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BBQ in the East Bay: T-Rex, Brick's Pig House, Chef Edwards, Flints??

I'm heading to the East Bay tomorrow and I can't decide which of these BBQ places I want to try. I've tried Flint's before, it wasn't good (although I really liked the links), but I'm thinking the right timing and location could score. I've never tried any of the other places I mentioned.

As far as what I am looking for I like a good smoky brisket, I also like pork and beef ribs and home-made links. I do like the sauce at places like Flints and don't really care if they cover the meat in sauce or not as long as the meat is well smoked and the place uses decent cuts.

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  1. I've found T-Rex's spareribs reliably great, that's my go-to place and order when I crave barbecue. Brisket seems more variable, great at its best.

    The best brisket I've had in the East Bay was Uncle Willie's in Oakland:

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/379427

    I found Brick Pig's spareribs smoke-free and the sauce way too sweet.

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/328812

    Flints went so far downhill after one of its prolonged closings I can't believe they're still open. I don't know where (or if) they smoke the meat but the Shattuck branch never smells like barbecue any more.

    14 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Links:

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

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

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

      Flint's Bar-B-Q
      6609 Shattuck Ave, Oakland, CA

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I've stopped going to the Flint's on Shattack. They no longer cook there (the neighbors complained about the smoke).

        Recently, I did try the Flints in East Oakland at 6637 Bancroft Ave ((between 66th Ave & Havenscourt Blvd) and thought that it was "on" that evening. Great sauce, good ibs with some well-done crispy parts, and a heavy pound of link. It was substantailly better than Shattuck where they bring in cooked food from the Bancroft location and sell it until it is gone.

        For those who care, Bancroft has a touch more ambiance than Shattuck, with some (limited) insde seating and a safer-feeling neiorhood. The inside of the storefront is dominated by a large glass barrier with a couple of cutouts through which to pas money and food.

        1. re: Bob Copeland

          Thanks for the tip. I went to Flints on Shattuck a year ago after the re-opened and that explains a lot. It's a real shame that they're not cooking on Shattuck.

          1. re: Bob Copeland

            I'm totally confused here. A few months back when I was updating the place record for Flint's, I found about about the Bacroft location. At that time the only mention was a 2007 post on Yelp. So I gave them a call. The phone was disconnected. Did they re-open recently? I have personally watched the Flints on Shattuck cook food on site since re-opening. They stopped that?

            1. re: rworange

              I don't know when they opened, but, I think it's been awhile. It's still Flint's - their phone has been out of order for a couple of weeks - no urgency to have it fixed, I suppose.

              The last couple of times that I had been at Shattuck, they were not cooking. I was told that they cook at Bancroft and bring it over.

              The sauce still merits someone's wonderful comment that when they go, they want to be embalmed in Flint's Sauce.

              1. re: rworange

                By "watched [them] cook food" do you mean pull it out of a working smoker? I live nearby, and my nose tells me they haven't been running the smoker in the last couple of years. The last time I was in there (2006), they brought the food out from the back so you couldn't see what was going on.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  during the first couple months after they reopened i did see them pull it out of the smoker, and I remember the old days when you could smell the bbq as you drove by, but it's been a long time since I've smelled anything coming from there.

                  1. re: nicedragonboy

                    Yes, that is about the time I saw them using the smoker. They didn't have the other location until about June 2007 as the yelper made is sound like they were newly opened. Good to know the new location is better but very weird they don't care to fix the phone.

                    I updated the place record somewhere in April and when I saw that review I was going to add a second location and ask about it on Chowhound, but with no other yelp activity at that time and a dead phone, I thought they didn't make it.

              2. re: Bob Copeland

                Adding a link:

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

                1. re: Bob Copeland

                  I can hardly breathe after reading Bob Copeland's statement that "Bancroft has a touch more ambiance than Shattuck" Flints. I was just laughing too hard. While I haven't been to the Bancroft Flint's, the ambiance at Shattuck Flint's could aptly be compared to a prisoner of war camp...with fewer people.

                  Glad to hear that at least one Flint's is still pretty good.

                  We used to get Chef Edwards' ribs, etc. when we did an office lunch and the ribs, at least, were very good. This, however, was more than 5 years ago and could well have changed.

