The Best Barbecue Spots in San Francisco

Ribs at Memphis Minnie's
San Francisco

The Best Barbecue Spots in San Francisco
The Best Barbecue Spots in San Francisco

Memphis Minnie's

We may not be able to boast a specific San Francisco barbecue style, but we’re spoiled by a wealth of stellar restaurants that offer a diverse range of classic styles in this city. We can sample authentic ‘cue from North Carolina, Texas, Memphis, and St. Louis -- without ever having to leave our fair city. Stop by these great SF barbecue spots for some smoked meat love.

Memphis Minnie’s

Lower Haight

Props to Memphis Minnie’s, which has been around since the '90s and is still going strong: their Tennessee-style, spice-rubbed barbecue is well worth stopping in for -- go for the sweet, smoked pork sandwich. You can also get Texas brisket here (and it’s really good, despite not quite matching the theme).

Southpaw BBQ

Southpaw BBQ


Ben Thorne, the man behind Sneaky’s, took over at Southpaw last fall, so now we get to enjoy pulled pork shoulder doused in the classic, vinegar-heavy sauce they love in Tar Heel Country -- while enjoying a pint of Southpaw’s house-brewed Big Bad Leroy Brown ale. A micro-brewery and sensational Carolina ‘cue in one room: enough said. Plus, a note to vegetarians: the smoked jackfruit and seitan are no supporting cast players. They’re legit meatless options and not supporting players here. 

Rusty’s Southern


For homesick Carolinians, the Tenderloin has your vinegar-sauced pork barbecue remedy. Rusty Olson has essentially taught the city what North Carolina-style means: chopped, hickory-smoked pork shoulder. This is a dish in which you truly taste the pork, and use the sauce and red slaw to subtly bring the meat’s flavors to the fore -- instead of smothering it, as is the case with some other classic barbecue styles (cough, Kansas City, cough) (We love you, too, Kansas City). Rusty’s has brought us some other glorious Southern traditions, as well: proper hush puppies, shrimp and grits, and chicken fried steak. Of course, barbecue remains king of Tobacco Rd.

Rachel Ayotte

Black Bark BBQ


The excitement still hasn’t subsided in the Fillmore since Black Bark’s January opening from Chef David Lawrence. The inspiration for this "urban barbecue" joint is Texas, and Lawrence isn’t messing with it: he spent four years studying the art of Texas-style barbecue, and had a mentor in Edith Cheadle, who cooked barbecue and ran an establishment in Dallas for 20 years -- which means, yeah, she knows oak wood-smoked barbecue like very few do. Following suit, Black Bark’s ribs, brisket, and hot links aren’t playing. Try the smoked fried chicken and dirty fries, a poutine-style fries pile coated with barbecue sauce, too. And don’t forget the sweet potato pie.

4505 Burgers & BBQ


Everyone knows where the best damn cheeseburger in San Francisco is at 4505’s, but this place is also all about smoked meat: whether you go for the pork spare ribs or brisket by the pound, you can’t really go wrong here. These guys also do unforgettable sides, so be sure to try the chimichurri spicy fries and frankaroni -- and also grab a brew from their excellent beer selection.

Memphis Minnie's BBQ Joint

Memphis Minnie’s

Lower Haight

Props to Memphis Minnie’s, which has been around since the '90s and is still going strong: their Tennessee-style, spice-rubbed barbecue is well worth stopping in for -- go for the sweet, smoked pork sandwich. You can also get Texas brisket here (and it’s really good, despite not quite matching the theme).

Baby Blues BBQ

Baby Blues BBQ

Bernal Heights

From two dudes who come from a long line of BBQ-ers, this Bernal Heights joint uses a hybrid BBQ style ("We have a Memphis-style, St. Louis-cut rib, a dry-rubbed baby back, brisket, and pork that are slow-smoked in Guinness beer, and a sauce that hails from the Western region of North Carolina... we just felt 'hybrid' summed it up.") The pro move here has to be the hot link combo, partially because it's delicious, but mostly because it's called the Cherokee Spike. Combo plates are the route to take here: go for the "Bones No Bones," with Memphis pork ribs and pulled pork. We’ll leave you to figure out which one has the bones.

