“Where’s There’s Smoke, There’s Flavor.”
That is the slogan on the Smokin’ J’s BBQ website. And soon, those of us in San Diego’s Gaslamp will know whether that is true or they are just blowing smoke up our, well, neighborhood.
Founded in Poway with a second location in Miramar, Smokin’ J’s BBQ is opening a location in the Gaslamp Quarter at 751 Fourth Ave., a couple doors up from Taste & Thirst and just around the corner from the thriving intersection of F & Market Streets. It has applied for a beer & wine license at the property, which once housed a nondescript New Orleans-type restaurant that only seemed to come to life during Saints games.
Jeremy George and his brother Josh started Smokin’ J’s to counter the well-heard area culinary chant that “you can’t get good BBQ in San Diego.” Jeremy, who is also the pitmaster, and his team smoke its pork shoulders and briskets for 12-16 hours.
Well, the proof is in the pudding as they say in the South, or more directly, in the opinion of the customers. This original Southerner is anxious to tase Smokin J’s. I am a harsh critic on BBQ due to my heritage and also from the fact that I attended the University of Alabama, which has the best rib joint in the country as far as I am concerned (and pretty much everyone else who has ever been there) Dreamland Ribs.
Dreamland’s ribs are the ones by which all other ribs are judged in my book. They are thick, juicy and come with a special Dreamland sauce. How the sauce tastes at Smokin’ J’s may well determine by affection, or lack thereof, of that place. Smokin’ J’s uses St. Louis spare ribs, by the way, and has other items not found at Dreamland, among them brisket, the thought of which has me wishing the place was open right now.
The wine and beer permit application means, of course, that Smokin’ J’s won’t be a full bar serving cocktails. But BBQ is beer food, anyway.
Currently, there is just one other BBQ restaurant in the Gaslamp, Gaslamp BBQ on 5th & Island. It’s okay but certainly not great enough to exclaim “oh MY!” Kansas City BBQ just outside of the Gaslamp is known more for being the “Top Gun Bar” than it is for tasty barbeque.
In other Gaslamp restaurant news, the replacement for Tropical Savor next to the Smokin’ J’s BBQ seems to have stalled, as its windows have wrapped shut for some time. It was supposed to be a hookah bar (making three within a two block area) with food. Stay tuned on that one.