San Diego has the perfect climate for BBQ. Even in the wintertime, I will still fire up our backyard grill for the simplicity. Anything not to wash a pan! Or admittedly, if that feels like too much effort, I’ll throw some chicken into my Crockpot with my favorite BBQ sauce, which makes for a tasty enough meal, but a very far cry from the amazing REAL DEAL BBQ you can find at Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill at Hazard Center.
Grilling and smoking over Pecanwood, Applewood, Hickory or Oak, Chef Alex Benes and his team are truly culinary artists, blending the flavors of unique sauces and rubs to create barbecue perfection. When asked whether this lengthy labor of love is worth it, Chef Benes laughs and says “of course, otherwise anyone can do it.” Hence the separation from a home chef like me, and someone of his talent.
Wood Ranch totally renovated the former Randy Jones BBQ restaurant to create a modern but cozy atmosphere with warm wood and brick tones and soft lighting. The bar is welcoming for food and drinks, for hanging out, or to watch a game on their large screen TV – and the list of beverages is impressive, with a fabulous and creative selection of beer and cocktails sure to delight.
The menu is extensive, featuring healthy and interesting meal-size salads, as well as the signature dishes you would expect and more – including chicken and ribs, pulled pork, trout and salmon, tri-tip, filet, burgers, their popular brisket and the new Giant Short Rib which was recently added to the weekend menu and is worth the visit Friday through Sunday, just for this! Tender and delicious, you can’t go wrong with paired sides such as mashed potatoes or asparagus.
But hold on, back up a moment, as you will be greeted with warm homemade garlic rolls, so stop yourself from eating the entire basket or you will miss out on appetizers like spinach and artichoke dip or their fresh and flavorful guacamole with chips to complement your mojito. Even the side salads are inviting, topped with homemade dressings that actually make you want to eat your green salad rather than play with it.
They do lots of take out and catering and serve up lunch specials for the busy business crowd and have quite the following of executives who come to powwow over iPads and papers – while enjoying “sliders” of various BBQ offerings.
Wood Ranch also attracts families, with a recipe for things that make mom and dad happy. For starters, there is plenty of easy parking on site, the service is excellent and attentive, and if the kids are being a little fussy, waiters bring out a bowl of cheerios and oranges to keep them entertained. Little ones will grub on the Mac & Cheese and Chicken Tenders or Baby Back Ribs and BBQ Tri Tip Sandwiches – served with healthy sides like Sweet Mashed Potatoes or Steamed Veggies. If there’s room for dessert, Wood Ranch gives kids the option to Build Your Own Sundae! Or they may want to share the famous Oreo Cookie ice cream balls on the grown up menu.
So whatever the season, you are sure to enjoy all that Wood Ranch has to offer. Perhaps even on Christmas Eve – I hear that Santa loves BBQ even more than cookies!