Brazen BBQ smoking up the best Texas-style BBQ in San Diego, CA

John Bracamonte and Brad Thomas have been on the BBQ competition circuit since 2009, perfecting their Texas BBQ technique while winning some pretty prestigious awards along the way. During their quest for the perfect BBQ, they decided to open a restaurant to share their BBQ with everyone. With over 20 years of restaurant experience between the two of them, starting up and running a restaurant is in their blood. They even had the honor of serving Julia Childs. On August 17, 2011, Brazen BBQ was born with dry rub, hardwood smoked, Texas-style BBQ. I also learned that it is bad luck not to name your smoker. Ms. Regina Ann is the name of the smoker at Brazen BBQ. Brazen isn’t just a name, it means BOLD. At the Santa Anita Win, Place, & BBQ Showdown in October 2012, Brazen BBQ came in 2nd for Pork out of 30 competitors!

The restaurant itself is modeled after a Texas roadside BBQ stop – display cabinets with chicken wire showcase their numerous competition awards, chilled troughs with old style sodas like Big Red greet you upon entry, and a hand-washing sink in the middle of dining room. The ambiance is warm and welcoming. The service is friendly and attentive. Tables are cleared immediately to make ready for the next guests.

Crawfish Corn Fritters are housemade corn fritters stuffed with crawfish and drizzled with a spiced maple glaze. These were down-home Southern-style fritters that are crispy on the outside with a deep dark brown color yet fluffy on the inside with tender, succulent crawfish. The corn kernels were crisp and juicily burst with each bite. Thumbs up, way up!

Atomic Buffalo Poppers are sweet corn and a blend of cheeses stuffed into a bacon-wrapped jalapeno and tenderly smoked. If you can get pass the heat (These pack a huge kick, I’m not kidding!), you can taste the smoky flavor throughout and the cheese inside provided some comfort from the scorch. I guarantee you’ll be sweating after this. Thumbs up!

Brazen’s Smoked Wings are slowly smoked to tender perfection. Choose from dry rubbed, buffalo, B.R.A.G. (which is one of their signature BBQ sauces), or sweet Creole mustard. Wow! This blows any wing out of the water. The smoky flavor goes down to the bone and the rub flavor was perfect. No sauce needed with these babies. They were juicy, smoky and fall-off-the-bone tender. I can’t believe that these are not fried! Thumbs up, way up!

Onions Rings are thick sweet onions dipped in homemade batter, cooked to a golden brown, and served with sweet Creole mustard sauce. We have been on a search for the perfect onion ring since Andrew’s in Anaheim closed up shop. I think we’ve found it. The batter was puffy like tempura but flavorful, evident by the spice flecks in the batter. The outside was crispy and fluffy on the inside. Thumbs up, way up!

Bolt’s Platter for Two is your choice of three meats and three regular sides. We had the Brisket, Pulled Pork, and Baby Back Ribs. The brisket was fantastic with a great smoke ring (burnt ends are always the best), tender, and full of flavor. Thumbs up, way up! The pulled pork tasted exactly like kalua pig (Hawaiian roasted pig), juicy and contained the essence and flavor of pork. Thumbs up, way up! The baby back ribs were dry rubbed. Their rub was not overbearing and accentuated the meat. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender. Thumbs up, way up! The sauce is served on the side so you can drown it if you like or just eat it au natural. I urge you to taste the meat first without the sauce.

The sides we tried were Ancho Spiced Baked Beans, Smoked Kernel Corn Medley, Crusty Macaroni & Cheese, Corn Bread, and Collard Greens. The Ancho Baked Beans were sweet like baked beans but much more flavorful from the ancho pepper and spices. Thumbs up, way up! The Smoked Kernel Corn Medley had a great smoky flavor with sweet corn kernels. The vegetables were vibrant and added a refreshing flavor to the corn. Thumbs up, way up! Mac & Cheese seems to be the trend now and you see it on most restaurant menus now days, but Brazen’s version is really good. The cheese sauce is made in-house and encrusted with melted cheese on top like a French onion soup. The macaroni was perfectly cooked and slathered in their cheese sauce. Prepare to be tempted! Thumbs up, way up! The corn bread was moist and almost cake like. It had a nice sweetness to it and could be a dessert. Thumbs up, way up! The Collard Greens are a Southern favorite, just like mama used to make but without the vinegar taste. You can taste the green flavor with garlic to boast. Thumbs up, way up!

On Friday and Saturday nights, they smoke up Beef Ribs. They were super-meaty, juicy, and had a great smoky flavor. The bone gave the ribs even more flavor. The meat was tender and just fell off the bone. Thumbs up, way up!

Competition BBQ is not just for the judges anymore. Come down to the Hillcrest district in San Diego for the best BBQ in SoCal!


  • Happy Hour: Monday through Saturday from 3:30pm to 6:30pm, $2 off draft beer, well drinks, house wines, and starters
  • All Day Happy Hour on Sundays with $3 Mimosas, $5 Brazen Mary’s, and $5 House Margs

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars

For more information:
Brazen BBQ
441 Washington St
San Diego, CA 92103-2111

  • Hours: Sunday from 9:30am to 10pm, Monday through Thursday from 11am to 10pm, Friday through Saturday from 11am to 11pm
  • Delivery available – check their website for delivery areas in San Diego
  • Brazen BBQ is perfect for a corporate luncheon or game day party. Check their website for more details.

Brazen BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato