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Anyone been to Great American BBQ lately? [Alameda]

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It's in Alameda on High Street. Comments from several years back weren't great, but things can change.

http://www.greatbbq.com/

Thanks,
Chris

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  1. I took a run over to GABB today at lunch to check it out for myself. I had read not-so-wonderful reviews here but they were all several years old.

    I got a two-meat combo that included:
    Pork ribs
    Beef brisket
    Mac and Cheese
    Collard Greens
    White Bread

    all for about $12.50 or so (take out).

    Overall I found the BBQ good, but not great. It certainly doesn't approach Uncle Willie's in Oakland (my current gold standard). But I felt like the meat if not the sides were comparable to a place like Back Forty in Contra Costa.

    The ribs were actually pretty tasty, and had a nice rub on them. I didn't get a huge amount of smoky taste, and I wondered a few times if they boiled the ribs before smoking them.

    The brisket was a bit fatty, but not dry and pretty flavorful. Again I didn't get a big smoky taste.

    The sides were a little more disappointing. The mac and cheese was slick and cheesy, more like a mix than the "home-grown" baked style. And the collard greens were more bland than I would like. I didn't get much vinegar or meat drippings taste in these. And why didn't I get more than one slice of white bread with all of that food?

    So I would go back, especially if I was in the area (it's very close to my house). But not sure if I would drive over a bridge to go here.

    Chris
    Caesar_X@yahoo.com

    3 Replies
    1. re: Caesar_X

      I've found "Uncle" Frank's, and Armadillo "Willie's".....but no "Uncle Willie's" could you tell us more about this place since it is your 'fave'??
      Thanks

      1. re: ChowFun_derek

        Uncle Willie's is at 614 14th Street (cross street is Jefferson, I believe?).

        They do really nice ribs and hot links, but their brisket is probably their best meat.

        Chris

        1. re: Caesar_X

          http://www.unclewilliesbarbq.com/

    2. Great American changed ownership about a year ago; since then
      the pork ribs have improved, the banana pudding is pretty good, but the rest of the choices remain relatively unremarkable, IMHO. But if you're Q-crazed and don't feel like
      leaving Alameda, you could do worse.

      Season To Taste in the Alameda Marketplace usually features
      "barbeque" ribs, but they're the oven-braised cooked-to-death
      type, that folks either love or hate. (I belong to the latter
      group; I like a little bit of fight left in my ribs.)

      Where's Uncle Willie's? I'm dying for some real West Texas
      style brisket, something that's hard to find out here.

      1. Had lunch there on Tuesday. Had a brisket sandwich with one side. The sandwich was huge, couldn't eat it all. The brisket was just a tad on the fatty side which to me, being from Texas, was about perfect, don't want "lean" brisket. The creamy potato salad was fine, no problem with it. Place was fairly busy.

        2 Replies
        1. re: rtmonty

          I went to Uncle Willie's today. Indeed, very good brisket. I got the two-way combo, pork ribs and brisket. Wasn't sure I was going to get the brisket but asked...and was offered a sample. Knew right away it was good. Was asked if I wanted a lean cut or some fat on it (I guess that's the Texas cut). The ribs were okay but the brisket is definately the star. I'd definately go back for the brisket (not so sure about the ribs). Interested in tasting the pulled pork sandwich. Very friendly owner/staff.

          1. re: ML8000

            Hey, ML8000! Could you repost this as a new thread? People aren't going to look for info on Uncle Willie's in a thread about Great American BBQ. Also, it gets confusing -- see the post above that mentions he got a brisket sandwich "there" but which place "there" refers to isn't at all clear.

            Finally, just where is Uncle Willie's?

        2. I went there recently as well and thought it was excellent. I agree the place seemed clean and comfortable. Chatted a little with Harry, he said they recently changed their rib recipe, and he also mentioned his time on the competition circuit.

