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Jul 1, 2007 12:23 AM

Barbecue: let's dispel some myths

Let's dispel some myths about barbecue.

First, ribs are not barbecue. Barbecue is pork shoulder, or if you're from Texas, beef brisket.

Barbecue is slow-cooked, preferably in a pit, at least overnight. If it doesn't fall apart, it's not barbecue. If you need a knife, it's not barbecue. Grilled meat is tasty but it's not barbecue. What most of us call "barbecue" is "grilling".

Barbecue does NOT come pre-sauced, ever. The sauce should be in a ketchup squeeze bottle on the table, or in a little container if your meal is to go.

Sauce composition depends where you're from. Around the Mason-Dixon line it's primarily vinegar based...further south it gets more tomato-based and much sweeter. It's usually not thick and smoky...smoke comes from the meat, not the sauce.

Memphis Minnie's is not barbecue. Everett and Jones is terrible, and it's not barbecue either. Even the place that used to smoke meat in old oil drums under the gas station canopy on Old Oakland Road in San Jose isn't barbecue (though it was tasty).

The only place in the Bay Area I've found that cooks real barbecue is Great American Barbecue Co. in Alameda. The pork shoulder and beef brisket are both fully legitimate, the sandwiches are huge, and the sauces are exceptionally tasty and not too sweet. (I prefer the medium, but they're all mostly the same.)

As has been said, it's really easy to miss the place. Drive over the High St. bridge and it's literally the first thing on your right. Their signage sucks...I drove by it hundreds of times before I noticed it was there.

No, I don't work there or have anything to do with the place. I was just happy to discover a place that served real barbecue after being disappointed so many times by places that claimed to but didn't.

Anyone know any other places that serve real barbecue?

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  1. Interesting and well said, don't know...

    The home smoker is my friend.. on Sunday at Thee Parkside does all you can eat bbq..I will check out and report back.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Lori SF

      Three Parkside
      1600 - 17th Street, SF
      5 pm Sunday - music with BBQ and beer -

      1. re: Cynsa

        opps...delete the "r"
        Thee Parkside

        Peter cooked today. The mac 'n cheese was two-helpings good. The chicken was moist and tasty. I didn't taste the fried chicken, the burger, or the pulled pork.

        1. re: Cynsa

          thanks for reporting back. I am sorry we did not make it we stayed on our side of town and went to Lime Tree which I recommend. Maybe we will go next sunday. Was the pulled pork and burger part of the all you can eat bbq price?

          Too bad the website does not tell what is going on. FYI, the chef from Universal Cafe is now at Thee Parkside this might explain the lack of info on their website. they might be revamping.

          1. re: Lori SF

            Yes, the burgers - both beef and veggie, and the pulled pork are "included" in the free all-you-can-eat bbq. Fill the Tip Jar to the brim, please.
            Good music. Busy bartender!

            Thee Parkside
            1600 - 17th Street @ Wisconsin

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      1. You forgot to add that every mustard-based bbq sauce recipe should be thrown into a pile of fire. ;) Just overpowers the meat, instead of enhancing it. But on a more serious note, after moving back to the Bay Area after spending time in the midwest (St. Louis), and the south (Atlanta), I'm absolutely appalled at the lack of bbq joints in the South Bay. I'm currently in San Jose and the only bbq option is the local Armadillo Willy's chain.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Bunson

          Not true that Armadillo Willy's is the only bbq joint in San Jose. The AW in Capitola is terrible, BTW. I've had the below on my radar but haven't had a chance to try them. Let us know if you do!

          Texas Smokehouse BBQ:



          JC's on Saratoga

          1. re: Carb Lover

            Thanks a ton for the links...I'll definitely check them all out and let you know how it goes. The hunt for the best BBQ is back on!

            1. re: Bunson

              Sam's is great! Good value, tastes good! Chicken, brisket and yes even the ribs are good. Meaty with good tasting sauce.

              Lots of people love Andy's but tastes like lighter fluid to me. Their brisket is good as well.

              If you go all the way to Gilroy, there's a chain called Famous Dave's... and it's pretty good too.

              1. re: Bunson

                I was hoping that I'd spark a hunt for you! Look forward to hearing how it goes...

            2. re: Bunson

              Oh I so disagree! Mustard based sauces, commonly found in South Carolina (versus a North Caroline vinegar based sauce) can be wonderful. I like the regional differences in sauces.

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              1. The original comment has been removed
                1. The myth that I would like to dispel is that there is no good BBQ in California.

                  Here is the schedule for Kansas City Barbecue Society Sanctioned Contests in CA. There will be good BBQ there, if you can get it from a team, NOT a vender!

                  06/30 - 07/01
                  San Jose, CA
                  State Championship Shake, Rattle and Smoke!
                  Contact: Ben Lobenstein, 750 La Playa, Suite 912, San Francisco,, CA 94121
                  Phone: 888-517-4150 Fax: 888-517-4150

                  08/03 - 08/04
                  Thousand Oaks, CA
                  Cancelled Thousand Oaks Kiwanis BBQ & Chili Fest
                  Contact: Lee Westenhiser, 1710 N. Moorpark Road, Suite 190, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
                  Phone: 805-777-4844 Fax: 805-494-0140

                  08/17 - 08/18
                  Fairfield, CA
                  State Championship West Coast BBQ Championships
                  Contact: Ben Lobenstein, 750 La Playa, Suite 912, San Francisco, CA 94121
                  Phone: 888-517-4150 Fax: 888-517-4150

                  09/28 - 09/29
                  Clovis, CA
                  State Championship Master Cut Red Hot & Real BBQ
                  Contact: Don Bean, PO Box 4278/1800 Standiford Ave, Modesto, CA 95352
                  Phone: 209-574-6211 Fax: 209-577-3845

                  IMHO the essence of BBQ is "low and slow" - I feel that almost anything, including bologna, cooked low and slow is BBQ - and you gotta have smoke! You can use LP gas (as shown by the KCBS sanctioning the LPQUE, on an experimental basis)

                  I cannot understand saying that ribs are not BBQ - sounds like a silly regional preference to me.

                  On the subject of regional preferences, I have been judging KCBS BBQ contests for the last few years around St. Louis - but soon we are going to Massachusetts to visit Mom, and we will judge at a KCBS BBQ contest in Vermont - I am looking forward to seeing the regional differences!