taste test. They have added a few new items to their favorite food list, which has shocked my husband and I.

My hubby, our six children and I have eaten the ribs (just one of our favorite items on the menu) at the House of BBQ and each and every time they were so tender, falling off the bone. Mouth watering, to die for! We recently brought my in-laws, who were born and raised in the south and they were in love with the House of BBQ as well! Not only for the food, but also for the service and the wonderful hard working family, who put all their heart and soul into everything they touch! My family and I have never been to a restaurant were there was so much love and respect for each and every customer who walked through the door! My mother and father-in-law both had the pulled pork sandwich. They both were in aw of the wonderful flavors being playfully tossed over their palate and how tender each and every bite was! Just like my family and I had promised! Each and every time we leave the House of BBQ, we are happy to have spent our hard earned money!

Speaking of hard earned money, I was also extremely irritated when you wrote,“We’re gonna get a little something extra from your wallet.”.If that statement was true, then why would the house of BBQ give a complimentary cup of homemade soup with each entrées? My husband and I never ever feel that way about the House of BBQ! We are always happy to spend our hard earned cash with them, they deserve it!

So, we've all read Ms. Wise's review for the House of BBQ and it seemed to be more of a destructive kind of criticism, than just an informative review. Hence all the uproar. Either way, that's Ms. Wise's opinion. Just like what I have written is my opinion. Like most of the comments posted above, I also was irate and figured I should voice my experience at the House of BBQ. With that being said, let's not take someones word for it and just give the House of BBQ a change. Start of with a clean slate and come up with your own opinion of the House of BBQ, that my family, friends and I all love!

"A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows public opinion" Chinese proverb

ok, at the risk of sounding like a complete idiot, i'm going to go ahead and ask. will someone please explain to me what "pulled pork" is? it sounds gross. but then i am a long time vegetarian so i don't have a lot of pork experience lol..

Magics: Pulled pork is slow-cooked, a cut from the shoulder, so that when it's finished it's easily pulled apart. It's usually smoked, but can also be made in a slow-cooker.

For the other responses unhappy with the review, it's sort of curious in a conspicuous way that you all just signed up for a Reader account because of a review you disagree with. What's the big deal? If the place is so fantastic, then they have nothing to worry about. And if you're all somehow related to the place and simply trying to defend it, then it smells like maybe the review is right on target. In that smokey, tangy kind of way.

Refried, maybe this place has many people who care about this restaurant and the people who run it. i know I was floored when I read the Reader, I read the reader every week and so do a lot of other people, and yes I never opened a account with them because I never had a reason until now, So call it what you like.

One last comment and then I'm outta here. Dimi: I do NOT like it blackened and charred -- that is precisely NOT what you get at good southern smoker barbecue. Good southern barbecue is not blackened because it's cooked "low and slow" over indirect heat. But "blackened and charred" is precisely what I got at HOB.(And this was the first BBQ I've ever been to that didn't furnish free bread!) In an earlier post I passed along a couple of recipes (from two of my five published cookbooks) to, I dunno, maybe show how to do this sort of baked/grilled BBQ right, with a vibrant sauce that everybody who ever tasted it loved. (Dare I say, even HOB might benefit from the meat-cooking recipe, which is "low and slow" like Q but over water to tenderize the meat.

That said, henceforth I'm leaving the comments section of this particular review to the great battle (Armageddon? Ragnarok? at the least, Agincourt?) between literate regular readers who are arguing above all for rational discourse and are shocked (shocked!) at the tone of these posts, and the vituperative new mis-spellers and hate-mailers, who are apparently following the mad rules of argument that our mass media have taught them -- I mean Limbaugh, Gingrich, Coulter, Fox News, et al, plus their fave semi-literate governor who nearly came to a heartbeat away from the red button, Sarah Palin. This reminds me of those of her rallies where shouts went out calling for Obama's assassination. This is not the way rational people debate, folks!

Our country is actually owned and run by vast corporations, even with Obama titularly at the head of it. Tweets, twitters, texting are the latest toys to keep the people from actually expressing their helplessness and taking steps against it. In Karl Marx's day, he said, "religion is the opiate of the masses." Today, unfocused fury is the methedrine of the masses. And you can even find it in a plate of BBQ.

And being rational as well as very pressed for time, I bid this string farewell. Next week is the "restaurant issue" with no reviews. SDaniels, Millerowski, let's meet the week after that in the comments section. (Or go back to Sab-E-Lee and see what I told Fred, in a post that ended with a reference to Gorgons.)

Well, Adieu, adieu, adieu, as Jean-Paul Belmondo said in some French comedy or other.

Josh, is that you? Wait, no. Josh would never use the word "henceforth". Plus, the only Marx he would quote would be Groucho.


Some original tasty quotation, and one well-placed Marx. Sure beats random abuse of Bertrand Russell and ancient Chinese proverb. Have an excellent week off, Naomi!

"And if you're all somehow related to the place and simply trying to defend it, then it smells like maybe the review is right on target. In that smokey, tangy kind of way."


"Tweets, twitters, texting are the latest toys to keep the people from actually expressing their helplessness and taking steps against it. In Karl Marx's day, he said, "religion is the opiate of the masses." Today, unfocused fury is the methedrine of the masses. And you can even find it in a plate of BBQ."


Just a word to the "Un" Wise...I am African American, I am from the South and frankly I took offense to your article. I never judged the sauce, the taste nor anything else relating to bar-b-que based on the "ethnicity" of its preparer(s). Shame on you. You sound racist.

Just a word to Ms. Wise...I am a White American, I am from California and frankly I took offense to your article.

Is it myth or truth that white men can’t “Q"

You sound funny.

I am the first person (ask Josh Board) to point out hidden bias, whether cultural, racial, ethnic, class-oriented--whatever. I have attended race-sensitivity training, and pursued cultural studies, as well as having been politically active for easier college access for so-called minority populations. I can understand why a few readers might object to Naomi's use of the word "black," in her article, but if you look more carefully, you'll see that she is punning quite harmlessly on a silly film title-slash-stereotype ("white men can't jump"), and employing a couple of puns such as "black magic" and "black art," that--while possibly unfortunate, are hardly the work of a flaming racist--in fact, she is complimentary as well as tongue-in-cheek.

It simply isn't worth it, folk--there are so many people you can pick on who are indeed full of hatred and dangerous rhetoric--and they are not hard to find. So let's not conflate this issue with outrage over the BBQ issue.

bjones_48, I am of Hawaiian and German-dutch background, and I love reading about as well as eating the ethnic cookery of my relatives and ancestors. Ethnic groups settle in geographical locations, which influences styles of cooking and availability of ingredients to a given cuisine. What is so racist about pointing that out?

Naomi is NOT seriously implying that all African-Americans are necessarily good BBQ cooks, but she is, as a food reviewer, serious about good, authentic cuisine. She opines honestly when she thinks an establishment has not risen to expectations she has acquired exactly from eating a variety of the aforementioned authentic cuisines.

All that said, sheesh. I don't eat factory-farmed meats, or BBQ anything that doesn't swim sustainably in the sea. So let's hear about the real issue here, folks. Educate us on your BBQ passions.

im a little shocked. i thought the ribs were awesome. i could not believe how tender they were and also had a great balance in flavors.

we shared the ribs with a greek salad. In addition, our waitress served us a complimentary cup of the Chef's homemade lemon soup and it was OUTSTANDING! Naturally anything for "free" should taste great, however the cost had no effect on the taste. i would highly recommend it.

The greek salad lacked nothing and it came with anchovies which is rarity in other establishments.

We sat near the bar and i heard nothing but heart felt compliments.

i would recommend it,, the price is right and the food was very good.

SDaniels, I know of the movie White Men Can't Jump, and I was joking with Naomi. Making fun of the uber sensitive idiots that are always pulling the race whine.

I know, Ponzi--got and understood your mock of previous post--mine was directed elsewhere ;) I may be an uber-sensitive (hey, where's my umlaut!?) myself, but am irritated at slander (at worst), and ignorant, lazy wolf-crying (at 'best').

