Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Nov 22, 2009 05:25 PM

Finally, finally, finally -- real bbq in Northern CA

Finally, real bbq has come to town (Oakland, to be precise) I'm more than thrilled to say that this is, in my humble opinion (I grew up in the south) the only thing that even approximates real bbq in northern CA. Yes, I've eaten at Memphis Minnies and E&J etc. And yes, I stood on line at Flints and Dougs.

And yes, I still say, this is the only thing that approximates . . . well, you know. Basically, here's what I have to say: even during the soft open, where they had a limited menu, this place so far surpasses any other bbq I've had in northern CA that I spent the rest of the day irritating my spouse with exclamations like, "Dude, I've been waiting 20 years for this" and "Did we just have real bbq or am I having that dream again?"

Go. Go now. Soon there will be lines out the door. It's cheap, it's fabulous, it's well run, they have a huge menu, and it's the real, smokier than hell itself, sauce-slathered, meat falling off the bone, Memphis deal (they are connected to a famous and well-loved bbq house in Memphis).

Ask for Tony, tell him South Carolina sent you, and breath a huge sigh of relief. Thank the food gods; thank Tomm's (yes, two Ts, not one). Finally, for the first time in my CA tenure (going on 25 years), we have real bbq.

Tomm's BBQ & Deli
3446 Market St, Oakland, CA 94608

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Thanks! Here's a discussion in progress about Tomm's for more info.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Thanks for the report. It's not that I didn't throw out enough bait in the thread Melanie linked to lure people there since I can't do it soon. I'm really wanting to try the bbq rag bologna sandwich which looks great on the Tom's website Except for the prices (and broasted chicken) , I think the menu is identical to the Memphis location.

      Melanie mentioned in the other discussion the previous occupants at that place sold broasted chicken, so I guess Tomm's bought the equipment.

      I'm glad you started a new topic where the OP is about trying the food ... the other was an inquiry that picked up some reports

      I hope someone gets the back story as to why Oakland was chosen as the location for the only branch of this restuarant ... and why that extra 'm'.

    2. What did you eat?

      Sauce-slathered and falling off the bone are both defects in my book.

      1. I think the problem with BBQ is the subjective nature of the beast. You will not find East Carolina natives liking KC BBQ, and vice versa. It is just so regional. I don't think we have ever had a "Bay Area" style rib...or pulled pork, for that matter. You just have to search until you find what YOU like.

        15 Replies
        1. re: OldTimer

          There is a local Oakland style, epitomized by Flint's in the old days. I'm not sure if anyone's doing that style well these days. Anyone been to the Bancroft location?

          Stephanie Perry's old joint in San Leandro was the last place I had a good version.

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

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Flint's on Bancroft closed awhile back. I called the number maybe 6-9 months ago and got a Latino guy. He asked if I wanted BBQ. I said yes and he said closed.

            I'm not positive but I always thought Flint's was Texas BBQ.

            1. re: ML8000

              Flint's was Mississippi/Louisiana BBQ -- most of the African-Americans in the East Bay came from that region.

          2. re: OldTimer

            I agree with you OldTimer. For instance Memphis Minnie's is all about their brisket, which beats any I have ever tried in Memphis or North Carlina. Of course Memphis is mostly known for their ribs, and many NC joints don't even serve anything but pork.

            1. re: Civil Bear

              The spareribs at Memphis Minnie's are the best I've had in SF (not counting places that closed).

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I agree with both of you. I love MM's brisket and spareribs. That said, I look forward to trying Tomm's and the new incarnation of Brother in Law's/Lilly's/Da Pitt.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Unfortunarely my two experiences with the ribs at MM's where not favorable (both times a bit sparse and dry). I do prefer St. Loius cut spareribs though. Is is there anyone else doing those in SF?

                  1. re: Civil Bear

                    The only place I've been served a tidy St. Louis cut rib is the Smokehouse in Sebastopol. But the chef told me he's stopped trimming them that way as there was too much waste to pay for that couldn't be used up in another dish.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      But isn't that the point of St Louis not have to contend with that fatty, gristley chine part of the rib?

                      1. re: OldTimer

                        Let me clarify. The rib tip is still cut off here. But previously a side of ribs was cut down to be almost symmetrical.

                      2. re: Melanie Wong

                        That's too bad. The rib tips at MM's are a pretty good deal and quite tasty.

                        At the comp in Clear Lake this year we had 8 racks of extra tips and they went like hotcakes at the People's Choice event.

                        1. re: Civil Bear

                          >One Market Street, 36th Floor, in San Francisco<

                          Different strokes, as they say. I had the rib tips at MM's a few months ago because I had never had them and was curious. I didn't like them much at all, I think because they were tough and didn't have a lot of flavor.

                          1. re: Mick Ruthven

                            Sorry to hear that Mick. Sounds like they were not cooked long enough. But under seasoned as well? Double wammie!

                          2. re: Civil Bear

                            The rib tips at MM are one of my favorite orders. I like the smooth, succulent texture of the meat next to the cartilage. It's not stringy like the rest of the sparerib. Maybe it's the Cantonese in me speaking, that's the same cut used to make the steamed spareribs offered at dim sum houses.

                            Oh, and congrats on your win in the chicken category at Konocti and placing fourth overall. Quite a feat! I was a little queasy after the contest and decided that i should just head home over the mountain road before it got too late. Otherwise, i would have taken the opportunity to come buy more to take home. As it is, I have a bunch of brisket frozen from the five contests I judged this year that are destined for a pot of chili sometime this winter.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              Thanks Melanie. Now if I could only get that darn brisket dialed in. Maybe I should get someone from MM's to join the team!

                2. I'm eating a Pork rib and two sides (beans and Potato salad) platter W/ Cornbread from Tomm's as I write.

                  Review to follow.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Mission

                    Now that you've had time to digest, what do you think about the 'cue?

                  2. We got an order of beef ribs and half a slab of pork ribs last night. I was rather sad they didn't have rib tips or any of the more unusual items from the Memphis menu but oh well. The ribs came in uncut slabs wrapped in foil, which I sliced up at home.

                    FYI, the menu is divided into two sections: BBQ and broasted chicken, and it definitely looks like they're still selling the chicken. They also have a number of tables there now, as well as seating by the window.

                    The meat has a lovely smoke flavor. The beef ribs were perhaps overdone, with the meat falling off the bones. The top layer of fat wasn't trimmed off, so about 1/3 of the order was the large slab of fat, but with 3 massive ribs to the order there was definitely enough meat.

                    The pork ribs were done well, and not fatty at all, though a tad but not unacceptably dry in parts. I rarely if ever put sauce on my BBQ, and found both the pork and beef ribs to be flavorful enough without them. I didn't end up trying any of the sauces they gave, so I have no idea how they tasted.

                    Street parking was easy at about 5:30pm.