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*update* This restaurant has closed.
Even though we don't smoke meats that often (we especially love pulled pork), our visits to BBQ restaurants in San Diego are even less! I heard about SQUE from a friend and purchased a groupon to try it out. As the expiration date approached, we decided it was time to head over for a taste!
According to the map, it was off the 94 to the east of downtown. After exiting the highway, we easily spotted the building! The finger art was loud and clear about the location of the restaurant parking, which was a small lot to the right of the building.
Inside of the restaurant, there's only 4-5 tables so I'm sure a lot of people take food to go. Dennis talked to the girl at the counter for recs and we ended up selecting the 3 meat, 3 side combo, perfect for sampling the menu.
While waiting for the food to come out, we had a chance to talk to the owner Martin for a bit. We noticed Martin interacted with other customers, treated them like regulars, and even reminded everyone to use FiveStar, which earns rewards for money spent in the restaurant. He told us that the restaurant was originally named after his father Sonny until some recent licensing forced them to rename, with it becoming SQUE. I learned that you pronounce it "skew" as in the first syllable of skewer. I incorrectly guessed "SQUEE" as in the first syllable of the device you use to wipe water off windows!
Martin had to run back into the kitchen to work and our 3 meat, 3 side combo came out shortly after.
The Mac & Cheese side had ample cheddar flavor but did have more of a goopy texture. The pasta underneath was cooked al dente so gave a little resistance to each bite. We found that as leftovers, they still tasted good.
There was a slight sourness to the Potato Salad, which I'd attribute to some type of relish or pickle mixed in. Otherwise, the ratio of eggs and mayo and mustard made for a pleasant side. It actually reminds me of Reese brand potato salad, one of my preferred store brands for this dish.
Another side was the BBQ Beans which were sweet without being molasses sweet.
The cornbread came out wrapped in plastic which was a little struggle to open. It was still warm and Dennis enjoyed his piece though I find most cornbreads (without mix-ins) are too dry without dipping.
The lean Brisket Meat was trimmed with little fat and had enough moisture to work for Dennis. I like 'em fatty so I added some BBQ sauce after my initial bare bite.
The restaurant comes with three varieties of sauce, Sweet, Twisted or Spicy. I of course went for the Sweet version. Spicy was too much for both of us but Twisted felt like a reasonable compromise, with some kick that I could have handled. They were all of a thin to medium consistancy so easy to spread onto the meats.
The Chicken had some thick smokiness with a lightly seasoned skin. The meat itself was very soft though, almost to the point of being on the mushy side. Dennis didn't take any issues with it though.
The Pork Ribs were recommended over the beef ribs and came in multiple sizes, a few big ones on top with some riblets hidden below. These were really meaty with a visible crust but weren't the most tender fall apart ones. I think it needed more time to rest.
Here's my plate, with a little bit of everything. You can really smell the smokiness without the meats themselves holding too strong of a smoky flavor. Overall, we found that the meats could have used a stronger rub, but that could be preference to our home style BBQ. We also took at least a 3rd of the meats home because it was a generous amount of food for only $35 (without groupon)!
So where's that smokiness from? Just take a look in the parking lot. There's a HUGE smoker out there where the magic happens!
We know how much work it is to do so I was impressed to find out that Martin does the meat prep and smoking himself! His son Shaun helps in the kitchen and together they are the backbone of the place! Now the recently reduced hours of the restaurant make sense. They are open every other day, currently Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. But just in case, you can always call ahead before visiting!
[closed] SQUE BBQ
549 25th St
San Diego CA 92101