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Apr 14, 2006 01:05 AM

Vallejo - Gracie's Family Bar-B Que

  • r

FINALLY !!!. I was in Vallejo, I had not eaten and Gracie’s was open. It was like planets aligning.

Gracie’s opened a second location on Sonoma Blvd. When you walk in the door you are embraced by the smoky aroma. The air is thick with it.

I ordered Texas Brisket lunch Plate - $8.50.

I did my usual after-thought and ran up to the counter asking for sauce on the side. “Oh, sauce is always on the side” I was told. Major points for them.

They didn’t want to hide the pretty slices of brisket with the nice pink smoke ring. The menu says it is smoked all night long. It did have a deep smoke flavor. It was the leanest brisket I’ve ever had though. Almost with the texture of a pastrami. Every bit of fat was trimmed off. Don’t know if you can request fatty pieces if that is your pleasure.

Anyway the smoke flavor was very deep. The sweet brown sauce actually upped the smoke flavor. I do like sweet sauces though.

The plate comes with a corn muffin, red beans and rice and a choice of cole slaw, macaroni salad, potato salad or seasoned green beans.

I chose the cole slaw, which is made in-house. The potato salad is not. Not sure about the other two sides. I liked the slaw, but I bought it at lunch and didn’t eat it until dinner. The rice and beans shifted on top of it in the voyage, so it was a little wilted due to handling. Still good though..

I liked the corn bread muffin. It was light and had only a hint of sweetness, maybe honey. But the sweetness was just an after taste.

Speaking of aftertaste. One of the criteria for judging chocolate is finish … how long the flavor lasts in your mouth. I ate one piece of brisket when I bought it and the smoky flavor stayed with me for about a half an hour. I’m sure when I go into my car tomorrow it will still smell of BBQ smoke.

The red beans and mahogany colored rice were good and had tiny little bits of the brisket mixed in.

Pretty simple menu. The meats can be ordered as sandwiches, plates, as family meals or by the pound.

Ordering meat alone:

Louisiana Hot Link - $3 per link
Chicken leg - $3
Chicken breast - $10 per pound
Spareribs - $22 per rack
Brisket - $15 per pound

The links are not made in house, just smoked at the restaurant.

They also had a smoked bacon BLT and a club sandwich with the smoked bacon and chicken. They had a hot pastrami sandwich too. All their sandwiches, however, come with Romaine lettuce, tomato, red onions, mustard, mayo and a side of sauce for dipping.

There are a few tables and booths inside and a number of tables on the outdoor patio. On a warm sunny day like today, Gracie’s almost had a picnic feel to it. A nice tree shades the dining room There’s a parking lot in back of the restaurant.

I’m just a Connecticut Yankee with no BBQ creds, but in the link below the won an award for the best BBQ of 2005 in Sonoma. Vallejo today with flowers blooming, the trees well on their way to full foliage with other covered in pink and white blossoms was like a day in June in Connecticut. Good food, nice day.

Gracie's Family Bar-B Que
1801 Sonoma Boulevard
Vallejo, CA 94590-6013
Phone: (707) 552-2254


Closed Sunday (when I’m usually in that area)
Monday – Saturday: 11 am – 8:30 pm

AllPages had a website address which was not working, so maybe a website is on the way.



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  1. Ah, Gracie's! The brisket sounds great. Used to have baby back ribs in addition to regular spareribs, no more?

    P.S. That would be best of Solano, not Sonoma.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Nope. No baby backs at this location. Don't know about the other location.

      Thanks. I was thinking of going up to Sonoma, but didn't make it. Usually get El Cerrito / El Sobrante straight these days. Need to work on Solano/Sonoma.

      1. re: rworange

        I heard from the owner, Ken Ingersoll, that the baby backs have returned to the menu. That's good news. Also asked him about the change of name from Kenelli's to Gracie's. Same owner, decided to name it after his daughter to sound more Southern, whereas, Kenelli was his name combined with his wife, Kelli's.


        1. re: Melanie Wong

          >>> But who needs sauce when the baby backs so outstanding on their own? Indeed smoked all the way to the bone, they’re meaty, not fatty, and very juicy and moist. A subtle rub, the smoke treatment and the natural sweetness of the smooth and succulent pork provide all the flavor for these toothsome beauties <<<

          Wow, thanks for the link. Will have to check these out. I can never seem to match up my schedule with a time that Gracies is open, but will make the effort.

          Hope they are still as good.

          You were a favored child at D's. I could barely get a word out of the guy when I went. It was ok, but didn't bowl me over. Don't remember details, but the overall conclusion was .... that was ok, tried that, next.

          Like your persistance at Lady Nisee’s. Too bad they never opened. Not just Vallejo, but this neck of the East Bay is littered with the bleached bones of former BBQ joints.

          Thanks for the info about the babybacks ... again.

          1. re: rworange

            The hot link at D's was the best I've had, unless Flint's reincarnation can top it.

