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Sep 20, 2010 10:05 PM

Famous Dave's BBQ (Dave Anderson: St Louis spare ribs, brisket, etc), now at The Plant Curtner Ave, San Jose

Famous Dave's BBQ now in SJ The Plant on Curtner Ave - St Louis spare ribs, brisket, chicken, wings, chopped pork. They have one location in Gilroy mentioned about big portions. Anyone been?

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  1. Yeah, I've been to the Gilroy one. It's awful. Ignoring the insultingly kitsch atmosphere (which no actual self-respecting BBQ joint in the actual South would have), and I felt l was somewhere run by people who have absolutely no understanding of actual BBQ culture (clean-cut, simple, family-run operations). Reminds me of those old European-composed operas back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (e.g. Leo Delibes' Lakme) that mythicized India in ways that showed they had no actual understanding of the culture or people.

    But yeah, moving beyond that, the food was terrible. I got a huge spread with a friend of mine (a native Californian who has never been outside the state). Beef brisket. Pulled pork. Smoked chicken. Sides of corn, slaw, beans, cornbread. All of the meats were dried out beyond belief. There was no culinary skill whatsoever in the imparting of the smoke flavor. The basic approach was "make the meat taste as smokey as you can, and oh, let's use bad quality meat too, and then slather it with sauce to cover all that up, and you have bbq". No. I did the sauce tasting - they offer 5 or 6 different sauces. They were all off. None of them tasted right. Their attempts at a mustard-based sauce came nowhere close to any of the ones I had in SC. The vinegar-based NC sauce was neither western Lexington-style or eastern Piedmont style. The Memphis-style sauce didn't have enough complexity. and so on. I believe that MSG is a huge component in the seasonings. The sides were tired and commercialized.

    God, I was so embarrassed. Even though I kept repeating that this in no way represented true BBQ, my friend said, "sorry, mikeh, but I don't think I'll ever eat BBQ again, not even when I visit the South." So Famous Dave's singlehandedly killed any interest my friend has in experiencing the amazing regional food treasures our country has.

    Memphis Minnie's wins by a mile, and I don't even think MM is that good. But it's edible. Gorilla BBQ in Pacifica is another totally respectable place.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mikeh

      Thanks for the warning. It's really sad that these places just don't translate well in California. Here's an evergreen thread for Famous Dave's on the Chains board,

      I was curious about another chain bbq, Dickey's, that has local stores in Fremont and Morgan Hill because its website says it smokes USDA prime meats. Then I found this thread about it on the chains board,

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        We attended a party in Boston catered by the local Famous Dave's a few years ago..awful and they closed shortly after.

        I have a soft spot for Dickey's because for a long time they were the best option at DFW, AMR terminal. Never tried the original or any other branches.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          We had a Dickey's open up in Durham, NC during the time I lived there. Suffice to say its business didn't do so hot when pitted against the local BBQ culture.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            A Dickey's is opening in the shopping center at Ignacio Valley and Clayton Roads. As there are few dining options near the Centre Concord, perhaps Dickey's will be a blessing. While attending an activity nearby once a year, I have resorted in the past to Burger King, which I like. Last year, after a BK Whopper Jr. lunch, I did discover a little Mexican place in a strip mall nearby. The taco I had was pretty good and if you get there early enough they have Caldo de Res.

        2. If you are near Kensington on Sunday morning give Big Daddy's ribs a try. Don't expect much from the sides but the pit on wheels made for some good moist tasty meat.

          1. We like this place for bbq in San Jose


            Tip: Bring little kids with you who can't finish their kid's rib plate, so you can!

            1. I think Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City has surprisingly good BBQ. I've had the ribs there a couple of times.

              Old Port Lobster Shack
              851 Veterans Blvd, Redwood City, CA 94063

              1. I first stumbled across this miserable faux BBQ chain in Minnesota. Except for their truly bizarre location of El Centro, FD joints cater to the fussy unadventurous suburbanite crowd. Sorry to see they sited one in the equally sterile replacement Long Beach Pike. Ugh.