La Jolla's BBQ Bucket List: The Top 8 Must-Try Grills |

The 8 Best BBQs in La Jolla: Top Must-Try Restaurants That Serve Barbecue

Craving some sweet, savory, juicy and tender barbecue and don’t feel like leaving the lovely La Jolla bubble? Whether you’re fiending pulled pork sandwiches, baby back ribs, Hawaiian style BBQ, Korean BBQ, or even just baked beans and mac n cheese–we’ve got you covered. 

La Jolla might not be the first area that comes to mind when you think of authentic BBQ, but yes, it’s true, you can actually find these types of barbecue without having to leave the area! Before we dive into this short listicle of BBQ joints,  first, let’s tip out some BBQ sauce for the fallen, departed Bubba’s Smokehouse, which arguably served the best BBQ in La Jolla.

R.I.P. Bubba’s Smokehouse

If you’re wondering where you could find the best BBQ in San Diego in 2023, we’d surely say Bubba’s Smokehouse. Bubba’s was a family-friendly restaurant that truly connected with their customers and loved their craft. Unfortunately, this unparalleled bbq joint closed its doors in October of 2023 after over 15 years of business! Known for their ribs, burgers, sandwiches, and american barbecue fare, this would have been our #1 go to pick, but since they are in the process of relocating to a more cost effective area, other BBQ joints will have to suffice. That said, keep your eyes peeled for their new location announcements! 

Duke’s La Jolla

Duke’s is a classic Hawaiian-inspired chain restaurant that is two stories tall with ocean views. This huge establishment offers a wide array of delicious eats for all types of eaters–including the picky ones–and while they don’t have a huge selection of BBQ options, what they do have in terms of BBQ is truly chef’s kiss. Their bbq-forward menu items include Korean Style Sticky Ribs and Hawaiian Style Kalua Pork Sandwich and the Ribs & Chicken Plate– a local favorite from the streets of Waikiki. Both the Hawaiian style bbq options are complimented with a mango bbq sauce that provides a citrusy, sweet dressing to compliment the savory flavor. 

The Kalua pork sandwich is paired with delectable lightly crispy onion strings, apple cider slaw, served on brioche buns with fries, and the ribs and chicken plate features grilled huli chicken, jasmine rise, mac salad, and a lovely take on traditional slaw using bok choy and macadamia nut. The Sticky crispy duroc pork ribs are doused in spicy gochujang glaze, fresh herbs and lime to offer a kick with citrus. Oh, and if you’re a dessert enthusiast, the Hula pie is showstopping, and the key lime pie isn’t too shabby, either. 

  • Address: 1216 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037
  • Phone: (858) 454-5888
  • Hours: Mon – Thurs: 11 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
    Fri: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    Sat: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    Sun: 10 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.

The Spot La Jolla

This place is truly the spot for delicious bbq in La Jolla–no pun intended. This casual tavern offers a cozy, inviting setting to enjoy pub grub–and they even have a fireplace! BBQ options for The Spot includes: two 6-bone Pork Baby Back Ribs with smoky house BBQ sauce with your choice of side (soup, veggies, rice, salad, etc). Happy hour is from 3-6pm, and they don’t close till 2 a.m., so you can stay for some rounds of drinks after you devour your meal. We highly recommend you get a basket of beer-battered fries or crispy onion rings, or fries-and rings combo to compliment your bbq dish. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you could try their ever-so-tasty cajun-garlic-floured pickle chips fried golden brown served with chipotle aioli sauce. Don’t forget to try their mud pie–it’s to die for.

  • Address: 1005 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037
  • Phone: (858) 459-0800
  • Hours: Mon – Sun: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.

Bernini’s Bistro

This cutesy Italian and American restaurant is by the La Jolla Library. They offer fine-dining in a laid-back atmosphere, and have both indoor and outdoor seating, depending on what vibe you’re feeling. Ok–we know this isn’t traditional barbecue, but the BBQ options for Bernini’s include: Braised Short Ribs with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables and the BBQ Chicken Pizza with red onion, cilantro, mozzarella. One nice touch this restaurant offers is miniature fire pits as table centerpieces in the outdoor patio–perfect for chiller San Diego nights. Some fancier, non-bbq dishes include the mozzarella caprese and the white wine mussels with basil and tomato. THeir brussel sprouts with duck bacon and garlic aioli are off the charts. Happy hour Sunday to Thursday from 4-6pm, so come hungry post-workday for the best deal. 

  • Address: 7550 Fay Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037
  • Phone: (858) 454-5013
  • Hours: Sun – Thurs: 4 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
    Fri – Sat: 4 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

L&L Hawaiian Barbeque

Located near the UTC mall–L&L is the perfect place to refuel after doing some shopping. This tasty chain restaurant serves traditional Hawaiian plate lunches and various types of Hawaiian style BBQ. If you love the flavors of Hawaii–tangy citrus, this island-themed establishment has everything from crispy chicken katsu to BBQ chicken and garlic chicken, as well as refreshing cold mac salad and flavor bursting spam musubi. Not only is their food undeniably tasty, but it is also freshly made. You also can’t go wrong with the shrimp curry or vegetarian Hawaiian Pineapple fried rice. Can’t decide? Opt for a family pack or party pack to get a little taste of everything. You can order for yourself, or a half pan or full pan–options to feed groups 4-6 people and 10-13 people–great for catering events.

