When I think of the food in the South, particularly food I had in “Bama”, all I would think about are mashed potatoes, sweet corn, mac & cheese, beans, corn bread, slow cooked meat and my favorite–sweet tea. My host mom used to cook me home style southern food all the time. At that time I was still in high school, so I didn’t have much of a chance to eat out. Occasionally, we would have barbecue too.
Therefore, I was delighted to be invited to the 2nd Annual San Diego Soul Food Festival 2012 to have some barbecue among other things.
It was a beautiful, sunny day, and a perfect time for some barbecue, ice cold drinks and live music. The festival was held in the Old Practice Field of Qualcomm Stadium. From the map online, it seemed easy to find, but it took us sometime to figure out where it was. I wished there were more road signs or directions in the stadium area to direct us.
Though I do not do chili, on this day for all you SDF readers, I tried my best to conquer it. The first booth we went to was the Playa Grill & Magarita Bar. Their sample was this hot chili grilled chicken that they have for tacos. If you like hot, exciting chili flavors with a little sweetness from the red and green peppers, you would love it.
Then we saw a line at Hank and Eli’s BBQ, so we jumped in. That’s one generous sample, you have the BBQ pork, rice, mac & cheese and coleslaw. Beside, they have 4 to 5 sauces of your choice: Root Beer & Brown Sugar, Cherry Cola & Chipotle, Ginger Ale & Soy, regular BBQ sauce and a Secret Sauce. Y’all have to try their sauces, each one of them are very unique and give special highlights of the BBQ meat. My personal favorite is their Secret Sauce, and it was a combination of sour, smoky and sweet. They sure have a secret recipe for the sauce, and I think ya ain’t gonna get it anywhere else.
When I saw that Hunter Steakhouse would be at the Festival, I have to say I was excited. I got more excited when I saw their grill. However, I was disappointed with their sample. It was 2 slices of grilled steak. Compared to pork, beef is harder to cook on a grill. The steak was a little firm, and not juicy. The good thing was that their sauce did the job in saving the steak by adding flavor to it. Wow, it was really unexpected to have “bad” steak from Hunter Steakhouse, I really love their Prime Rib and Sirloin.
This gorgeous chicken wing was from Chris’ Ono Grinds Cafe & Grill. I like the mac salad, but I like the wing more. It’s not one of those tiny-winy wings you find in a big pack of frozen wings. Even though it didn’t come with spicy hot sauce, it did have a yummy sweet, smoky Hawaiian teriyaki sauce. Well, with a Chinese tongue, Lemon tasted and immediately knew that they didn’t marinate the meat long enough for the chicken to absorb flavors, instead it was covered in sauce to create the “yummy-ness”. Though, I know what he meant, it didn’t seem to bother me. I continued in enjoying my wing.
We were also happy to find Naked Juice there. Free samples of their cooling and healthy juices. Oh yea! I had the Coconut Water, which didn’t really taste Coconut, but it was nice to have a light sweet drink after all the barbecue and spice. Lemon had the Red Machine-Great!
How can we resist COOPS West Texas BBQ? I think they had the longest queue. This was their sample plate, forget about mac salad, coleslaw, beans or rice. This is the real deal! Pulled pork and ribs with a tad bit of their barbecue sauce. That’s meat-“perfection”. Smoky, tender, juicy, warm, sweet. So tender that it slides off the bone. How much did I like it? Before we left, I had another plate of this even though I was stuffed.
One last stop we made was to Proud Mary’s Southern Bar and Grill. The rice was decent, not so spicy, but a sweet and savory taste. My favorite was the Bourbon Slushy! Awesome drink for only $5. Not a heavy drink, and great for this hot summer weather. I don’t know much bout alcohol, but I think there’s a great balance between the alcohol and the orange juice. The juice did not cover the taste of the Bourbon, but it also didn’t have the overwhelming bitterness. It was sweet down your throat and left a little alcoholic taste on the palate. Cheers!
At the entrance, they gave each person 2 tokens to vote for the best restaurant of this year’s Festival. I placed my vote on Proud Mary’s for their extraordinary drink, and of course COOP’S for their brilliant barbecue. Lemon placed his vote on Hank & Eli’s for their kick-butt sauces.
Great time, Great food, Great drinks! If you missed this one, no worries, look forward to the 3rd Annual San Diego Soul Food Festival.