I'm back after all because, amidst all the sturm and drang of this battle (House of BBQ vs. Civilized Discourse) I'm bugged that I forgot to address the post of hardcorefiend, and the spelling of Dini. Yes, hardcore, of course I know that "bbq" also applies to all the world of grilled meats (from shashlik to shawarma to jerk to cabrito al pastor to yukiniki, et al). However, in America, RESTAURANTS that call themselves "BBQs" are nearly always smoker Qs. Two examples: The current "BBQ" issue of Bon Appetit is dominated by Steve Raichlen's recipes for BBQ around the world -- meaning, wood or charcoal-grilled foods -- BUT in Bon Ap's list of "hottest 10 new BBQs in America," at least 9 of them are smoker-Qs, the tenth a "pit-roaster," not a grill. Similarly, the current issue of Savoir magazine is devoted to the cuisine of Texas and written by Texas' leading food writers. Every single one of them who wrote an article dealing even peripherally with these issues was careful and precise about referring to open-fire cooking as "grilling" and smoker cooking as "BBQ."

The major exceptions are, of course, Asian BBQ restaurants like Korean, Thai and Japanese BBQs, and specifically identified "cowboy barbecues," like the excellent one (Dornan's Chuck Wagon) in Moose, Wyoming (right across the street from Grand Teton National Park) that serves cowboy stews and steaks sizzled over an open wood-fire. It's an absolute "must" if you're camping in the Tetons, really fun, even though they got rid of all the cute little prairie dogs that used to come begging for bites. But you'll notice it doesn't call itself a "BBQ," it calls itself a "Chuck Wagon," and has done so for time immemorial.

Also, Dimi, I'm bothered by what your quote says about you and your prospects in life: "Who spells anything correct now a days with texting. So you know, HA HA there will be a lot of misspelled words and messed up grammar from me and IDGAF.we are not in school, and this is about BBQ." Sorry, Dimi, people with jobs that pay decent money don't text -- unless they're in the moribund blue collar field or earning mimimum hourly at McD's or Walmart. In real jobs (vs. McJobs) you still have to use grammatical, properly spelled written language for e-mail, memos, business letters, written procedures, etc. (especially in the new global marketplace, where you have to write clear, standard English that ESL people in other countries can understand.) You (and Scott) couldn't make it with your lack of language skills. And BTW, that 4th-grader schoolyard "HA HA" is really not the way to gloat in writing. Grownups manage it far more subtly. So, true, you're not in school any more. That's too bad, because you should be. You're shooting yourself in both knees for life, professionally, with your attitude toward literacy. Back to school is just where you should go.


Pay no mind to the onslaught of comments regarding House of BBQ. The same people flooded Chowhound and Yelp when bad reviews were posted, and it turned out that they were all from people that work at House of BBQ or are related to the owners.

The place is as far from BBQ as possible, and as far from quality food as possible.

I just wonder why theese poor choices for bbq are getting all this attention. You all must be sheltered down in San Diego. Up here in the North County we have a place called Brett'BBQ in Encinitas. By far the best bbq in So Cal. Smoked with hickorey from start to finish. The way it's supposed to be and done by a white dude no less. If you want the real deal. Smoke rings, Bark, Good ole hickory goodness. Brett's is what you all need. Wake up and smell the smoke.

"...Sorry, Dimi, people with jobs that pay decent money don't text -- unless they're in the moribund blue collar field or earning mimimum hourly at McD's or Walmart. In real jobs (vs. McJobs) you still have to use grammatical, properly spelled written language for e-mail, memos, business letters, written procedures, etc..."

REALLY??? so if we text we are lowlifes, basically is what you're hinting at..

I don't have much of an opinion on the BBQ...people have different tastes, including the reviewer. No big deal. But, I find myself once again in a position to point out that I am a licensed nurse, and a middle aged one at that, and I LOVE texting. What is wrong with that?? I think what Dimi might have been trying to say, i could be wrong, is that with the limited number of characters allotted to us in one single text message, abbreviations are necessary. (IDGAF -lol) See...there's one now. In the medical field, documentation is FULL of abbreviations. I understand what you're saying about the necessity for "grammatical properly spelled written language"...but it doesn't make those of us who like to text next to the bottom of the food chain. Review that. Just my thoughts D

Its funny how this review got so much attention,I don't understand though why Naomi and her loyal followers have to make fun of all the comments from this review that Naomi brought to us.

