Tuesday, April 20, 2010
It was another beautiful Saturday in San Diego and my sister had just dropped in to visit me. After commenting on the variety of great places I’d eaten since moving here she finally told me to choose a place for us to have lunch. A burning desire to eat BBQ chicken had been nagging me for the last couple of days so I asked my girlfriend, who felt too ill to join us, what the best BBQ place in the city was, and she replied without hesitation Phil’s. Now, this was not my first San Diego BBQ joint, and my past attempts at finding good BBQ were met with mixed results, some really good but not great, others downright horrible, but with BBQ sometimes you have to roll the dice. So after looking up the directions my sister and I departed on what was to become my favorite BBQ joint, ever.
A few wrong turns later we finally arrived at the Sports Arena, and to a very, very long line rounding the corner of Phil’s. We had seen the line before, via a web cam on the Phil’s BBQ website. In fact it was that line that convinced me to go there in the first place, because no place with bad BBQ would have such a long line of diners waiting to get in. It just defied the law of BBQ economics, where-in BBQ can be bought, made, and found in many places, some not necessarily BBQ specific locals, so a line that long could only exist at an exceptional BBQ joint, but I digress.
After a twenty minute wait we made our way to the front of the line. Once there a very friendly server, a trait which I found among all of the staff at Phil’s, explained the procedure for getting our food, a seat, and our eat on. First you order, then you find a seat, difficult but not impossible. In fact there is even a sort of maitre’d whose job was solely to find seats for people. In addition a large group in front of us, six or so, were found a seat ahead of ordering. So even before I sat down the place was already impressing me with their business model.
When we finally got to the counter my sis and I had come to an agreement as to what we would order. As we were both a fan of BBQ chicken, but wanted to try everything we ordered the “Best of Both.” I ended up getting the sweet baked beans and fries with baby back ribs and a half chicken, while my sis got the steamed veggies with Beef Ribs and four boneless chicken chunks, and we split a side of onion rings. While we waited for our food we found a seat in the corner, and got drinks, which they had ranging from the usual self serve soda fountain variety to sweet and non-sweet tea.
Now comes the part that impresses me the most. After being buzzed I went to get our food, only to be confronted by three giant platters. Without a second thought the server on the other side of the counter calls for someone to help me get my food to my seat. I know that may not sound all that amazing, but after sitting in some very nice restaurants with snooty waiters, and hole in the wall places where they wanted you out as soon as you started eating, it was a nice change of pace to have a staff that made it apparent they really cared about the people they were serving.
As for the food, it was amazing. Even the beef ribs, which a majority of BBQ joints seem to overcook or don’t offer at all, were great. The meat on the baby back ribs and the chicken slid off the bone, and was delicious. The sweet baked beans were dripping with sauce, and the fries were just the right amount of crispy. Even my sister’s steamed veggies were tasty. The amount of food was bordering on just right to excessive. Phil’s definitely does not scrip on the serving size. As you can see in the pictures I got about seven baby back ribs, and my sister got 3 gigantic beef ribs, and we both got a fair amount of chicken. All that along with the sides were more than enough to fill me up, though we did get a full rack of baby back for later, I mean for my girlfriend for when she was feeling better. Yeah that’s right. Love you baby.
So, Phil’s now ranks at the top of my BBQ focused restaurants through a combination of customer service, food, and portions. I would highly recommend it to anybody down in San Diego looking for a great BBQ at a great price. Only be prepared, word got out and relatives I haven't even heard of popping in for a visit, popping in, and they all want to stop off at Phil’s.
3750 Sports Arena Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92110
Thanks to all the people at Phil's who made my visit so great. Also thanks to Yelp and whoever took the pic of the front of Phil's, because I forgot to. Finally you'll notice that there is a big ol' bite taken out of the chicken on one of the plates in the picture. Yeah, that's mine. The food smelled so good I couldn't wait.