  • Address: 4150 Regents Park Row, La Jolla, CA 92037
  • Phone: (858) 554-0888
  • Hours: Mon – Sun 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Flame Broiler

While this isn’t your traditional American BBQ, it certainly will make your mouth water and hit that sweet spot. Flame Broiler is a Korean-bowl style casual eatery that offers flavorful protein served over rice, a side of veggies, and sprinkled with green onions for extra flavor and crunch. The proteins you can choose from are charbroiled–chicken, beef, or tofu. One of our favorite things about this eatery is that they sell their 4 signature sauce bottles so you can attempt to recreate the magic at home. These sauces include Simply Magic Sauce, Flame Broiler Hot Sauce, Jalapeno Hot Sauce, and Seoul Scorcher. The Simply magic sauce bottle is sweet with a dash of spice, the Flame broiler is inspired by Louisiana heat, the Seoul Scorcher is Korean-inspired with gochujang and sesame. Comes with a side fruit or cabbage salad–which is essentially a variation of classic coleslaw.

  • Address: 8867 Villa La Jolla Dr Suite 606, La Jolla, CA 92037
  • Phone: (858) 587-8989
  • Hours: Mon – Fri 10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    Sat – Sun: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Wheat & Water

Yes, another restaurant that is not technically BBQ La Jolla, this Bird Rock restaurant has some delicious BBQ options to feed the soul and satisfy any craving for BBQ. Wheat & Water specializes in wood-fired pizza, shared plates, healthy salads, and charcuterie, but that’s not to say their Pulled Pork Sandwich and BBQ Kalua Pig Sliders aren’t phenomenal. Plus, there are a couple of BBQ sauce choices for the chicken wings such as Hoisin BBQ and Pineapple-Habanero BBQ. Their BBQ Kalua Pig Sliders come with asian slaw on slider buns and a little flower accent, and the Pulled Pork sandwich on a french roll with pineapple-habanero BBQ features a spicy tangy flare. 

Since their cuisine options are so eclectic, this is a solid spot for the whole family–especially for the picky eaters. Wheat & Water gives off beachy rustic vibes, wooden and brick accents with hints of blue, hanging plants. Their outdoor patio is adorable and feels very homey. They even have chairs and fire pits with turf for you to kick it and relax and sip on a drink while waiting for a table or to chill post meal. Wash your meal down with some delectable wine and beer from local and national breweries and wineries.

  • Address: 5737 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla, A 92037
  • Phone: (858) 291-8690
  • Hours: Mon – Thurs 4 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
    Fri – Sat: 12 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
    Sun 12 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse

While BJ’s is known for their deep dish pizza and warmed cookies served with ice cream, we think it would be silly not to include them here because they have several BBQ options and award-winning craft beer.  BJs has some exceptional BBQ Tri-Tip Sliders, Baby Back Ribs, and a Hickory Brisket and Bacon Burger. Their sauces–such as BJ’s Peppered BBQ or New Carolina Gold Sauce, or BJ’s Handcrafted root beer glaze–are what make their BBQ stand out. 

BJ’S is Located near Birch Aquarium and Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the La Jolla Village area.  They slow-roast their bbq tri-tip sliders and pair with sliced sirloin, bbq ranch, and serve it up with sliced dill pickles, which pairs perfectly with a side of fries and ice cold beer. They also offer gameday bundles such as steak and ribs with sides or the tri-tip and ribs bundle with sides to make it easy on you to prep before watching your favorite sports team do their thing. But really, you’d be silly not to try their chocolate chunk pizookie with vanilla ice cream.

  • Address: 8785 Villa La Jolla Dr, La Jolla, CA 92037
  • Phone: (858) 257-3640
  • Hours: Mon – Sun: 11 a.m. – 12 a.m.

Good to the Last Bite

We must admit, that when you think of the best BBQ San Diego has to offer, BBQ in La Jolla might not be known as a BBQ destination. These BBQ options are great for the area, however if you want the real deal, you’ll want to check out North Park for Grand Ole BBQ & Asado. They offer everything that you can think of when it comes to authentic BBQ, including Tri-tip sandwiches, Texas turkey sandwich, St. Louis Cut Spare Ribs, and a Smoked Kentucky Lamb Sandwich. If you are wanting to stay local to La Jolla, this listicle provides some great options for you to get your BBQ fix. Now go chow down, and don’t forget to use your napkin with all that sauce!

Author bio: Courtney Pester is a San Diego-based, San Francisco bred millennial with a passion for design and self-expression.  She prides herself in her charcuterie board making skills and has a soft spot for animals. When she’s not pumping out articles, you can catch her playing tennis and enjoying the diversity of events and restaurants San Diego has to offer.  Additional reporting by staff.

Media credits: Conceptual images of the best bbq in La Jolla and San Diego in this article are copyright of