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18 Bay Area Barbecue Joints For Charred, Smoky Meat

Where to satisfy your craving for smoked brisket, links, ribs, and all the fixings

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The Bay Area might not be nationally known for its regional barbecue, but there’s one thing we have no shortage of: people who love to eat barbecue and debate the relative merits of spots serving slow-smoked brisket and ribs. There’s also no shortage of options, from new-school spots with fine-dining pedigrees to time-tested joints that have been cranking out the same recipe for decades.

As the weather warms up, here are 18 new and classic barbecue joints, spread across the Bay Area, that’ll satisfy all your smoked meat cravings.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Slow Hand BBQ

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Located in a Pleasant Hill strip mall, Slow Hand does a solid job with the usual lineup of ribs and brisket, but it also gives corned beef a turn in the smoker, and the tender, intensely flavorful smoked chicken is a particularly nice surprise.

KC'S BBQ

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Reopened now after a 2017 fire, this longstanding West Berkeley neighborhood joint is best known for its pork ribs, which are available for purchase by the “short end” (aka the meatier, fattier end) or the “long end” if you don’t want a full rack. The sauce tends toward sweet and tangy.

Pig In A Pickle

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In the Emeryville Public Market, Pig in a Pickle is offers a wide range of regional barbecue specialties: Texas-style brisket, Alabama-style smoked chicken, and Cajun-style hot links that are actually made in house.

Janelle Bitker

Smokin Woods BBQ Cafe

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Located inside the 2nd Half sports bar, Smokin’ Woods has garnered a dedicated following for its best-in-class smoked brisket and — if you’re lucky enough to snag one — its meaty, prehistoric-sized beef ribs, which routinely sell out by dinner time.

Beef rib plate at Smokin’ Woods Bill Addison

Horn Barbecue

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Matt Horn’s acclaimed barbecue restaurant finally opened its doors in West Oakland, bringing his sold-out pop-ups to permanent residency. Horn’s “West Coast barbecue” draws on meat-smoking techniques of Central Texas, producing jiggly, glistening briskets, spicy hot links, and more. Southern sides like collard greens, mac and cheese, and desserts like banana pudding are equally worth the wait.

ribs at Horn bbq Horn BBQ

Vegan Mob

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The only one of the restaurants on this list we’d recommend to non meat eaters, this popular Lake Merritt spot — “the Bay Area’s favorite vegan BBQ” — is known for its plant-based versions of smoked “brisket” and barbecue “ribs.” The restaurant is open for takeout Tuesday through Sunday.

A plate at Vegan Mob Vegan Mob

Burma Bear

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The only restaurant we’re aware of that specializes in both American-style barbecue and Burmese-style side dishes, Burma Bear makes a compelling case that nothing goes better with beef brisket or baby back ribs than some garlic noodles and coconut rice. The restaurant can sell out of items, so the move is to place an online order the day before to secure the barbecue (or tea leaf salad).

Everett & Jones Barbeque

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An Oakland classic since 1973, Everett & Jones is still serving its usual slate of ribs, brisket, and links. Stop in to one of the restaurant’s Oakland locations (in Jack London and the Laurel), or it’s Berkeley location on San Pablo.

4505 Burgers & BBQ

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Celebrated meat master Ryan Farr’s Divisadero restaurant dishes out some of the best smoked meat in the Bay, especially if you’re a fan of lush, thick-sliced brisket. The side dishes are especially good, including a wicked fried mac and cheese and hot dog creation.

Memphis Minnie's BBQ

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For a long time, Memphis Minnie’s was the standard bearer for barbecue in the city, and now, decades later and through a recent ownership change, the restaurant is still plugging away, serving solid pulled pork and brisket and its popular Wednesday special smoked pastrami.

Smokin' Warehouse Barbecue

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A takeout window at a literal warehouse in the Bayview, Smokin’ Warehouse has been a community staple for 10 years. It’s got all of the usual smoked meats, but the beef ribs — a relatively uncommon offering — are especially notable.

Sauced BBQ & Spirits

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This NorCal mini chain — with locations in Livermore, Walnut Creek, Sacramento, and San Jose — serves a range of regional barbecue specialties, including Kansas City-style burnt ends and Carolina-style pulled pork, though no one would blame you for sticking with the crowd favorite: thick-sliced smoked brisket.

Just Potato Salad

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The potato salad is, indeed, good enough to name an entire restaurant after, but this Hayward gem is mostly a barbecue restaurant, and its St. Louis-style ribs, in particular, are one of the most enjoyable versions you can find in the East Bay.

Capelo's Barbecue

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This popular food truck appears at Off the Grid and other select locations, but the Capelo’s restaurant and beer garden in Redwood City is open to fill your barbecue needs on a regular basis. The slow-smoked brisket is the signature meat offering at Capelo’s, and the restaurant has added online ordering to make things easier, whether you’re eating in or taking out.

Redwood City BBQ

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A newish addition to Redwood City, this offshoot of San Jose’s South Winchester BBQ has quickly become a local favorite for its ribs and tri-tip in particular. 

Smoked Out BBQ

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This Santa Clara barbecue spot is know for smoking some of the best beef brisket and tri-tip in the South Bay, as well as for over-the-top sides like oxtail poutine tater tots.

Henry's World Famous Hi-Life

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Henry’s has been around for more than 50 years in San Jose, and with good reason: the food here is great. The steaks are certainly a draw, but the ribs are worthy in their own right. While you can certainly get a rack, the pro move is to get the combo chicken and ribs plate to maximize your dinner options. All dishes come with a baked potato, garlic bread, and salad, so arrive hungry.

