Best BBQ in San Francisco

Posted on September 3, 2018 |

By Leila N’Amara

San Francisco has spent the past two decades earning a reputation as a global food destination. You can  find just about every corner of the culinary world represented in this city. With BBQ being one of the notable exceptions. At least, it was until recently.

Luckily, in recent years the BBQ scene in San Francisco has been getting progressively better. One BBQ joint at time.

These seven spots for BBQ in SF will be great to visit on your own. Or, if you don’t want to show up to a picnic in the park empty handed. Even better yet, you can explore one (or more) of these on our San Francisco private tours led by electric tuk tuk!

Memphis Minnie’s

BBQ Style: Texas style

Neighborhood: Lower Haight

Memphis Minnie’s is the oldest BBQ joint in town. Even though the city’s BBQ culture is growing today, Memphis Minnie’s was the only good BBQ spot in San Francisco dishing out texas style BBQ for a *long* time. Considering Memphis Minnie’s long standing reputation as some of the best BBQ in SF, it makes for a great lunch stop  on a private tour of San Francisco. Even though ownership has changed hands recently, Minnie’s is still pumping out high quality BBQ that can stand on its own when compared to trendier BBQ joints in the city. Be sure to save room for dessert — their made-from-scratch pecan pie is HEAVENLY!


The Pub at Ghirardelli Square

BBQ Style: No specific style

Neighborhood: Aquatic Park/Fisherman’s Wharf

Okay, we might get a lot of flack from other SF locals for suggesting someone go to Fisherman’s Wharf for BBQ. But we are standing by this restaurant/bar/bbq joint on the waterfront! Especially since our San Francisco bus tours end just steps away from this BBQ spot along the waterfront. The BBQ here is a bit of a mash-up of different styles. But on the of the real standouts here is that, in a city restaurants that close as early as 9pm, the kitchen here serves food until 1:30am! Which might be the perfect time to try their tater tot menu.


Southpaw BBQ & Southern Cooking

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BBQ Style: North Carolina

Neighborhood: Mission District

Come for the BBQ, stay for the MASSIVE whiskey selection. The North Carolina style BBQ at Southpaw is worthy in its own right. But the whiskey and microbrew selection at Southpaw are reason enough for some people to come visit. While BBQ joints don’t have the best reputation for having a lot of vegetarian options — but Southpaw does have a few meatless entree dishes. Considering this SF BBQ spot is in the heart of our foodie neighborhood, the Mission District, it makes for a perfect addition to a San Francisco food tour. If you’re on a private tour of San Francisco, Southpaw makes for a very satisfying lunch stop.


Smokestack (Closed for renovation and expansion until Fall 2018)

BBQ Style: “Non-denominational BBQ”

Neighborhood: Dogpatch

We recently wrote about Magnolia Brewing being on the best breweries in San Francisco. But what we left out of that article was that they also have a massive industrial building in the Dogpatch neighborhood with, count ‘em, TWO wood fired smokers and TWO grill pits. It’s okay, we’ll wait for you to drop drooling. Ever have a hard time choosing between Texas dry rub BBQ and Kansas City style BBQ? Then you might want to check out Smokestack with their endless inspiration from just about every style of BBQ throughout America and Asia. Whether you’re trying to do a brew tour of San Francisco or a food tour of San Francisco, Magnolia’s Smokestack will not disappoint.


4505 Burgers & BBQ

BBQ Style: General southern style

Neighborhood: Western Addition (aka NOPA if you’re a recent transplant)

4505 Burgers & BBQ rose to SF notoriety before the even opened. Having the only smoker in San Francisco will do that! Unfortunately, the opening Magnolia Brewing run BBQ joint, Smokestack, introduced *two smokers* in one location. Knocking the prestige of having the only BBQ smoker in town away from 4505. Nevertheless, 4505 Burgers & BBQ still is known throughout SF as a solid spot for freshly smoked BBQ. Most San Francisco bus tours don’t stop in this neighborhood, so you’ll need to visit on your own — or we think more San Francisco private tours should stop here for a  nice lunch.


Native Son’s BBQ

BBQ Style: Texas style

Neighborhood: No brick and mortar — it’s still a pop-up restaurant!

No one understands the plight of the SF’s BBQ like a SF native who has tasted BBQ from the southern states. Native Son’s owner and founder, Eldo Chan is a native son to SF. Chan got a taste of real Texas style BBQ while living in Texas during high school. Endeavoring to fix San Francisco’s BBQ shortage, with relatively no cooking experience, teamed up with a childhood friend to open Native Son’s BBQ. Be sure to follow the Native Son’s Facebook and Instagram to know when/where they’ll be popping up next.


Hardwood Bar & Smokery

BBQ Style: Nonspecific southern style

Neighborhood: Mission Bay

Hardwood is BBQ with a very San Francisco twist. Nori (seaweed) and ponzu sauce (a citrusy type of soy sauce) make frequent appearances at this bbq joint menu. Hardwood is the perfect spot for large group. Especially considering that they have a shareable platter for 8-10 people that comes with (among other things a full stack of ribs! Headover to Mission Bay, an often overlooked SF neighborhood, to make this a part of your own DIY San Francisco food tour.

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