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Big Nates BBQ Review

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Went to Big Nate's Barbeque on Folsom St in SF for lunch today on a $20 worth of food for $10 coupon. It looks like they have spruced the place up a bit since my last visit many years ago, and the interior smelled of hardwood smoke which was a good sign. Each table now has three large bottles of warm sauce - mild, medium & hot. So far so good, so I ordered the 2-way brisket & links with sides of mac & cheese and mean greens.

The food came with a large plate topped with brisket and links, accompanied by 4-oz sample cups of the mac & cheese and greens. The brisket was chopped rather than sliced, and there was no smoke ring present, but the meat thankfully came un-sauced so I was still pretty optimistic. Unfortunately it should have all came sauced, because both the brisket and the links were dry, and the mac and the greens were bland. The "hot" sauce, which wasn't very hot, wasn't too bad though.

I'm not sure I would go back to try the chicken and ribs, even with another coupon.

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  1. I would recommend going back and trying the ribs, I think they're the best item on the menu. The brisket is decent and I agree with you it needs the sauce, chopped pork is also decent. To me Nates serves generally satisfying BBQ and the ribs can be downright delicious. With limited options in the Bay Area they can't be counted out.

    2 Replies
    1. re: virtualguthrie

      See, this is the problem - good brisket shouldn't need sauce.

      I'm not surprised by the review, as I went here years ago and thought it was really nothing special. The problem with many BBQ joints is if they don't have predictable foot traffic, I think they leave things in the smoker too long and they get dried out. But not long enough to get a smoke ring, though.

      Memphis Minnies has, for my money (and my central-Texas bred palate), the best brisket in the city. It does have some inconsistencies (occasionally dry) - but when it's on it's excellent.

      1. re: epicurious_sf

        I agree 100% on Memphis Minnie's brisket. Easily the best I have had in CA.

        Regarding the smoke ring, it is developed during the first few hours of the smoke. Once the meat gets over 135F, the chemical reactions that create it are lost.

    2. >I'm not sure I would go back to try the chicken and ribs, even with another coupon.
      >
      i think this place is about worth it at ~50% off ... i keep getting these 2 for 1 sandwich combo coupons on my SAFEWAY receipts ... for $8.50 you get 2 x {bread bun + meat + side + drink}.

      Those drinks would normally cost about $1 at a store, so it's not a bad deal from just a protein perspective. However, service here is kinda flaky ... nice guys, but for example once I ended up behind a +$500 order and had a crazy long wait, another time they forgot the sauce on the side, so the bbq meat was really dry ... i was really irritated about that. Sometimes you get the wrong sauce, some time you get too little (1 unit of sauce for the whole order, rather than factoring in order size). Also, I dont think you can get the ribs with the sandwich combo.

      1. I think the ribs are the best thing at Big Nate's. They're not as good as Memphis Minnie's, but parking is a lot easier, plus they deliver. Their cole slaw's also above average.

        1. Thanks for the report. Unfortunately I think it's true. IMO, it was never very good. The ribs were very inconsistent...not cooked well, tough, not flavorful. Lets put it this way, when Flint's was still rolling, driving across the bridge from SF was a better option.

          I think BBQ in SF has gone the way of many ethnic cuisines...family members don't carry on the tradition/have better opps, tastes change and there's LOTS of other options.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ML8000

            I've found Nate's ribs pretty consistent over the years. I always buy a whole rack, which means I never get an order consisting solely of the sometimes dry ribs from the short end.