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Jun 11, 2005 10:29 PM

Smoker @ MacArthur and MLK in Oakland

  • m

Driving by yesterday afternoon, I saw a billowing smoker and a table next to it stacked with buns and plates on the street corner. Wish I had time to stop, but had to rush on. Has anyone tried the barbecue here? If it's good and a regular thing, I'll make a point to return.

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  1. I drive by there fairly sometimes in the afternoon and have never seen a smoker...will try and look for it now....and will ask my son, who lives a few blocks away, to keep an eye out.

    7 Replies
    1. re: susancinsf

      Maybe it's a gypsy smoker who shows up on Friday afternoons or weekends. Keep us posted.

      1. re: Melanie Wong
        Constant Velocity

        Their sign says "hot links." I had passed it on a Friday and vowed to go back--tried on a Saturday but it had metamorphosed into a car wash and detailing operation. So I think that perhaps it's weekdays only.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          i rode past that corner this afternoon, Friday, at about 12:30 or 1 pm and someone was setting up one of several smokers on that southwest corner of MacArthur and MLK. No smoke was yet coming out. Was on a bus so didn't check it out but if Friday afternoon is one of their days, then I'll try and scope it out in the next few weeks.

          1. re: zippo

            Activity! This smoker mystery has been going on for more than four yrs now. Maybe with more eyes on the street, especially yours, we'll learn something.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I went to Burley's this afternoon about 2 pm and talked to Archie who runs the bbq and he said that he would be cooking every day for the next few weeks except for Mondays. He said that he would start in the mornings but wasn't setting up today due to work problems. When I asked if I could get some video of him talking about the operation, he suggested that I come back tomorrow, Saturday. If I can't get there this weekend, will hit it up again next week. At this point, I am firmly convinced that Burley's bbq is in operation, and that the story behind it, whatever it may be, is an interesting one.

              1. re: zippo

                Looking forward to your report.

                I drove by today and it looked like the guy I remember was there (Archie). I was going to stop and apologize for flipping him the bird because I didn't remember him at the time and thought he was someone who was harrassing me ... but ... the bbq wasn't set up ... I wasn't sure it was him ... and at this point the chase has become too much for me. Did wind up with some nice Jamaican jerk chicken instead nearby on San Pablo.


                Anyway, if you do report, hope you will start a new thread as this is meandering and an actual report might get buried in it.

                1. re: zippo

                  Awesome! And at this point, I think that video is the only proof that could be convincing. ;-)

        2. We passed it last night too, on our way
          to Pizziaolo (which was great).
          We made a mental note to look for it again.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Is that the one at the car wash or the one at the burger joint?

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Ah, the BBQ at Burley's Car Wash.

                  It's an interesting story. The owner would bring free bbq to the owners of the auto dealers on Broadway. They recipricated by using Burley's to wash their cars and that is how the business was built. They do some nice detailing, btw

                  Anyway the mom was trying to get the son to run the bbq about a year or so ago, but at the time, was unhappy and thinking of hiring someone to make her bbq.

                  I had eaten that day so all I got was a hot dog, not their strength. While it is nice to have a char-grilled dog, it was a Ballpark frank from the supermarket and there's only so much you can do with that.

                  I've never successfully returned. The son said it was open every day from about noon to 5 pm ... well, I found that untrue and was just as unhappy as his mom about that. Then it went into rainy season and when the carwash is closed, so is the bbq.

                  Actually, I think I may have given the son the bird about a week or so ago driving over from the tamale place. I was at a light and this guy kept yelling at me to get my attention which I was ignoring and finally turned to look. He said something I thought was a personal comment and as I drove off, a few blocks down it hit me .. dang ... that was probably the bbq guy and it was a joke. Will have to stop by ... he's a nice guy despite not always showing up on time ... or at all ... so I think he wil just think it was funny. It must be good bbq if they built a totally different business on it.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Oh yeah, I forgot. They have a really brief menu. However, they make items other than what is on the menu. If I find my notes ... good luck with that ... I'll post what they have.

                    I kept hoping to get back there before really posting anything about it, though I've made a few brief mentions here and there.

                    They also make hamburgers, so a char-grilled burger might not be a bad thing to give a try either.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Nope. Only one visit. It was that they were just firing up the grill, so I had lots of time to chat. I get the vibe the best time to stop by would be on a weekend on a sunny day. Hopefully the stars will all align one of these days and I'll be there at the right time on an empty stomach.

                        1. re: rworange

                          I drove by before 8pm tonight (Saturday), but no bbq action. Maybe too late. There are at least three smoker rigs, maybe four corraled there.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            We seem to be shadowing each other over this past week. I drove by today about noon ... on a sunny day like today ... on a weekend ... if they were going to hit the barbeque it would be today. Nothing.

