True Texas style BBQ has come to San Diego in the form of an outdoor joint serving up real Lone Star state style smoked and grilled meats. I could NOT be more excited about this and so it seems are many others if judging by the lines that start queuing up before the place even opens. Like a real BBQ place in TX and many other areas where BBQ is king, when they run out of any meats, they’re out.
Andy Harris, owner of Grand Ole is really a San Diego boy. But he’s learned from eating at many places in TX what he wanted to do with his own restaurant. In TX, a lot of BBQ joints serve their Que in an outdoor setting, picnic tables, some tarps thrown up for a bit of shelter from the sun or rain and one window you order from.
The smoker alone was super impressive and ginormous! There were a few other smokers and a Santa Maria style grill on the property too. That is for his tri tip. Tri tip is cooked on a higher, more direct heat than the low and slow cooking of the other regular suspects.
On my first visit to Grand Ole BBQ y asado (asado means roasted) it was for lunch. They had only been open a couple of weeks and I had heard about them on a popular local food group on Facebook. What I loved immediately, was that you can order almost all their meats by the pound (or as a sandwich). This is pretty much unheard of at any BBQ joint here in Southern California, but quite the norm in TX. This was perfect since I wanted to try everything he had to offer but only a taste of each. No full rack of ribs for me this time.
When I bellied up to the counter, I asked if he was Andy and introduced myself. Seems he already knew about me too because he was on the same food group. He seemed to have some twisted idea that I was some BBQ guru, but I squashed that immediately and let him know I was just a lover of BBQ like many others. He knew I was a judge though, so he was anxious to know what I thought. He also apologized for not having the best cuts of some of his meats because I had come at the end of a lunch session.
Never mind that I told him, just give me a little bit of whatever you got, I can’t wait! I got a few ribs, some tri tip and something I had never had before, Texas Turkey. No brisket during the day, so I knew that would require a return trip, darn….lol.
The first few bites had to be of my favorite part of the pig, my precious ribs. Wow, the flavor and tenderness married in my mouth and went on a sexy honeymoon together! I was hooked immediately. You had me at perfectly textured ribs. Just the slightest hint of the smoke…not overpowering.
Then came a bite of the turkey. What the hell was that?! It was white meat. White meat is not supposed to taste like that. You know….like velvet?! White meat is not supposed to be a juicy and flavorful explosion in your mouth! I truly have to go overboard in my explanation of tasting something so new and such a revelation to my palate, I haven’t been able to stop talking about it ever since! But like some of his specialties, such as the lamb he sometimes serves, he doesn’t always have it. So please don’t kill this messenger if he doesn’t have it when YOU go.
I also got just a few slices of his tri tip and the flavor/tenderness factor was also top notch on this grilled meat.
I got an order of his Peruvian white beans on the advice of one of the guys sitting there who turned out to be another member of our Facebook food group. Word is getting out about this place. Wow on the beans. Such an earthy and unctuous flavor in my mouth. I fell in love with this side dish straight away. Order it, take my word, you’ll love it.
On my second visit, I got to have his brisket. Without having to put any injections into it as is so popular these days, especially in competition, it was juicy and flavorful all on it’s own. I begged him for some burnt ends, a delicacy from the point half of a brisket. Again, not something you see on any BBQ menus here in So Cal. Ok, maybe Famous Dave’s has them, but that’s about it. And mind you, he doesn’t really do them here either. By cutting those little squares of goodness, it does take part of the slices away that he needs to have for his customers. They are also known as sugar cookies because of the sugar that is sometimes put on the bark along with whatever rub the cook is putting on there. Andy pretty much just uses salt and pepper on his brisket because it just doesn’t need much more than that. You want to taste the beef.
But those burnt ends were so off-the-charts good, that they melted in my mouth in their fatty, smoky, delicious hunks of goodness. Andy will probably kill me for posting this because again, he doesn’t really serve these. Perks of being a judge maybe?? They’re not required at all in a competition box, but we’ve been getting them a lot lately and I think that is because the pitmasters just KNOW the judges love them and we certainly do.
Funny side note and warning. Don’t ever try to reheat fatty burnt ends on high in the microwave. They exploded when I did it and it looked like a murder scene in there! I put them on low and then they reheated just fine. DOH!
But what sent me over the top on this visit, was his beef short ribs aka known as a Texas Lollypop on his web site. This is a cut that is known for it’s tenderness, unlike the back ribs which can be a lot tougher. When I saw it on the plate as did other customers, we all just went YOWZA! It was the epitome of the Brontosaurus bone joke. Nothing funny about this bone. It had this peppery bark on it (again, he only uses salt and pepper on this one too) and my first bite sent me into a genuine foodgasm. I don’t smoke cigarettes, but almost needed one after a few bites. This is now my favorite beef rib I’ve had anywhere.
Insider tip….he only makes about 16 of these on a Saturday night, so get there early, because when it’s out….it’s OUT! And you’re only going to be able to eat probably just one of these behemoths.
He serves Jidori chickens, which are free range with no hormones added. His chicken thigh was slightly smoky and tender. Don’t let the pink inside fool you, it is cooked, it’s just showing it’s been smoked well. I only wish the skin had been crispy. Not a fan of skin unless it will crunch in my mouth. No worries, the boyfriend will eat any fatty goodness and he got to experience this when I brought home the leftovers.
His hot links were ok, just not my favorite ones I’ve had. I am pretty honest about what I like and don’t like and will usually tell management or an owner if we get to talking. Turns out he admitted the ones I had that day were not from his regular guy, so don’t let my assessment stop you from ordering it. Hopefully. he’s back on track with that.
The only thing I haven’t tried from his every day menu is the pulled pork. I’ll get that in on my next visit. As mentioned earlier, brisket, tri tip and pulled pork can also be ordered as a sandwich .
I haven’t tried any of his other side dishes because I’m so focused on his incredible meats. But if his beans are any indication of the other sides, you can’t go wrong. During the week his side dishes also include a slaw, a spicy slaw and a Texas bean salad.
Thorn Brewery is right around the corner and Andy encourages you to get your beer on and bring it over to eat with your order. I’m sure most of you would love to have a brew with your Que. Love that Topo Chico (started in 1895!) sparkling mineral water from Mexico that he has. So refreshing. Little fun facts about Topo Chico water from Thrilllist. Yeah, it’s a thing.
Sunday is Argentine Grill Day. I haven’t had this yet, but it sounds fantastic. Tri tip or lamb shoulder by the sandwich or the pound, chorizo or Choripan sandwich, Entrana skirt steak and whole grilled chicken. His side dishes on Sunday in addition to the Peruvian beans, include creamy polenta, caprese salad and a garden salad with a smoky dressing. Plus, on Sundays he serves a chimichurri sauce to go with all those enticing meats.
Andy just might be the conductor of the Tasty Train!
Grand Ole caters events for over 80 people.
Counter service only. Follow on Facebook or Twitter to find out what he’s got or out of.
Open Wed-Saturday for Lunch at noon
Open Wed-Saturday for dinner 5:30-8:30 or sell out.
Sunday noon- 6 pm. Argentine Grill Day
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Grand Ole BBQ Y Asado
3302 32nd St.
San Diego, CA 92104