San Francisco barbecue has always been a tense subject, with transplants from around the country weighing on what constitutes "good barbecue." According to many, nothing around here meets that criteria, though there are several who are working very hard at remedying that. However, chef David Lawrence aims to change that, bringing back San Francisco barbecue to a neighborhood that was formerly home to some of the city's best (like Leon's, which operated in the neighborhood for decades). According to Lawrence, there hasn't been a barbecue spot on Fillmore since the 90's."It's one of the last frontiers in this city and I don't know why," said Lawrence. "But that's what we plan to do."
"1300 Fillmore is my baby.This is my little fun place, and it's going to be a LOT of fun."
San Francisco Style
"The old style has fallen off, but there's starting to be a resurgence," said Lawrence. "San Francisco is not known for good brisket, which is something we're going to change at Black Bark." Lawrence says his research indicates that the barbecue that inspired San Francisco's style was originally imported from the South, as workers traveled West to work in the shipyards. "San Francisco has always been the wild wild West and that's how its barbecue has developed," said Lawrence."I want to have my own style, with a dry rub. It's a Texas-style brisket with a San Francisco sensibility." But most importantly, it's brisket that will have significant amounts of "black bark," the smokey exterior of slow-cooked barbecue that earned the restaurant its name.
Saucing the Meat
"We don't sauce the meat," said Lawrence. "We will have some great sauce, but we want people to taste the meat first, then try it with a little bit of sauce. The sauce hides stuff and this is going to be great meat, all natural beef with great seasoning."
For the sauce-obsessed, the choices will be plentiful, with a rotating cast of tasty characters. Lawrence is particularly excited about his take on a Carolina mustard sauce that he's dubbed "California Gold," alongside staples like vinegar- and tomato-based versions. And for serious Southern transplants, he'll even have an Alabama white sauce, which is mayonnaise-based. Lawrence joked that he's considering making that one part of the "secret menu," a la In-n-Out.
By the Half Pound
The menu features meats like beef brisket, pulled pork and hot links, sold by the half pound (or half chicken), accompanied by sides like baked beans, sweet potato fries and potato salad. Like most barbecue restaurants, the best move is to "make it a plate," thereby incorporating multiple meats and sides, though there will also be sandwiches and salads. Check out the menu below for the full rundown.
Black Bark opens officially on Wednesday, January 13. It will be open Wednesday-Monday from 11:30 a.m. til 10 p.m.