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Jun 5, 2008 03:45 PM

Third Street Corridor BBQ?

So good soul food - BBQ! I know there's a lonnnng thread on the Chowhound BBQ taste test, but there wasn't a whole lot of representation from the Third Street corridor, which is close for us.

For a bit of background, we've been on a carnivore binge for the past few weeks, thinking that we should quest for good BBQ but trying to be purists and go for the meat without the sauce.

We were dissapointed with Big Nate's (meat was tough) and Johnson's (meat tender but minimal flavor) so I recalled some great BBQ I had years ago at 3rd and Shafter (1995 or so).

That's now Pittman's and it's been closed every time I've driven by -- not sure if they are in business anymore.

So instead we have been going to Olivia's, which has been great. Incredible pork ribs and beef ribs that have lots of flavor even without sauce. Sorry, not sure of the push pin link thinga mabob yet, but Olivia's is at 3rd and Newcomb. Great people there and good service. They are also open for breakfast, and do fried fish along with the usual sides.

We have also tried Primitive BBQ which is around 3rd and Evans. It's actually a kitchen in the back of a bar, was a little intimidated going in for food but the BBQ was very good. I'd give the nod to Olivia's but also enjoyed the ribs there.

Now for my question -- other BBQ options in the 3rd Street corridor? Other Soul Food recommendations? Thanks in advance!

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  1. Thanks for the post. Here's the link:

    4712 Third St, San Francisco, CA

    3 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Stomsf, what else have you had at Olivia's? All 5 Yelp reviewers had the fried chicken, which sounds pretty good.

      I work nearby and would definitely go there for takeout lunch, although I'm not sure which items would be best for takeout.

      1. re: Dave MP

        Dave --

        Just the beef and pork ribs. Tried their sauce and it was OK but the meat itself is very tasty. Tried their corn and greens side dishes, nothing too special. I want to try the fried chicken and the fried fish, but waiting for my body to catch up with my diet first. :o)

      2. re: Ruth Lafler

        I tried Olivia’s Fish-Chicken-Gumbo in November 2007, when it had been open for less than a year. A Sunday, the daily special was creamy mushroom chicken.

        Olivia’s façade -

        Since that didn’t appeal to me and I was in a hurry, I asked the counter man what would be fast. He had the weekend’s ribs at the ready, but I didn’t want to spend that much. He steered me away from the fried chicken wings, which would take longer, to the fried catfish.

        I took a seat at one of the four stools at the side counter. While I waited for my order he plied me with samples of the various sides, all good. The mac and cheese had lots of real cheese and cheddar, no Velveeta. I loved the creamy black-eyed peas, and the corn muffin was as gritty as I like. I think I had a taste of some collard greens and yams too. The one sparerib, cooked the day before, that I sampled was dry and stringy, but it had good smoke flavor.

        More sides -

        My small fish basket had six pieces of fried catfish and I opted for the very good potato salad, $7.50 (can also choose fries or macaroni salad). I enjoyed this with a squeeze of hot sauce and tartar sauce. The potato salad was savory with onion, black pepper and pickle, and had just enough mayonnaise to add richness without being gloppy. The potatoes still had their integrity.

        Small basket of catfish -

        The chef/owner came out to check on me when there was a break in the action. He said that the only red meat served here is the barbecue on Fridays and Saturdays. He makes the pot likker for the greens and other sides using smoked turkey necks and wings. I asked him whether he’d cooked anywhere else before. He shook his head and said that this was his first restaurant; he’d been in retail before. He opened this place because he felt the neighborhood needed something like this and he hoped to introduce more customer service than this area had seen before. I certainly felt well taken care of!

        I asked the counter man, who is a family member, about the gumbo, which was absent from the menu. He encouraged me to come back for the jambalaya on Thursdays. However, he said that his favorite was Tuesday’s oxtails. He has Tuesdays off, but comes in just for the oxtails. He suggested that I call in to reserve an order, as he does, because the oxtails sell out fast.

      3. Hard Knox Cafe is on 3rd. I haven't been, but it has gotten positive reviews.

        3 Replies
        1. re: foodeye

          It shouldn't. As much as I want to like Hard Knox because the owners are so nice, most of the food is just bad. The vegetables have an awful canned flavor and are way overcooked. The cornbread is dry beyond being fixed by butter. The serve BROWN gravy with their CFS.

