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Starving for BBQ

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My husband and I were watching a food network show about BBQ and now we're starving! Where can we get some great BBQ around here? We've lived in the south so we really appreciate good BBQ, but we recently moved to the East Bay area and have no clue where to go. Help!

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  1. Where in the East Bay? How far do you want to go?

    1. I've heard that Memphis Minnie's in SF is good, but I have never tried it.

      3 Replies
        1. re: orleanslaura

          I haven't tried Memphis Minnie's either but it was featured on a recent episode of Check Please Bay Area and all 3 panelists loved it. I plan to go soon when the hubub from the TV plug dies down.

          1. re: JockY

            Yes, I agree. Brisket and the beans are great.

        2. If you're in Calistoga, go to Buster's at the corner of Rt 29 and Lincoln Ave. The best souther BBQ in the North Bay. http://www.busterssouthernbbq.com/

          1. I agree with the rest that Memphis Minnie's is probably the best all around BBQ joint in the Bay Area. Exceptional brisket, very good pulled pork, rib tips and poultry, and better than average sides. The St. Louis cut spareribs can be hit or miss though.

            In the East Bay, my favorite place is Bo's in Lafayette. They use high quality ingredients like Certified Angus Beef and are pretty consistent. You do have to get over the idea of traveling to a suburb to eat you 'cue on a patio overlooking a parking lot though...

            If you don't mind hole in wall type places that like to smother everything in sauce, then there are plenty of other options in the east bay too...

            1. T-Rex in north Berkeley has gotten some good reviews here lately. It is more upscale than most BBQ you will find in the area. You will fortunate if you can find BBQ anywhere in the Bay Area that is a good as your favorite BBQ from your time living in the south.

              1. My current favorite is T-Rex in Berkeley. Great spareribs and brisket, good pulled pork. Delicious side dishes. Full bar, decent wine list, good beer selection. Upscale and while the BBQ is priced competitively the total tab can be steep.

                I had some excellent brisket and the best hot sauce ever from Uncle Willie's in Oakland. Need to make it back there to try the ribs.

                I had great ribs and brisket from Memphis Minnie's. Might have the best potato salad, beans, cornbread, and sweet potato pie around. The sauces and some of the other sides were eccentric and not to my taste.

                T-Rex Barbeque
                1300 10th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                Memphis Minnie's BBQ
                576 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                Uncle Willie's BBQ and Fish
                614 14th St, Oakland, CA 94612

                5 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Do you know where Uncle Willie's gets there meat from?

                  1. re: Lori SF

                    No idea. Doesn't say anything on the menu or Web site, so I doubt it's Niman or anything like that.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I went to Memphis Minnie's last night and was disappointed that the ribs and brisket were not as smoky as the last time. Still a good value, and the sides were all great. I wouldn't call their pickled cabbage "cole slaw" but I like it.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Did you see they've added "onion strings" to the menu? I've had them several times and they are really good.

                      1. re: larochelle

                        Yeah, I would have tried them, but with the muffins and sides, two plates for two people is already a pigout.

                  3. I've only had Memphis Minnie's once - & that was at a catered affair - but was not particularly impressed. Not enough to go to the restaurant. My favorites are T-Rex & Bo's in Lafayette. I'm South Carolina born & raised & lived 14 years in Arkansas, so I've eaten a lot of BBQ. I disagree that you can't get BBQ here that's as good as in the south. I've eaten some here that's better than some highly regarded southern BBQ. There's also some mdiocre to lousy local BBQ - just like back home.

                    1. My theory is Oakland BBQ must be regarded as a different beast - just as comparing North Carolina, Kansas City, and Texas only incites religious fervor.

                      Old Flints is gone, and I still stop by Everett and Jones once in a while. Not transcendent, but gives me a fix. Yes, it's all about the sauce.

                      Finally, if you like succulent pig, just understand that Carnitas is how we spell damn tasty pork around here. If you're in the northern part of berkeley, check Gordo's on Solano, but only order a standard carnitas burrito.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: bbulkow

                        Flint's is open again, but it's gone in the sense that they don't do a very good job with the meat.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          That's what I *meant*, of course. If I could have one plate from 1992, It would be a flints 3 way. Or perhaps I'm just being nostalgic.

                        2. re: bbulkow

                          I agree. You can throw in Big Nates' and Johnson's BBQ in SF in that catogary as well. All items come smothered in sauce and for good reason. Their "Q" is all about the sauce. Probably my favorite in that category is Doug's in Emeryville.

                          Doug's Barbecue
                          3600 San Pablo Ave, Emeryville, CA

                          1. re: Civil Bear

                            Johnson's medium sauce is very tasty. Their hot has too much black pepper. Unfortunately their meat's not smoky at all.

                            I'm not a big fan of Nate's sauce, bit too sweet and bland for my taste.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              I don't know how anyone could determine the smokiness through all the sauce. Last year I finally got Johnson's to put the sauce on the side of my spareribs. (third attempt). Let's just say I haven't been back for anything other than the fried chicken wings.

                              Johnson's Barbeque
                              2646 San Bruno Ave, San Francisco, CA 94134

                              1. re: Civil Bear

                                BBQ sauce is such a personal thing. That said, I find Johnson's sauce (their mild with a small about of their hot) about exactly what I like. I don't much care for the place or their meat, though.

                                1. re: Civil Bear

                                  I always order sauce on the side. Never had a problem getting that at Johnson's or anywhere else.

                              2. re: Civil Bear

                                Sadly Doug's closed about 5-6 months ago. Not exactly sure why but I think the owner's family tried to keep it running but it didn't work out. There seemed to be a turn-over in worker or management.

                                My experience with Flints is the meat's the same (at least when I went) but the sauce was off...something was missing.

                                re: BBQ in the Bay Area, my theory is the lack of traffic/business/turn-over on product keeps freshness from happening...and thus everything sits around and ends up being average to bad. Add in healthier and less expensive options and low turnover and you get what you get. BBQ shouldn't sit around.

                                1. re: ML8000

                                  One thing that's changed at Flint's on Shattuck is that they never seem to use their smoker. I used to smell it all the time but not once since their most recent reopening.

                                2. re: Civil Bear

                                  I write this still picking dry rib fibers from my teeth. Big Nates' 'que has so much potential, since I see and smell the smoke when they're going strong at 9 AM on my daily commute, but my "sauce on the side" brisket and pork ribs tonight were really mediocre. The hot sauce is complex, not particularly spicy, but I liked it well enough and I would not characterize it as sweet. My sauce-free brisket showed a deplorable smoke ring that was much less than 1/4" thick--really more like 1/8" thick. The ribs were dried out and burned on the surface, without having rendered the fat into the rest of the meat. I just don't understand what is so hard about barbecue-I smoked ribs once myself and they had so much more flavor without drying out, and even the wildly inconsistent Lily's BBQ #X seems to have better brisket on its bad days. Like you say though, the Q is about the sauce and it pulls together OK when doused.

                              3. Big Nate's in San Francisco has good bbq

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: limareni

                                  Their food is pretty good. I don't think any of their items are the best in the area, but they're pretty consistent across the board. And they deliver throughout the city.

                                  1. re: limareni

                                    >Big Nate's in San Francisco has good bbq<

                                    I know that a lot of people think so, but when I went I found the beef with no indication of being smoked and virtually no flavor. I tried again later and had the ribs and found them OK, light smoke flavor and tough in places. I see no reason to go back when I can go to Memphis Minnie's.

                                  2. Here's another vote for Memphis Minnie's as the best BBQ I've found in the bay area.

                                    I've been to TRex twice and was unimpressed both times, but since it's on this side of the bridge I'll probabaly give it another chance. Has anyone checked out their weekend brunch?

                                    Hadn't heard of Uncle Willie's. Is that the same place that used to be on the other side of the street before they tore the whole block down for the soon to be vacant condos.

                                    12 Replies
                                    1. re: 10foot5

                                      I don't think so. I used to work in the neighborhood and never saw it. First mention on Chowhound was last year.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston


                                        The place I'm thinking of was the "home of the piggly wiggly sandwich" which didn't live up to its name. Or did, depending on your preconceptions. Anyhow it wasn't very good BBQ. What was the name of that place...?

                                        Perhaps I'll check out Uncle Willie's this afternoon. Thanks for the tip.

                                        1. re: 10foot5

                                          You're thinking of Chef Edwards.

                                          If you go to Uncle Willie's, I *strongly* recommend ordering the hot (rather than mild or medium) sauce on the side. Easily the best BBQ sauce I've ever had, but it's seriously spicy.

                                          Chef Edwards Bar-B-Que
                                          1915 San Pablo Ave, Oakland, CA

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            You are right, Chef Edwards. I should have looked at the map more closely.

