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East Bay BBQ

dunstable Apr 5, 2013 11:55 AM

All the threads on the topic were a little old, so I was wondering what the current consensus is for good BBQ in the East Bay? This will be for corporate catering, so they have to be able to accommodate like 60 people and deliver.

The two that I am curious about, from reading past threads, are Uncle Willie's in Oakland and Bo's in Lafayette. Are these both still excellent?

thanks in advance.

  1. twocents Apr 8, 2013 12:00 AM

    I used to go to KC once a week for many years. I still go from time to time and like BernalKC says, they are consistent. My favorite is their house made links, followed by their ribs then beef. The sauce is sweet tomato based; try spicy for a little kick. They sauce the meat by default, particularly for catering orders. We've had catering from them more than once at my office site; I haven't dealt with the logistics but my impression is that they are reliable.
    Having converted in recent years to Texas hill country orthodoxy, I find the beef a little dense and dry, but overall I still enjoy it, and the ribs especially are what a lot of people think of as Southern BBQ as opposed to Chilis baby back ribs and stuff like that. The links are distinctive, coarse grained. I'd like everything to have a little more smoke flavor. I'd say the 2001-2003 reports are still accurate.
    Of the newer places, I like Smokey J's. wonderful, unusual tomato based sauce. I like his links and poultry sausage. I mostly get the beef, which is very most but could be seasoned more agressively and a little smokier.
    Thought Smoke was a little bland and dry for me, somewhat berkeleyfied. Based on two visits. Never made it to B-side though I work nearby.
    Used to go to Berkeley Everett and Jones but not for years, but always found it okay.
    I miss Chef Edwards. Realistically the BBQ was only average but I liked the southern style boiled cabbage and other sides. He never really seemed to recover from the loss of his original building to gentrification. The newer location (now Hopscotch) never seemed even close to being as busy.
    If you have time I suggest making a trip out to Genny's. based on one visit I was impressed with the brisket and the links. Smoke flavor was prominent and balanced, brisket meat itself was well seasoned, sliced and fairly moist. Tasted v. Good on its own without sauce, as it should be. Links were also well smoked, and that was integral to the overall flavor, medium to coarse grained. Ribs were good, just had a couple of bites again well smoked.appropriately toothsome, not falling of the bone. Sauce is reminiscent of the old Flint's sauce, smoked, with some tomato, but I want to say, more molasses and a little vinegar. I am not an expert on the sauces and have never made any, so that's just a guess. Sweet, but less so than the KC style tomato/ketchup based sauces. Had a couple sides that were highly promising, but will refrain from commenting for now.

    7 Replies
    1. re: twocents
      Ruth Lafler Apr 8, 2013 11:16 AM

      Flint's sauce was never completely reverse engineered. There were rumors of coffee. The darker, less tomato, more molasses style a la Flint's is supposedly a Louisiana style, Louisiana being where the first wave of African Americans who came to the East Bay to work in the shipyards during WWII came from.

      1. re: Ruth Lafler
        Robert Lauriston Apr 8, 2013 11:29 AM

        Stephanie Perry's sauce seems / seemed very similar to Flint's to me. She said they were here model.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler
          ML8000 Apr 8, 2013 12:01 PM

          It was never cracked but I heard of some people getting close. The secret ingredient is xxxxx xxxxx, reduced, as the base. This makes sense. For the longest time, we're talking the 80s, I heard several people speculate the secret was Chinese plum sauce and/or Hoisin.

          The difficult part is the seasoning/spicing. I had the last rendition of Flint's sauce before they closed the last time (in '08?). Something was off, something was missing. The smoke smelled the same on the meat but the sauce was off by a few ingredients.

          1. re: ML8000
            Ruth Lafler Apr 8, 2013 12:12 PM

            I just did a little search on Mississippi BBQ and at least some people seem to be influenced by the Caribbean and use fruit jucie. Maybe some reduced pineapple juice? That would give it some acidity as well as sweetness.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler
              ML8000 Apr 8, 2013 12:14 PM


              Prune juice

            2. re: ML8000
              Robert Lauriston Apr 8, 2013 12:28 PM

              Flint's was not the same even after the first time they reopened in 2006.

              What style were they? Ruth said Louisiana in 2003.

              There's a recipe on the web that claims to be the original.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                ML8000 Apr 8, 2013 12:36 PM

                I always heard Mr. Flint was from Texas but it wasn't Texas BBQ. I think Mr. Flint, like everyone from Berkeley, rolled their own.

                Any how, if I told the rest of the recipe, well I'd have to send drones after everyone.

                Regardless, the spicing/seasoning in the recipe is off. However I do think the fruit juice in this case added depth, that molasses-y texture.

        2. cometraveler Apr 5, 2013 05:05 PM

          We used to go to Bo's in Lafayette all the time, but have given up on it. Quality had really gone downhill - ribs were dried out and tasteless, as was the used to be great bbq'd chicken. For a while, we kept going back every once in a while to see if they had gotten better again, but sadly, they had not. A few of the times that we had taken it home, it was inedible. And unfortunately, so far, we have not been able to find any good bbq places on this side of the hill(Contra Costa, Dublin, Pleasanton, etc.) to replace it, so can't tell you where else to try.

          1. kungful Apr 5, 2013 04:12 PM

            I've been going to Genny's Fire Pit (formerly Smokey's Fire Pit) in Oakland.
            It's in a sketchy neighborhood, but has great BBQ.
            If you call, they might be able to handle a large order:

            6637 Bancroft Ave
            (between 66th Ave & Havenscourt Blvd)
            Oakland, CA 94605
            (510) 777-9037

            P.S. it's right across the street from Miss Kitty's Soul Food, which has great fried chicken.
            I've been known to order from both to pick up and bring home.

            2 Replies
            1. re: kungful
              Ruth Lafler Apr 5, 2013 04:59 PM

              What style BBQ is it?

              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                kungful Apr 6, 2013 09:09 AM

                Not being a BBQ expert, I'm inclined to say "really good"

                The ribs (pork, of course) taste like they've been rubbed before smoking, then slathered in a tomato based sauce afterwards. The sauce is sweet and spicy.
                I actually prefer their brisket, and they seem to have ox tails on a regular basis that I've never tried, but Miss Genny says are the best.
                Links are good, but not as good as the brisket or ribs.

            2. f
              foodrocks Apr 5, 2013 03:19 PM

              B side in Emeryville is hands down my favorite East Bay bbq spot. It is pricy for bbq, and you have to actually pay for sides, but I have not had a smoked hot link so good in over 10 years.

              3 Replies
              1. re: foodrocks
                Robert Lauriston Apr 5, 2013 03:26 PM

                It's worth calling them, but it's a small operation and I doubt they're equipped to cater a party of 60.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  dunstable Apr 5, 2013 03:57 PM

                  I just called and asked, they said size is no problem, so long as they have 48 hours notice. I didn't ask specifics about pricing yet.

                  1. re: dunstable
                    dunstable Apr 5, 2013 04:06 PM

                    ...although if the prices are the same as the regular menu per person, that might be much even for our budget.

              2. b
                betterbeheaven Apr 5, 2013 02:16 PM

                I really like Smokey J's in Berkeley. Great pulled pork and cornbread. The frito pie is fantastic, though it probably doesn't work as a catering item.

                (There's a link for catering at the bottom of the page)

                1 Reply
                1. re: betterbeheaven
                  Robert Lauriston Apr 5, 2013 02:28 PM

                  Smokey J's stopped making the rib tips, which were the one thing thing I really liked there. Lots of reports here:


                2. k
                  kc72 Apr 5, 2013 01:44 PM

                  Thought I saw a review of a place called Slow Hand in paper but can't find it. Think it was in Concord/Walnut Creek area

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: kc72
                    Pius Avocado III Apr 5, 2013 01:53 PM

                    I forgot about Slow Hand (Pleasant Hill)- I have been once, good brisket, need to revisit.