                  1. re: oakjoan

                    Neighborhood and ambiance aside, I think the Bancroft location is the place to try, since the Shattuck location's just reheating their meat.

                  2. re: Bob Copeland

                    Safer-feeling neighborhood? There's nothing wrong with the Shattuck neighborhood -- I know several people who live around there -- one lives only half a block away, and in the good old days you could smell Flint's in their living room. On the other hand, that part of East Oakland around 66th and Havenscourt is pretty rough. Not that anything should keep you from good 'cue, but I think your characterization is a bit inaccurate.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Yeah, I was wondering if that was meant to be switched? Because the Shattuck location is in a significantly better neighborhood than the East Oakland one!

                      1. re: JasmineG

                        Perhaps I was too harsh with my sense of safer neighborhoods. While I'm not that familar with Oakland, the Bancroft location is in more of a small business district, with shops/stores near Flint's. The Shattuck location is a little more isolated, in a combination of residential and commercial buildings. It feels a little less safe to me than a commerical block, but, that is subjective. I've visited the Shattuck location for decades and have never had a problem. The one time I went to Bancroft was mid-afternoon on a Sunday and I didn't get any particular vibes about the neighborhood. I was just glad to find a Flint's that was open and had product. I suppose that Shattuck seems more isolated since it is not on a commerical street.

                        I feel more comfortable on a commerical street, which, of course, may not be true.

                2. Brisket, Bo's Lafayette.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: wolfe

                    link

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

                    1. re: wolfe

                      Should've mentioned, I've been to Bo's, liked the brisket a lot, want to try some of the other places that are closer.

                      1. re: wolfe

                        I really like the brisket and ribs at Bo's. Links are good but not as chunky as Everett and Jones. It's a little trippy to be able to get good beer and wine at Bo's but something that I can get used to. I used to live near a local Everett and Jones and loved their ribs and links and sauce. Tried the new location down in Jack London Square and don't think it hold up. I'm not that fond of T-rex but it's all a matter of taste. I would go back to get their happy hour specials.

                        1. re: Cheesy Oysters

                          T-Rex's happy hour is great, but the only BBQ item on that menu is riblets, which are good but not in the same league with the spareribs.

                        2. re: wolfe

                          Bo's kicks serious barbeque behind. The brisket is FABULOUS. I wish I loved the ribs as much but I'm a sucker for the brisket. Mmmmm.. Love the live music, magazines for customers, great selection of wine & interesting beer. Love Bo's.

                        3. Haven't tried it yet, but Pit Boss in Richmond has been mentioned here a few times.

                          -----
                          Pit Boss Barbeque
                          12889 San Pablo Ave, Richmond, CA

                          1. Additional choice for brisket ok but not a good as Clark's that I ordered online.
                            Elves, Oakland.
                            http://www.chow.com/places/19821

                            1. I've found the brisket at T-Rex to be a bit dry, but the long cut short rib is HEAVEN. The mild sauce has about as much flavor as ketchup, minus the vinegar. Hot is substantially better. The short rib, however, needs no help.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: lexdevil

                                We liked the pulled pork at T-rex a lot and the sides were excellent if not strictly traditional.

                              2. Check out the Everett & Jones on Fruitvale in Oakland. I've now been twice, and each time the ribs were outstanding, as were the links. The potato salad is a bit evil, but that's forgivable.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: jillyju

                                  Evil potato salad? Please expand on that. The only kind of potato salad I don't like is the stuff that's too sweet, Safeway-style.

                                  1. re: Cafe Mich

                                    Evil, as in sweet, and with mealy potato. It comes across as Safeway-esque, perhaps with a spoonful of mustard added. I've retasted it now on several different occassions, and it does not get better.

                                2. Another spot that deserves mention is KC's BBQ, 2613 San Pablo, Berkeley, 94702, (510) 548-1140...smooth sauce, nice as heck people, funky setting...the links are as good as any I've had, and the pork bbq is also wonderful.

                                  Brick Pig did not blow me away the two times I have tried it

                                  Flint's not so good either

                                  T Rex is very solid, if a bit on the vinegar side at times...quality meat though, you can taste it.

                                  1. So ... it's been a few days ... where did you go?

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: rworange

                                      Unfortunately I ran short on time and had to go back to SF before I could have lunch. I am, however going to be working in Emeryville soon so I am going to try Uncle Willie's when I get a chance.