                            Also, I've had some business down that way over the past few weeks and other than my unfortunate encounter at a stoplight ... nothing has been going on. In fact, I was wondering if the carwash itself went out of business for a while. They were washing cars today, but no bbq.

                            There's a second carwash two blocks down and they seem to also have a bbq setup. I've been keeping an eye on that but nothing so far.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              I was in the area Thursday and really driving down Market St to see if the new BBQ place was open ... it isn't yet but work seems to be progressing.

                              Anyway, I was passing by the other car wash on the corner of MacArthur and Market and noticed a sign that read "Free BBQ with car wash Sunday - Wednesday". The name painted on the building is Classic & Classy Enterprise and here is one of the few references I found.

                              There's no reference on yelp, so maybe it is just a former business no one painted over. There is still car wash activity going on there.

                              Honestly, I have yet to see signs of bbq at either Burley's or this place but maybe I'm just passing by at the wrong time. Anyway, I thought I'd pass it along, FWIW. Don't want to add a place record till I know for sure.

                              That area of Market from MacArthur to a little beyond San Pablo is just full of fried fish places. Some of them are hidden in Mexican restaurants. I forgot where I read it, maybe yelp, but one of those Mexican joints is suppsoed to have great fried fish.

                              There was a place I swear I never saw before driving down that road called BFC on 3112 Market. I stopped by to pick up a menu, but they didn't have one yet. I asked if they were new and they said no, the place was there for years.

                              Well, yes and no.

                              Digging around and backracking to yelp, it seems it was once called Emma's which people liked. In early 2009 it changed to Tastees, which people didn't like. However, within the last few months they are back up to a four star rating, so maybe the Emma's crew is back with a new name. The coconut pineapple cake got a thumbs up.

                              The cakes looked good. I asked if they made them and they said no, they had some lady make them. They looked better than the Casandra's cakes that are usually sold at these types of joints. So ... one of these days I'll give them a try. Anyone been to BFC or any of the fried fish places in that section?

                              Here's an old 2005 Chowhound report about Emma's

                              I might have actually stopped by Red Buffalo finally for the wings or Po Boys, but they had a sign that they were closed until 4pm.

                              1. re: rworange

                                What's the name of the taco truck parked across from red buffalo? Drove by last weekend, was paying more attention to RB and missed it.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Will note it next time I'm down that way.

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    El Torero Tacos and Tortas

                                    I jotted down the phone and address, but seem to have misplaced it. Will update this post if I tried it.

                                    I have a good vibe about it. Pretty straight foward menu with meat choices that include lesser seen sesos (brains, right?). They had some sort of enchaladas but I couldn't read what type. norte... something.Burritos, tortas and aqua frescas complete the menu.

                                    i just picked up wings at Red Buffalo, so didn't give it a try this time.

                                    As to the carwash BBQ... I think they are discontinued at both places. I stopped by the place with free bbq with a car wash ... and though the sign was still displayed and it was Wednesday, they said they discontinued it. What ticks me off about this is that the sign is a folding sandwich sign and there is no reason they should actually be moving that sign to the sidewalk if they don't do bbq ... just carry it inside.

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      There's a taqueria a little north of Red Buffalo on the other side of the street that I think has the same name as the truck.

                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        Found the truck address

                                        5801 International Blvd
                                        Oakland, CA

                                        The little taqueria sitting by itself on the triangle? I think it is a different name but I might be down that way today or tommorrow and take a look. I think it is another name.

                                        I got shut out with the system being down last night. Here's a link to Red Buffalo


                                        1. re: rworange

                                          The taqueria on the triange where Market and San Pablo meet is El Asadero. Earlier this month, it was reported in the Oakland Trib that someone drove their car into it at 2 in the morning . . .

                                          1. re: Constant Velocity

                                            Thanks. That's it. They are actually open. The car crashed in the back of the restaurant and that looks like a mess, but I saw the open sign on going by.

                  2. Sheesh ... finally ate at Burley's

                    Oakland: Eating at Burley's Car Wash, baby - Archie's BBQ ... at last

                    Turns out Archie wasn't the guy who I flipped off ... so whoever that annoying jerk was deserved it.

                    1. The Burley's smoker and the signage for Burley's auto detailing have been gone for some time but recently there's been some new activity at that corner.

                      Today at about 4 pm, from a passing bus, I saw a smoker puffing away with a few people around it along with wooden sidewalk signs nearby listing grilled meat and fish.

                      It looks like a different grill from the one Archie had. There's also a smaller grilling or smoking operation going on at a detailing shop on the south side of MacArthur about 1 or 2 blocks west (West Street or Market Street?) of the former Burley's.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: zippo

                        Thanks for the heads up, zippo. Maybe we'll hear a report soon and this thread can morph into an archive of various gypsy smokers who frequent that corner.