          The best thing on their menu is the oxtails which are average, average plus.

          I always assumed the reason they stayed open was because of cheap 3rd street rent, so I was shocked to seem them open a place on Clement. It tells me that as much as SF is supposed to be a foodie capital - there's still plenty of people that don't or can't taste their food. Either that or they've never had GOOD Southern or Soul food and they think this is how its supposed to taste.

          1. re: larochelle

            i have to strongly disagree. I have eaten at Hard Knox a dozen times and loved it each time.

            1. re: larochelle

              I somewhat agree with you - I want to like the place and have been on a handful of occasions. Fried chicken is pretty good, althought the collard green have an awful "liquid smoke" characteristic and the mac and cheese is just plain disgusting with the amount of heavy cream that is used in their recipe. That said, the chicken is pretty decent - just watch out for the accompanying sides.

          2. OK, quick update....

            Olivia's -- went there this weekend, BBQ was OK, had a sampling of their hush puppies (very good! Surprisingly a lot of flavor) and the fried catfish (was VERY tasty, will probably go back when I'm hankeing some good fried fish) and also the ribs. Dissapointingly, the ribs this time though juicy were way too salty. The staff as always is great and super friendly.

            I was mistaken above, it's not Primitive in the bar, but Jordan's BBQ. Link below. This is our current favorite place for ribs. Big, juicy ribs with lots of flavor (still no sauce). We really like sides too -- their mustard greens are full of flavor and very juicy, the african corn is very good, and I love their baked beans. Had onion rings once as I was craving them and they were a nice, large portion and well made though nothing too special. We tried their BBQ chicken once and it was OK, but ribs are still the highlight here.

            Jordan's House of Ribs
            4004 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94124

            3 Replies
            1. re: stomsf

              Oooh, hush puppies, I want some. For someone who had only cooked at home before, the owner's doing a pretty good job. And yes, they're nice people.

              Thanks for IDing Jordan's, couldn't figure out Primitive. I've been meaning to try it for years. With your rec for the ribs, it's sounding even better.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Hi Melanie --

                Actually we went there tonight, and though the inside answers to Jordan's the outside signage shows Primitive Bar-B-Que and catering. Who knows? Still excellent food!

                Tonight we also tried the potato salad, very nice and well balanced, and the banana pudding which I am sad to say I was dissapointed by. He says it's one of their best sellers next to the Key Lime pie, which is one of our favorites but they were out of it tonight. Next time we'll try the pie as he said he makes the pies himself.

                1. re: stomsf

                  Cool! You're writing the book on barbecue in this area.

                  One spot that I've not managed to catch at the right time is a bit off Third, but maybe you could check it out. My recollection is that on Innes, just west of where Evans Ave intersects it by India Basin, I've noticed a smoker out on the sidewalk near the store there. One time that I was driving by, a man was sitting next to it and I asked him whether he sold barbecue. He said that sometimes he fires it up on Saturdays if he feels like it. That's all I know, and that was a couple years ago.

            2. OK, update again. :o)

              We went out this weekend as we had taken a break from BBQ, only to find that Jordon's (and the bar) is closed and there's police tape across the front? And from driving by there looked to be a red sign on a board over the window -- not a good sign. Anybody know what might have happened?

              So option #2 was SF Sole, formerly Olivia's. Unfortunately they were out of ribs on Saturday night. Nice guys there though. So ventured a bit further and went to Pittmann's. Ribs were decent, tender but not the same rub that we like at Jordan's. I tried their baked beans as a side, while they were OK, they weren't stand out like Jordon's is/was.

              So I'd rate them a little above Olivia's for food, but below Jordan's.

              Pittman's Bar B Que
              5130 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94124

              1 Reply
              1. re: stomsf

                A friend went by Jordan's about 5 minutes after what was a traffic accident. Motorcycle on the road, and a car hood halfway into Jordan's. I've been meaning to check if it's still closed, but you've saved me a trip.
                (Nope, don't know if everyone was okay or not from the accident.)