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        OK, I finally got to some east bay bbq today, I almost ran out of time again today but persistence paid off and I tried Uncle Willie's in downtown Oakland. I have to say it was very good, Uncle Willie is really friendly and is his own best asset as he really makes the place feel comfortable and happy.

                                        OK, so on to the bbq itself. I came for brisket but after finding out that the links were home-made I just had to get a two way combo of brisket and links with collard greens and mac n' cheese as the two sides. At just over $20 I have to say it wasn't cheap. I ordered the medium sauce, and had a little of the hot mixed in as well.

                                        Brisket- Chopped, not sliced, good but not great. It could have been smokier and perhaps a little less fatty, however it was nice and tender and overall a satisfying experience.

                                        Links- Definitely a star. Home-made, coarse ground and smoked to perfection, not the most aesthetically appealing but they really deliver in the flavor department. They fall apart like a good link should with spicy overtones of cloves? Cinnamon? Coriander? Definitely a lot of black pepper. If you like links Willie's is the place to get 'em.

                                        Collard Greens- Great, simple recipe, nothing overpowering... just enough lard or butter to offset the bitterness of the greens and of course some bits of pork thrown in for good measure. Loved 'em.

                                        Mac N' Cheese- Also very good. Lots of black pepper as I like and a good amount of flavor and real cheese no phony cheese sauce.

                                        Sauce- Not my favorite sauce but very good. I would describe it as Willie's take on the typical East Bay BBQ sauce ala Flints and E & J. It somehow lost it's luster as I kept eating it, don't know why.

                                        Overall a good experience and I would return, especially for the links. Willie needs your support if he's going to stick around so go help out a locally owned small business if you get a chance.

                                        I think I'll try T-Rex next...

                                        1. re: virtualguthrie

                                          Did you get the mild, medium, or hot sauce? To my taste the hot was great.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            I guess I should have clarified my statement. I think it is a great bbq sauce, it's unique and flavorful, it's just not MY favorite.

                                            1. re: virtualguthrie

                                              So you did order the hot? I'm just wondering if you're talking about the same sauce I raved about.

                                          2. re: virtualguthrie

                                            When you go to T-Rex, if possible, sit at the bar (or bar area) it's usually a cool scene with lots of literal and metaphorical flavor I think.

                                        2. Anyone try Oak St. BBQ in Oakland? Just saw the banner this morning.

                                          http://oakstreetbbq.com/menu.html

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: kc72

                                            wow, the slabs of ribs are cheap. guess I know what i'm doing tomorrow.

                                            1. re: nicedragonboy

                                              cool, pls post what you think about them

                                            2. re: kc72

                                              Anything to report on Oak Street BBQ?

                                              -----
                                              Oak Street BBQ
                                              78 4th St, Oakland, CA

                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                Sorry, forgot about this thread. Got a rack of ribs some time ago. There was a lot of meat but it was not BBQ, no smoke, possibly steamed. I added my own hot rub and seared it under the grill. Ok.

                                            3. I'd recommend that people try out Ribs N Things in Hayward. Good sides--I like their beans, potato salad; greens have been hit and miss.

                                              Good sauce, nice texture to meats (I prefer mine more tender/juicy than crispy-ish).

                                              Good size portions.

                                              http://www.ribsandthingsbbq.com/

                                              To place my recommendation in context: I like E&Js sauce, Uncle Willies meats, and Brick Pig sides.

                                              1. Has anyone tried Great American BBQ in Alameda recently? Historically, the reviews were bad, but it was bought late last year by a team that does really well in local BBQ competitions. There was one positive review in late 2007 but nothing since then. Would be interested to hear people's opinions on the place since the ownership change.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: pine222

                                                  I'd sure like to know too.

                                                  -----
                                                  Great American Barbecue
                                                  2009 High St, Alameda, CA

                                                  1. re: pine222

                                                    What team would that be?

                                                    1. re: Civil Bear

                                                      http://www.greatbbq.com/home.htm

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        Thanks Robert. That web page doesn't provide a team name, but Harry Stewart does compete as Backstreet BBQ, which I believe placed 4th in Modesto earlier this year. Pretty impressive considering the field.

