About the only thing Iron Pig Alehouse in Pacific Beach might have gotten wrong is… their name. Not that it’s a bad name, but with San Diego county arguably at the epicenter of the national craft beer movement over the last several years, boasting in excess of 100 breweries, another ale house, pub or beer-centric bar is not likely to raise many eyebrows or pique a ton of interest unless it’s in your backyard.
Then I started hearing whispers about Iron Pig Alehouse’s great BBQ.
And then I started noticing that the whispers never subsided…in fact, every time great BBQ in San Diego (which is pretty much a BBQ desert with a handful of scattered oases of smoky relief) came up in conversation, so did Iron Pig Alehouse. Clearly, it was time to check this joint out.
The interior here looks just like a BBQ joint should. It’s cool, primitive and easy to clean. Stools and benches aren’t necessarily conducive to hours long sit-downs, but then again, how long does it take to pound a beer or two and chow down on some good ‘Q?
Brisket may be the singularly most important thing to look for at any “real” BBQ house. For those that can’t do it, it either won’t be on the menu or you will know in the first couple of bites if they know what they are doing. This brisket had a beautiful rendered fat, salt and pepper crust and the still firm meat was tender enough that it fell apart when pried at lightly with fingers or a fork. The oak smoke was perfect with the simple rub, not overpowering, but accentuating.
The collard greens were special. They were finished with apple cider vinegar which lent a beautiful touch of sweetness and a light vinegar bite to the hearty, slightly toothy, fork tender greens.
Rib tips are a perfect example of a “throw away” cut of meat that is inexpensive and absolutely delicious when done right. Throughout some parts of the country, many think these are the best cut of the rib – which I could be easily persuaded to agree with. They have a bit of cartilage in the center, but are otherwise surrounded by tender meat that readily absorbs whatever rub and seasonings are applied. They are a guilty pleasure for me and these from Iron Pig Alehouse were nicely done with a Hickory smoke flavor that was strong enough not to be overpowered by the slathering of their house sauce.
They are located on Garnet in busy Pacific Beach. We were here at lunchtime, so parking was easy peasy on the street. The interior is clean and airy and there’s a nice outdoor patio as well.
Really good BBQ here, which is refreshing, since San Diego has pretty slim pickin’s when it comes to good BBQ. Aside from a handful of legit places that are doing it right – low and slow, there aren’t many that would rank mentioning alongside Iron Pig Alehouse. They have one house sauce which has a nice spiciness to it and a good balance of vinegar and sugar. I like this. There’s nothing more annoying than having a place give you six sauces and then leave you to your own devices to figure out which goes with what.
In keeping with their name, there’s a nice selection of beers and ales, local and imported. Cost to eat here would be in the $10 – $20 range per person and portions are good-sized.