                                            Hell I can WALK to Uncle Willies for lunch. If the brisket is as good as you say I may have to double up on Lipitor in the future.

                                            I seem to recall that there's a soul food place over there that reportedly has great greens, if only average main courses. I can't find the thread right now. Maybe I can kill two birds with one stone.

                                            1. re: 10foot5

                                              Had Uncle Willie's brisket for lunch today.

                                              Brisket was good but not great. The chunks I got were a bit dry due to the fact that they were probably the leanest pieces of brisket I've ever had at a BBQ joint. Good flavor though. The hot sauce was pretty standard to my taste.

                                              The sides were really tasty. Solid version of greens and an interesting take on baked beans with big chunks of onion and green pepper throughout. I loved both.

                                              Nice to have a solid BBQ option close to work. Thanks for the heads up Robert.

                                              1. re: 10foot5

                                                He carefully trims off the fat. Ask for slices,not chopped, if it's flavorful fat you want and trim it to your taste.

                                                1. re: wolfe

                                                  Thanks for the tip.

                                                  It probably wouldn't hurt me to try and learn to love it without the fat.

                                      2. re: 10foot5

                                        T-Rex has some consistency problems. I've had a couple of bad meals there, and a few very good ones.

                                        1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                          I had some problematic meals at T-Rex in the early days, but have been eating there at least once a month for the past year and the spareribs have been consistently good.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            I agree. When they first opened I was underwhelmed, but kept trying. Now I think they've got it nailed. As stated earlier, one of my two favorites. I'll get to Uncle Willie's soon, though - on your recommendation.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              The spareribs are definitely more consistent than the brisket. I had some really dry brisket there about two months ago.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                I was at T Rex last night, and while this time the brisket was really excellent, the spareribs were not. Very fatty and greasy. Also, most of their sides are good, but the slow cooked greens were not. The brisket was good enough to make up for all of that this time, though.

                                          2. Has anyone tried Armadillo Willy's in Mountain View lately. I used to find the stuff ghastly as did my Texas raised husband. But a colleague of his - a fellow Texan - said it was under new ownership and now it is as good as some Texas places. I remain VERY skeptical, but thought I would see.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: jsaimd

                                              I had it recently for the first time and I was pleasantly surprised. The pork ribs were some of the best if not the best I have had in the bay area. The sauce was passable but not spicy enough for me.

                                              1. re: jsaimd

                                                I work near the San Mateo one, and find it the same as ever - which is to say, I usually order a burger.

                                              2. I have long been a fan of MEMPHIS MINNIES (San Francisco) but it is always very crowded . My favorite is their beef briskit. I find their sides to be annoyingly smokey tasting......no real contrast to the smokiness of the meats. MM has desserts that rock....I love the Banana Pudding and the surprisingly light tasting Deep Fried Peach Pies.

                                                I defected to the newer ROADSIDE BBQ ( San Francisco in the avenues) about a year ago since it is more convenient and economical. I like the variety of traditional bbq offerings alongside lighter healthy menu choices of maincourse salads and fresh vegetables. The side dishes taste clean and fresh.....they hand cut fresh fries (sweet potato, traditional and garlic fries) and serve up both meat and sides in very generous portions.....sauce served on the side with several choices available.

                                                Memphis Minnie's has really cute and funky and friendly ambiance, but prepare to wait in line and parking is a nightmare in the Haight neighborhood.

                                                Roadhouse has a larger seating capacity, larger menu and relatively easy parking/ transit access on Geary Blvd in the inner Richmond district.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: NickyPicky

                                                  I find Roadhouse to be my #2 BBQ place here (after MM's), and I enjoy it every time I'm there.

                                                  1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                                    I like Roadhouse for the pulled pork sandwich. The rest was just okay. Although the sides are decent and the prices are good.

                                                  2. I finally tried Gorilla BBQ in Pacifica yesterday. We got a rack of ribs (they sell only pork ribs; no beef). I thought the ribs were fantastic. They are generously meaty, juicy, and tender. The sauce, which is not sweet and fairly vinegary, is great and is served on the side. The sides are overpriced and I wasn't super impressed (except the corn muffins were all right). Avoid corn on the cob. I absolutely loved the ribs; my husband liked them very much, but felt the ribs were "bland." It doesn't seem like they do any sort of spice rub on the ribs before smoking them.

                                                    Open every day except Tuesday, I believe 12-8.

                                                    Takeout only; there is a picnic table on the hill above the train car (the restaurant is in an orange train car on Hwy. 1).

                                                    Gorilla Barbecue
                                                    2145 Cabrillo Hwy, Pacifica, CA 94044

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: Atomica

                                                      Stopped by Gorilla once out of curiosity. Great promise visually...old railroad car by the side of the road with smoke pouring out of the top. Wasn't too hungry so just got some brisket as a "test". Absolutely the most abused and mutilated piece of meat I've ever seen or tasted. Looked like they trimmed and sliced it with a chainsaw. Huge hunks of fat, tough meat and most of it sliced with the grain. Would love it if the ribs were good but I'm going to have to hear more good things before I make my way back there.

                                                      1. re: Atomica

                                                        Wanted to bump this up; at a potluck I attended recently in Pacifica the host served huge plates of ribs and hotlinks from Gorilla BBQ, with sauce on the side. The ribs were good, sauce was fine, though on the thin side (not sure that is really a bad thing, but I am used to thicker), but the hot links...wow! They were great, very hot, very flavorful, peppery. Definitely recommended. Our hosts told me that the hot links are usually sold out by four in the afternoon, if not earlier.

                                                        I was thinking those links would be a good entree choice to bring the Chowhound picnic next year....

                                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                                          Do you know if they are home-made? Coarse Ground? Glad to hear you liked them, always on the lookout for good smokey links.

                                                          1. re: virtualguthrie

                                                            Hi: I am not sure but it is my understanding that they are house made. I am also not sure I am enough of a hot links authority to tell you whether or not they were coarse ground. They were definitely smokey and very good, so I hope you try them soon and report back!

                                                            1. re: susancinsf

                                                              Did they have the texture of a hot dog (finely ground and emulsified) or coarser than that?

                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                Its a good question...my initial reaction was that it was coarser than a hot dog.....I did find this photo of a course ground hot link in an old CH post:


                                                                but still not sure. It was the taste that grabbed me, not the texture. Clearly, more research is needed.

                                                                1. re: susancinsf

                                                                  That's definitely a nice home-made coarse-ground link in that picture. If the one's at Gorilla BBQ look anything like that I'll definitely have to give them a shot.

                                                      2. If you're in the neighborhood I'd give Smokin Okie's in Pleasant Hill a try. I wasn't blown away but not disappointed either. From recent reports Back Forty has slipped since they moved to their larger location.
                                                        Bo's in Lafayette also gets good reviews here, but I haven't been in a while.

                                                        Smokin Okie's
                                                        1941 Oak Park Blvd, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

                                                        Bo's Barbecue
                                                        3422 Mount Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA

                                                        1. What do you guys think of Everett & Jones Barbecue

                                                          8 Replies
                                                            1. re: alexdesignz

                                                              I think E&J's hot links are great but their ribs are mediocre. I'd never stand in line for it.

                                                              Prices are pretty average.

                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                Tell me what the attraction is for hot links. They weren't included in the BBQ I grew up with and I've never really considered link sausages you can easily grill yourself as real barbecue. Obviously many people do consider them an important part of barbecue and I'd like to know why.

                                                                1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                                                  In California people tend to use the term BBQ to describe anything cooked on a grill. So hot links get lumped in even though it isn't really BBQ as most people know it outside of CA.

                                                                  1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                                                    I believe hot links came from Texas. I think E&J's are smoked in the pit. Taste like it, anyway.

                                                                    I don't particularly care about hot links, spareribs are my thing. But E&J's spareribs are so-so and their hot links are delicious, so if someone dragged me there, that's what I'd order.

                                                                  1. re: Civil Bear

                                                                    I've never had a problem getting the sauce on the side.

                                                                  2. re: alexdesignz

                                                                    I love it. It's delicious. Some friends who used to live nearby introduced us to it and we keep going back. The medium has a nice smoky flavor & is my favorite sauce ever. The service isn't great- we go for the food.

                                                                    1. re: chemchef

                                                                      For me, once was enough for Looney's. Same goes for Brick Pig's House.

                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                        I didn't care for Looney's at all. The sides were terrible, as was the bread pudding (which the owner was touting left and right).

                                                                    2. For TODAY Super Bowl-

                                                                      Per tablehopper-
                                                                      Those of you hosting your own party, ~LUNA PARK~ will be offering a special delivery service with a "Tailgate Platter," perfect for city-dwellers living without a grill. Dishes offered include Niman Ranch BBQ chicken and ribs, coleslaw, French fries, beans, and mashed potatoes, and will be available from 2pm until the end of the game. Cost is $29.99 for two people and $49.99 for four people. Guests can order online or over the phone. Oh, you might need the number, won't you? It's 415-553-8584.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Lori SF

                                                                        FYI, the website says its $12.50/pp.

