Phil’s BBQ – San Diego

Phil's BBQ - San Diego

Phil’s BBQ opened its doors for business sometime during my junior year of high school. Back then, I was too wrapped up in boys, college applications, and SAT scores to keep tabs on new and notable openings in town. Plus, I was pretty content with spending my paltry dining dollars at Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks and Mario’s De La Mesa. Phil’s didn’t register on my radar until well into its tenth year of business. These days, any news of great barbecue captures my attention at first mention. BBQ > Boys. Oh, how times have changed!

Phil's BBQ - San Diego

My cousin Phil and I have been planning to check out this joint for almost a year now, but we didn’t get around to it until my recent trip to San Diego during the holidays. When The Astronomer and I arrived on the scene, there was a line snaking out the restaurant’s front door. It initially looked quite intimidating, but all in all it took less than half an hour to make our way to the front.

For those skittish about long waits, Phil’s has installed a “BBQueue Cam” at both of its locations that monitors queuing activity and provides estimated wait times.

Phil's BBQ - San Diego

The wood-framed menu signaled that the end was in sight. To entertain ourselves while we waited, The Astronomer and I, along with our dining mates Cousins Phil and Kristine, hashed out a plan that involved ordering one of each meat on the menu and all of our favorite sides. There’s nothing like sweet anticipation to get the salivary glands going.

Phil's BBQ - San Diego

We knew our order by heart by the time we reached the line of registers. After paying for the goods, we were given a buzzer that lit up and vibrated when our food was ready for pick up. In the mean time, we wandered the dining room in search of an unoccupied table. Fortunately, one of the cool dudes working the dining room floor took pity on us and located a table fit for four.

Phil's BBQ - San Diego

The Astronomer and my cousins shared a pitcher of beer with their ‘cue. I was happy sipping on ice water.

Phil's BBQ - San Diego

According to the restaurant’s website, owner Phil Pace doesn’t come from a long line of barbecue masters.  Nevertheless, he caught on fast, and Phil’s quickly became one of the most popular restaurants in San Diego.  The restaurant’s signature sauces and rubs, which are available for purchase at Costco by the way, were inspired by Kansas City- and North Carolina-style barbecue. Mesquite is his wood of choice.

When it comes to barbecue, all that I want is super-tender meat imbued with smoky goodness, a finger lickin’ good sauce, and solid sides. Phil’s made a solid showing on all three fronts.

To start, I dug into the “Full Rib Dinner” ($18.95). The baby backs were sauced up generously and charred along the edges. The flavorful meat was gnawed off the bone with ease, while the sweet sauce kept everything nice and moist. The sauce became slightly cloying toward the end, but I definitely liked it at first taste.

Phil's BBQ - San Diego

In between bites of ribs, I chewed on some “rib-less” nuggets ($10.95). Eating meat straight off the bone is admittedly much more fun, but these meaty chunks were more than satisfactory.

Phil's BBQ - San Diego

I passed on the grilled half chicken ($8.75) because chicken often bores me. However, my dining mates reported that the meat was juicy and tasty.

Phil's BBQ - San Diego

The best of the meats were the “beefy” ribs ($19.95). I initially scoffed at the concept of a large order consisting of only five bones. Little did I know that one cow rib was going to be the size of my forearm. Chomping down on moist and smoky mouthfuls of cow satisfied my inner caveman like no other.

Phil's BBQ - San Diego

All of the meats came with sides of our choice. My favorites were the sweet baked beans…

Phil's BBQ - San Diego

…and the macaroni salad.

Phil's BBQ - San Diego

We also shared a large order of battered onion rings served with ranch dressing ($5.95). Fried to order, the pile of rings were hot, crispy, and totally dunkable. Ranch dressing makes everything it rubs upon heavenly.

Phil's BBQ - San Diego

For dessert, Kristine and I shared a whoopie pie. The cake was on the crumbly side, which made for a messy lap, but everything else was terrific.

If I had known about Phil’s BBQ back in high school, I would’ve held my super sweet 16 here. It would’ve brought all the boys to the yard.

Phil’s BBQ
4030 Goldfinch Street
San Diego, CA 92110
Phone: 619-688-0559

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13 Responses to “Phil’s BBQ – San Diego”


  • I love Phil’s! As a transplant to LA from San Diego, the most similar BBQ I have found to is at Zeke’s (the Montrose location is the only one I’ve been to).

  • My dog Cooper also enjoyed the bones from the beef ribs.

  • Phil’s BBQ is some damn good stuff. I’m a believer of those beef ribs!

  • I’m not much into BBQ as a rule, but everyone keeps talking Phil’s lately. I may have to make the trip. Good lookin’ out!

  • What about your gal pals? Does BBQ trump them too?

  • Diana - Wicked cool girlfriends > BBQ

  • I’ve actually eaten here! Way back in sophomore year or so of college. I remember it was excellent.

  • damn i had all intentions of checking this place out when i was in SD with R couple months ago but didnt make it, now i’m sad reading your descriptions and seeing all the mouth watering pics! and for the record i too frequented islands haha love the cheese fries!

  • oh my. a day at the zoo and then some bbq sounds lovely. methinks i need to head to sd.

  • I only ate there once but it was delicious. I had a pulled pork sandwich that appeared to be a styrofoam container filled with pork, with a small bun placed on top. Awesome.

  • Nice write up, Cathy!

    I discovered Phil’s BBQ on MvF. I tried the 1/2 baby back rib dinner, BBQ broham (pulled pork shoulder) sandwich and a small order of colossal onion rings. The food was good, but my ribs weren’t as tender as I’d like them to be.

    Note for everyone, the portions were ginormous. Bring your appetite.

  • Adding Phil’s to my list. Can’t wait to try it the next time I’m in SD. Especially the beef ribs.

  • How dare you say good things about that Phils bbq, it taste like it came out of a toliet.
    Perhaps you people have never been out of the house, let alone San Diego.
    This is not real BBQ and the owners will harrass you if you dont like the crap that they serve.
    This is nasty food with nasty service.
    You are brain washed.
    There are better places to go and for a lot less money!
    It used to be good when it was on Goldfinch, but now it is way too commercial!

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