Where the Deep South meets the South Pacific.
by Alexander Quebec
Located on a strip mall near Santa Teresa High School in San Jose is The Art of BBQ. You would never know that there was a BBQ place in this spot if not for the big, black behemoth of a BBQ smoker right in front of the restaurant.
With crimson red walls, wood accents, and dark paneling, this unassuming spot has an atmosphere of an elevated experience without the fussiness of a higher end establishment. The people in the restaurant are equally friendly and welcoming; for example, they took a few moments to have a conversation with each of their customers.
I can tell that in spite of its short history, the restaurant already has some fans, as most of the customers coming in on both my visits appeared to know some of the people that worked there. My host on both of my visits was Jen, one of the most friendly and engaging restaurant owners (I think she’s the owner) I’ve ever come across. We chatted a bit about her Hapa heritage and all of the funny nuances that come with growing up Filipino (we can both relate, she did a spot on impersonation of your typical filipino mother).
My first impression of the ribs kind of scared me because they were black, charred, and looked more crunchy than anything else. I know some people are a fan of charred meat, but sadly I am not one of them. However, my curiosity was rewarded when I got a juicy, salty and savory delicious bit of meat that fell cleanly off the bone.
I did my chicken litmus test to gauge the chef’s skills at BBQ chicken. The chef passed because oh my god the chicken was heavenly; juicy with a bit of spicy and sweet seasoning. It was a boneless breast, so being able to savor all of the sweet and spicy goodness of the rub. I tried asking Jen what spices I was tasting, she gave me a wink and a nod, apologized and told me that it was a “family secret” (I could taste a bit of chili and brown sugar, but at this point, it was anyone’s guess)
On another visit, I gave the pulled pork a try. This hit the spot because it was moist, juicy and not salty at all. Again, Jen told me they use a special seasoning which is kept top secret by the kitchen staff.
Sides make everything in the BBQ world, and I had the chance to try most of The Art of BBQ’s sides; including their mac salad, mac and cheese, cole slaw, potato salad, and baked beans. For me, the top three are described below, but I gotta warn ya, these are drool-worthy.
For me, baked beans are where it’s at. I always enjoy a side of baked beans with any of my BBQ dishes, and these guys did not disappoint with their sweet and smoky flavor and just right texture (robust enough to where they can handle almost anything, but soft enough to yield to your mouth)
The mac and cheese was everything you can expect and more. The mac and cheese actually melts in your mouth with that cheesy goodness, in addition to some breadcrumbs on the top, the mac and cheese isn’t too cheesy, nor do they skimp on the good stuff, I’d say that the ratio of macaroni and cheese is just right
The mac salad is a nod to Jen’s Hawaiian heritage. Sweet and creamy, this makes a perfect complement to some of the salty and savory meat offerings TAOB currently offers.
Overall, the food at The Art of BBQ is meant to be appreciated. Great food and wonderful vibes make this place a grilled-worthy location to visit or make the drive to.
The Art of BBQ is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11:30 AM to 8:00 PM. All major credit cards are accepted and yes, they do take catering orders too.
Do you know of a legit BBQ place, truck or grill master within California we need to check out? Let us know in the comments below.