                                                                      2. For barrel barbeque

                                                                        Elves BBQ in Oakland

                                                                        Burley's Car Wash BBQ in Oakland on Martin Luther King and MacArthur (only if not raining and only tried the hot dog so far but Burley's built their carwash business by providing BBQ to local car dealerships on Auto Row ... well, that and the fact they do a nice job of detailing cars)

                                                                        The 1/4 Burger joint on Telegraph in Oakland ... haven't tried it yet though.

                                                                        1. I wanted to add Windy City Pizza and BBQ to the list. They are on El Camino Real in San Mateo. You might not believe it but they actually have good BBQ here. The pork ribs can be absolutely fantastic and the beef ribs even better. The brisket is not as good as Memphis Minnie's but it can be very good. Disclaimer: Their BBQ sauce sucks and it is probably from a jar. I like to add a lot of black pepper and some chili flakes to give it a little more zing.

                                                                          Other places that have been discussed:

                                                                          Memphis Minnie's (SF)- tends to be my favorite. Brisket is amazing and so are most of the meats offered there. Some of the sides are great: Potato salad, greens, cole slaw and Mac n' cheese are all good. The sauces are ok, but not great.

                                                                          Johnson's(SF)- I agree with most of the comments about this place. They have great sauce but the meat has no signs of smoke. Too bad.

                                                                          Bo's (Lafayette)- I loved it! I've only been once but the brisket was divine. The ribs were good too. Sauce was just fine... sides were very forgettable... if this place was closer to SF I would be there often.

                                                                          E & J(various locations East Bay)- great links (the best I've found 'round here, great sauce, ribs are sometimes good... the rest of it is nothing special.

                                                                          Big Nates (SF)- Definitely acceptable BBQ, although it's not enough to make me want to go often. Meat is buried in sauce that is pretty good, maybe not spicy enough, brisket and pork are good. Haven't had ribs. Sides suck.

                                                                          Flint's (Berkeley)- Only whent once to the Shattuck location. It was really bad. The links were actually pretty good (coarse grind, home-made) and drenched in a great sauce, I would probably go back for these. The ribs were horrible, I couldn't really eat most of them. They were really bad cuts and the meat was dry. The sides were forgettable. I didn't get to try the brisket which is a good barometer of BBQ to me and tends to be my go-to item.

                                                                          Great American BBQ (Alameda)- Really bad. Brisket sucked, too dry not enough smoke. Pulled pork, also bad, tough flavorless pieces of meat. Sauce was not enough to cover up for the mediocre meat, sides no good.

                                                                          Roadside BBQ (SF)- Really bad attempt to copy Memphis Minnie's. Meats are not good, sauce not good, sides are just a poor imitation on MM's. I really wish this place was good.

                                                                          Haven't tried T-Rex or Uncle Willie's but I definitely will be soon. Didn't get to try Doug's in Emeryville before they closed :(.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: virtualguthrie

                                                                            Memphis Minnie's cole slaw is unlike any I've had elsewhere, closer to pickles than slaw. Very good but arguably mislabled.

                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              Agreed, I do like it though.
                                                                              It seems like Roadside's version of Cole Slaw is a copy of MM's which was the tip-off for me that they were trying to copy MM's menu.

                                                                            2. re: virtualguthrie

                                                                              Interesting, I like Roadside more than you do the maybe four times I've been there. Brisket and pulled pork sandwiches were pretty good to me, and their sweet potato fries (I know, what's that got to do with barbecue) were great. The meat wasn't MM's quality, but I'd put it #2 around here (since Doug's in Half Moon Bay closed).

                                                                            3. In Morgan Hill is a great bbq place called Trail Dust BBQ. I only ate there once--the one time I was in Morgan Hill, actually, but it was good enough for me to often dream about creating excuses to go back.

                                                                              My friend had bbq chicken, and I had bbq beef ribs (I planned to get the pork ribs, but a special on the beef ribs sounded intriguing), and both were full of great smokey flavor, juicy, good sauce, etc. I don't claim to be a bbq expert (nobody who grew up on the North Shore of Boston should dare to claim that) but it was certainly the best I've had in Northern California. The portions were huge, with what I recall as very tasty coleslaw and cornbread.

                                                                              1. You might want to try Everett and Jones in Oakland, or Old South BBQ in San Leandro, I think. Mmmmm...BBQ!!!!

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: skitamura

                                                                                  What have you had at Old South? In the archive here I find only one report, from 2002.


                                                                                2. Close to us is Roadhouse BBQ - in San Francisco at Geary and 2nd Ave...brisket is good...different sauces to select from....and GREAT sweet potato fries and corn bread!

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: jable5

                                                                                    I didn't really care for the brisket there. Found it to be dry and a bit bland compared to other briskets I've tried. The brisket needs the sauce to more than a brisket should. Roadhouse seems to do a better job with the pork dishes.

                                                                                  2. I am now firmly convinced that the only way to get decent BBQ in CA is during the summer when Black Churches have take out dinners. All these places-- just a shadow of what BBQ ribs and chicken are all about. It isn't all about the sauce.... it is also about the love and care that goes into taking the time to do ribs right.

                                                                                    13 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: drmimi

                                                                                      I agree that family cooking tops all and in BBQ, sauce is not everything, it's the timing.

                                                                                      take a road trip through the Mississppi River valley (STL to NOLA) and hit strip mall parking lots for the guy with a roll-up smoker.

                                                                                      ya' gotta do a wet Q -.otherwise it's baste or waste.

                                                                                      is Brothers-in-Law on Divis still around? they were pretty good.

                                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                                        Brother-in-Law's is now Lilly's. No big changes, same family.

                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                            >Brother-in-Law's is now Lilly's. No big changes, same family.<

                                                                                            I stopped in to Lilly's today, my first time since it was Brother-in-Law's. The physical place is the same except for being noticeably cleaner. I had a half order of brisket ($11-something) with cole slaw, and got a large pile of thick-cut brisket chunks that were very tender with a light smoke flavor. I had asked for the sauce on the side but they forgot that, but much of the pile of meat was under and not touched by the sauce so it was really OK. It was a good version of real barbecue and whether you prefer this or another would really be personal preference. I may still prefer Memphis Minnie's brisket, but Lilly's is quite good. The potato salad was a very flavorful mayo version with a bit too much dressing for my preference, but it was still quite good. I talked to the owner (Lilly's husband) who said he had worked for Brother-in-Law's for 10 years, after which he and his wife bought it. She now has health problems so he's running it and the name will again be changed. He showed me the 45-year-old pit where they burn oak and almond to do the barbecuing.

                                                                                          2. re: hill food

                                                                                            Just to clarify, when I said "Their "Q" is all about the sauce" I was referring to specific BBQ joints in the East Bay and SF, and not in a good way. Those place have perfected their sauces at the expense of their BBQ, IMHO.

                                                                                            1. re: Civil Bear

                                                                                              I think I get what you're saying CB, too many places just grill the meat and throw on sauce at the very end (or serve it on the side!). KC and a lot of TX do that. I appreciate their way and enjoy it, but it's just not mine - gotta be cooked in for that nice caramelized texture.

                                                                                              there was a place in Hayes Valley that did it right - lamentably long gone.

                                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                                I can't speak for CB but what you are talking about is grilled meat not BBQ. Low and slow smoked and maybe a rub with sauce on the side as a condiment is BBQ.

                                                                                                1. re: wolfe

                                                                                                  I personally agree wolfe -- dry rub, sauce on the side, for me. Any place in SF do a Carolina-style mustard sauce?

                                                                                                  1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                    I am pretty sure Memphis Minnies (on Haight Street) has a mustard-based sauced available. I have had it on the pastrami sandwich they serve every Wednesday.

                                                                                                    1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                      Both Minnie's and Roadside do Carolina-style sauces including mustard. That is my main complaint with both as I prefer a traditional sweet/spicy tomato based sauce. I think the food is better overall at MM but the mustard sauce is more complex and tastier at Roadside.

                                                                                                      1. re: Josh90004

                                                                                                        Awesome -- thanks to you both for the recs.

                                                                                                  2. re: hill food

                                                                                                    To me, what makes barbecue barbecue is slow cooking in a smoker or pit. Whether the meat is marinated, has a dry rub, and/or is basted with sauce during cooking is a regional thing. They can all be good.

                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                      oh it is all good, but for mine, a dry rub the night before (if it's chicken a soak in salt water for starters) and a good hour of hickory smoking is required and the next 30 or 40 minutes has the sauce on.