          We went with a large group so got to try quite a bit - the star was certainly the brisket - moist, tender, a little fatty (in a good way). The ribs were great, not tough by any stretch, but also not "fall off the bone" overdone - they had a nice chew and texture to them, and the rub was great (seemed like some variation on the standard American salt/pepper/paprika/onion powder/garlic powder concoction - nice balance). We ordered two full slabs and ended up with an unexpectedly large mound of meaty ribs - very satisfying. This is darn good BBQ.

          Sides were a mixed bag. The fries were some kind of frozen crinkle-cut - so, nothing special. Very "standard" coleslaw, just the way I like it - this was good. I didn't try the beans, comments for others were 'very sweet' and 'very good' - can't say much about them myself. Mac and cheese was pretty bad, very mushy pasta and some kind of gummy cheese.

          I thought the bbq was great and didn't really need a lot of sauce. But bottles of "mild", "medium" and "hot" are on all the tables. I tried some of the hot with a little of my brisket, it had the slight bitterness and complexity of dried chiles, maybe anchos? I really liked it. The ribs really stood alone though.

          It's pretty far from my normal stomping grounds (peninsula and SF) but I'd go again next time I find myself in Alameda.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Pincho

            I went today and had a similar experience as Pincho and Craig. The sides are fine, I tried Mac and Cheese, slaw and beans and found none offensive but no raves.

            The meat is the star! I had a two meat platter; brisket and ribs. Both were juicy, a little fatty in a good way and nicely spiced. I like a little extra heat so Harry brought out his extra hot sauce for me to try. It was great blended with the regular hot which had a little sweetness to offset the pepperiness of the extra hot. I got a generous plate, enough for two meals and I'm looking forward to my leftovers.

            Harry also passed on a free peach cobbler, something I would have never bought since I'm always too full. I heated it up at home and really enjoyed it. The biscuit crust was nice and flaky with a cinnamon and sugar top. The peaches were probably from a can but still tasted good. The whole thing was a very enjoyable dessert, and not too sweet which I like. I'll pick one up to bring home next time I go.

            I've been to Uncle Willie's once and was very disappointed with my experience, same for Everett and Jones. I am a fan of Bo's Barbeque but don't get out to Lafayette much. High Street is my go to Que and I'm excited that it's getting better and better.

            1. re: rosie7477

              Just wanted to second (third? fourth?) the opinions that the new ownership has made a difference. Went in tonight and the new owner Harry was working the counter. Said he has owned the place for a couple months and offered rib sample.
              I had the smoked chicken salad - the chicken was moist and delicious and there was enough of it (not the skimpy dry stuff from the prior ownership). It doesn't seem like much of a "salad" place, so the salad part was merely adequate: romaine lettuce, red onions, mealy tomatoes and token red cabbage and carrot slivers. The chicken made it.
              My husband had the ribs and brisket. The ribs were very tender and had good smoky flavor. The brisket had just the right amount of tenderness inside and crispness on the outside.
              We shared a peach cobbler that had a nice biscuit top.
              We'll definitely go back.

          2. A friend recently mentioned that Great American BBQ in Alameda makes an amazing beef rib. Since we're talking about the one at the newly opened Woodchuck in Redwood City, I thought I'd ask about this one too. It's not listed in the online menu and might be a special. Any 'hounds tried the beef rib?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Answering my own question: I had a chance to try the beef rib yesterday at the Bay Area BBQ Championships at the Oakland Coliseum. Harry Stewart said he took it off the menu because customers complained it's too fatty. He uses English cut short ribs, smoked in a three-bone piece. Best beef rib I've had in ages, unbelievably deep beefiness with smoky bark and add your own sauce. Here's what it looks like,
              http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

              I also had a chance to ask him about the pork tenderloin sandwich. Stewart is from Iowa. He said the pork tenderloin is a weekend special.

            2. Great American has closed due to lease issues. Pitmaster Harry Stewart is looking to re-open in downtown Oakland, which is great news for me- BBQ for lunch, and at dinner no need to traverse the estuary.