Reviews on Yelp said the food was “hit or miss.” We were in the mood for barbecue. We were pass through Escondido. So we decided to check out Mike’s BBQ for ourselves.
Mike’s BBQ is set into a strip mall plaza off West Valley Parkway. Compared to San Diego standard bearers like Phil’s BBQ, the vibe at Mike’s is set up more dimly lit like a sports bar that specializes in barbecue, rather than a barbecue joint with sports on TV. And the flat panels were enormous, and spanned the length of the bar itself. We opted to sit at one of the high top tables not far from the bar, and in view of the televised glow of Sunday college football.
Service was casual but prompt, with someone yelling that the hostess would be right with us, and with the hostess rerouting from table to us, setting us up. A waiter was next and with a minute I was sipping a beer and my daughter, a soda.
But we came hungry, and showed up for the food. We decided on splitting a pulled pork sandwich with mac-and-cheese — and a full rack of baby back ribs. With that, we had a choice of two small sides or one large one. We decided on a small side of French fries and small mashed potatoes.
A few sips later, and some pleasant chitchat, our food arrived. SPOILER ALERT: It didn’t disappoint. The pulled pork was tasty, though it could have benefitted from some coleslaw within the bun. The ribs arrived moments after, tender and slow cooked and flavorful. The fries were crisp and crusted (twice fried?) and enjoyable. And for being “the small” size, we couldn’t finish them. Mashed potatoes with gravy were fine, uneventfully so, but an apt substitute for diners looking to avoid the fried and salty.
The pork ribs took center stage and did the job nicely. The pulled pork was good — but with a better bun and some coleslaw stuffed inside, it could have gone from “good” to “oh-so-good.” The only other downsides we could find were limited to the plates of food not arriving at the table together. And, if we were being nit-picky, while we had napkins, a hearty roll of paper towels at the table would have been better. Perhaps that’s what comes with a sports bar specializing in ribs, instead of a rib place with sports on.
Overall, Mike’s BBQ earns a solid 4 stars out of 5. It’s a good stop for good food and some relaxing Sunday sports.
Mike’s BBQ is located at 1356 West Valley Parkway in Escondido. For hours and menu, check out the restaurant webpage at https://mikesbbq.us.
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