                    Yes, they cater: http://www.slowhandbbq.com/

                    1. re: Pius Avocado III
                      wolfe Apr 5, 2013 06:30 PM

                      Previous thread on Slow Hand.
                      Had the brisket and ribs and enjoyed both.

                      1. re: wolfe
                        Pius Avocado III Apr 8, 2013 05:10 PM

                        Fairly glowing review accompanied by nice pics here:


                        Judging by the picture, this blogger got way better pulled pork than I did; I didn't think I'd order it again but it looks pretty good here.

                  2. escargot3 Apr 5, 2013 01:37 PM

                    what about B-side? (haven't been there myself, just asking)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: escargot3
                      Pius Avocado III Apr 5, 2013 01:54 PM

                      B-Side has great brisket and good sides. I'd be shocked if they cater though.

                      1. re: Pius Avocado III
                        escargot3 Apr 5, 2013 02:41 PM

                        but they seem so entrepreneurial. and picked as CA Chef of the Year, 2013.

                    2. g
                      GH1618 Apr 5, 2013 01:26 PM

                      I've had my eye on KC's in Berkeley for awhile, but haven't tried it yet. Their website says they cater. Anybody tried this?

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: GH1618
                        Robert Lauriston Apr 5, 2013 01:30 PM


                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                          GH1618 Apr 5, 2013 01:41 PM

                          Thanks. These are all pretty old threads, though.

                          1. re: GH1618
                            BernalKC Apr 5, 2013 04:36 PM

                            They've been consistent for years. They're my favorite, mostly for the quality of their meats and their consistent results. Their sauce is lacking, but everything else is stellar.

                        2. re: GH1618
                          ML8000 Apr 5, 2013 05:06 PM

                          They do KC style BBQ and have a thin tomato-based sauce that I'm not a fan but others might be. The meats were cooked well however. If you really want catering, a sample is worth it. You could do Everett and Jones the same day. E&J's issue is inconsistency.

                          1. re: GH1618
                            TerriL Apr 5, 2013 06:18 PM

                            I like KC, and their food travels well. My favorites are the links and chicken. Suprising, because BBQ chIcken can often just be dry filler, but theirs was really moist and flavorful. My husband and others like their brisket, but that's not really my thing. Service has always been really friendly -- worth a call.

                          2. p
                            Pius Avocado III Apr 5, 2013 01:19 PM

                            Uncle Willie's started out great, went downhill and have come part of the way back. They chop their brisket now, which I'm not a fan of, but the meat tastes smoked again. They hack ribs into odd pieces (almost unrecognizable as ribs).

                            Smoke is good but the biggest package they mention on their site is for 16.

                            Bart's Blazin' Q is a catering and competition outfit based in Livermore:


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Pius Avocado III
                              ola Apr 6, 2013 10:52 PM

                              I picked up trays of Uncle Willey's food for my 60th and they gladly prepared chicken, hot links and sides for 50 people.

                            2. Glencora Apr 5, 2013 01:02 PM

                              Fat Daddy's BBQ caters. It's good, not great. I was disappointed with Smoke the last time I got takeout. That was a couple of weeks ago.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Glencora
                                Robert Lauriston Apr 5, 2013 01:29 PM

                                I don't think Smoke is set up to cater for that many people.

                              2. Robert Lauriston Apr 5, 2013 12:29 PM

                                Flint's is so defunct it looks like they're tearing the Shattuck branch down. At least they gutted it and took out all the smoker ventilation.

                                Uncle Willie's caters:


                                I've heard good things about Double D but never managed to get there when they were open. Supposedly they cater.


                                1. Ruth Lafler Apr 5, 2013 12:14 PM

                                  It's really sad. In the last few years the old-school BBQ joints have disappeared. Flint's appears to be permanently defunct. Doug's is gone. Chef Edward's is gone. The newer BBQ places doesn't seem to capture the soul of Oakland in the same way.

                                  1. Robert Lauriston Apr 5, 2013 12:08 PM

                                    You might try Perry's Catering. Her web site is offline so maybe she's out of business, but the phone number is (925) 435-9867.

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