    2. Looks like I'll have to order the brisket next time in non-sandwich form.

      I tried the brisket sandwich out a few months back - it was good and the brisket was lean, but I didn't notice much smoky flavor, maybe because of all the other stuff in there (mayo, tomatoes, etc.)

      I did like the BBQ sauce, and the rice and beans I ordered with it were also good

      1. I visited the Sonoma Blvd. location for the first time yesterday during the lunch hour. I found the place clean and pleasant, but the kitchen was still in the process of getting the smoker going --a big red beast visible from the dining area. The heavy smoke reported above was not in evidence until just as we were leaving.

        I ordered a combo plate of spare ribs and a hot link. My fellow hound ordered a chili dog, but our server informed us that they were out of chili. So FH had the same combo plate as well. It comes with red beans and rice, corn bread, and a choice of one other side. We both asked for cole slaw, only to be told that wasn't available either, as the kitchen hadn't made it yet. So we ordered macaroni salad instead.

        The Macaroni salad was generic and forgettable, equivalent to a Safeway deli counter rendition. Cornbread was slightly sweet, fresh, and fine but not remarkable. The red beans and rice were fresh and tasty; a somewhat unusual interpretation of this standard fare.

        The spare ribs were meaty, smoky and tender, but not falling off the bone; they still had some bite. The ribs were served 'dry', not covered in sauce. A fairly generic, slightly sweet tomato/molasses based sauce was in a squeeze bottle on the table. It will be familiar to fans of Cattlemen's or KC Masterpiece. While cooking, the ribs had been covered with a sweet glaze of some sort that gave them a slightly reddish color. In places the glaze had caramelized, and gave a hit of smoky, crunchy goodness. A sweet glaze isn't my favorite style of ribs, but these were quite good overall, and definitely worth a visit.

        The store-bought hot link was big, fat, and juicy. At least a quarter-pound of garlicky sausage. The skin was a bit tough on our two examples, probably a collagen rather than a natural casing. The link was assertive enough to let you know why it's called a hot link, but not overwhelming. All told, a reasonable example of the breed, but by no means a star attraction.

        We didn't try the brisket, as I'd just smoked a 12-pounder of my own the day before.

        Gracie's was doing a good take-out business while we were there, as well as having several tables occupied inside the restaurant. It seems quite popular with the local crowd. Overall, FH and I found Gracie's to be a fine example of a Q joint, and would not hesitate to eat there again, if in the neighborhood, but we feel there are others in the Bay Area more to our liking.

        6 Replies
        1. re: PDXpat

          Thanks for the great report. Did you notice if they had baby back ribs on the menu?

          1. re: rworange

            No, neither FH nor I noticed them. The lunch menu was pretty limited, and I kinda think they weren't on it, but I can't say for certain.

            1. re: rworange

              On a return visit I asked if baby backs were available. Was told they "used to do those" but they haven't been on the menu in quite some time.

              1. re: PDXpat

                You have to excuse me, I know nothing about BBQ but I just stopped there tonight and ordered a big thing of spare ribs. The sauce for dipping is why I don't like American bbq all that much but the meat was really good and the perfect mix of meat and fat. They didn't need the sauce, which is sweet and has a generic bbq taste to me. This will last me a week!

                1. re: Earl Grey

                  Yeah, the nice thing about Gracie's ... unless they've changed ... is that they give the sauce on the side as a default and don't automatically slather it on.

                  1. re: rworange

                    OK- so I lied. I ended up dipping some fo the meat in it and it's pretty great. But I still think it wasn't neccasary. And yet....

                    And the week's worth of meat ended up lasting two days.

                    I'll be going back.

          2. Baby Backs are back, at least at the Sonoma Blvd. location.

            Gracie's is re-doing a lot of their menu, according to the charming young lady that served Brother and myself at lunch today. The printed menu has quite a few items marked "Coming Soon", but not currently available.

            Brother and I both thought the sides had greatly improved since our last post. The Red Beans & Rice is still a very unusual interpretation, though different than last time, more like a ladle of chilli over some red rice.

            The spare ribs were pretty much as previously reported, maybe just a wee touch better than before. Frankly, I liked them better than the baby backs which, though tender and moist, weren't really terribly flavorful. The link sausage was familiar from our previous visit also.

            Brother says Gracies' has bucked the trend, and improved their cuisine. I concur. Is there such a thing as an "Uphill" report?

            1. Any updates on Gracie's?

              I noticed a few times they are now open for breakfast. There's music on Friday nights. I looked for change of ownership on Yelp but it seems the same. The menu seems epanded a bit. They serve swamp juice and sweet tea now which I don't remember.

              Their facebook page has photos of pies, other desserts and bread they bake in-house. Really, I would have remember pie, I think

              They are open on Sunday now. Here's the current hours

              Mon - Sat: 7:00 am - 9:00 pm
              Sun: 7:00 am - 8:00 pm

              Gracie's BBQ
              1801 Sonoma Blvd, Vallejo, CA 94590