Bubba’s SmokeHouse BBQ in La Jolla, California

January 30, 2015:

Bubba’s SmokeHouse BBQ in La Jolla doesn’t look like much from the outside. The building is newish and kind of stylish in its way, and Bubba’s sits between a bank and a jeweler. It is not, to say the least, a typical barbecue setting.

And Bubba looks and carries himself for all the world like he is from New Jersey– in a nice way: he’s active, talkative and outgoing as he scoots about. I can’t imagine that anyone ever has called him Bubba or that he has ever known anyone called Bubba.

But Bubba does a good job. On his recommendation, and noting a help-yourself bar with dill chips and jalapeños (but no onions!), I had a sliced brisket sandwich with the sauce on the side, and a side of collards. Nancy, perhaps scarred by the Rebel BBQ pulled pork experience and having little interest in brisket under any circumstances, had a salad with grilled chicken.

The brisket was tender and lightly smoked. Bubba does not get carried away with trimming the fat from the brisket, and the result is moist and flavorful. The meat doesn’t need any sauce, which is just as well. Bubba’s default sauce is his Lip Smackin” Sweet Sauce. To Bubba’s credit, the sauce avoids molasses, which to my mind should only be used in the production of rum and, I suppose, some baked goods, but never in a barbecue sauce or anything having to do with meat. Bubba’s Sweet Sauce is inoffensive but misguided.

Bubba also has a Kickin’ Sauce which seems to contain some vinegar and ketchup and a trace of habanero and some sugar, but does not have the kick he seems to think it does. He really should triple the vinegar, lose the sugar and replace the habaneros with a generous helping of cayenne.

But as I say, there’s no reason to use either sauce. The brisket stands on its own.

While the brisket is pretty good, the collards are outstanding. They are cooked just long enough — that is, pretty long, but not long enough to loose their texture — with just enough bacon — that is, pretty much bacon, but not enough to donate the collards.

And Nancy liked her salad.

John Tanner's Barbecue Page's photo.
John Tanner's Barbecue Page's photo.

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