I think its great Naomi that you have your loyal fans, as well as House of BBQ has their loyal customers ,You don't have to justify yourself to every comment. Remember you write many columns and restaurant reviews to get a reaction from your audience, I think your a great writer and you bring to us in the reader many good stories to read,I believe that this last restaurant review you did was just hurtful and mean, maybe you had a bad experience at HOB, I believe your getting all this response because It was the way you attacked this restaurant. We are only giving our review on this restaurant after reading your review and then you attack us and say:
That said, henceforth I'm leaving the comments section of this particular review to the great battle (Armageddon? Ragnarok? at the least, Agincourt?) between literate regular readers who are arguing above all for rational discourse and are shocked (shocked!) at the tone of these posts, and the vituperative new mis-spellers and hate-mailers, who are apparently following the mad rules of argument that our mass media have taught them -- I mean Limbaugh, Gingrich, Coulter, Fox News, et al, plus their fave semi-literate governor who nearly came to a heartbeat away from the red button, Sarah Palin. This reminds me of those of her rallies where shouts went out calling for Obama's assassination. This is not the way rational people debate, folks!

Our country is actually owned and run by vast corporations, even with Obama titularly at the head of it. Tweets, twitters, texting are the latest toys to keep the people from actually expressing their helplessness and taking steps against it. In Karl Marx's day, he said, "religion is the opiate of the masses." Today, unfocused fury is the methedrine of the masses. And you can even find it in a plate of BBQ.

I understand what is going on in this world, My son is in South Baghdad for our country, I watch CNN everyday like it's my bible. But we are only responding to a review you wrote Also I want to add that I Make over 90 thousand a year I own my own business

"I understand what is going on in this world, My son is in South Baghdad for our country, I watch CNN everyday like it's my bible. But we are only responding to a review you wrote Also I want to add that I Make over 90 thousand a year I own my own business"

Apparently, this is very important information when it comes to reviewing food, or in the rebuttal of such reviews. Heck, I have two sons in the Army, one in Iraq and another is Korea - do I get extra credit? I don't make ninety grand so perhaps I'm disqualified from food review comments. Oh snap. If I make more money am I in the club?

I'm done with this.. it's a never ending battle..We are all making something out of nothing.. My last response was because Naomi assumed I was under educated and didn't care nothing of what was going on in this world, It has nothing to do with brownie points.

Have a Good night, God Bless you and your family.. You have the best thing in life better then all the money in the world You have American Heros.

dimi: It isn't right to qualify your comments based on what you make or your kids overseas. Say what's on your mind. That's all there is to it.

Some or even half of the attention attracted to this review happened because certain disgruntled HOB commenters decided to accuse Ms. Wise of racism. As a pesce-tarian, I have not much to do with hardcore BBQ, but as a reasonable Reader reader, I cannot stand slander where unwarranted. Slanderous accusation of racism differs greatly from the substance of an honest, negative review.

I also disagree with those who find it objectionable that a food critic should deliver a negative review of a restaurant. Reviewers, whether literary, theatric, food, etc. --review-- negatively and positively, as their experience on the night or nights in question dictates. Take what you like and leave the rest. It is a serving 'suggestion.'

Naomi Wise is not out to ruin anyone's business, but she is honest and as passionate about food as a critic should be about her subject. People, critics are famously un-bribe-able (picture scene from The Producers with Zero Mostel and horrified theatre crtic: "...and there's a lot more where that came from, too bub." They are about as purely disinterested as you can get. However, she would probably be the first to say hey, don't take my word alone--go experience for yourself.

Grammar and spelling: Yes, we all know texting is here to stay, at least until more immediate forms of gratification, such as holographs-- replace it. Yes, it makes my job teaching in the field of literature, language, and business communications, increasingly difficult, especially when it comes to basic business communications. "Thru" is not a word--no matter what the fast food lanes claim. We must use words to communicate our opinions effectively, lest they be dismissed. But it isn't just the texting terms: "I almost threw up" is not appropriate to a food review. Mourn the loss of literacy.

Sympathies and hopes to those with children at war. Many of my students are enlisted and stationed abroad, and I am glad to have them from across the distance, Okinawa or Iraq. But you are right--this also has nothing to do with Q, or with food reviewing--no more than does the content of our bank accounts.

Holy hot sauce Batman! Wasn't this supposed to be a restaurant review? All I have to say is, no one better be pickin' on my peeps (SDaniels, Magicsfive, refriedgringo, etc.) ... or when I return to town there will be deep fried finger licking hell to pay. :)

Can't we all just get along? lol....

LALLAW!!!!! you're back!! yay..just in time. email via the reader will be forthcoming...xoxo

Well, you know how they tend to fall off the bone, heh heh.

good night friends zzZZzz sweet dreams :)

Oh, on the matter of the liquor license. Did you actually see the large ABC application in the window? Because for some reason, I feel they will never get a liquor license.

Hey, no matter what you write, you can't please EVERYONE! Remember some of the Eleanor Widmer articles in the READER? Of course if you are a "transplanted newcomer" you weren't HERE then and wouldn't know who she was. Too bad!

I don't know what makes me sadder -- sorry ass no-count bbq or the sad state of American literacy.

My vote for saddest, for what it's worth: The sad state of American literacy. BBQ is relative to one's taste, literacy - or the lack thereof - is a damned shame.

[insert death knell here]

Believe me, no one is sadder about it than those of us who love language, and happen to try and make a living from it.

Silvergate1, I enjoyed some of Widmer's articles, and appreciated her writing, but am happy to have a reviewer with more expansive, adventurous, ethnic, and updated tastes.

As far as sneaking in alcoholic beverages into any eating establishment:

A restaurant cannot allow anyone to consume alcoholic beverages if the owner doesn't have an ABC license, regardless of whether the alcohol is provided by the restaurant or by the customer.

Section 25604 of the state Business and Professions Code, enacted in 1955, says -- in part -- that it constitutes a "public nuisance," punishable by law, to maintain any "club room" or "premises" on which "any alcoholic beverage is received or kept, or to which any alcoholic beverage is brought, for consumption on the premises by a member of the public unless the person and premises are licensed under this division."

But the ABC "basically turns a blind eye unless someone complains," says Baxter Rice, the agency's director from 1976 to 1983 and now an alcohol license consultant.

Rival restaurateurs. Neighbors who don't like the noise and traffic that a restaurant brings. Neo-Prohibitionists and bluenose busybodies who think any alcohol is the devil's brew. Anyone with a grudge against the restaurateur or the chef or the landlord.

LA Times story: http://articles.latimes.com/2003/nov/12/food/fo-matters12

Thanks, Ponzi, for the letter of the law. And wow, I didn't know the Likker Boozocracy were that rigid -- what a damn reign of terror! In my experience, reviewing both here and in the Bay Area, mom'n'pops with no wine/beer licenses (and no application in for any) usually allow you to BYO, so long as you're really discreet about it -- like, NOT on a front patio, OK on a back patio or inside, so long as you keep the bottle/s concealed from Outsider eyes. But I've also run into small restaurants here (e.g., the recently-late Fix Me A Plate at the outermost edge of LaMesa, with a desolation row of wine and beer choices) that still wouldn't allow BYO, the owner so terrorized by the Boozocracy. I'll always wonder whether Fix Me might have lasted if he'd allowed BYO -- Bud and Gallo are sort of dispiriting. Abita, at least! Or Dixie? (Not good, but ethnic.)

