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Explore – Review: Authentic Southern Food in California

BBQ 152
8295 Monterey Rd
Gilroy, CA 95020

Gilroy, California always makes me think of three things: garlic, roadside produce stands, and outlet shopping. I certainly didn’t expect to discover quality southern style barbeque, live music, and craft beer; but that is exactly what we found.

If you have ever visited the Gilroy Premium Outlets, you’ve probably eaten at one of the many chain restaurants in the neighboring blocks. Little did you know that amazing barbeque was waiting just past those restaurants, yet still within one mile of the outlets. And I’m willing to bet that, if you skip the double burger and Mexican chain food just once, you’ll never go back.

BBQ 152 sits just off Highway 152 on Monterey Street. It’s an unassuming storefront with a large, simple black and white sign nestled between Crepe Myrtle trees on the parkway. It’s not flashy, but it’s easy to find and worth the trip. 

My boyfriend and I opened the door to find the sound of live acoustic music carrying over the chatter of happy patrons. It was late for lunch, but the place was more than half full and held a steady stream of customers throughout our time there. It has a family friendly vibe without being kid-centric. One little blonde kiddo was swaying to the music as his family ate. We even witnessed one man start to clear his table with one hand and continue eating with the other. The food was just too good to leave behind.

Between the two of us, we sampled three meats, three sides, two beers, and all of the sauces. It was all delicious, and every meat had that glorious pink ring you only find on expertly smoked meat. Pulled pork is my go to at any barbeque place, and theirs did not disappoint. It was tender, smokey, and melted in my mouth. It came with a side of Hogwash, which is their custom vinegar and molasses blend. It worked well with the meat, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. I preferred their smoked BBQ sauce on mine. 

My boyfriend ordered a three meat plate with pulled pork, tri tip, and brisket. He’s pretty picky about his pulled pork, but he too approved. The tri tip and brisket were also tender and flavorful pre-sauce, but the smoky BBQ sauce brought out their flame grilled essence. And if you want sauce with a kick, try their spicy BBQ sauce. It definitely brings heat to your meat.

What surprised me most at BBQ 152 were the sides. I grew up with a southern grandma who fried chicken gizzards and made cornbread stuffing from scratch. Although I adored her stuffing, I never could get used to her savory cornbread on its own. As a West Coast kid, I wanted the sweet stuff, preferably with honey butter. I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t make it the way everyone else around here did. Let’s just say that she would be happy eating the cornbread at BBQ 152. It was moist, dense, and only slightly sweet. And to my surprise, I really enjoyed it. 

The beans were also more savory than I expected, with a strong underlying flavor of cumin and other Mexican spices. Definitely not the sweet baked beans often found at a California barbeque. The potato salad, on the other hand, wasn’t very memorable. It didn’t taste store bought, but it was somewhat bland and remarkably unremarkable. 

BBQ 152 also had a nice selection craft beer to pair with your meal. They offered about a dozen mostly local California beers on tap. I opted for Professor’s Patent, a smooth IPA on tap from Capitola brewer Sante Andairius Rustic Ales. It was light, but flavorful, and not too hoppy. My date chose a canned option: Mango Shakes from San Francisco brewer Bare Bottle Co. It was lightly creamy with a noticeable mango finish. Both were delicious and rounded off our meals beautifully.

We couldn’t have been more pleased with our lunch choice. It wasn’t packed with tourists, despite it being a Saturday. It had a friendly atmosphere, and great food. If you are passing through Gilroy for work or a little shopping, I hope you skip those flashy chain restaurants and give BBQ 152 a try.

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