Sam's Bar-B-Que

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The Carlino family has been serving the San Jose area at various establishments for more than 80 years, and the latest is Sam’s Bar-B-Que, which opened in 1992. If you’re the type of barbecue person who enjoys a sauced rib, then Sam’s barbecue sauce will serve as a nice addition to the ribs and sandwiches here. If you’re willing to branch out from the ribs and brisket, the sausages are worth a try as well.

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Slow Hand BBQ

Located in a Pleasant Hill strip mall, Slow Hand does a solid job with the usual lineup of ribs and brisket, but it also gives corned beef a turn in the smoker, and the tender, intensely flavorful smoked chicken is a particularly nice surprise.

KC'S BBQ

Reopened now after a 2017 fire, this longstanding West Berkeley neighborhood joint is best known for its pork ribs, which are available for purchase by the “short end” (aka the meatier, fattier end) or the “long end” if you don’t want a full rack. The sauce tends toward sweet and tangy.

Pig In A Pickle

Janelle Bitker

In the Emeryville Public Market, Pig in a Pickle is offers a wide range of regional barbecue specialties: Texas-style brisket, Alabama-style smoked chicken, and Cajun-style hot links that are actually made in house.

Janelle Bitker

Smokin Woods BBQ Cafe

Beef rib plate at Smokin’ Woods Bill Addison

Located inside the 2nd Half sports bar, Smokin’ Woods has garnered a dedicated following for its best-in-class smoked brisket and — if you’re lucky enough to snag one — its meaty, prehistoric-sized beef ribs, which routinely sell out by dinner time.

Beef rib plate at Smokin’ Woods Bill Addison

Horn Barbecue

ribs at Horn bbq Horn BBQ

Matt Horn’s acclaimed barbecue restaurant finally opened its doors in West Oakland, bringing his sold-out pop-ups to permanent residency. Horn’s “West Coast barbecue” draws on meat-smoking techniques of Central Texas, producing jiggly, glistening briskets, spicy hot links, and more. Southern sides like collard greens, mac and cheese, and desserts like banana pudding are equally worth the wait.

ribs at Horn bbq Horn BBQ

Vegan Mob

A plate at Vegan Mob Vegan Mob

The only one of the restaurants on this list we’d recommend to non meat eaters, this popular Lake Merritt spot — “the Bay Area’s favorite vegan BBQ” — is known for its plant-based versions of smoked “brisket” and barbecue “ribs.” The restaurant is open for takeout Tuesday through Sunday.

A plate at Vegan Mob Vegan Mob

Burma Bear

The only restaurant we’re aware of that specializes in both American-style barbecue and Burmese-style side dishes, Burma Bear makes a compelling case that nothing goes better with beef brisket or baby back ribs than some garlic noodles and coconut rice. The restaurant can sell out of items, so the move is to place an online order the day before to secure the barbecue (or tea leaf salad).

Everett & Jones Barbeque

An Oakland classic since 1973, Everett & Jones is still serving its usual slate of ribs, brisket, and links. Stop in to one of the restaurant’s Oakland locations (in Jack London and the Laurel), or it’s Berkeley location on San Pablo.

4505 Burgers & BBQ

Celebrated meat master Ryan Farr’s Divisadero restaurant dishes out some of the best smoked meat in the Bay, especially if you’re a fan of lush, thick-sliced brisket. The side dishes are especially good, including a wicked fried mac and cheese and hot dog creation.

Memphis Minnie's BBQ

For a long time, Memphis Minnie’s was the standard bearer for barbecue in the city, and now, decades later and through a recent ownership change, the restaurant is still plugging away, serving solid pulled pork and brisket and its popular Wednesday special smoked pastrami.

Smokin' Warehouse Barbecue

A takeout window at a literal warehouse in the Bayview, Smokin’ Warehouse has been a community staple for 10 years. It’s got all of the usual smoked meats, but the beef ribs — a relatively uncommon offering — are especially notable.

Sauced BBQ & Spirits

This NorCal mini chain — with locations in Livermore, Walnut Creek, Sacramento, and San Jose — serves a range of regional barbecue specialties, including Kansas City-style burnt ends and Carolina-style pulled pork, though no one would blame you for sticking with the crowd favorite: thick-sliced smoked brisket.

Just Potato Salad

The potato salad is, indeed, good enough to name an entire restaurant after, but this Hayward gem is mostly a barbecue restaurant, and its St. Louis-style ribs, in particular, are one of the most enjoyable versions you can find in the East Bay.

Capelo's Barbecue

This popular food truck appears at Off the Grid and other select locations, but the Capelo’s restaurant and beer garden in Redwood City is open to fill your barbecue needs on a regular basis. The slow-smoked brisket is the signature meat offering at Capelo’s, and the restaurant has added online ordering to make things easier, whether you’re eating in or taking out.

Redwood City BBQ

A newish addition to Redwood City, this offshoot of San Jose’s South Winchester BBQ has quickly become a local favorite for its ribs and tri-tip in particular. 

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Smoked Out BBQ

This Santa Clara barbecue spot is know for smoking some of the best beef brisket and tri-tip in the South Bay, as well as for over-the-top sides like oxtail poutine tater tots.

Henry's World Famous Hi-Life

Henry’s has been around for more than 50 years in San Jose, and with good reason: the food here is great. The steaks are certainly a draw, but the ribs are worthy in their own right. While you can certainly get a rack, the pro move is to get the combo chicken and ribs plate to maximize your dinner options. All dishes come with a baked potato, garlic bread, and salad, so arrive hungry.

Sam's Bar-B-Que

The Carlino family has been serving the San Jose area at various establishments for more than 80 years, and the latest is Sam’s Bar-B-Que, which opened in 1992. If you’re the type of barbecue person who enjoys a sauced rib, then Sam’s barbecue sauce will serve as a nice addition to the ribs and sandwiches here. If you’re willing to branch out from the ribs and brisket, the sausages are worth a try as well.

Related Maps