About Us


in cast iron smokers heated only with green oak and mesquite. Our Beef Brisket and the Pork Shoulder are cooked for 18 to 24 hours. The smokers were delivered from Texas and are hand built by a family who have been making cast iron smokers for generations. Our Brisket is cooked with the fat-cap that becomes crispy to hold in flavor, and the pork shoulder is cooked with bone in for the best pork flavor. Our sides, including
coleslaw, rice, beans, and chili are made fresh daily on site with long held family recipes.

Abbey’s Real Texas BBQ, a culinary haven celebrated for its flavors and stories, stands as a testament to the indomitable spirit of Matt Shlemon and his wife, Athena. Rewinding to the 1980s, Matt’s journey began as a pre-med college student in Chicago. However, the city’s weather failed to align with his aspirations. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree, he and Athena turned their gaze towards the inviting shores of San Diego in the welcoming embrace of San Diego. In 1987, just weeks after their arrival, serendipity graced Matt’s path. A fateful lunch at Real Texas BBQ unveiled a culinary experience that resonated deeply within him. The food was not merely nourishment; it was a revelation. The restaurant, though not officially on the market, ignited a spark within Matt. Conversations with the proprietors ensued, and during that very lunch, an offer was penned onto a humble paper napkin. Notes upon notes accumulated, forming an impromptu contract, ultimately thrusting Matt into the realm of BBQ restaurant ownership. This union of fate and flavor set the stage for a journey that would intertwine the Shlemon family with the heart and soul of their restaurant, shaping it into what it is today.
In the lead-up to his assumption of ownership, during the period when the notes initially scribbled on napkins were being meticulously transferred into formal escrow documents, Matt and Athena embarked on a journey to Texas. There, they immersed themselves in the vibrant world of BBQ restaurants, engaging in heartfelt conversations with the patrons. It was in the heart of Texas that they absorbed knowledge about wood smokers, the intricacies of meat preparation, a myriad of sauces, and a wealth of other insights. Despite now being proud American citizens, Matt and Athena’s roots trace back to their birth and upbringing in Iraq. They proudly identify as Chaldean-Assyrian Christians. Their journey as a family is marked by five children, all born between 1988 to 1998 and raised within the embrace of the Catholic faith. These children—Mathew, Mark, Abbey, and the twins Angelique and Kiana—have been an integral part of the restaurant’s growth. Having come of age within its aromatic walls, most of them have assumed distinct and independent roles across various operational aspects, ranging from the front of the house to the back, even establishing an in-house marketing team.
The family’s connection to their culinary enterprise is deeply personal, none more so than their daughter, Abbey. Her ardor for BBQ cuisine shone particularly bright. In 1998, Matt recognized both her passion and the unique identity of their restaurant. Sensing that the label ‘Texas BBQ’ had become somewhat worn in company branding, he took a pivotal step. The restaurant was reborn as ‘Abbey’s Real Texas BBQ’. This transformation resonated profoundly, propelling it to the forefront of San Diego County’s culinary scene. Matt and Athena’s aspirations didn’t halt there. The family’s entrepreneurial spirit drove them to broaden their horizons, opening more restaurants across San Diego. Their vision extends beyond regional confines, aiming to cultivate a distinguished hospitality group with an expansive national presence. Matt Shlemon consistently shares his heartfelt gratitude for the opportunities granted by their adopted homeland. This sentiment reverberates in his daily interactions with the customers who frequent their establishments, as he personally expresses his sincere thanks and appreciation for their unwavering support throughout the journey of over 42 years.
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