State of the East Bay BBQ Scene

Is there much left worth eating?

When I moved over here, Flint’s (original) was still going. E&J was edible. I’d take an occasional trip over to Bo’s, which I thought was very good early on. We’ve also had a few teases over the years, the most recent being Perdition, but even there, my last couple of visits I figured the writing was already on the wall. T-Rex had various periods of good food. Had is the operative term. Is there anything left worth eating? My favorite thing at Smoke is her salmon. KC’s was always ok - always got take out. It has been a while since I’ve been. Even when I may have a craving for BBQ, I’m not craving anywhere to go.

I don’t have a go-to place since Perdition closed.

I’ve had some good stuff at Smoke but they’re closed at the time of night when I typically want barbecue.

I’ve given up on BBQ in the bay area. I just wait until business takes me elsewhere before I eat it.

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When I want BBQ, I head to Martinez and eat at Beaver Creek Smokehouse. Their brisket, hot links, and pulled pork are my go-to items. I think the hot links and pulled pork at Perdition (RIP) were better, but the moist brisket at Beaver Creek has the softest, buttery fat. I can’t remember if I order a moist brisket or I request a fattier piece. I guess that means it’s time to go again!

The patio area is pleasant, having much more character than indoors which is narrow and a bit stuffy.

Beaver Creek Smokehouse’s website is broken, so here’s a link to their FB page:

Earlier this week, when it was clear I was not leaving home at dinner time because the ark wasn’t ready, I used Uber Eats for the first time, and ordered from Smoke. I had no idea how large the 2 meats / 2 sides order would be, but I was hoping to make 2 meals out of it. Including the ribs (which was an upcharge), it was plenty for 2 meals. I ordered the 1/4 chicken, and ribs, with beans and cheesy rice.

Chicken (white meat) was very tender, and that plus 1/2 of each side and one rib was my dinner (and was plenty). Caveat - the thing was bathed in sauce, and I really recommend that you request it on the side. Furthermore, the cardboard container and paper bag don’t hold up well to the sauce.

Lunch the next day was the remainder of the ribs and sides, and was more than plenty. Ribs were decent, although I did scrape off excess sauce prior to reheating.

Beans were delicious. Cheesy rice I’ll pass on ordering again, but it was perfectly ok. Little square of cornbread in foil was fine.

That I got two tasty filling meals out of it - value.
That I didn’t have to go out in a deluge - priceless.

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T-Rex changed hands last year and I heard from a reliable source that the food is better, so I put that to the test with a whole slab of spareribs to go ($34). It comes with potato salad and cole slaw.

I ordered them with sauce on the side (not their default). I think they were St. Louis cut, trimmed of the fatty ends and sides, so that was disappointing for me. That aside, the texture was good. Sauce was too sweet and bland for my taste but was pretty good after I doctored it with some piri-piri.

The potato salad was as good as I’ve ever had from a restaurant, better than most homemade. Yukon potatoes, lots of eggs and black olives, a little chopped pickle. I’d have ordered more if I’d known how good it was.

The shredded red cabbage, carrot, and onion was underdressed and underseasoned. Good ingredients, probably would have made excellent cole slaw if they’d added more salt and dressing and let it sit for a while before serving. Maybe they usually do and I just hit it at a bad moment.

Overall, definitely much improved. My informant told me the fried chicken was very good. Happy hour menu is still a great deal. Contrary to what it on their web site, the sign on the door says the late happy hour is 8:00 to close. I didn’t check if the early happy hour is still 3-6.

I got four slabs of ribs from Smoke for a party and they were very good. I guess they’re St. Louis cut. Next time I’ll talk with them in advance and see if they can smoke me whole untrimmed slabs.

I was talking with Chef Steph of Lapin & Loire and he highly recommended Genny’s BBQ, which I’d forgotten I knew about. So that’s on my list to try. It took over a former Flint’s location

I was very happy with my meal at Stay Gold Deli - particularly the brisket. Good beer and wine list too.

Stopped by Stay Gold again on Sunday. They were out of brisket, but the pulled pork, pork link and ribs were excellent as always. I also like their pickled vegetables and fruit. The cole slaw, mac salad and potato salad are adequate, but the meat is where it is at. A great bunch of beers from Novel Brewing made it an enjoyable day.

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In the east east bay, Pleasant Hill, I love the St. Louis ribs and jerk spiced smoked chicken wings at Slow Hand. Skip the brisket as it is dry. Good selection of local beers on tap.


The ribs are excellent at Slow Hand.

Got takeout from Stay Gold. Brisket had good texture but so much pepper that I felt like I was eating pastrami and wished I had some rye bread. Ribs trimmed more than I prefer and again a huge amount of pepper. Hot sauce was excellent. Mild sauce was that vinegar and mustard style which I don’t really get. Cole slaw was good.

I’ll go back on a nice day and hang out in the beer garden.

We were walking by 4505 in SF on our way to lunch and decided to change plans and get a rack of spare ribs. Perfect texture, neither chewy nor falling off the bone. I’m not sure they rub or baste them with anything but salt, very straightforward pork flavor, mild smokiness. White bread it was served on was first-rate, opposite end of the spectrum from Rainbo. Sauces are eccentric, mixing the totallly mild molasses one with some Tabasco-ish hot sauce vaguely approximated classic BBQ sauce.

Potato salad was less chunky than I like but the seasoning was great. Cole slaw was excellent. I don’t think they put sugar in either.

No need to cross the Bay for this when we have Smoke.

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Smoke lost its lease, but will be reopening at Spat’s.

Unfortunately, given that the owners are property flippers, that’s probably a temporary home.

Pig in a Pickle BBQ at the Emeryville Public Market has excellent moist brisket. I would have been happy to be served this in Texas. There is also the option for lean brisket, but why bother?


Looks promising.

Reading about Horn, which was supposed to open today, left me craving barbecue, so I got a slab from Smoke. Good but I wish I could find someplace that smokes full-cut ribs.

1:00 on a Saturday the line was down to the corner, not sure if it went around.

I pre-ordered on Wednesday afternoon. No line at the pickup window in back.

Slab was still wrapped in I think the paper from the smoker

Not full cut but as close as I’ve gotten in the last few years. Excellent textures, not very smoky, not much flavor from the rub, just unctuous porky goodness. To my taste it needed a little sauce to cut the fat. Horn’s sauce was good but more going on (coffee notes?) than I really wanted. I liked the leftover Franklin sauce better. We had some Eagleton sauce (noncommercial from Tulsa) that was perfect.

Collards, beans, and slaw were all excellent. Didn’t try the potato salad as we were backed up on potatoes from our CSA box so made some.

I’ll try the brisket or beef rib one of these days. No pre-orders available at the moment so I guess you need to know which day to do it.

Pre-ordered a slab of ribs, two pounds of brisket, and all the sides. Meats, beans, and greens were great. Meat comes from Cream Co.

We make better slaw and potato salad, so won’t order those again. Nobody liked Granny’s potatoes. Sorry, Granny.