Bubbaque's BBQ & Deli, Petaluma
I stopped by Bubbaque’s for the first time last weekend on an afternoon. Copious smoke was pouring from the two smokers out front of the quickie-mart type establishment, reinforcing my notion that sandwiches would be the way to go here.
Inside, the deli counter stretches along the right side of your typical, rural roadside mart. I didn’t see any of the camo-clad pickup truck drives that so impressed the Biteclub writer. The menu (more extensive than the one on their website) is presented on a rather bewildering series of large, hand-written signs affixed to a long cold case. My eye settled on “The Meaning of Life” sandwich- tri-tip with Spring Hill pepper jack and slaw.
The sandwich came out quickly and we went to one of the picnic tables outside. Tender slices of tri-tip (cooked through, no trace of pink) napped with a sweet (though not overly so) barbecue sauce were piled generously into a soft French roll and topped with the cheese and slaw. The mayo in the slaw, warmed by the meat and mingling with the sauce, provided just the right amount of moisture. We enjoyed the sandwich and would order this again. There were so many signs to read I don’t recall any of the other sandwiches. Though the mart stocks a decent selection of beer, drinking one outside with your sandwich is frowned upon.
The sign outside says “BBQ and Deli,” while it's "BBQ & Burgers" online. I think the right way to think about Bubbaque’s is as a deli which happens to smoke their own meats. On that basis, I'd visit again if nearby with an appetite fueled by a beer or two.
1105 Bodega Ave, Petaluma
With some guilt, I'll confess that I tried it in May 2011, shortly after that Biteclub review, but didn't get around to posting. Anyway, here are my notes from two years ago:
BubbaQue’s (http://www.bubbaquesdeli.com/) operates the deli department in Bodega Liquors on the road out to the coast.
Outside is a canopy guarding a gaggle of Traeger smokers and there are also some picnic tables for eating on site.
I was lured here by Biteclub’s mention of whole hog. And I was terribly disappointed to find out that they don’t smoke whole hogs here. Even more disappointing, all the meats were refrigerated in the deli case and would then be microwaved to reheat for serving. The friendly guy behind the counter said that I could taste a sample of anything to decide what I wanted. All the meats were pre-sauced, drowning in sauce, actually. I asked to try the pulled chicken and recoiled from the candy sweet, monotonal goopy sauce. The beans were sickeningly sweet too.
Not wanting to leave empty-handed after making the drive here, I said, “What’s coming out of those smokers next? Is there anything you haven’t sauced up yet that’s hot and fresh?” Then I learned that ribs were ready and were being brought inside right now. The counter guy said, “These are perfect.”
Perhaps perfect to him, but seriously overcooked pork spareribs to me. A mess, really, and an insult to the Petaluma hog that gave up its life. Luckily, I asked for sauce on the side. At that time, the sauce was more akin to jelly or a confection. No seasoning on the bare meat of any kind, not even salt or pepper, as far as I could tell. Moderate smoke, but the sweet natural flavor of the local pork did make me even madder, as these could have been really special. The meat literally fell off the bone, as can be seen in this photo. At home, I tossed the bones, seasoned the meat, and made a delicious pork hash for breakfast the next day.