CatHead’s BBQ


Four years ago, CatHead’s opened with the unenviable task of filling the oversized shoes of Big Nate’s BBQ, but they did just fine and are opening our eyes to some unique styles: this place isn’t a shrine to Kansas City or Taylor, Texas. They just go for the barbecue glory, regardless of geography. Count on stand-out St. Louis cut ribs, sweet tea chicken, and even a Maker’s Mark marinated portobello mushroom. The large selection of sauce choices makes this place stand out -- the habanero sauce is not playing around -- as do the mammoth biscuits, which are approximately the size of a cat’s head -- if the cat in question is Mufasa.

Smokestack At Magnolia Brewing

Smokestack at Magnolia Brewery


It turns out that Magnolia’s beers (and shockingly good cocktails for a beer-centric bar) pair well with sensational barbecued meats and a fun warehouse bar vibe. Go for the unusual half-pound cuts like smoked duck or Wagyu beef back rib. The only complaint is is that you can’t get eats and drinks at the same time -- but it’s a minor issue when you’re wiping delicious sauce from your lips.

Let’s Eat BBQ and More


It’s not easy to spot Let’s Eat -- it looks like another restaurant storefront amidst countless others in one of the emerging food corridors in a rapidly changing part of the city. All of the classics are here, but stick with the basics -- like pulled pork sandwiches. 

The Boneyard

The Boneyard Truck

Various locations
Barbecue is so messy that it really should be an outdoor affair, after all, so a barbecue truck seems like a natural fit. Try out the Cally Bowl with beans, bacon aioli, a fried egg, and Santa Maria-style chicken, or brisket nachos. You can follow the truck on Twitter -- it’s definitely easier than driving a Tesla to Lockhart, Texas.

Smokin’ Warehouse Barbecue


This brisket is exceptional: slow cooked for ten hours, it fulfills smoky-meaty bliss. We’d order it every time, if it weren’t rivaled by the "Smokin’," a cheeseburger topped with bacon, onion rings, and pulled pork. Of course, mac ‘n’ cheese with bacon and jalapeños is the side dish of choice. This place only has a walk-up window and daytime hours, so bring picnic gear and call in sick. 

The Pub BBQ at Ghirardelli Square

Fisherman’s Wharf

While The Pub is located in Ghirardelli Square -- and is kind of a  stereotypical sports bar -- the barbecue here is not bad. In fact, it’s really pretty good. They make their hot links and the brisket reuben is lick-your-fingers delicious -- plus, there’s a stellar view of the Bay outside the windows. Hey, savvy locals: give it a try... this is no Bubba Gump's.

Sign up here for our daily San Francisco email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun SF has to offer.

Trevor Felch is the San Francisco editor for Zagat. He once ate barbecued pig snouts on the hood of a rental car in St. Louis, because apparently Missouri loves pig snouts. Thankfully, San Francisco doesn’t. Follow him @TrevorFelch.

Published on

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Southpaw BBQ 2170 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Southpaw BBQ is where dreams come true. Their Southern vibe, exposed brick walls, live-edge 20-seat Claro walnut bar, is exactly where you want to be eating brisket & ribs paired with American whiskeys and house-brewed beer. Their 80+ whiskey list is constantly growing, and if you join their whiskey club and try 40 of their offerings, any bottle of your choice is on the house.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. Rusty's Southern 750 Ellis St, San Francisco, CA 94109 (The Tenderloin)

This casual haven of soul food offers Southern fare, curated handcrafted beer (thanks to owner Rusty Olson’s Suppenkuche roots), communal tables, and a plinko board. A modern BBQ den in the heart of SF's Tenderloin, Rusty's Southern is a solid option for lunchin', munchin' or brunchin'. Eaters are big fans of Rusty's fried chicken plates, buttermilk pies, and tasty grits.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Black Bark BBQ 1325 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115 (Western Addition)

