Historically, San Diego’s food scene isn’t known for its barbecue offerings. But over the past few years, establishments like Grand Ole BBQ y Asado in North Park have been working to change that.

Andy Harris, owner and pitmaster of Grand Ole in North Park, opened his Central Texas BBQ joint in 2015 and has battled sold-out crowds nearly every night since. Now, he’s massively increasing his footprint by launching a partnership with Social Syndicate (the group behind Wonderland Ocean Pub, The Local, OB Surf Lodge, and The Rabbit Hole) in the former Flinn Springs Inn space off Olde Highway 80.

The 15,000 square foot venue/restaurant/entertainment destination is 25 miles east of downtown in El Cajon, and is now open, but only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, for now. The new space features the same fast-casual Central Texas-style BBQ as the original location and a bar.

Future plans include a full service restaurant and two bars with combined seating for nearly 400 people. A chef’s table and VIP area will also be available for reservations. Ami Cisneros (formerly of JRDN and Pacific Standard Coastal Kitchen) will oversee the soon-to-come indoor restaurant, which will feature items including salads, steaks, burgers, and desserts from the in-house bakery and a weekend brunch.

The currently open, family-friendly concept offers communal outdoor seating as well as vintage pinball machines, corn hole, horseshoes, and a play area complete with a wooden train special ordered from Amish country. With the rocky hills of El Cajon serving as a stunning backdrop, the outdoor stage will regularly feature “country music-driven” acts. According to general manager John Patton, dancing will be encouraged.

For now, patrons dining in the outdoor space have front-row seats to the four smoking pits filled with brisket and white oak, as well as a rotisserie for slow cooking ribs.

“Out here is the heartbeat of everything we do,” says Patton, adding that it's “barbecue that San Diego isn’t really used to.” Of course, it wouldn’t be a true San Diego restaurant without plenty of craft beer on draft, so in addition to cocktail service, you'll find 20 taps inside and 18 outside, that more than fit the bill.

Grand Ole BBQ Flinn Springs

15505 Olde Highway 80, El Cajon

Hours*: Friday, 4pm to 10pm; Saturday, 12pm to 8pm; Sunday, 10am to 6pm

*Grand Ole BBQ Flinn Springs is now open in El Cajon, but for now, you can only get their authentic Central Texas BBQ on the weekends

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