                                                                                                      we all have our own ideas about what makes good BBQ. and hey if you're an omnivore and the flesh ain't ^%^%$'d up it is good.

                                                                                            2. I have read through the majority of this string, and although it has been a long time since there was a post, the topic of barbeque is always timely. So with the demise of Doug's in Emeryville, a place I would go to periodically, it was time to find a new source.

                                                                                              After seeing the episode on Memphis Minnie's on Check Please Bay Area, I went with a group of ten. As a result we got to try many many of their items. The brisket was very good. I really liked the rib tips and Andouille as well. The sides were enjoyable; I particularly liked the greens. The desserts were also quite good, especially the pecan pie. Although they had three sauces for the ribs, I didn't really care for any of them all that much. Obviously this is a matter of personal taste. Living in the East Bay, heading over to San Francisco for barbeque is a bit of an expedition. I would certainly go back to Memphis Minnies, especially if I were in the City, but I am not sure I would take the trek just for the barbeque.

                                                                                              Last night I tried T-Rex. I have eaten at Lalimes and like it. Sea Salt, another one of their ventures, has gotten favorable comments from friends and colleagues. We were in the area and thought that it was worth a try. Perhaps it was omen when the first beer that I selected was out. And then my second choice was also out. Not very good planning if you are out of beers on a late Sunday afternoon of a holiday weekend. We ordered the baked beans, mac and cheese, cole slaw, a full slab of spareribs, and a half slab of baby back ribs. The baked beans were just there. There was no depth of flavor. I don't know what it is about cole slaw in restaurants, but when you make cole slaw in large batches, you have to occasionally stir it, and you have to occasionally adjust the seasoning. Adding some freshly squeezed lemon, some salt, and a small drop of their hot sauce put some life into it, but I don't want to go out to adjust seasonings to that extent. The mac and cheese was the best side, but had a somewhat boring texture. Perhaps it is their dish for kids, but I would have preferred a crust or bread crumbs or something (fresh corn) in it to break the monotony. The baby backs were ok, and no more than ok. The spare ribs were not. There is certainly no indication of any smoking going on here. You will not see a hint of pink on their ribs. The spare ribs were moist, but unfortunately this was because of rather substantial strips of unrendered pork fat in the ribs. I realize that salt + fat = flavor, but I don't want to eat a hunk of unrendered fat. It is supposed to baste the meat but should be fully rendered when you serve it. Overall, this was very disappointing, and I doubt that I will go back.

                                                                                              Also tried Looney's in Berkeley a while ago. Seems that if you order a slab there that they slice the rack, and then reheat the individual ribs on the grill. It does heat them back up, but does so that the expense of drying them out. As I recall, the sides there were pretty unspectacular.

                                                                                              So my next trips may well be over the hills and to Lafayette and Pleasant Hill. If all else fails, I have a friend at the University of Alabama who raves about a place called Dreamland Barbeque. Their T-shirt was on the wall at Memphis Minnies. I have also heard some good things about a relatively place called The Brick Pig's House on Shattuck in the North Oakland/Rockridge area. Anyone have any hand-to-rib combat experience with their ribs?

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: tutti_a_tavola

                                                                                                I've seen Dreamland discussed in other BBQ threads on other boards. Some say it's the best, period. There's been enough positive mentions made, that if I'm ever within about a hundred miles, I'm going.

                                                                                                1. re: tutti_a_tavola

                                                                                                  Brick Pig's House is across the street from Bushrod Park, which is very not Rockridge. Once was enough for me. There are some reports in the archive, click the Places link to find them.

                                                                                                  Brick Pig's House
                                                                                                  5973 Shattuck Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                                                                                                  1. re: tutti_a_tavola

                                                                                                    >>"So my next trips may well be over the hills and to Lafayette..."

                                                                                                    If you are referring to Bo's, then you will likely NOT be disappointed. Be sure to try their CAB brisket (2nd only to MM's, IMO) and their sausage which is not made on site but special for them (can't remember from where). IIRC, they choose your sides.

                                                                                                    1. re: tutti_a_tavola

                                                                                                      You might give Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland a try.

                                                                                                      While it is a Southern restaurant, the ribs are quite good. My only complaint would be they are a small serving and could be meatier, but the levely of complexity is wonderful. HOWEVER, they are no competitions for Brown Sugar Kitchens pulled pork which is hands down the best pulled pork to date.

                                                                                                      So far the only side that really impressed me was the yams ... great, great, great with a nice smoke flavor to them. Did I mention they were great?

                                                                                                    2. For those in the South bay looking for some amazing BBQ, check out the Texas Smokehouse BBQ in San Jose. They're on Capitol Expressway and Story Road. Get the Pork ribs and brisket. You wont be disappointed.

                                                                                                      1. 2 new places awaiting reports post turkey stuffing I guess.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: wolfe

                                                                                                          Dang, I passed by George's today. It is near McDonald's on 24th.I thought perhapsI had missed it before and was only now noticing it because it was one of the few places open in the Mission on Thanksgiving. I was tempted by those little chickens spinning in the window. Was going to stop and pick one up for tommorrow ... but no ... no ... I thought I'd check the web first to see how it was. Dang.

                                                                                                          Didn't realize O'Reilly's Holy Grail closed. Here's a prayer that Midpoint is good

                                                                                                        2. Johnson's BBQ in San Francisco. Mainly take-out, but man 'o man, that's bbq!
                                                                                                          2646 San Bruno Ave.
                                                                                                          San Francisco


                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: bbqman

                                                                                                            I guess from the comments above you are not partial to smoke?

                                                                                                          2. 97 replies as I write this and no one has mentioned KC's yet? What is wrong with you poeple!!! :) If the meat and the cooking technique matter to you -- and you can overlook the relatively uninteresting sauce, the funky decor, the old-school white bread sides -- in other words if you just want a great cut of meat cooked slowly to a smoky, juicy perfection you have to check out KC's.

                                                                                                            Doug's? Good riddance. E&J? Not as good a cut of meat, not as well Q'ed, masked with macho sauce. Flint's? If it ever was edible, I missed it. T-Rex? My 'inconsistent' rating dates back to the early days, so maybe I should revisit - or maybe I should rest my case with tutti_a_tavola's report.

                                                                                                            KC's Bar-B-Que
                                                                                                            2613 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: virtualguthrie

                                                                                                                  1) ribs 2) brisket 3) chicken 4) there is no four. Life is simple at KC's

                                                                                                                  1. re: BernalKC

                                                                                                                    Has anyone tried Gorilla Barbecue in Pacifica? It was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives a couple of weeks ago.

                                                                                                                2. re: BernalKC

                                                                                                                  Amen on all counts. My "friends" who don't like it only care about the sauce and don't really understand BBQ in the first place.

                                                                                                                  I will amend the recommendations a couple of post below by BernalKC:

                                                                                                                  1) ribs-short end 2) ribs-long end 3) brisket 4) chicken

                                                                                                                  I absolutely love the fact that waiting around, even a few minutes for a take out, is enough time for you clothes to soak up a little of the smokiness.

                                                                                                                3. One of these days I'm going to drive out to East Oakland to Flint's, where they still smoke their own meat there.

                                                                                                                  Flint's Bar-B-Q
                                                                                                                  6637 Bancroft Avenue, Oakland, CA

                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                    Are they still open? I heard they closed again and the number provided is old.

                                                                                                                    I am pretty sure just about all the places listed in this thread smoke their own meats (although few grind their own sausages). I would place Nate's about on par with Flint's. Memphis Minnies and Bo's are still my favorites though.

                                                                                                                    Big Nate's Bar-B-Que
                                                                                                                    1665 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                                                                                    1. re: Civil Bear

                                                                                                                      I meant Flints on Bancroft in East Oakland. Any way I just called because I was curious and to see if they're open. Glad you mentioned it.

                                                                                                                      The guy that answered was Latino and he asked if I was looking for barbecue and I said yes. He said wrong number sorry.

                                                                                                                      That saved a trip...still a bummer. Oh well. It could still be open but I doubt it given the one of Shattuck closed.

                                                                                                                      1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                        It most definitely is closed. I drive by regularly as I live not too far away.

                                                                                                                    2. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                      The Shattuck branch (which sucked in its most recent incarnation) is closed, I dunno about Bancroft or San Pablo.

                                                                                                                    3. Everett and Jones at Jack London Square has always been good, pricey, but good. The sauce is above average and the BBQ is well smoked as shown by a strong pink ring.

                                                                                                                      Dougs in Emeryville always was good. It was more of a take-out place and they packed everything in reusable plastic containers that I always appreciated. I think they closed recently.

                                                                                                                      Flint is always among the best if you get there at the right time. More often than not they open and close when they feel like it. Great sauce.