                                                  2. Some other possibilities that haven't been mentioned yet:
                                                    - Everett and Jones, on Broadway near Jack London Square. It's got more of a diner feel than an authentic smokehouse feel but it's a nice place to take the parents and the food was great. My mom and I both had a bbq brisket sandwich with a bag of potato chips and a lemonade for $7. That was quite a few years ago though.
                                                    - Looney's, in Berkeley just off the southwest corner of campus; I recently had some at a company picnic where Looney's catered it; it was pretty tasty, nice variey of sauces though a little vinegary for my tastes, chicken was a smidge dry but that's got to be hard to control for a catering situation. Overall I liked it and most people seemed to enjoy it; I've got no idea how much it cost though.

                                                    I had a tasty pulled pork sandwich from Chef Edwards about five years ago for less than five bucks, before he moved somewhere else on San Pablo. Haven't been to the new place. But that was a darn good sandwich.

                                                    I heard Doug's had moved down near the airport. I used to get bbq from his Emeryviille more than anyone else's and enjoyed it a lot, but the closure of that place has left me (and hundreds other north Oaklanders I imagine) nearly bbq-less, as I was not impressed with Brick Pig. Has anyone been to Doug's new location?

                                                    -----
                                                    Looney's Smokehouse BBQ
                                                    2190 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                                    Everett and Jones Barbeque
                                                    126 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607

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

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Theresa OConnor

                                                      Once was enough for me at Looney's. Spare ribs were OK but not as good as T-Rex's. Sides were boring.

                                                      1. re: Theresa OConnor

                                                        The new Doug's bears no resemblence to the original -- see my report at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5300...

                                                        1. re: Theresa OConnor

                                                          The pork sandwich at Chef Edwards is the "famous" Piggly Wiggly. And it's a darn good sandwich, especially for the price. Chef Edwards just moved across the street, since the bulldozed the block he was on. I'm sure the new place is cleaner, but less atmospheric.

                                                        2. rworange notes a new place on International, Double D-

                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/542750

                                                          I should apologize to Chowhounders as I had noted this place several months ago, but didn't post, as I had just driven by. Intriguingly, and not noted by rworange or nicedragonboy, the awning has some Vietnamese on it for some reason. I don't know what it says.

                                                          Chef Edward's is still as good as it ever was, meaning it's not different than before, no worse and no better. I've always liked his stuff overall, especially the variety of sides, but it's not mind blowing bbq. Like all others around here that I've tried, I could do with a bit more smoke. It's new location is a bit further south on San Pablo than the old location, across the street in one of the redevelopment storefronts. It's a nice looking old-style diner space, and Chef is still holding court there.

                                                          Finally, there is a very new place in the old Everett & Jones space on Telegraph, between Neldam's and Nordic House, across from Walgreens. I think it's called Smokey Blues BBQ, and they have been open less than two months.

                                                          http://www.smokeybluesbarbeque.com/

                                                          I am a longtime patron of Chef Edwards and KC BBQ. I particularly like KC's links and ribs. The beef is decent, depending on the cut (too many places around here do not use fatty enough brisket). Chef Edwards: I like the ribs most, and the pork sandwich mentioned elsewhere. The beef is ok also, depending.

                                                          Doug's old location in Emeryville closed I believe because he died. I don't know if the family moved it or not, I thought not, actually. However, here is a Yelp link for something that may be the re-opening. I am not sure.

                                                          http://www.yelp.com/biz/dougs-1-bbq-o...

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: twocents

                                                            Brick Pig's House: I had bbq from here once; they had some nice tasting sides, but as others have noted, the bbq itself tasted relatively smoke free. However, reasonably tasty given that obvious failing.

                                                            Uncle Willie's: I've been here a few times; the combo dinners were particularly generously sized. This is the smokiest place that I have been to locally, but beyond that, I don't care for the meats and the seasonings as much as other places, though it's still good, and I would return. The links and beef were best here, though the beef is chopped. The hot sauce is one of the more distinctive (in a good way) sauces around here.

                                                            Pit Boss: been here once, can't remember it clearly, but would consider trying again.

                                                            Flint's Shattuck: went several times when they first re-opened, but it was just so erratic in hours, and the bbq seemed so ordinary, I never really feel like going anymore. It was ok, though, and the beef was one of the best around, at least the first couple of visits. Haven't been for a year.

