When you can smell the oak, it ain’t no joke. As I headed into San Diego’s Mount Hope neighborhood, I rolled my windows down, waiting for the smoke to hit me. If you don’t smell it, you’re sure as hell not going to taste it. Suddenly, there it was, the essence of oak. Smoke is like a siren’s song drawing you in with singleness of purpose, letting you know BBQ is near.
Bowlegged will tell you they are serving East Texas BBQ, but they are really serving up good old-fashioned hospitality. Yes, the BBQ is on point, but the family vibe they are putting out makes this place exceptional.
Southern cooking heavily influences East Texas-style BBQ. In most of Texas, beef is king, but East Texas focuses more on pork, especially ribs. Sides also play a much more significant role, which is undoubtedly true at Bowlegged BBQ.
When I go out for BBQ, the meat is always my main focus, but during my most recent trip to Bowlegged, I found myself lost in the sides.
The mac and cheese was creamy, the macaroni cooked just right; it melted in my mouth.
The baked beans were sweet with just the right amount of tang. Cooked to perfection, the collard greens had a kiss of heat and a hint of sweetness. The sweetness was unexpected, but I loved it.
The cornbread was also on the sweet side of savory but not overly so. It crumbled easily, allowing me to dress my baked beans with it and use the rest to sop up the likker from my greens.
These sides were giving me flashbacks to my time in Atlanta. You could taste the South in these East Texas sides, and I am here to tell you that’s a good thing.
Focus Clyde, this is about BBQ. I ordered the ribs because that is an East Texas thing, but the chicken I saw coming from the smoker made me pause. I don’t usually bother with chicken, but what I saw looked and smelled so good I started to question my order.
I finally got to my ribs, which were falling-off-the-bone tender. I am usually a dry-rub guy, but the taste of Bowlegged’s BBQ sauce flipped the script. I am all about tasting the meat, but all I could think of was more of that sauce. Thank god for cornbread; not a drop of it went to waste.
I introduced myself to D’Angelo and Jaelin, the pit bosses responsible for all that great smoke. These two have game and it shows in every bite. I also paid my respects to the kitchen staff.
Kenneth Hawkins and three Stance family members own Bowlegged BBQ, brothers Kenny and Carlos and their sister Maria. Maria and her daughter Jessica are responsible for all those great sides.
I enjoyed meeting and talking to Kenny and Carlos, whose hospitality I can only describe as above and beyond. On my next visit I got to meet Maria and Jessica who very generously brough me out some of the sides I had not tried yet. Dirty rice, mac salad, coleslaw and for dessert banana pudding, good thing I was wearing overalls I was bursting at the seams.
Mount Hope is blessed to have this place; Bowlegged is a neighborhood favorite. For those on the Island, it is a quick 14 min drive, just past Costco on Market Street. If you go on Sunday, get there early; it is popular after church. I am heading back soon for brisket, hot links, and, hopefully, some of Bowlegged’s seasonal chili. I hope to see y’all there.
4255 Market Street, San Diego