Lucky people in Ocean Beach have been enjoying the tender smokiness of Ranchwood’s meats for several years now at our weekly Farmer’s Market. The smell just draws you over to the booth, as smoked meats will do. When we first saw the now signature, BBQ Parfait, we were intrigued and then tastily fulfilled. Owner, Tony Coronado, came up with the layered delight and it’s now been sampled by hundreds of locals. Mashed potatoes layered in a clear cup with either brisket or pulled pork along with their smoky sweet BBQ sauce is a fave of mine. It’s also on their menu at their fairly new brick and mortar shop that Tony opened in 2014. And it handily comes in 3 different sizes depending on your appetite.
What I never got to try until now, were his ribs. He just never brought them to the FM. I visited him at his new place and finally got to see his little piece of smoky heaven on El Cajon Blvd in La Mesa. It’s a pretty hip looking place painted in Red and Black which are also on his chef jacket and his biz cards. That’s so rock ‘n roll.
Back to my favorite subject, ribs! They are of the shorter, St. Louis variety, but not baby back. While not the meatiest, they are certainly amongst the most flavorful. St. Louis cut is from the belly side of the rib cage which contains more fat…and you know what that means. More flavor and usually more tender. And these are both of those. Not like there is a bunch of fat on them either. He does a great job of trimming them. He puts a very taste bud pleasing rub on them and does not drown them in sauce when serving them thank you very much. What I will always opt for, is you can ask for them “wet.” Which means he will slather a bit of his very yummy sauce on there and then bake them for a few minutes in the oven. I love that candied glaze ribs get when you do that. A full rack with two sides for $18.99? In today’s rib market, it’s a damn good price point.
I also tried his brisket, it’s flavorful, tender and also on the train to Tasty Town. Did my pull test on it and it measured up to competition standards. Came apart easily, but did not crumble. Next time I’m coming back just to try his Texas Sandwich. Brisket and cheese melted onto two big ole slices of Texas Toast.
I also tried some of the juiciest and tender chicken I’ve had in recent memory. While it was a bit disconcerting to me that there was no browning on the skin, it did have some wonderfully tasty herbs and spices rubbed onto it. The half chicken I had was ginormous too. Next time, I would love to see some crackly, crispiness to the skin, but that might detract from the juiciness when it comes to the cooking side of it. If given the choice, I’ll take moist any time, especially on the white meat.
And it’s not too often that I like all the sauce choices being offered. Surprisingly, we not only get the regular smoky, sweet sauce and the spicier version, but Tony also makes a delicious mustard BBQ sauce that I just loved on my chicken and my brisket. When I asked him what wood he uses, he responded with Red Oak….Hickory….OR Mesquite! He uses whatever is available at the time of buying I guess. But of course, depending on what wood is being used that day, it will change the flavor of the meats too. He might want to figure out which brings out the best in his meats in the future.
Now, one of my biggest complaints in going to BBQ joints is the lack of good sides. Most mac ‘n cheeses leave me empty, so I’ve been staying away from them. Tony has some killer sides and that made me a happy girl. Woman can not live by meat alone! Ok, maybe I could, but I digress. Delicious home made potato chips were a nice addition. He also makes two types of potato salad. One is regular, but really a perfect blend of light mayo with some delicious seasonings and the other is an ancho chipotle one with sweet potatoes in it that knocked my socks off. He also has a version of beans made with root beer and bacon in it that I just love (beans, beer and bacon, hellloooooo!). I didn’t try these, but he does have, mac ‘n cheese, fries and onion rings. He admitted the rings are frozen, so I didn’t try one of my favorite fried thingys.
He said one of his best sellers is the Smokehouse Burger which is a half pound burger with brisket on top! Yes Please!!
He also serves Tri Tip which I have not tried yet.
For dessert, I highly recommend the sinfully good Banana Pudding with “Nilla” wafers layered into it. So rich, sweet and creamy. He said he saw that all over Austin, TX, so he decided to add it here too.
Tony is a native of San Diego, so when I asked him if he knew what region his Que would be from, he shrugged his shoulders. I’m gonna say it’s close to Texas style for me. But his smoky sweet sauce is closer to Kansas City style and what is now considered California style sauce too. He has spicy and mustard BBQ sauces too.
The newly-opened-here-in-San Diego, corporate BBQ chain, Wood Ranch, sent him a Cease and Desist letter on the name. ‘Wood Ranch…..Ranchwood.’ Really? Tony said he told them to go suck it. I like that.
Named one of 8 best BBQ joints in SD by Zagat. Not too shabby.
His biz card states, “No One Beat’s Tony’s Meats.” A bold statement that he is able to back up with some choice and delicious low and slow cooked ‘Que. Can’t argue with that.
Counter service only.
Ranchwood Catering & BBQ
7229 El Cajon Blvd. San Diego, CA.
Open 7 days a week.