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East Bay BBQ

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.

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  1. 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.

    1. 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. 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. 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

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

          2. 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

              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. 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?

              6 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Thanks. These are all pretty old threads, though.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    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

                  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

                    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.

                    1. re: GH1618

                      KC's is solid for catering if you like the style; we've used them pretty regularly over the years. It used to be my favorite 15 years ago before I converted to Texas gospel. I still go from time to time; links are some of my favorite. Everything is sauced unless you specify otherwise, beef is often too lean for me. Ribs solid.

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

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: escargot3

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

                        1. re: Pius Avocado III

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

                      2. 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

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: kc72

                          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

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

                            1. re: wolfe

                              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. re: kc72

                            Stopped in recently while in the Concord area; had links and beef to go. Links were a pretty tasty spicy smooth (red) ground. In general I prefer coarse, mixed, but these were pretty good. Hot was hotter than most. Was provided with both a red and a brown sauce, like many of the "Hickory Pit" style places in the East Bay, though here both were distinctly barbecue sauce, where the "Brown Sauce" at the other places is more like gravy.

                            Brisket was too lean and underseasoned for me. This was in the evening though; many places are only good for brisket at lunch. Smokiness mild but present.

                            Single visit review.

                            1. re: kc72

                              I really like the ribs at Slow Hand.

                            2. 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)

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: betterbeheaven

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


                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Smokey J has reinstated "burnt ends" but only on Mondays.

                                2. re: betterbeheaven

                                  I like Smoky J's and their distinctive sauce, though the brisket and ribs were not as good on a few visits over the last 6 months. Not bad, just not as good as before. Hopefully a temporary dip.

                                  1. re: betterbeheaven

                                    I really liked the ribs I got some months ago and appreciate the default is to serve them dry. Even the mild sauce has a good balance of acid, cumin, sweet, and tingle. The ribs had a good salty but complex crust and were tender. (I'm liking them more in retrospect after my bad experience at Perdition.)

                                    But what moved me to post today was the brisket sandwich I got to go last night. Wow! Awesomely tender and moist, beefy, fantastic flavor even without the sauce. Got it on the roll rather than bread and the whole thing held together just right.

                                    I've been thinking about that sandwich ALL DAY.

                                    1. re: heavysnaxx

                                      A friend who was housesitting left some leftover hot link. It was on the lean side but delicious and seriously hot.

                                    2. re: betterbeheaven

                                      I used to be a regular but too often the chicken was dry and way over salted.

                                    3. 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

                                        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

                                          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

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

                                      2. 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.

                                        4 Replies
                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            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. re: kungful

                                            Genny's BBQ Pit reopened last month after being closed for a year. New reports?

                                            I love the photo of its wood log-burning pit.


                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                              Just called them as it's a few miles drive from my house to ask if they were out of anything; alas, the listed number 510.777.9037 is not in service. Tough to come up with a plan B driving to that nabe without assurances...

                                          3. 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. 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

                                                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

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

                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                    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

                                                      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: ML8000

                                                        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

                                                          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. BBQ Hut in Oakland opened a few months ago, Shattuck at Alcatraz. I was very impressed at about a month in; very high quality meats, consistently smoked, and a good portion for the price. More recently, the portion size has declined. Everything well smoked and seasoned, which is a big thing for me. Brisket generally not too lean. I enjoy the links and ribs. Solid ketchup based sauce, better spicy. Clearly they cater but they don't seem to have any particular catering menu, so best call in.

                                                    I did have a disappointing 4 meat combo recently, where the brisket was all dried out and oversmoked.

                                                    Don't care for their baked beans, potato salad or collards.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: twocents

                                                      I agree. I was pretty impressed with BBQ Hut the first time (good portions and meats), but it has been inconsistent the few times since and their portions did decrease.

                                                      Still have to try Smokey J's.

                                                      1. re: twocents

                                                        I was disappointed that they didn't have spare ribs.

                                                      2. Fat Daddy's BBQ at the Sunday Kensington Farmers Market (but not every Sunday, so check their Facebook page) has my favorite ribs. Excellent dry rub, intensely deep, smoky flavor and quality meat ($28 for whole rack); I don't bother with the sauce they provide on the side. No storefront, although they do cater and are thinking about finding a place this summer.

                                                        You can link to their online menu and Facebook page from here: