2388 Fletcher Pkwy is the top of the hill, still considered El Cajon, but it would appear to be the top of the wall of the box on your way west to La Mesa, and that’s where you’ll find the Barbeque Pit restaurant.
Joe Browning was a mere youth arrived in San Diego to become a U.S. Navy Man ready to fight in World War II. He hailed from Texas and eventually married Lila Coates back in the 40s. After the war, Joe and Lila moved to Joe’s home of Texas, where Joe’s step daddy owned and operated ‘Shoemaker’s Famous Barbeque’ in the Dallas area. It only took one hot Texas summer to motivate Joe to move back to America’s finest city.
Joe and Lila’s brother-in-law, Ed Jenson pooled their money and opened the first of two BBQ joints. They started with two locations in San Diego, were successful, and over the years they operated restaurants in North Park; Pacific Beach; National City; Linda Vista; 6th Ave. in San Diego; 63rd and El Cajon Blvd; El Cajon Blvd. in El Cajon; Escondido; Kearney Mesa; Chula Vista; Fletcher Hills and San Marcos.
Today there are two Barbeque Pit restaurants in operation. One is at the Fletcher Pkwy spot covered in this review, and the other is located in National City. The two long running businesses are now operated by Joe and Lila’s son Gary and his wife Sue.
‘Don’t argue with success’, so they say. And with that philosophy, Gary and Sue continued doing business the same way as did Joe and Lila. They use the same recipes and still prepare the foods as did the original Shoemaker’s from Texas. Only ‘choice’ cuts of meat, slow cooked over an oak wood fire.
I started eating BBQ in the middle of the last century in National City, but am happy to eat at the El Cajon spot now. My son-in-law loves all of it. Great ham, beef, or chicken! They do much more than the meats… I also enjoy the potato salad, coleslaw, macaroni salad, beans and fries… Nancy enjoys their split pea soup and pies. I just hope Gary’s sons Todd and Tim continue for another decade or two so I can continue to enjoy good Texas BBQ. They also cater, and offer packaged foods to go. I’ve even stopped in once for a quart of BBQ sauce.