From Korean Kalbi to Texas Brisket, Check Out the Best BBQ in San Francisco
- Meredith Bethune
- 3 Min Read
It’s true that San Francisco doesn’t have a barbecue style of its own. But according to Zagat, a revived interest in smoked meat is afoot. What the city lacks in smoked meat traditions, it makes up for with an open-minded attitude and a population comprised of transplants from all over the country. San Francisco’s pit masters aren’t purists. That means, in addition to North Carolina and Texas-styles, you can also find influences from Hawaii, Jamaica, and even Korea. Check out these ten spots to get the best BBQ delivery in San Francisco.
1. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit (El Camino Real, San Bruno)
Open since 1941, World War I veteran Travis Dickey founded this national chain when he opened the first location in Texas. The San Bruno outpost supplies some of the best BBQ in San Francisco with slow-smoked pulled pork, spicy cheddar sausage, and St. Louis-style ribs, chicken, sausage, and a range of delicious sides like asiago-cheese creamed spinach and baked potato casserole.
2. Southpaw BBQ (Mission Street, San Francisco)
What started as a pop-up in the Mission has evolved into a barbecue restaurant run by longtime friends Elizabeth Wells, Zack Smith, and Ben Thorne. Southpaw BBQ specializes in high-quality North Carolina-style barbecue with tender meats like slow-smoked chili-rubbed chicken and pork shoulder, as well as vegetarian items like jackfruit and sliced portobello mushrooms, served with a vinegar pepper sauce.
3. The Pub (Beach Street, San Francisco)
The area around the Fisherman’s Wharf isn’t exactly known for smoked meat, but the Pub at Ghiradelli Square comes to the rescue with some of the best BBQ in San Francisco. Since opening their doors in 2009, they’ve been serving up all sorts of dishes that are perfect for feeding a crowd. Think St. Louis-style barbecue pork ribs and platters of pulled pork and pulled chicken sandwiches. Round it out with some down-home Southern sides like savory cornbread or fiery Cajun green beans.
4. Hardwood Bar & Smokery (8th Street, San Francisco)
Owner Albert Lee and executive chef Jake Kwan-Rosenbush strive to embody the diverse BBQ culture of San Francisco with smoked meats that are both traditional (like smoky pulled pork and succulent brisket) and non-traditional (like sweet-and-sour Hawaiian kalbi beef rib served with kimchi, Hawaiian grilled chicken, and even seasonal grilled vegetables). Sides like coconut black beans have an international flair.
5. 4505 Burgers & BBQ (Divisadero Street, San Francisco)
When Ryan Farr opened a whole-animal meat company in 2009, he didn’t realize how quickly it would evolve. Today 4505 Burgers & BBQ partners with farmers and ranchers to produce barbecue using meat that is humanely raised and of the highest quality. Try a little of everything with the Build-Your-Own BBQ Sandwich platter that comes with buns, barbecue sauce, pickles, coleslaw, and your choice of meat like smoked chicken or zesty jalapeño and cheddar sausage and sides like crunchy coleslaw or creamy potato salad.
6. Armadillo Willy’s BBQ (Bridgepointe Parkway, San Mateo)
Four friends from the Bay Area opened this local chain after a road trip to the Lone Star State. Drawing inspiration from the legendary barbecue joints of Central Texas, Armadillo Willy’s serves the trio of slow-smoked brisket, jalapeño-cheese sausage, and ribs that are practically synonymous with the Central Texas barbecue tradition. Order their Three Meat platter and try them all, along with three sides like spicy peanut coleslaw, Texas fresh corn salad, or to-die-for white-cheddar mac and cheese. You’ll see why it lays claim to some of the best BBQ in San Francisco.
7. Stone Korean Kitchen (Embarcadero Center, San Francisco)
Bulgogi, a Korean classic of marinated grilled beef, is a fine thing to eat at a restaurant. But it also makes for a divine meal at the office. Add kalbi (barbecue short rib), bibimbap (an egg-topped rice bowl), and dukkochi (crispy rice cakes) to the mix.
8. The Boneyard Truck (San Mateo Avenue, San Bruno)
Family owned and operated since 2013, the Boneyard food truck is one of San Francisco’s best BBQ spots for authentic, pit-smoked goodness. Meats like Louisiana hot links, sliced tri-tip, Carolina pulled pork, and grilled leg of lamb are all prepared to perfection daily. Try up to four of them with the Backyard BBQ Bounty Hunter package that includes fresh-baked bread and four sides like sweet macaroni salad, colorful kale salad, or fresh roasted corn salad.
9. Seoul Kalbi Korean BBQ (El Camino Real, San Bruno)
Established in 1991, Seoul Kalbi Korean BBQ is keeping the tradition of cook-at-your-table Korean barbecue alive in San Mateo County. Recreate the experience outside the restaurant with catering packages like Luau Luau BBQ that includes your choice of two types of meat like sliced ribeye or barbecue short ribs, green salad, spicy kimchi, seasonal vegetables, and your choice of rice.
10. Flavas Jamaican Grill (Linden Avenue, South San Francisco)
Chef Leroy serves barbecue with a Jamaican twist at Flavas Jamaican Grill. Divine dishes like jerk chicken, curried chicken, braised oxtail, barbecue beef short ribs, jerk salmon, and jerk shrimp skewers are prepared with a fresh and authentic mix of spices. But don’t get too focused on all that meat—lovingly prepared sides like tender collard greens and crispy fried plantains are must-order items, as well.
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