Brazen BBQ Smokehouse & Bar
Barbecue is one of those things that we have yet to get enough of... so many places in San Diego just waiting to be explored by us! Brazen BBQ Smokehouse & Bar was an enjoyable stop during Taste of Hillcrest, especially this year's sample of Smoked Peruvian Pork with smashed potatoes. With this good thought and the temptation of incredible southern style barbecue, we excitedly rolled through for a media invitation.
The options of indoor seating included picnic tables, booths, and bar stools but the blissful San Diego weather led us to patio tables for grubbing and people watching. Each table had its dutiful paper towel dispenser, of which I was ever so grateful while continually getting my hands messy during the meal!
Smoked Pig Candy 9.99 - Thick bacon slices dusted with our Barnyard Dust and a mix of sugars, smoke to a delicious gooey perfection.
One of the first things that caught our eye was the special bacon. It was the most candy-like bacon we have ever tried, sticky and chewy but in a good way. The amount of sweetening was just right where it still held its savoriness.
Slider Trio 10.99 - Choose any three from chicken, pulled pork, brisket, or sausage.
We thought the sliders would be a fun way to sample multiple meats. Slider 1 (left) was a leaner cut or brisket, soft cooked with vinegared onions for some additional oomph. Slider 2 (middle) was chicken, the subtle smoke detectable and meat still moist. The peppers were a fun addition. Slider 3 (right) was sausage, with a hint of spice. These peppers had an almost toasted taste to them and the bread was nicely buttered and toasted for all three. We typically try meats on their own but it was rather nice "dressed up" for a little variety in our meal!
Southwest Tri Tip 11.99 - Romaine lettuce with tender tri tip, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, corn, and pico de gallo. Topped with fried okra and served with our chipotle ranch dressing.
To mix it up more, I decided to go for a salad... but with tri tip on it. The meat was cooked medium well and had a little chew to it. The seasoning was light and similar but not as sweet as the candied bacon. One thing I noticed was that the fried okra actually tasted good (must be that cornbread crust) but I was less of a fan regarding the pico de gallo, adding an unfamilar wetness to the greens. The southwest dressing had a slight kick and paired well though. We could not finish it all and took some home for later.
Crusty Macaroni & Cheese premium side 3.48
This came out and we could smell the intensity of the cheese, especially once the cheese lid was popped. This was a thick and creamy consistancy that tasted richly extravagant. Cornbread was another side we added. It was middle of the road moist.
Rack of Baby Back Ribs entree (Half – 18.49 Full – 26.99) - Brazen’s award-winning ribs
Of course we also had some honest to goodness MEAT coming our way. What better method than with the "award-winning ribs" per the description. We were pleased. Something was giving it a little bit of sweetness and stickiness and we loved the flavor on the meat. The rib meat came off easy enough and was where I used the majority of napkins that day!
This was the other life-saver spot for messes. Handwash station in the middle of everything!
Lone Star Texas Brisket 21.99/lb Our signature meat sliced thin and juicy with a tasty bark.
One thing we learned was that the same seasoning was used on the meat and the fries but they added beef flavoring for the brisket and pork flavoring for the pulled pork. This one used the Outlaw barbecue sauce, which isn't even available as a bottle of sauce on your table! I felt like it had a slight soy sauce flavor to it. Dennis mentioned that the meat seemed to be cut with the grain instead of against the grain. It was still tender enough but trimmed quite lean.
Let's get into that barbecue sauce now which had three options. Smokey Lace sauce - the consistency was more syrupy and Dennis said he's put it on chicken and waffles. B.R.A.G. sauce had that bold and sweet taste to it, which is the same flavor added to the meat and fries. Competition sauce was on the brisket and only available for purchase!
Inside Brazen BBQ there were multiple spots where trophies were being displayed such as near the ordering counter as well as several locker height displays behind polygon chicken wire. This place has been around the block in competitions! They also do catering and have different specials each day. Happy hour is 3:30 - 6:30 monday through Saturday and all day Sunday. Our waiter was one of the assistant managers so we don't have the regular view of service for this visit. The other diners seemed to be doing just fine with their service though. Another helpful hint is that they have a parking lot on the northwest side of the building but it is limited to about 8 spots. Don't forget to check there first before searching for street parking!
Disclaimer: We were invited to dine here and our meal was complimentary. We were not otherwise compensated and all opinions stated are our own.
Brazen BBQ Smokehouse & Bar
441 Washington St
San Diego CA 92103