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Dec 28, 2010 11:59 PM

St. Louis Style BBQ Ribs at Old Port Lobster Shack, Redwood City

When “mikeh” posted that Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City had a smoker plus a discount offer, William and I headed over there that evening (October 7) with coupon in hand. At OPLS, we’d ordered more than the coupon’s $50 minimum in no time: Double Play Lobster Roll (two rolls in one basket), $35, and a rack of St. Louis ribs, $21.75.

I hadn’t been here for a couple years. The reunion with the Naked Lobster Roll drizzled with drawn butter was as welcome and delightful as a long lost friend.

Then on to the rack of St. Louis ribs, splayed artfully like spokes and served up with sides of coleslaw and onion rings (because my brother does not like the French fries here). Some additional sauce served on the side added a little tangy pizzazz as a dip for the rather greasy rings.

No extra sauce was needed on the barbecue. The meaty ribs themselves were already seasoned well enough by the gentle smoking, a tasty rub and the light glaze of tangy sauce baked into the crust with a turn on the grill. Juicy with just the right toothsomeness, these ribs could only be dinged for some dryness on the small end of the rack and a little too much fat on the big end. The middle bones were right on the money.

My brother’s been back a couple more times for the barbecue ribs. One was better, the other a little less than these. Have other ‘hounds tried the ‘cue?

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

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  1. Melanie, would you recommend their naked version (which I've never tried) over the regular one lightly dressed in mayonnaise?

    1 Reply
    1. re: vincentlo

      It's been even longer since I've had the mayo'd one, so i really couldn't say. I don't think I have that strong a preference, just that in my choice of fats, I'll pick melted butter over almost anything. :) The Naked roll also comes with a dab of mayo if you need to add some.

      Has anyone tried the pulled pork here?

    2. Hmmm, barbecue at a seafood'd take a coach-and-four to pull me away from the lobster roll and the like here, but there are certainly enough non-seafood-centric, bad barbecue places out there that the possibility of OPLS filling (however bizarrely) the interstices is interesting.

      How are the ribs smoked- is an actual wood fire involved, or more a covered indoor roasting pan affair? Their online menu mentions "Rack & Roll BBQ Specials" of baby backs (not St. Louis spares; special?), tri-tip, pulled pork and chicken amidst a heavy seafood current...but the pork fries are intriguing.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Pius Avocado III

        The indoor smoker is a stainless steel affair. I didn't take note of the make and model. I did ask the cook behind the counter if it used wood and he nodded "yes". That could mean chips, or he might not have understood me. I didn't investigate the smoker outside.

        Yes, the website indicates baby backs, but in the restaurant, the menu board says "St Louis", and you can see from the way the rack is trimmed out and the relatively straight line of the bones that they're not baby backs. I'll also mention that the cross-section shape of the bones was rounded rather than flat, and one bbq cook of renown told me that ribs with rounded bones are meatier and tastier than the flatter racks. I haven't paid enough attention to this yet to have my own opinion. The color in the photos taken in indoor light is not great, but if you can filter that out, I think you can tell that these are juicy, well-seasoned, well-smoked ribs, however they came by that, just by looking at them. The price for a full rack is a good deal too, i think.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Wow, those ribs sound pretty good Melanie. How would you score them?

          1. re: Civil Bear

            With "9" being a perfect score, I would have given these 6 for appearance, 8 for taste, and 7 for tenderness. And that's compared to competition rib entries, so in the restaurant world, those are pretty high scores. My brother, Willliam, said that the ribs I tried were in the middle of his three visits there. Interestingly, William took a friend who shares bbq with him frequently one of these times and he didn't like the ribs at all. I don't know why. So, YMMV.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Thanks. I need to get some benchmarks for next season!

              1. re: Civil Bear

                I should have mentioned for the benefit of others that on the KCBS scale, "6" is considered average.

                You might also want to check out BBQ Smokehouse in Sebastopol. I haven't tried the ribs since the first visit, but they are also St Louis style. Chef/owner Larry Vito is also a certified bbq judge and you might enjoy talking to him.

                BBQ Smokehouse
                6811 Laguna Park Way, Sebastopol, CA 95472

              2. re: Melanie Wong

                What is your highest ranking BBQ place in the Bay area? Any 9s?

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  As a normative reference point, how would Armadillo Willy's rank on the 9 point scale?

          2. Is there still a coupon special going? Didn't see anything on their website.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Eugene Park

              The coupon deal we had ended earlier this month, I believe.

              1. re: Eugene Park

                The new deal from OPLS is two lobster rolls for $30 through June 9,

                and the new location in Portola Valley has opened.
                3130 Alpine Rd., Portola Valley, 650-561-9500

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  My GF was happy they have a "naked lobster roll", which has none of that lousy mayonnaise stuff.

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