                                                                                                                      Big Nates on Folsom has pretty good meats but very weak sauce. Sometimes you'll be lucky enough to see the Legend himself, Big Nate Thurmond behind the counter.

                                                                                                                      Brother-in-Laws BBQ on Divisiderio was iffy at best. Good sauce but often over cooked meats. I think that they changed hands recently.

                                                                                                                      Those are amongst the better places that I frequented when I lived in the area. They also are easy to get to either by public transportation or car. Parking is hard at Flint & Big Nates at times at night. I can't travel too far so I never had any problems during the afternoon.

                                                                                                                      Good Luck.

                                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: fooddude9999

                                                                                                                        Big Nate's is consistent and reliable, nothing's bad, nothing's stellar. They have a parking lot and I've never found it full. Free delivery in SF.

                                                                                                                        As discussed above:

                                                                                                                        Brother-in-Law's is now Lilly's but is still in the same family and hasn't changed much.

                                                                                                                        Flint's has closed again. It had gone way downhill so just as well. I don't currently know anyplace that makes ribs as good as Flint's were up until around 2004.

                                                                                                                        Doug's closed.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                          I've been to the three new BBQ places in SF. George's on 24th & Capp, B.'s on Divis and McAllister and Babyblue's on Mission and Precita.

                                                                                                                          At Baby Blue's I had the half order, smoked beef rib (yes rib). I got a one huge rib, easily 10 inches long and 4 inches high. The meat had a good overall flavor but some parts were a little tough. They had a good vinegar base hot BBQ sauce. The sides were collard greens and baked beans. The greens were a little salty and the beans were just ok, but got better with the addition of sauce. Good slab of cornbread.

                                                                                                                          At George's I also had the beef ribs (smoked, I think). Here I got 6 moderate size ribs (half order). These were excellent, very tender, well sauced with a nice fiery tomato based sauce. The side of cole slaw was outstanding.

                                                                                                                          I went to B's Satuday. They have no beef ribs, just pork ribs and I was going to try them to compare, but I saw a plate of their brisket and couldn't resist. The half order was about 12 slices of succulent heaven. Fork tender with a complex hot BBQ sauce. As advertised, the brisket is slow cooked for 15 hours and it really comes through in the texture and flavor. I had a nice corn muffin, the collard greens had more of a ham hock flavor but the mac and cheese was lumpy with cheese (I'll try reheating later).

                                                                                                                          I'll go back and try the brisket at G's and BB's in a week or so when baseball starts. I'll also definitely try the pork ribs at B.'s. After a number of years of so-so BBQ, it's nice to see some new choices.

                                                                                                                          1. re: dartinbout

                                                                                                                            Thanks for the report. B's sounds interesting and I will have to give them a try. George's on the other hand seamed more like a Chicken Coop/Pete's type place than a real BBQ joint. Their brisket sitting the steamer bin did not look appetising at all.

                                                                                                                            1. re: dartinbout

                                                                                                                              Nice report. Too few places serve beef ribs and the few that do are usually not great. Good to hear there's something good about George's. Looking forward to your brisket report.

                                                                                                                              George's BBQ
                                                                                                                              3231 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                                                                              B's BBQ
                                                                                                                              855 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA

                                                                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                Sadly there is no outstanding Q in the Bay Area. Have tried them all cant believe that memphis minnies and the newer places such as B's and baby blues create any kind of buzz. Best Q i've found is in my backyard slow cooked over a variety of woods for 18 hours, dry rubbed or with sauce. Gotta raise your own pigs

                                                                                                                                1. re: mick

                                                                                                                                  >>> Gotta raise your own pigs

                                                                                                                                  And grow your own feed for the piggies?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: mick

                                                                                                                                    LOL, backyard BBQ should just about always beat out restaurant BBQ if you know what you are doing. There is big difference between q'ing 4 racks of ribs and serving them right out of the smoker vs. smoking hundreds of ribs for the masses.

                                                                                                                                    But then again, if you can beat MM's brisket we need to talk...

                                                                                                                                2. re: dartinbout

                                                                                                                                  Thanks for the report. B's just did some neighborhood flyering, so maybe it's time to give it another go. Our one and only taste from around 6 months back had brisket that was pretty dry with a wimpy smoke ring, no way it was slow cooked for 15 hours. Hopefully they're getting in the swing of things.

                                                                                                                                  Last Sunday, Big Nate's smelled unusually good, as did Lily's. I think the day for 'que is really Sunday, when they're targeting crowds getting out of church.

                                                                                                                            2. I faced the same problem when i moved here from Texas 2 years ago.

                                                                                                                              Memphis Minnie's is okay. Brisket is good, but everything else i found to be a little sub-par.

                                                                                                                              Uncle Frank's in Mountain View is my current Bay Area fav for BBQ. It reminds me of those hole in the wall joint in the country in East Texas that serve killer BBQ.

                                                                                                                              Supposedly Bo's is good, but i haven't been yet. Tried several times but they have weird hours.

                                                                                                                              I recently got a smoker and have been following the 'if you want something done right, do it yourself' rantional.

                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: texanfoodie

                                                                                                                                Have you tried the brisket at Uncle Willie's in Oakland?

                                                                                                                                1. re: texanfoodie

                                                                                                                                  Uncle Frank's is freakishly good. I've only managed to eat there once, when a company I work for brought their meat in for lunch. Wow.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                    When did you eat at Uncle Frank's? Two bbq-loving friends and I went there three times in 2005 and 2006. The food was very inconsistent and included (from my notes) pretty tasteless brisket and tough and dry ribs. We saw no reason to go back.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                                                                                                                      At Uncle Franks I would recommend the brisket with the sauce on the side. He also has mild and spicy sauce which you can ask for it mixed. At times he also has some specials that are really good. I've never been a big fan of the ribs but my bf (a southern boy) loves them. The meat is really nice and smokey. Frank says he smokes with a combination of cherry wood and something other wood (I don't remember).

                                                                                                                                      1. re: misspiggy

                                                                                                                                        FYI -- Frank left the restaurant awhile ago and I believe the place is now run by his family. He moved back to the South. I'm not sure if there is any difference in the chow since he left because I never went before he left. The pulled pork is also very good, the potato salad has a very strong vinegar flavor, which some people love but I don't care for. The folks who run it now are super friendly, it's a great place to get some Q.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Mick Ruthven

                                                                                                                                        Late summer 2008. Maybe I hit a good day.
                                                                                                                                        I will also admit to low standards - I'm a northerner.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                          According to posts in this or another thread, Uncle Frank himself left and the place is run by others. Maybe it's changed for the better. I don't get down that way or I'd try it soon to see.

                                                                                                                                  2. If you're ready to taste phenomenal Yucatan dry-rub BBQ head over to Half Moon Bay on saturdays only. There is a small cafe near the El Granada airport that serves up delicious, fresh, and unusual BBQ. I'll vouch!

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Greenwood

                                                                                                                                      Are you referring to Spanishtown Restaurant & Market or some place else?

                                                                                                                                      Spanishtown Mexican Restaurant
                                                                                                                                      515 Church St, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Greenwood

                                                                                                                                        >There is a small cafe near the El Granada airport that serves up delicious, fresh, and unusual BBQ.<

                                                                                                                                        Please, more description or identification of the place! And the airport there is called Half Moon Bay airport even though it's just north of Princeton.

                                                                                                                                      2. Try Sneaky's BBQ. It's far and away the best barbecue in the Bay Area. They operate on a delivery and catering basis. So far, no sit-down or storefront...yet. They say they plan on it. They smoke and prepare Carolina-style pulled pork, killer ribs, and an expanding number of sides. They only operate via email, and their menu is posted on their blog, www.sneakysbbq.blogspot.com. I found them on Yelp!, and from the looks of things, they have a number of satisfied customers. I am certainly one.

                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: smit567

                                                                                                                                          Any details on what you've had from them?

                                                                                                                                          That URL doesn't work for me. This one does:


                                                                                                                                          Curent menu:

                                                                                                                                          1 pint of pulled pork - $9
                                                                                                                                          1 rack of baby-back ribs - $19 (1/2 rack - $10
                                                                                                                                          )1 pint of Sneaky's macaroni & cheese - $5
                                                                                                                                          1/2 pint of cole slaw - $3
                                                                                                                                          ? collards - $4

                                                                                                                                          Delivered COLD?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                            I've had everything but the collard greens. Those are new to me. The ribs are the best thing they have, and the pulled pork is nice and vinegary. They do deliver cold, mainly (I think) because the food is cooked one day and delivered the next.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                              We tried them once and had everything but the collards as well. Ribs were very flavorful and tender - dry rub, and a bit dry I suppose, but I vastly preferred them as they were. I am not a BBQ fan, but liked these. Husband is a BBQ fan raised in TX (but partial to Carolina style) and he liked it a lot. Pulled pork is indeed vinegary. Good, but not as good as the ribs. Husband says the mac and cheese was good. Cole slaw was relatively flavorless, but good with the pork. I did like the BBQ sauce.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: smit567

                                                                                                                                              The URL (the actual link) above has an extra dot in it. Here's the correct one.


