David Newlands/The Skyline View
Location: 2145 Coast Highway 1, Pacifica, CA 94044
Some say that good barbeque only comes from St. Louis, Kansas City, or Memphis, but on a clear afternoon, one only has to look toward the grassy dunes of Pacifica to see the smoke signals of Gorilla Barbeque calling you to mouthwatering, slow cooked, meaty goodness right in our own backyard.
In terms of quirkiness, Gorilla Barbeque checks off most of the standard boxes. The restaurant is housed in a pumpkin-orange train car just a Frisbee throw away from the popular Linda Mar surf breaks. The interior is done up in cold steel, unfinished wood, and enough random bumper stickers to wallpaper, well, a train car.
They are closed on a seemingly arbitrary day of the week – Tuesday. They offer take-out only, and host a line of eager customers clear to the end of the parking lot from noon until closing – which happens whenever they run out of meat. The menu is simple and focused on doing a few things really well, namely meat and southern style sides.
Gorilla offers all the classics: brisket, ribs, pulled pork, chicken, and hot links. They serve these straight up with a generous side of sauce, or they’ll sauce it, sandwich it, and smother it in cheese for you, if you are feeling dangerous. If you are feeling really dangerous you can slather your pants in the sauce. Take it from me, you’ll smell sweet and spicy all day whether you want to or not.
When asked which entrée was his favorite, Pacifica local Rob Kahl was deliciously diplomatic, “All meats are created equal, and I will eat them as such.” Like most customers, Rob opts for a combo plate so as to avoid the tough decision of what single meat to choose on any given day.
The number of meats in a combo is typically proportionate to the number of very hungry people it will feed. If all this sounds a little off-putting to the veggie minded individual, Gorilla offers hearty vegetable dishes like Portobello mushrooms, eggplant, and zucchini as entrées, and all their sides – rustic corn muffins, creamy mac
and cheese, red beans and rice, crispy slaw, and potato salad – are veg (but not necessarily vegan) friendly.
While a slow-cook barbeque spot with no seating may seem like a tough place to pop in for a quick bite, quite the opposite is true. Since barbeque is a slow cooking process that yields long-lasting results, the food is ready to go as soon as the doors open. It’s only a matter of how fast they can cut it and plate it up.
Orders are ready in less than five minutes, and you can nosh a complimentary lollipop while you wait. As for where to eat, well, you could take it back to campus and make your classmates jealous with the smell of fall-off-the-bone ribs and warm corn bread, or you could just walk across Highway 1, pick out a little Zen spot on the beach, and dig in. Gorilla Barbeque is a true hidden gem, though not exactly top secret. The infamous Guy Fieri has endorsed it, even going so far as to spray paint his personal brand logo behind the door. Take that promotion however you like.
If Fieri walked into my kitchen, fist bumping and “bro’ing” it up, I’d start shopping for better insurance and
a can of gas. Hey, Fieri may not know the first thing about cooking, but he looks like a guy who knows a thing or two about eating. With quirks that slather on the atmosphere like so much sticky sauce, and barbeque that melts
in your mouth and in your hands less than ten minutes’ drive from campus, Gorilla Barbeque is the perfect place to grab a bite between classes, or just bliss out on a meat orgy and forget you had class to go back to.