We have found a BBQ place that puts other similar restaurants to shame, and we found it where we least expected it. San Diego, California, is not known as a hotbed of good barbecue, but Phil’s is something special. The variety of meats, friendly service, open atmosphere, and delicious sauces make a meal here an experience to remember.
The Point Loma location is one of four in San Diego County, the one closest to the city center. We decided to head over for dinner on a Thursday night, and it’s a good thing we went early. Phil’s is known for having a line out the door that practically wraps around the building and fills the parking lot. While waiting about 30 minutes, we got a good glimpse of the dining room we were heading into. The restaurant has a large open seating area that is first-come, first served. Customers place orders at the front counter and wait to be buzzed to pick up their food, like at a fast-food joint. The dining area is something like a cross between a cafeteria and a diner with a bar section as well, which is about half of the size of the family dining section. We placed our order with a friendly and informative staff member who showed us where the best seats were, where we could get additional tableware and napkins, and where to get an unlimited supply of water. We like that this place encourages self-sufficiency. Despite the busy environment and long line, a table was easy to find and our food came out in a timely fashion.
We figured the Baby Back Rib and Chicken Dinner, listed under the “Best of Both” section, would cover the selection of meats. It did not disappoint. The chicken tasted smokey and fresh off the grill. The ribs were awesome: tender, juicy, fall-off-the-bone, and oh, so delicious. Both meats came covered in a yummy signature sauce, a secret blend that is a balance of spicy, sweet, and tang. Choose two small sides or one large to go with this meaty masterpiece and you’ll be full for days. The sweet BBQ baked beans and pasta salad were our choices. We practically felt like we were at one of our own outdoor family BBQs.
The “Chickless Tickler” was an opportunity to try a variation of the chicken while also getting more of the side dishes. The chicken was cooked to perfection, each bite of juicy white meat filled with flavor. This dish came with onion rings, fries, and cole slaw. The O Rings were massive: only two per order, but more are available for purchase as an extra side. The cole slaw is classic cool and makes for a great BBQ pairing. This sampling of sides with a generous portion of meat makes the Tickler a good option for those who want a taste of everything.
Our last order included yet another meat, as if we didn’t already have enough: loaded fries with pulled pork and cheese. The hand-cut fries themselves are lacking in flavor and seasoning, but make a fine base to be smothered in BBQ sauce and sprinkled with raw onion.
The quality of Phil’s meats is good, but it truly is the signature sauce that made every one of the dishes we tried phenomenal. Just the smell alone will make your mouth water.
To finish the meal, we got two whoopie pies to go. The vanilla was average, but the oversized homemade mint pie was a special treat and a refreshing palate cleanser after all of that sauce. We left stuffed, but somehow wanting more. If you are ever in the San Diego county and looking for a classic BBQ meal, plenty of meats to chose from, and a super casual atmosphere, Phil’s BBQ is the way to go.