Low, slow and smokey... that's how the folks at Black Bark BBQ cook their meats, and boy does it show (and is it delicious). This counter service spot in Western Addition's got all your braised meats on tap, as well as many flavorful sides and sandwiches to choose from. The woodsy, industrial decor provides a solid setting for tucking into a fresh BBQ feast.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
4. 4505 Burgers & BBQ 705 Divisadero, San Francisco, CA 94112

An offshoot of the original 4505 Meats, this burger and 'cue shack is one for the Divis books. This butcher-owned and operated spot takes meat and barbecue seriously, with loaded platters of pulled pork, smoked ribs, and hot sausage, and quarter-pound grass-fed burgers. No matter if your main is in the form of a sandwich or platter, don't overlook the fixin's -- the fried mac & cheese with a hot dog inside is an insanely delicious creation.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. Memphis Minnie's BBQ 576 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Lower Haight)

Memphis Minnie's is a 1950s' styled BBQ joint that slings eats slow-cooked meats, Southern-style. Minnie's meats pass the taste test by using white oak logs (no gas, no electricity!). This spot has everything from ribs to pulled pork to some killer wings. Meats here can come slathered in savory sauces, so you might need a bib-- we won't judge!

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
6. Baby Blues BBQ 3149 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (Bernal Heights)

Baby Blues is a Bernal Heights haunt has some of the best barbecue in the city, and it features a number of different styles to cook and season their meats, from Memphis-style, to St. Louis-style, and sauces that hail from the Western region of North Carolina. They also offer a wide variety of savory sandwiches; we especially love the Hot Link with Louisiana sausage, cotija cheese, and slaw for a little BBQ/Mexican food mash-up.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. CatHead 1665 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (Soma)

Taking over Big Nate’s, longtime BBQ caterer/pop-up CH’s new giant smoker-dominated perma-space boasts picnic table seating, southern decor (like old-school brass washboards sourced from one of the owner's great grandmothers), and a sweet scrap metal menu scrawled with the likes of Maker’s Mark Mushroom Sandwiches, Coca-Cola Smoked Brisket, and honey butter and pepper jelly-slathered biscuits-- but not Seabiscuits, ‘cause those taste like glue.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Magnolia Brewery and Smokestack 665 22nd Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 (Dogpatch)

The folks who brought you Magnolia have expanded their famous digs into this Dogpatch spot that boasts smoked-in-house BBQ options like chopped pork and brisket, plus a huge, on-site brewing system that can produce 30 barrels. Don't miss out on the ahhh-mazing cocktail program either, whipping up speciality cocktails like the Dutchman's Flat which involves rye, ginger, honey, lemon, toasted Nori, and beef bouillon.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. Let's Eat BBQ & More 5130 3RD ST, San Francisco, CA 94124 (Bayview)

A Bayview BBQ spot (duh), Let's Eat BBQ and More is a no-frills neighborhood joint serving up ribs, brisket, and wings, plus some fare you might not expect from a barbecue place, like burgers, seafood and salads. Food at this friendly, family-run business is always fresh and flavorful. Go here if you like spice; ribs come slathered in your choice of mild, medium, or hot spicy sauce.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
10. Smokin' Warehouse Barbecue 1465 Carroll Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124 (Bayview)

Sharing the same warehouse and food-loving owner as an electrical contracting operation in commercial storage-rich Bayview, SWB starts slinging window-served BBQ'd goodness outta a massive multi-room kitchen the head honcho originally installed to feed his wire-wielding employees, all of whom agree it peaked in Season 3. It may be located a bit out of the way of your usual stomping grounds, but you've gotta go to try this insane BBQ.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
11. The Pub at Ghirardelli Square 851 Beach St, San Francisco, CA 94109

This American resto/bar is well known for two things: 1) Being a favorite hangout of SF chefs who need a post-shift drink and bite (it serves an extensive late night menu until 1:30am), and 2) its BBQ, all of which is smoked in-house. Take in dope views of the Bay while you dine on refined takes of American eats-- pulled pork sliders, mac 'n cheese, and brisket tacos.