Desolate, ghostly, barren. These might have been the terms used when discussing good BBQ Restaurants in the San Diego area until just a few short years ago. Hey, maybe up until just a year or two ago.

USA Today writer, Larry Olmstead reports, our nation is traditionally known for four major types of regional barbeque, specifically Memphis, Texas, Kansas City and Carolina-Style. Not a mention of California style anything.

Ray Lampe aka Dr. BBQ. Chef, author, television personality. At the World Food Championships 2014.

Ray Lampe aka Dr. BBQ. Chef, author, television personality. At the World Food Championships 2014.

But now, with the advent of shows like “BBQ Pitmasters,” “BBQ Crawl,” “BBQ Blitz,”“Burgers, Brews and BBQ,”  “BBQ University,” “Primal Grill,” “Man Fire Food,” “Bobby Flay’s BBQ Addiction,” and possibly more on the way, BBQ has come out of it’s almost cult-like status and is now in the mainstream spotlight.

Everyone wants a piece of the….ummm….rib. 6 new BBQ restaus have opened in San Diego in just the last few months of 2014, and several more in 2015-2018. That’s a hell of a lot of new ‘Que in a town not known for anything more than having the best weather in the nation. Things are looking up for us smoke enthusiasts.

In 2018, you are starting to hear a lot more about the newer BBQ places such as Grand Ole BBQ, Iron Pig Alehouse and Coaster Saloon. I do joke and say there is life beyond Phil’s BBQ, a place where you can’t find a piece of wood anywhere on the premises. It’s all grilled. Nothing wrong with that kind of cooking. Santa Maria, CA is known for that. Cooking meat over an open flame with wood based charcoal. Phil uses mesquite charcoal.

Santa Maria style BBQing.

Santa Maria style grilling.

It’s direct high heat though and it doesn’t impart any smoke onto the meat because it’s done quickly over a grill. This is pretty much the way we were brought up here in California, with what we call “BBQ’ing in our backyards.

Smoking though, usually involves indirect heat being tended over a lot of hours with many different types of wood that the pitmaster chooses. The choice of what wood to use depends on what kind of flavors the pitmasters are looking to taste in their meats. These are all carefully chosen and cooked in a smoker, which may come in all different shapes and sizes.

Traditional Smoker

Traditional smoker

Vertical smoker

Vertical smoker

Steampunk smoker. People get very creative!

Steampunk smoker. People get very creative!

I’m just hell bent on educating the public here about those differences. I love it when you tell someone about these different types of ‘Que and they go…”I didn’t know that.” It’s a whole ‘nother taste party going on in your mouth when you try meat smoked low and slow for many hours.

Cali Comfort proudly advertises on their web site how long they smoke their meats. 2 hours for tri tip, 4 hours for chicken, 6 hours for pork ribs, 12 hours for brisket and 14 hours for pulled pork. That’s what I’m talking about! Flavor and tenderness are off the charts good.

So, I want you to think on that. Then, I want you to eat that. Because after all, BBQ is all about tasty meats, hanging with friends and the American way, right?