I can honestly say I’ve driven by The Barbecue Company in Carpinteria, California at least fifty times without stopping. It’s not that I wasn’t curious, it’s just I’m usually on my way up north to a specific destination or heading south trying to get home as quickly as possible. Another issue might have been that I didn’t know of anyone that had eaten there before so there wasn’t that tug of necessity to try their BBQ. Well this Saturday I made it a point to eat there and I was pleasantly surprised (let me also say that these photos are from my iPhone as I didn’t have my camera with me so I apologize in advance for the lack of clarity).
Upon entering you are met with a very cozy and homey vibe (it didn’t hurt that a guilty pleasure of mine, Neil Diamond, was filling the air) . The restaurant is medium sized with a bar in the back that faces an open kitchen. I sat at the bar and struck up a conversation with a Jackie who was filling plastic honey bears with fresh honey. Turns out, she is part owner. Jackie and Gary Neilson opened The Barbecue Company in February of 2009 at the former Smokin Jacks Kansas City BBQ location right on the northern outskirts of Carpinteria. Gary (a Carpinteria mayor and a City Councilman back in the day) a classically trained chef who worked in the restaurant business for years handles the kitchen duties while Jackie, who worked in the legal world managing firms, handles the front of the house and the business side.
I ordered the three meat plate (I chose brisket, pulled pork, and spicy sausage that they smoke on premises). My side choices were macaroni and cheese and baked beans (which had burnt ends in them). In the photo below you can see (not very easily as it’s not 100% clear) the brisket, pulled pork, part of a sausage, and sauce to the right.
I’d give the brisket an eight out of ten. It had nice smoke, pulled apart, but still had elasticity. Also the rub was not overpowering. The pulled pork had great flavor too and the sausage was quite spicy, but had the richness I was looking for. They have four sauces to choose from. Gary explained that all of them are made completely from scratch and are not just versions of each other (i.e. the spicy isn’t just the original sauce with a little cayenne added). They are: Carolina Mustard, Spicy (Dangerously Delicious), Kentucky (Wet and Wild), and Original (Sweet and Spicy). You can see below that the Original gets the most use, but I was a huge fan of the Spicy and the Kentucky.
They use two Cookshack Smokers and mesquite as their primary wood.
After paying for my meal Gary rushed out a slice of smoked turkey that had to be the moistest piece I had ever had. The rub he used too was nice and flavorful. I will be ordering that for sure my next visit.
So if you’re headed up north on the 101 freeway and you’ve passed Ventura (but haven’t made it to Santa Barbara), I’d recommend stopping here to get some good BBQ.
You can stop here to try it yourself:
Phone – 805-684-2209