There's no good 'que in the Bay Area, you bemoan? Ha! We have some choice spots where you can find the best barbecue in town that will make you feel like you're back in the South, minus the fire flies, thick drawls, and not giving a damn.
This new-ish Mission spot (owned by the team behind Maverick and Hog & Rocks) boast excellent ribs and appropriately sloppy smoked meat and smoked beef sandwiches. Sure, it's a tad on the pricey side, but worth it for good 'cue and cloth napkins. (Also of note: Bauer gave it a meh, while Patricia Unterman gave it a rave review. You make the call.)
3416 19th Street (between San Carlos & Mission), S.F., 415-874-9921
Still smoking after all these years, the Lower Haight BBQ mainstay has lately become known for their fantastic
Tuesdays-only Saturdays-only fried chicken but their namesake Memphis-style sweet smoked pork or Texas slow-smoked beef brisket are still go-to sandwiches for homesick Southerners looking for a mesquite fix. Arm yourself with a six-pack of regional sauces and you can tweak your meat to your preferred temperature or hometown style.
576 Haight Street (at Steiner), S.F.; 415-864-7675
THE RIP WHIP
Cedar Hill has two Rib Whip trucks, which aren't bad. They don't get a ton of press (because they're in the Marina), but when you see the Rib Whip truck out and about, do give it a try.
Check their Facebook page for locations
After departing the kitchen at Rebel, Sneaky's BBQ has returned as a weekly pop-up affair in Vinyl Wine Bar on Divisadero, where the crisp, almond-wood-smoked kurobuta pork belly that won accolades from Food & Wine and SFWeekly is now available in sandwich form as a Pork Belly BLT. For pulled pork purists, Sneaky's does a Carolina-style sandwich with a choice of mustard, vinegar or rooster sauces and homespun sides like baked beans, shells & cheese and the ubiquitous cornbread. The truly adventurous go for a BBQban — the bastard child of a Cubano and a BBQ sandwich and there's even a vegan option (it's BBQ jackfruit) so your meatless friends don't have to miss out.
Wednesdays, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. Vinyl Wine Bar, 359 Divisadero (at Oak), S.F.; 415-621-4132
You used to have to trek to the Bayview between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. for the excellent ribs and brisket served up by this Asian-owned operation, but luckily they launched a truck and now make appearances at SoMa StrEat Food Park occasionally. They make, hands down, some of the best ribs you'll find in the city, we promise, and their corned beef sandwich isn't half bad either.
1465 Carroll (at Jennings), S.F.; 415-648-8881
One of the better "upscale" barbecue spots in town is this unassuming spot on Mission Street that opened in 2011. Their dry-rubbed ribs are the business, and they do a fine brisket too. Their sides are possibly where they shine most, with some excellent grit cakes with ham hock and cheddar, and various California-ized items like broccolini and roasted beets. They also have a solid, whiskey-centric bar program, house-brewed beer, and some unique items like smoked pulled goat with salsa verde and fry bread; and a BBQ version of nachos dubbed Natchez, with potato chips, pulled pork, black-eyed peas, hot sauce, and pimiento bechamel.
2170 Mission (at 18th Street), S.F.; 415-934-9300
Chef Charlie Kleinman's four-year-old Financial District restaurant has never been a traditional barbecue spot by any stretch, but Kleinman is a big fan of Southern food and smokey flavors, and he does wonders with a small smoker in his tiny kitchen, creating upscale spins on barbecue dishes like pulled pork and BBQ chicken. Also, as of last year, he launched a truck called Wexler's Back, serving more traditional stuff like brisket sandwiches -- and they're good.
568 Sacramento (at Montgomery), S.F., 415-983-0102
We have to give one to Oakland, folks. It would be wrong not to include them. Following on the success of Brown Sugar Kitchen, chef Tanya Holland and husband Phil Surkis opened their version of a traditional West Oakland rib joint like so many that used to exist there, way back in the day. They do traditional Carolina-style pulled pork as well as jerk-spiced baby back ribs, and Holland "Dark & Stormy" version of St. Louis ribs, which all adds up to what she called "Oakland style" BBQ. Plus there's brown sugar-rubbed brisket, and in a nod to modern-day Oakland, there's a vegetarian option of BBQ-braised tofu nuggets. And as Tasting Table and others have noted, sides like Holland's version of baked beans, using Great Northern beans, ham hocks, and burnt barbecue ends, "almost upstage the barbecue."
3303 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland