We've Sold Out: Mondi reviews The Smoking Gun in Gaslamp
A few weeks ago, Mondi wrote us a poorly written review about the best and worst restaurants in San Diego. For some reason, people thought it was good and shared it, and as result, Mondi is now a professional food critic. This is the first in our series of Mondi eating at food establishments, good or bad.
This past Wednesday I was asked to review The Smoking Gun, a restaurant located in Downtown San Diego. To be honest, I wasn’t particularly hyped to go eat there because usually Downtown eateries serve up hot garbage for tourists and I tend to stay away.
Either way, I still accepted. Food is food.
Upon arrival I link up with my editor, young Andy Internets, and we hit a quick detour to the nearby CVS where my guy proceeded to steal a bottle of Pepcid so he didn’t turn into elephant man after having a few drinks (thats my friend and all but my bro lucky modern medicine can delay natural selection). Walking into the restaurant afterwards, we were greeted by the general manager Randy, who lead us to an isolated booth. I just wonder if bro seen us and was like, “I can’t believe we’re catering too these people.” Probably.
Anyways, off-rip, I had to give this place a big plus because they gave us milk jugs with water. I know this ain’t a big deal, but I’m a thirsty bitch and not having to wait for more water is clutch, especially when I’m high. Our waitress for the night was Ki, who was super helpful and gave us the history of The Smoking Gun. Apparently, this place used to be a gun range but is now a Retro-American themed bar that also has a hair salon in the back for the bad bitches that wanna get a perm and a side of ribs.
Before I begin, just to keep a buck though, this is the first time I’ve ever been comped food on some real grown critic shit, so thank god Andy was there doing the talking being professional while I could just chill and stare at people walking outside. No small talk or nothing, just waiting for the food.
First orders up, we start with the drinks: a Jalisco Buck and some japanese version of a old fashion that they called a Toki Old Fashioned. The Jalisco Buck was made of some tequila, some shit I'll never be able to pronounce called yzagurrie vermouth and angostura bitters with lime and the usual bar products. I don’t really drink too much because all alcohol sucks to be honest, but I really enjoyed this one in particular. Tasted like a fruity version of a Paloma, the real fancy kind that you can only get at quinceaneras.
When it was finally time to order the food, we made sure to cop the chicken nuggets as a appetizer, and for what is usually a childs food item, they were actually not bad. A negative about eating in Downtown is getting small ass overpriced plates, so I thought we were gonna get like five nuggets or some shit, but our shit was loaded. One great thing about the chicken is how much cartilage was inside, but maybe this was the fact that they use thigh meat for nuggets and i'm just not used to it. On the side they offered a honey mustard and ranch, both house made, and surprisingly the ranch was actually fire. To be frank, I can’t believe people fuck with ranch so heavy, shit is disgusting, or at least I mean regular store-bought ranch or traditional ranch, it taste like feet and gives me PTSD to highschool of people eating pizza with ranch. This house-made ranch was fire though and I wish all ranch can glo up like this and stop being disgusting.
Afterwards, Ki brought us a Frito pie, which she served as a complimentary recommendation. If you don’t know about the white trash delicacy that is a frito pie you're missing out. The last time I had one of these was in Arizona (fun fact: you can really taste the underlying racism when you eat a Frito pie in Arizona) about 10 years ago. It’s a cut open bag of Frito’s topped with chili, cheese, and sour cream. When we were walking to the restaurant before, I’m not finna lie, I was clowning cus there was chili on the menu. Who out here just ordering chili somewhere? Especially in San Diego, and in the summer? I can just picture it now, some dad from Kansas fast walking to a toilet, thighs chafing in this humid ass weather. That’s what my dumbass gets though for talking shit though, cause the chili was fire, words I’d never thought I’d speak or type out. My apologies to all thigh-chafed up white men out there.
For our main entrees, we got what they called TV Dinners, which were combo plates of a choice of meat and two sides. I had ribs with fries and stuffing, and Andy had brisket with cornbread and fried brussel sprouts. I don’t eat ribs at all, they always get me sick and for some reason it grosses me out when they’re pork ribs (maybe all those Wu-Tang lyrics are fucking with me subconsciously), but the ribs though were flight -- them shits could be cut with a butter knife. The BBQ sauce that’s used here is kinda weird, but in a good kinda weird way, same way Urban Outfitter dudes see Zooey Deschanel. Maybe I’m just being a bit biased because there is no BBQ that can touch Sweet Baby Ray’s, but the BBQ sauce here taste a little more fruity, like if it had plum or tamarind. Nothing bad, just something I’m not used too.
As for Andy’s plate, the brisket was surprisingly top-shelf work, especially in comparison to other places in Downtown that try to do the whole BBQ thing. Brisket look like the kind of thing that shouldn't be hard to cook, like just leave that shit in a smoker for days or someshit, but I guess that's def not the case cos rarely does anyone get it right. As for here though, the brisket slid right off the fork and tasted great with pretty much anything else you paired it with.
On the one downside though, my sides honestly were kinda whatever. I am firmly Team Anti-Steak Fries and while this place doesn’t exactly serve steak fries, they still do got a thicc round chip. It also didn’t help that the ketchup being used was house-made, so it kinda tasted like V8 tomato juice. This is one of the times where using store bought over homemade is the way to go. On a side note, I 100% think I am addicted to ketchup so here is a helpful power ranking of ketchups.
Ketchup power rankings:
Ketchup from vegan spots
McDonalds ketchup packet, but it’s gotta be room temp
Bulk ketchup packets you find at gas stations and cafeterias
Anyways, as for my other side, stuffing, well that was a mistake. Avoid that. Andy’s plate was the same. Good meat (pause), but hit or miss on the sides.The cornbread was OD hard, pretty much a brick. The fried brussel sprouts, however, were the move though. When Future says, “I made 500 thousand then I freaked it,” he is talking about brussel sprouts.
The star of the day though was definitely the award-winning Mac and Cheese. It was one of those baked mac and cheese plates (which I don’t give a shit what says, baked mac and cheese is the move), so I was a fan off the jump. Plus, once I heard that shit was award-winning, I immediately accepted it as truth without doing any background research or further questioning. Ki wouldn’t lie to us like that.
Speaking of Ki, shout out to her for giving the helpful tip of order a entire mac and cheese instead of the side order. If anyone deserves a raise and a promotion, it’s Ki, she gave us a whole history lesson, menu breakdown, and deep conversation in between. If we were actually CEO’s and this was some shitty episode of Undercover Bosses where we just pretended to be two ugly critics, I would’ve given Ki a week vacation or something. Good customer service.
All in all, this place is not bad at all. As a local, my only gripe is that it’s just cursed with the fact that it’s slapped right in the middle of Downtown, a place where all the worst kind of people in San Diego intersect. I would definitely not be mad about coming in here again though, especially for that Mac and Cheese. While this wouldn’t be my first option for BBQ, it should definitely be on your list of places to stop by for some drank and ribs. Solid 7.5/10 if I had to rate it on my Needle Drop dickhead shit. Plus, it's the Gaslamp, so you don't got too many other options.