Chef Edwards bbq
I was stopped at the light at 20th and San Pablo today when the unmistakable aroma of smoky bbq assailed my nostrils. I immediately changed my lunch plans and headed into Chef Edwards (1998 San Pablo, Oakland), where I found one of the best 'cue bargains in town: the "famous" Piggly Wiggly sandwich (thinly sliced roast pork, heeped onto a french roll, slathered in sauce) and a side of Mama's cole slaw for $4.25.
I took a quick browse of the reviews on the walls and asked for the hot sauce, which I think must be the only way to go -- although tasty, it's a little on the sweet and ketchupy side, and I'm guessing the mild might be overly so. The hot was nicely hot, but not overwhelming. The meat was tender and lean (although I'd actually been hoping for something fattier), and there so much of it I actually ate half of it with my fork before attempting to pick up the sandwich. As an avowed mayo-hater, I was pleased with the slaw, which was prepared with a vinegar-based dressing and was halfway to being pickled (in fact, it tasted somewhat like bread and butter pickles, with seeds that appeared to be dill and/or celery and mustard, and a bright yellow color that screamed turmeric).
The atmosphere was welcoming (although I probably wouldn't go there alone at night): a lunch counter with half a dozen stools and two tiny tables -- most people take out, but I was glad I didn't have to. Chef Edward is on a first name basis with most of his customers -- by the time I left, I was too (although I don't object to being called "beautiful" in lieu of my name (g)). From overheard conversations, I learned that Chef Edwards is from Yuma, and thus only uses mesquite for his 'cue. All orders are served in styrofoam containers, with a baggie containing plastic utensils, napkin and a moist towellette (very thoughtful touch!).
The customer known as "Bread Pudding Man" inspired me order some of same ($2.25). Dense but not overly soggy or eggy, topped with a creamy vanilla sauce. Yum! He also had banana pudding, sweet potato pie, and other desserts.
An earlier post on Chef Edwards said the sides were the real bright spot -- there's a wider selection than most places: beans, black-eyed peas, cabbage, candied yams, corn on the cob, coleslaw, dressing with gravy (to go with the bbq turkey wings), salad, green beans, mac-and-cheese, greens, potato salad, rice and spaghetti. The sandwiches come with the choice of one side, the dinners and combos come with a choice of two. There are also lunch specials that include a drink.
In short, while not great bbq, it's definitely good bbq, and the wider choices and fact you can eat in are plusses. I'll undoubtedly go back and try the brisket (which seems to be a specialty).
I was recently here also, as I work down at Franklin and 20th. (See Food Chart Link) Walking there, even in the the day, was a tad disturbing for me as you pass some shady "Massage" parlors and other razor-wire enclosed buildings. And this guy in front of me thought I was following him, I think, and stopped to let me pass.
I too loved the little utensil package, which also included toothpick and mint. I got the mild sauce on my Piggly Wiggly and would get the hot next time. Had the potatoe salad which wasn't bad, but I'm not a big fan of that or 'slaw in general. I can't imagine all the sides that are listed on the sign are available all the time, (there are so many) but I never asked, so they might be. The cake looked great on the counter, but was too full to try any dessert. The Chef was nice and I always appreciate a proprietor who takes pride in his establishment and is welcoming to his customers. My only complaint would be a bigger plate to eat on if you are eating there because the sandwhich is messy and what it was served in was this tiny box.