                                                                                                                                            3. Not the typical BBQ joint but last night, we were at Paragon before the Giants game and ordered the brisket (came with beans, collard greens and hush puppies.) YUM. Apparently, they are doing special Wednesday night BBQ dinners. The brisket was very moist and well flavored (I loved the sauce.) I think there were two other BBQ items but I can't remember what they were. It probably changes each week.

                                                                                                                                              I tried to find out more from their website but this is all I got: "Due to overwhelming fan response, Paragon San Francisco has expanded on Executive Chef Spencer O'Meara's smoker obsession with a smoked BBQ menu Wednesday nights."

                                                                                                                                              1. Has anyone had Bo's cater anything? I'm wondering what the portions are like...

                                                                                                                                                1. My favorite place (after eating at Flints and Everett for many years) is Great American Barbecue in Alameda that I had discovered last year just by chance. I have been going there eversince. I never had anything there overcooked or undercooked. The three sauce they offer are too good to describe here. And beside all this they treat you with respect and offer free water, containers etc. to carry your leftovers. I being in restaurant & cooking business myself highly recommend this joint.

                                                                                                                                                  Great American Barbecue
                                                                                                                                                  2009 High St, Alameda, CA

                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: rrsingh

                                                                                                                                                    Yay team. I have mentioning them ever since they did such a good job at the Kansas City Barbecue Society judges class.

                                                                                                                                                  2. I'll be visiting San Fran next month for the first time. I'll be staying at Hotel Nikko downtown, how close are these restaurants and which one is the best?

                                                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Hungrierthanever

                                                                                                                                                        As you can see from the map above, none are close. You driving or on public transportation?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: wolfe

                                                                                                                                                              I'll be sure to try and check that place out

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: wally

                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks wally, I didn't check as I usually do. I had intended to permalink RL's complimentary brisket report. HTE call to check hours and days.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Here is a BBQ event for this weekend:

                                                                                                                                                          Rob Z's Real Pit Barbecue is pleased to announce that we will be joining with "1515 Restaurant" in Walnut Creek for Sunday tailgate partying. We have the opportunity to work with restaurateur Tony Dudum at one of the bay areas hottest spots to cheer on the Raiders and the 49ers'. Join us for a barbecue buffet and drinks.

                                                                                                                                                          Buffet: $10 .
                                                                                                                                                          Barbecued chicken, pulled pork, and brisket, plus side dishes.
                                                                                                                                                          Beer and Drink specials: No Host
                                                                                                                                                          When: December 11, 2011 Noon.....Lunch buffet opens at 1:00 PM
                                                                                                                                                          Where: 1515 North Main Street, Walnut Creek

                                                                                                                                                          1. Smoke's brisket might be the best I've had. Worth a trip if you can get there during their limited hours.


                                                                                                                                                            My favorite spareribs were at T-Rex, but I haven't tried them since they changed the menu.


                                                                                                                                                            I'm planning to get Smokey J's rib tips again.


                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                              T-Rex is off my list. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/816065

                                                                                                                                                              Smokey J's BBQ
                                                                                                                                                              3015 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

                                                                                                                                                              Smoke Berkeley
                                                                                                                                                              2434 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                                                                                                                            2. Some of the best BBQ ribs are at Barbers Q in Napa. It's not solely a BBQ place but they are very good. They are baby back not spare rib/st Louis ribs. I'm definitely not a Memphis Minnie fan. Although do enjoy others in the Bay Area. Just returned from my yearly visit for BBQ in Kansas City, Memphis and Carolinas.

                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mick

                                                                                                                                                                I was disappointed by the ribs and brisket at BarbersQ, though the chicken fried in lard (Sundays only) is worth the trip.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                  Barbers Q has there fried chicken on days other than Sunday, just need to check. a
                                                                                                                                                                  Although I agree about the brisket couldn't disagree more about there ribs. As far as the chicken it's good I wouldn't drive more than 20 minutes for it. Robert, who do you think does exceptionally good ribs in the bay area? I know you mentioned T Rex, they are good but still think Barbers Q are better. Q is like pizza, burgers etc hard to come to a consensus.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mick

                                                                                                                                                                    I dunno, I just thought BarbersQ's barbecue was lame, not memorable at all. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6201...

                                                                                                                                                                    My three all-time favorite places for spareribs (Vic & Betty's, Flint's up through maybe 1997, and Perry's Food for the Soul, which was modeled after golden-era Flint's) all closed and I haven't had any in that class since Perry's closed. T-Rex is my usual. I like Memphis Minnie's ribs as well, though none of their sauces appeal to me.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                      Would agree with Flints up thru about 97. Vic and Bettys didn't move me and never got to try Perrys. Always lookin to try new Q. Only somewhat newer one I haven't tried locally is Cedar Hill. Any good? I'm mainly a rib fanatic.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mick

                                                                                                                                                                        I have to say I wasn't impressed with southpaw but I've only been once, I'll give a another try. Both the ribs and the brisket didn't seemed to be cooked enough and the brisket didn't taste like it had been in a smoker. BBQ is pretty subpar in SF and this isn't worse than other places in SF but I would never ever take a guest from the south to BBQ in SF.

                                                                                                                                                                        Southpaw BBQ
                                                                                                                                                                        2170 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                                                                                                              2. I can't wait until I get to San Fran. I've been reading al of the response, they sound amazing I'm gonna log plenty of miles traveling the Bay Area for BBQ and Seafood. Thanks and keep'em coming.

                                                                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Hungrierthanever

                                                                                                                                                                  Just saw an alert from Tasting Table about a new BBQ place in the Mission called Southpaw. Chef is authentically southern and has also worked at Delfina and 25 Lusk. But the menu looks pretty homey. Link: http://www.southpawbbqsf.com/

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: originalfig

                                                                                                                                                                    I don't want to burst your bubble, but BBQ is just not what the Bay Area does particularily well. I wouldnt' travel more than a few blocks let alone miles.

                                                                                                                                                                    I drove thru Texas over a year ago and reported about a few places I stopped. I was blown away, but the locals said there were better places. Those places I stopped were 100 times better than anything in the Bay Area even if they werent the best of Texas.

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm originally from the East Coast and you have to realize seafood is something else here. As long as you adjust to that you will be fine. Looking briefly at your profile you might want to try the cioppino at Tadich though some might disagree.

                                                                                                                                                                    Focus on California Cuisne, bread, maybe Mexican. Get a Mission burrito. Stop by the Ferry Plaza farmers market on Saturday morning.

                                                                                                                                                                    The last place I'd bring someone visitng me from out of state is BBQ.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                      I can say that the frozen handcarried back, defrosted and reheated brisket from Texas that friends have brought me is better than any brisket I've tasted on the competition circuit or our local places. Can only dream of what it tastes like fresh out of the smoker.

                                                                                                                                                                      That said, BBQ is seeing a boom in the Bay Area, a sign of the times I guess. There are at least a dozen new places in San Francisco, probably close to that number in the Wine Country that have started in the past year, and I haven't kept track anywhere else. They're springing up faster than new pizzerias! So, until someone tries them and reports back, I don't think we can fairly say what the state of BBQ is today.

                                                                                                                                                                      Edited to add: The branch about Memphis in May can be found on the Food Media board,

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                        Are any of the new joints mentioned in this thread ... as in mentioned AND tried? Because the list in this thread is what the poster is working off of.

                                                                                                                                                                        My first new joint I tried sine I returned was bad even by Bay Area standards. It has been difficult ot get enthused.

                                                                                                                                                                        I'll keep my eyes out for reports about the new joints.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                          Other than Smoke in Berkeley and Smokey J's (which were not part of my count), no.

                                                                                                                                                                          Smokey J's BBQ
                                                                                                                                                                          3015 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                            I'm hoping to get to Southpaw this weekend, will report back.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks Melanie, New BBQ places are very hard to get started. Building codes and E.P.A
                                                                                                                                                                            restrictions can really have a effect on your BBQ. Closed systems are not the same as a pit BBQ. Don Elkins has a pit BBQ in Castroville that will never happen again in California. He produces some fantastic smoked meats.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Bo's in Lafayette - great ribs /sauce - sides are pretty limited .. . but good. worth a visit

                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: heartysoul

                                                                                                                                                                        Don't know if you have been to Bo's in a while. I used to go there all the time, but we have pretty much given up on it now. BBQ'd meats(chicken, ribs, tried many times) have lately been completely overcooked, very dried out, stringy, and sometimes burnt. Add this to two annoying things - they always forget something when you get it to go - whether it be your bbq sauce or corn or potato or whatever and two they are often completely out of food, even hours before they close., makes me think that they must be living off of their past reputation.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Could this be the answer to the east bay's bbq troubles? A new bbq joint by Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen? I, for one, am mighty curious. Sign on the door says it should be open soon.