I'm hoping Frankie's gets their license because Q really calls for beer (or, in my case, cold fizzy Nigori Sake)and that my secret parenthesis doesn't hurt them. The site was previously a restaurant with a license, Lot 81 (or some such number -- should've been Lot 49, Pynchonesquely) so obviously the neighbs didn't object. I spoke to Tony and Joe about the booze issue -- some of the info they gave me is "off the record" but basically, they didn't cross all their i's and dot all their t's on their first try, so they have to start all over again on the paperwork, that's why they don't have one of those "applied for" signs posted outside.

One more comment, in case anybody knows the answer to this: A number of new BBQs are using tall, stainless steel vertical smokers that easily get their permits because they don't send any smoke out into the neighborhood. (Examples: Lil' Piggy's, Joey's (chain), Lightnin' Jack's in Clairemont Mesa.) What's strange is that none of the meat comes out of those smokers tasting like it's been smoked the old-fashioned way (pit barbecue. When you go to Barnes BBQ in Lemon Grove, you can smell that yummy woodsmoke/meat aroma half a block away). This newfangled Q may have a touch of smoke but just DOES NOT TASTE THE SAME! Now, I know that Sausage King Bruce Aidells started out smoking sausages in his own home-made "vertical smoker" of an old converted fridge in his backyard, and as we all know, Bruce did okay. Can anybody explain why these spiffy new modern smokers don't make Q that really tastes like Q?

Wow! That was the best 64 posts I have ever read. It was a fun read.

On a side note...has anybody been to Kansas City BBQ Downtown since they have been back up and running after the fire a couple years ago?

I recently went to Chicago BBQ and have now been to all three places in the review. I agree that Frankie was a clear number one out of the three. Not only did the meats have some flavor of smoke, there were more spices in the sauce. btw, Frankie now has an alcohol license and has a sign up for Happy Hour. Regarding, Lil' Piggy's I thought it was the worst Q in town with the exception of Texas BBQ. All of the ingredients, including the meats seemed to be of inferior quality with the mac 'n cheese reminiscent of my college days eating a generic brand that I bought 10 for a buck. Finally, regarding Chicago BBQ, the service was quite attentive and the meats (pulled pork, beef brisket and ribs) were tender, which wasn't the case my last visit to Phil's at 9pm when I was served dried out pork. However, the overwhelming flavor was sugar and everything (sauces and even the cole slaw) was way too sweet, to me. The free lemon chicken soup, ala German's and the other seafood truck on El Cajon, is a nice touch, but the soup was somewhat bland.

Regarding the many vitriolic comments about Naomi, it's almost laughable that some readers think Naomi's comments were racist, and by implication, that she is a racist. Anyone who has read her regularly should be able to discern that she unabashedly displays her political beliefs and she tilts left of center and then some. Anyone who takes offense to racism, which I hope is everyone, should realize Naomi is on your side, at least politically. If you can't see that, it makes me wonder what else you're not correctly perceiving. As another reader wrote, we all have different tastes and we're all entitled to like what we like. However, the comments that Naomi doesn't know her business, when she has constantly displayed her insight of ingredients, culinary preparation and even the history of various cuisines, is about as misguided as the racist comments. I may not always agree with her, but I've learned a lot from her.

One last comment, in the current issue of Wine Spectator there's an article about Kansas City BBQ's with the title "Where There's BBQ, There's Smoke?" Sound familiar?

I gotta agree with Jughead on the whole racist thing.

Naomi knows good food, and is not a racist.

  • Joe

racist oh no humerous yes scout>>>>>^YOUR RETARTED but spelling maybe just another of your problems

Naomi, I have an update on "Frankie The Bull BBQ"

The Frankie is gone from the name, there's been an ownership change and the new place is called "Bull's Smokin' BBQ" They apparently have their beer & wine license now as well.

I’m guessing Frankie is the one that got bought out and left and that’s why they were able to get a liquor license.

Anyway, this is the website link of the "new" place that bought out the old place: http://www.bullssmokinbbq.com/

Maybe you can follow up and share what really happened?

Ponzi -- You have all the answers right there. (And I didn't probe any deeper into this, however curious I am, because it's proper for me to review chefs' work, not their lives.)

Log in to comment

Skip Ad

Let’s Be Friends

Subscribe for local event alerts, concerts tickets, promotions and more from the San Diego Reader