                                                            T-rex: very good ribs, but I wish they were more smokey and cheaper. I think the dinner portion is maybe 25% smaller than your average other bbq place. I am not sure what it is, since I am not certain that the number of ribs is fewer, so maybe I am just mistaken. However, I go here all the time, but frequently don't get the barbeque (drinks and burgers and snacks).

                                                            Bo's: I get why people like it but it leaves me cold. Plus I don't like to go over the hills much.

                                                            My last few visits to Texas kind of ruined me for barbeque around here. Even some of the average, not well regarded places in the Houston and San Antonio areas that I visited blew the local places away for beef. However, I like bbq enough and desire it enough that I get it every couple of months here, and reasonably satisfied with the choice outlined above.

                                                            One thing I noticed late last year when my coworkers evaluated Chef Edward's, Flint's, Brick Pig, KC's and Uncle Willie's all in one week, was that the product at lunchtime seemed a little better than the dinner/late night product. This was all n=1 for lunch, but it was consistent across all four that I had significant (n>3) experience with at dinner (not Brick Pig). Is this the optimum time for BBQ? It would make sense, I think.

                                                            1. re: twocents

                                                              The brisket I had at Uncle Willie's was sliced, not chopped, and barely smoky.

                                                              T-Rex's spare ribs are usually about as smoky as any I've had.

                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                My visits to Uncle Willie's left me with the overall sense that it was above average in smokiness for around here, which is not to say that it is very smokey. I have never really felt that T-rex's are that smokey, but I am sure you try them more often than I do. I have them 2-3 times a year since they opened, so maybe 6-8 times total, and I always feel they have amongst the best seasoning, overall flavor and texture as any I've had, but often feel like I wish there was more smoke. They do always have a nice smoke ring, though.

                                                            2. re: twocents

                                                              The Vietnamese on the awning next to Double D is for an organization who's door is adjacent to Double D's. You only really notice it if you walk right up to the place.

                                                              I gave a brief report in a different thread. I unfortunately was not impressed, and even though I live 2 blocks away, it would take a lot to get me to try it again.

                                                              1. re: twocents

                                                                Looney's had great ribs and potato salad on my first visit. The bread pudding was the best I had ever had and it is something I make often. Alas, both portions and quality had taken a steep nosedive by my third and final visit.

                                                                Smokey Blues is horrible. The attitude will freeze you on a 100 degree day-these folks have zero clue about customer service. Once you finally get someone to talk to you expect weak, wimpy sauce on badly cut ribs with HUGE pockets of fat. Yams will be subbed for the potato salad that is listed on the menu without notice, leaving you to discover this once you get home. The "corn muffin" was vile-bland, dry, tasted of nothing, not even corn meal.

                                                                I took the hit for the board on this place. Spare yourselves, it's not even worth trying.

                                                                1. re: bbq babe

                                                                  I ate --or tried to eat-- Looney's spare ribs yesterday. They were terrible. Too much char, meat as dense as shoe leather and then a thick layer of fat. I know "falling off the bone" isn't always desirable, but this was more like "not coming off the bone without a fight." I gave up. Not worth it. The last time I tried Looney's was last January and it was fine, if not great. Has anyone else been recently? Was this a fluke or have they really seriously declined?

                                                                  1. re: Glencora

                                                                    I go to Looney's a couple of time a year due to its proximity to Cal Basketball games. The only consistencies I have found there is that the food will be inconstant and stay away from "brisket" at all costs. Last time I had their baby backs which were not great but edible, hush puppies that were so overdone I made sure to get them taken off the bill, a pretty lame side salad, and nachos that looked great and probably would have been pretty good if it wasn't for the sweet BBQ sauce added to the pulled chicken. Blech.

                                                                    The beer was cold though...

                                                              2. I tried out Great American BBQ is Alameda last night...good but nothing blew me away.

                                                                Prices were very fair, that might be the strength so far.

                                                                I had a two-way, with links and brisket...brisket reminded me of many others, fatty to an extent but not without heft. Links were better than average, not gritty at all. Corn muffin was standard, mac and cheese good, garlic mashed potatoes a bit bland.

                                                                Sauce was not overly memorable, but I just tried the mild.

                                                                I'll go back and try some other items, the guys were very friendly and the prices very reasonable, IMHO.