                                                                                                                                                                        15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                                                                            yes. apparently it's original planned open was "early August"

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: dls999

                                                                                                                                                                            I guess I'd ask, how are the ribs and pulled pork now that are on the menu at Brown Sugar Kitchen?

                                                                                                                                                                            Brown Sugar Kitchen
                                                                                                                                                                            2534 Mandela Pkwy, Oakland, CA 94607

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                              I've only sampled the pull, but my experience was very good -- better than the others I've tasted in this area. Also, she's putting in a much larger smoker, which is going to work better for the ribs. I have not seen the menu, and I'm hoping she does St. Louis ribs instead of just baby back, which she has on the menu at BSK. To me that's the test of a real BBQ place.

                                                                                                                                                                              I was originally enamored (probably let my enthusiasm get the best of me) with Tomm's, and I still think they do a pretty decent rib. But my experience since they opened has been very inconsistent, and in general the food other than the ribs has been a disappointment. I'm off to Smokey J's BBQ on Shatttuck on Thursday, and that sounds very promising from the comments above, although again, without a St. Louis Rib on the menu, it's a bit hard to tell.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dls999

                                                                                                                                                                                Since it's in your sights, please keep us posted on the opening . . . though I suspect that getting the SF branch of Brown Sugar Kitchen in the Bayview nabe open might take precedence.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                                  I went by the other day and it really looks ready to go. They had a private party over the weekend and a sign on the door, which is, said "opening very soon." So, I'm hopeful. But I will definitely keep you posted and put up a review as soon as they crack the door wide enough for me to squeeze through.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                                    I happened to be in the neighborhood, otherwise I would not have noticed the "open 11-4" sign on the door at B-Side today. I sat though my piano lesson, hardly paying attention, anticipating lunch. I must have been among the first handful of customers, so everything I'm about to say has to be seen through that lens.

                                                                                                                                                                                    The place is warm and inviting. The staff greeted me enthusiastically. They seem excited. That's a good sign. The interior is small, but really nicely done. I'm sure in a month or two it'll be impossible to get a seat without an hour wait, so probably B-Side will be a take-out place for me. But the haze of smoke over the eating area strongly suggests this is a place that takes its 'cue seriously. That's a good thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                    They were taking cash only, and I had limited funds, so I ordered a half portion (4) of St. Louis ribs and a side of mac&cheese. The mac was really excellent--creamy, buttery, with some crust built in. I imagine the rest of the sides will be similarly excellent. One of the appealing things about B-Side is that with the sides and a couple of fish/shrimp options, it's a place I can take my veggie wife.

                                                                                                                                                                                    As for the ribs, I've said this before here, and I'll say it again -- to my mind the test of a real barbeque house is St. Louis ribs and to a lesser extent brisket. These are hard meats to get right, and hard meats to smoke at home. The best baby back ribs I've ever had, I made. I wouldn't come close to saying that about St. Louis ribs.

                                                                                                                                                                                    The ribs were very juicy, and had good flavor, with a nice kick at the end. But they were quite a bit too chewy/fatty/gristly for my taste, which means someone is rushing the smoking or otherwise not facing the real challenge of the St. Louis bone. I grew up in the south, so this may well be entirely a regional preference thing. But to me, a really outstanding rib is one that all but falls apart in your mouth. Also, and as importantly, when I hit the bone, I want to be able to rip it apart just up to the nub. If its soft and I can squeeze out the innards, I'm a happy man. The bones at B-Side fell quite a ways short of that ideal

                                                                                                                                                                                    That said, I will absolutely be back to taste the rest of the meats, and from what I saw on the plates of the other diners, I will probably like it. Most likely the baby back ribs will be great. But I can report that, after an initial love affair with Tomm's, I am still in search of a really fantastic St. Louis pork rib in Northern California.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Tanya Holland does what she does very, very well, and if I had to predict, I'd say that in six months, Ms. Holland will probably answer my prayers. But she's not there yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                    B-Side BBQ
                                                                                                                                                                                    3301 San Pablo Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dls999

                                                                                                                                                                                      just curious. when you say "St. Louis pork rib" do you mean spare rib generically or are you looking specifically for the St Louis cut with the rib tips removed?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: drewskiSF

                                                                                                                                                                                        Right, so, I suppose what I mean is not baby back, which to me are just a much easier rib to get right. Back east and in Chicago I recall most places have a choice between baby back and St. Louis style, but I see your point. I am talking about spare ribs, with or without tip. Thanks for the drill down. One can never be too clear when it comes to ribs.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I actually posted a review of B-Side just a couple of hours ago. It seems not to have landed. I'll see if I can dig it up and try again.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: dls999

                                                                                                                                                                                          St. Louis cut ribs are spare ribs with the rib tips removed. Spare ribs are my favorite but I'll take any of the three so long as they're smoked properly.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Baby backs are from a different and less delicious part of the pig.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dls999

                                                                                                                                                                                            Ah, that makes more sense regarding spareribs being more difficult to get right. Whole spareribs (with the tips attaches) are difficult because the tips have much more cartilage than the rest of the rib and take longer to break down and become tender (especially to your falling off the bone standard). Typically, unless you overcook the main portion of the rib, the tip portion will be a bit chewy.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Personally, I find babybacks a bit more difficult to get perfect than St. Louis cut spareribs. Although the spareribs take longer, the babybacks are leaner and therefor have less room for error. Kind of like the difference between grilling chicken breasts vs. thighs.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                                        I stopped by this afternoon. I would agree that it is a very pleasant place inside, and the service was great. My immediate motivation was to get a pulled pork sandwich for my co-worker who is from inland North Carolina, and misses their bbq. He is used to the vinegar-based sauce. Their version was a bit different from the traditional NC version, and a bit spicier, but he liked it the sandwich very much. Made as in NC, with good coleslaw as part of the sandwich. He does regret that a standard part of bbq from his area, hush puppies, aren't generally offered out here.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I had a small order of the St Louis ("Dark and Stormy") ribs. They come with toast and a small cup of pickled cuke/carrot. I personally liked the ribs - they had just about the right amount of pull off the bone. Not huge smoke flavor, but overall good.

                                                                                                                                                                                        They do have a website - http://bsidebbq.com/ which has a link to a menu in pdf form. I believe that the menu is still evolving. I'm sure that as they get rolling the hours will also expand. It's worth stopping by - clean place, nice vibe and friendly reception.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Tom Simonson

                                                                                                                                                                                          Angeline's makes good hush puppies. BBQ places in NC have fryers?

                                                                                                                                                                                          Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen
                                                                                                                                                                                          2261 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, many do for french fries, hush puppies, fried pork skin, onion rings, zucchini sticks, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                            ETA: Here's a photo of the not-on-the-menu cornsticks at Smiley's BBQ in Lexington. They're baked in a mold and then deep-fried. I was lucky to meet someone who told me to ask for them.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Tom Simonson

                                                                                                                                                                                            Mississippi Catfish in Richmond has hush puppies and bbq.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Deal on Living Social now.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Big Jim's BBQ. San Rafael.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Five-Hour Competition-Level BBQ Class

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. At the recommendation of some reliable people on the this board I tried out Smokey J's today. And to my taste it is now the go-to place this side of the bay. I'm sure B-Side will be popular, but Smokey J's has just the feel I'm looking for, and the tastes I crave. I wish they (that is, he; seems to be a one-man show, and the man is enormously friend, informative, and generous) had a St. Louis rib on the menu, but even without it I'd argue in its favor over any place in the bay area with the possible exception of Memphis Minnies.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I had a pulled pork, brisket, and hot link three-way. Smokey J does it all himself -- makes the sausage, rubs and smokes the meats, makes the two sauces available on every table. And it shows. The meat was well smoked, tender, juicy but not overly fatty, and delicious. I went too early for ribs, but I'm sure they will be just as good. The man seems to know and care a lot about his cue, which really shows. The prices were very reasonable and the portions (three-way could easily feed three, with sides) were generous.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Honestly, after 25 years of complaining about the lack of BBQ in No Cal., I'm done complaining. So long as J is in business, I'll shut the hell up and stuff my face at Smokey J's. That is, until B-Side perfects its St. Louis rib, at which point I'll be tempted to divide my allegiances.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Smokey J's BBQ
                                                                                                                                                                                        3015 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: dls999

