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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.

1. Slow Hand BBQ

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1941 Oak Park Blvd
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
(925) 942-0149
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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.

2. KC'S BBQ

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1235 San Pablo Ave
Berkeley, CA 94706
(510) 526-6325
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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.

3. Pig In A Pickle

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5959 Shellmound St kiosk 16
Emeryville, CA 94608
(510) 922-8902
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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

4. Smokin Woods BBQ Cafe

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4307 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 423-8634
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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

5. Horn Barbecue

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2534 Mandela Pkwy
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 225-6101
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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

6. Vegan Mob

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500 Lake Park Ave
Oakland, CA 94610
(415) 513-5120
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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

7. Burma Bear

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325 19th St
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 817-4413
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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).

8. Everett & Jones Barbeque

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126 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 663-2350
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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.

9. 4505 Burgers & BBQ

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705 Divisadero St, San Francisco
CA, 94117
(415) 231-6993
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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.

10. Memphis Minnie's BBQ

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576 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 864-7675
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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.

11. Smokin' Warehouse Barbecue

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1465 Carroll Ave
San Francisco, CA 94124
(415) 648-8881
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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.

12. Sauced BBQ & Spirits

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2300 1st St Ste 120
Livermore, CA 94550
(925) 961-1300
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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.

13. Just Potato Salad

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29587 Mission Blvd
Hayward, CA 94544
(510) 753-9667

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.

14. Capelo's Barbecue

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2655 Middlefield Rd
Redwood City, CA 94063
(650) 701-5433
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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.

15. Redwood City BBQ

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640 Woodside Rd
Redwood City, CA 94061

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. 

16. Smoked Out BBQ

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807 Aldo Ave Ste 106
Santa Clara, CA 95054
(408) 320-2971
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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.

17. Henry's World Famous Hi-Life

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301 W St John St
San Jose, CA 95110
(408) 295-5414
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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.

18. Sam's Bar-B-Que

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1110 S Bascom Ave
San Jose, CA 95128
(408) 297-9151
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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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1. Slow Hand BBQ

1941 Oak Park Blvd, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

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.

1941 Oak Park Blvd
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

2. KC'S BBQ

1235 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94706

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.

1235 San Pablo Ave
Berkeley, CA 94706

3. Pig In A Pickle

5959 Shellmound St kiosk 16, Emeryville, CA 94608
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.

5959 Shellmound St kiosk 16
Emeryville, CA 94608

4. Smokin Woods BBQ Cafe

4307 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609
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.

4307 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609

5. Horn Barbecue

2534 Mandela Pkwy, Oakland, CA 94607
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.

2534 Mandela Pkwy
Oakland, CA 94607

6. Vegan Mob

500 Lake Park Ave, Oakland, CA 94610
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.

500 Lake Park Ave
Oakland, CA 94610

7. Burma Bear

325 19th St, Oakland, CA 94612

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).

325 19th St
Oakland, CA 94612

8. Everett & Jones Barbeque

126 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607

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.

126 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94607

9. 4505 Burgers & BBQ

705 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA, 94117

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.

705 Divisadero St, San Francisco
CA, 94117

10. Memphis Minnie's BBQ

576 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

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.

576 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117

11. Smokin' Warehouse Barbecue

1465 Carroll Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124

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.

1465 Carroll Ave
San Francisco, CA 94124

12. Sauced BBQ & Spirits

2300 1st St Ste 120, Livermore, CA 94550

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.

2300 1st St Ste 120
Livermore, CA 94550

13. Just Potato Salad

29587 Mission Blvd, Hayward, CA 94544

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.

29587 Mission Blvd
Hayward, CA 94544

14. Capelo's Barbecue

2655 Middlefield Rd, Redwood City, CA 94063

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.

2655 Middlefield Rd
Redwood City, CA 94063

15. Redwood City BBQ

640 Woodside Rd, Redwood City, CA 94061

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. 

640 Woodside Rd
Redwood City, CA 94061

Related Maps

16. Smoked Out BBQ

807 Aldo Ave Ste 106, Santa Clara, CA 95054

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.

807 Aldo Ave Ste 106
Santa Clara, CA 95054

17. Henry's World Famous Hi-Life

301 W St John St, San Jose, CA 95110

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.

301 W St John St
San Jose, CA 95110

18. Sam's Bar-B-Que

1110 S Bascom Ave, San Jose, CA 95128

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.

1110 S Bascom Ave
San Jose, CA 95128

Related Maps