Back in Boston, there’s this little barbecue place in Somerville called Redbones. Redbones has long been touted as the best barbecue in the area. You get bibs, eat in the basement off newspapers, and they even have their own pit. Friends, reviewers, and even men from Tennessee raved about Redbones, so I went and ate. And then I got depressed — it was nothing special. For one thing, there was a severe lack of sauce on my bones, for another the meat just didn’t have the flavor I was craving. There was no oomph, no zing, no satisfaction for meat-craving me.

There are a couple of barbecue places around the Bay Area that leak out intoxicating fumes of smoked meat. I walk by and sniff the air rapturously but sniff is all I do. I’ve never allowed myself to be intoxicated, because I’m so afraid of being as disappointed as I was at Redbones.

Enter Phil’s B.B.Q. of San Diego. After my husband’s co-worker threatened never to speak to us again unless we checked it out, we went. On an afternoon that we decided to visit the zoo and thus would need some serious fortification before walking around all the livelong day, we indulged in some serious barbecue.

We started with Phil’s BBQ Broham, seasoned pork shoulder sandwich. The tender pork was chargrilled, liberally sauced, and piled with housemade coleslaw. As much as I wanted to rub the succulent, saucy meat all over my body, and as perfect a topping the creamy, tangy coleslaw was, the sandwich bun is what really floored me. I mean, forget how dripping with spicy, sticky sauce the perfectly done pork was, I was completely obsessed with how well the bun stood up to all the juicy ingredients. Not one crumb of that chewy bun got soggy. It was an old fashioned drippy sandwich miracle!

But of course the real reason we were there was to restore my faith in ribs, so we also shared a Half-Rib Dinner. This dinner was seven or eight pork back ribs with piles of more hot, crispy fries than we could eat. I’m truly sorry for the lack of juicy images, but my hands were way too messy to be fumbling around for my digital. You’ll have to take my word for it that the pork ribs were dripping with spicy sauce and the meat was barely even attached to the bone.

To fully round out this artery-clogging meal, we crunched through the most interesting onion rings. The fried casing around the thickly sliced Vidalia onions was quite hard, almost brittle, and not soggy in the least. I’m sure lots of grease went into making those golden beauties, but you couldn’t tell for the tasting.

Thank god the San Diego Zoo is so large or I might be taking blood thinners now.

Phil’s B.B.Q.
4030 Goldfinch Street @ Washington
San Diego, CA 92116


Sunday-Thursday 11:00 AM-9:00 PM
Closed Mondays

Rib Tickler 8 September,2005Stephanie Lucianovic


Stephanie Lucianovic

A former picky eater, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a writer, editor, and lapsed cheesemonger in the San Francisco Bay Area. A culinary school grad with an English lit degree, she has written for,, Popular Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Additionally, she has been writing for KQED’s Bay Area Bites since its inception and is the website editor for KQED’s Emmy-award winning show “Check, Please! Bay Area.”

Stephanie was an original recapper at Television Without Pity and worked on a line of cookbooks for William-Sonoma as well as in the back kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. Her first book, SUFFERING SUCCOTASH: A Picky Eater’s Quest To Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Perigee Books, 2012) is a non-fiction narrative and a heartfelt and humorous exposé on the inner lives of picky eaters that Scientific American called “hilarious” and “the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn’t think he or she wants to read a popular science book.”

Stephanie lives in Menlo Park with her husband, three-year-old son, assorted cats, and has been blogging at The Grub Report for over a decade.

Follow her on Twitter at @grubreport

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