                                                                                                                                                                                          I will be eager to hear a report back after you've gone to Smokey J's 3 or 4 times.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Unfortunately I found them delightful on some occasions, and at other times, disappointing. So I lost the habit of stopping in when I'm passing by. I will be thrilled if they've smoothed out the kinks in the operation.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Recently tried BSide, decent St Louis ribs like the pineapple bits along side.jerk baby back were ok, sauces so so. Would not make a special trip back.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Smokey J's in So Berkeley. I don't like ripping on a place but What were listed as baby back ribs were fatty spare ribs with no flavor. Briskiet, not a whole lot better. Did like the hot links, and the chicken a little to much smoke. The chili, some of the worst I've honestly ever had. The spicy sauce not spicy , the other ahh. Love good BBQ was so looking forward to trying both, major disappointment on one. The search continues. Ad hoc's thur-sat BBQ, Q in Napa and E&J still my faces.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mick

                                                                                                                                                                                            I am extremely disappointed to say I agree with you, Mick. I took a friend tonight and I found everything other than the hot links (which remain damn good, in my opinion) to be rather disappointing. My initial experience was very strong, but that may have been partly due to anticipatory excitement. What is "Ad Hoc" -- Q is too far for me, and I"ve never been able to get my head around E&J, it always seems so blah.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm off to Smoke next week with high hopes.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dls999

                                                                                                                                                                                              Ad Hoc is a Thomas Keller spot in Yountville. It was supposed to be a temporary thing (thus the name), but persisted.

                                                                                                                                                                                              From the website, it's closed for remodeling until March.

                                                                                                                                                                                              You can see the link to Addendum on the site. This is a take-out operation that serves BBQ & Fried Chicken that Mick was referring to Th-Sat. The website says closed for winter until April 1

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. BBQ like perhaps Pizza just so individual with likes and dislikes. Example, I'm not crazy about E&J ribs but love there hot smokey sauce. Love baby back and St Louis ribs but not a huge fan of brisket maybe just haven't found the right place.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Have only had Ad Hoc's take out ribs twice but very very good IMO. Didn't really like there side sauce but not needed. As mentioned closed for remodel and was only open thur-sat 11-2 or until food gone.it's take out located behind Ad Hoc restaurant in Yountville. There BBQ changes weekly.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Not sure what's next have only been to TRex once probably should try again. Is Cedar Hill any good.

                                                                                                                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree. The ribs were disappointing and the blue cheese potato salad was weird.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Tried to get takeout from Tomm's yesterday (supposedly he has a Tuesday special) but he hadn't even started smoking anything when we stopped by around 5PM. He offered us sides, but we passed. Last time when we tried to get the fried chicken, he didn't have any of that, either -- though he did fry up some not-bad fish and chips to order. However, I think I may be done with the place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                  My theory is places are switching to cheaper suppliers or cutting back menu complexity when they can't raise prices any more. Martin's West feels the same way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                                                                                    It didn't seem to me that T-Rex was using cheaper ingredients, and the food is if anything more complex. I think they just changed chefs and I don't like the new guy's style. I hear they took the blue cheese potato salad off the menu.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                      They have moved to cheaper ingredients for all their sides.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      They used to have locally sourced vegetables and greens. Not anymore.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chefj

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I could live with that if the BBQ was still good. The changes the new chef made to the recipes, it wouldn't matter to me what meat they use.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                          regardless they are using cheaper ingredients and it shows. And I agree that the new chef has made everything worse including the BBQ

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Smoke in Berkeley is a major new contender.


                                                                                                                                                                                                Big Nate's closed and has been replaced by Cathead's BBQ:


                                                                                                                                                                                                Slow Hand BBQ is sometimes at Doctor's Lounge:


                                                                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I live in Santa Cruz I could drive thirty minutes south to the Central Texan in Castroville for the BBQ I love.Don Elkins smokes his meat over oak wood, with a twenty four hour brisket.Should I head over to Berkeley to try this major contender. I will be in the city next week. Sounds good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: emglow101

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cedar Hill, my Fav for the moment. Not sure what the allure is for Smoke in Berkeley. TRY CEDAR HILL or AD HOC. Very good

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I didn't hate Big Nate's back in its heyday, but was never too crazy about it. for drunk late night fodder it was good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. I went this week to both B-Side and Smokey J's (I was happy to learn this is barbecue, I thought it was the old Berkeley vegetarian place Smokey Joe's relocated :) ).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Smokey J's impressed me less than I thought it would- I thought the pulled pork didn't have great texture and the ribs and sauces were meh. Tasty sides, but nothing I would come back for. They were friendly and speedy and good value for money, qualities I don't expect in a barbecue place. I'll go back and try the Frito pie and some other dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    B-Side, on the other hand, I liked more than I expected. I haven't been blown away by Brown Sugar- I feel like they make soul food posher but not actually better than a lot of other places (say, Nellie's) and their fried chicken always seems somehow...off.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    B-Side, however, delivers on its promise. I'm generally underwhelmed by brisket, but this was some of the nicest I've had- moist, a little fat, and a strong cured/corned flavor- juniper berries, maybe? The sauce was almost redundant. And served with a grilled Texas Toast that made a great open-face sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The St. Louis. ribs were also terrific, super tender, not too salty or smoky. I think I've decided I like my ribs with a lil' fat still on them, but that's no fault on this preparation. The "Dark & Stormy" sauce I liked better than whatever the brisket comes with, molasses-y rather than vinegary. They came with little pickled veggies like you get with a taco that were fine, and I got cornbread that came drenched with honey butter that was also good. The coleslaw was a nice palate-cleanser but not memorable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Quibbles- everything is a la carte, no combos, so if you want to try a couple kinds of meat and a couple sides it can run steep. But the "half" plates are actually a good sized lunch serving and the prices aren't actually that high for barbecue, so maybe the secret to success is to come with another person or two and share.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Next up: Smoke in Berkeley.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                                                                                                                                                                                        San Pablo Ave @ 33rd St., oaktown, just on the other side of 580 from where the extinct Doug's used to be, if you remember that long time q stand. if their hours haven't expanded, B side is closed Sun, Mon, and at dinner time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: fatty_mouthfeel

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Just went to B side for the first time. Thought it was great. Got the Dark and Stormy ribs - tasty, complex spicing rub with most sauce on side. Juicy and well cooked. The green salad was good with a refreshing dressing. The Mac and cheese was solidly good. Service was super friendly especially when I came back within 15 minutes to get some to go for my wife's dinner. She got same ribs plus cornbread and greens which she enjoyed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm an old Flints fan and while this is totally different I really like it and look forward to my next visit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Heads up in San Rafael. Best Lil Porkhouse BBQ will open about the end of the month. It's on the Miracle Mile (2042 4th St.), next door to Red Boy Pizza, in the location formerly occupied by High Tech Burrito.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Peppo, just looking over the posts, I see you posted some time back, I sure hope you found some good Q, but if you didn't you should try STATION 10 in El Sobrante. Good menu, great food. Ribs, brisket, chicken, pulled pork etc. They are at 3550 San Pablo Dam Rd. (510-275-3384).

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Follow up: finally made it to Smoke and was unimpressed. Very nice people, but not great BBQ. And not especially good value. I would rate it lower than Smokey J's. Meanwhile, I've come back a couple of times to B-Side and am a confirmed fan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The brisket and the pulled pork. Neither packed much of a flavor punch, IMHO, and the brisket texture wasn't great. Didn't love the sides, either. However, I didn't try the salmon, which people seem to like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fatty_mouthfeel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I thought Smoke's brisket was tops. I'll take theirs over Smokey J's, though their rib tips are great (and a rare item).


                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Smokey J discontinued the rib tips last time I was there--have they started offering them again?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Could be an off day, or just different preferences. Have you tried B-Side's brisket yet? It's now my gold standard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Also, I found myself at Saul's in North Berkeley and they had a braised beef sandwich, which was basically brisket (though obviously not barbecue) on a roll. It was very very tasty. A lunch special, so I'm not sure how often it's offered.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: fatty_mouthfeel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          they all seem to have consistency issues.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          i've had the brisket at B-side once and it was not very tender. their pulled pork was excellent that day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: fatty_mouthfeel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks to Robert & a couple other admirers, I went back to J's for the Frito pie. And then went back again. It's really tasty, especially if you eat it quick and the Fritos are still crisp. And especially-especially if you get it with pulled pork or pulled chicken added.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I still think that J's doesn't shine across the board. They need to cut the amount of sugar in their cornbread in half, and double the flavor of their greens. But the Frito pie is worth the trip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: fatty_mouthfeel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Unless they've changed the menu, the Frito pie includes pulled pork. You'd have to special-order to get it without or to substitute chicken.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They may have changed it. The first time I went in, they asked if I wanted to add meat. I asked what it comes with, and they said "just chili," and recommended adding pulled pork or pulled chicken.