In Good Taste: Barbecue gets bold at Iron Pig Alehouse in Pacific Beach

Baby Back Ribs
(OldHare / OldHare)


The art of barbecue has a long history, and Iron Pig Alehouse embraces that history and adds a chapter of its own. According to managing partner Louise Kelly: “We believe that barbecue should be rooted in tradition, but not captive to it. That’s why we smoke our meats low and slow, the El Paso way, but we also embrace new flavors and complementary cuisines.”

The restaurant serves high-quality beef, pork and poultry dishes — all smoked for hours using oak and hickory.

Kelly, along with managing partner Brigette O’Donovan, opened Iron Pig Alehouse on Garnet Avenue in 2014. Since then, they’ve built a reputation for award-winning brisket and rib dishes. Everything on the menu is made fresh daily, and they spotlight seasonal specials to take advantage of what’s coming in from local farms. Add to that a 40-line beer system featuring local brews to wash down all that smokey barbecue. There’s a “Piglet Menu” for kids, 10 and under, and the restaurant also has a dog-friendly patio with a special menu just for canines.

A 40-line beer system features local brews
( Courtesy )

Kelly explains how she and O’Donovan came up with the idea for the Iron Pig Alehouse: “We were actually in Palm Springs working on another project when a friend approached us with the opportunity. Brigette and I are very entrepreneurial businesswomen and having been in the restaurant business already and seeing a void in the market, it felt like the decision to build a BBQ joint would be just right for PB. As a longtime resident of PB, I knew that several restaurants had come and gone in the years I had lived here, but still felt strongly it could work. Oddly, another BBQ restaurant opened down the street from Iron Pig while we were under construction, so of course it made us a little nervous. But we are still here and October marks our five-year anniversary.

“The name, Iron Pig Alehouse, came after a lot of thought, but mainly represents the massive smoker we use each day. It’s able to smoke up to 600 pounds of meat at a time. It’s so big we had to cut an opening in the back wall of the building to even get it in. Of course, we patched the hole. That big pig isn’t going anywhere!”

Brisket Plate
( OldHare / OldHare )

The restaurant’s most popular dishes are the brisket, ribs and pulled pork. And for those who just can’t decide what they want, there’s the Meat Madness Platter with a little of every smoked meat on the menu. Salads are also a popular choice along with a variety of “sammies,” or sandwiches.


The restaurant serves a diverse crowd that’s primarily local. “It is so great to be taking care of customers in the restaurant and watch the reaction when their neighbor pops in and they meet up unexpectedly,” says Kelly. “They end up hanging out and chatting, setting down the phones and really connecting. We love that we have become that place of community for so many of our friends in the neighborhood.”

Pulled Pork Sliders
(OldHare / OldHare)

The restaurant just started serving breakfast on the weekends from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Their Chilaquiles dish comes in a close second to the ever-popular Good Morning PB Breakfast, featuring housemade ham. The dish goes well with a Bloody Mary garnished with smoked bacon.

Pulled Pork Sammie
( OldHare / OldHare )

The restaurant opens daily at 11:30 a.m. with weekday specials and a $5 Happy Hour, 3-6 p.m., and 9-11 p.m. (858) 412-4299.


Find the Iron Pig Alehouse at 1520 Garnet Ave.
( Courtesy )