SAN FRANCISCO, CA – When I told Mike, a neighbor, that I was going to San Francisco for a barbecue and art adventure, he said, “Isn’t ‘San Francisco Barbecue’ an oxymoron?” I said, “I won’t find a hundredplus real barbecue joints there like we take for granted in Kansas City, but I know I can count on Bob Kantor at Memphis Minnie’s BBQ Joint to serve up some good ‘cue.” Mike replied, “Good luck,” as he finished off a carryout slab from Oklahoma Joe’s.
As luck would have it, I did savor a cornucopia of fantastic barbecue in San Francisco…
Thanks to the pioneering work of Bob Kantor with his Memphis Minnie’s BBQ Joint in the Lower Haight district…you can count on getting some top-notch barbecue in this dynamic city of hills, trolleys, abundant fresh/local cuisine, friendly residents and a rainbow of diversity.
[They] grill with white oak…When you taste the barbecue, you’ll banish any preconceptions that San Francisco BBQ is an oxymoron. Remember: this is California, where culinary professionals have to be masters of the basics, as well as staying In the cutting edge of creativity to survive.
At Memphis Minnie’s BBQ Joint the creativity doesn’t stop at offering sake with your barbecue. I opted for a frosty glass of Anchor Steam on tap. My friend George tried the 3-sake sampler and told me it’s a good combo with the ‘cue. I’ll take his word for it. General Manager Tom Campbell started us out with a delicious array of grit sticks, pork rolls, chipotle mayo and Smoky Mountain Wings. I could have made a meal on that alone, but the feast was only beginning. Next was a plate of beef and pork ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket and Andouille sausage-each smoked to perfection, and so good they needed no sauce with collard greens, sweet potato chunks, coleslaw, mac & cheese, pit smoked beans, and cornbread muffins on the side. The finale I saved for last was one of Bob Kantor’s Wednesday Special Masterpieces: a bbq Reuben sandwich. It rocks!
Just when I thought I couldn’t hold another bite, Tom brought some banana pudding with whipped cream and vanilla wafers that equaled any I’ve enjoyed in North Carolina, plus a slice of smoked pecan pie that rivaled the pecan pie my dear mother used to make, and a fried peach pie as good as any I’ve enjoyed in Memphis. This place is Barbecue Heaven on earth! Tom and Bob constantly come up with new ideas to celebrate holidays and special events-they are already prepared for Cinco de Mayo and International Bacon Day, for example.
…savvy about sauce. They serve it on the side and they don’t presume to drown their meat in it…all four of Bob’s South Carolina Mustard, North Carolina Vinegar, Texas Red Sauce, and BeeIzabob’s Breath Spicy Hot Sauce. All are top notch sauces, but…Memphis Minnie’s barbecue is so good that it needs no sauce.
Hats off and hearty THANKS! to Bob Kantor, Tom Campbell, Jacki Butterfield…and the entire staff… Thanks to you, San Francisco Barbecue is NOT an oxymoron!
P.S. A tribute to San Francisco Barbecue wouldn’t be complete without mention of the late Andrea Ravinett Martin’s Hog Heaven Memphis Style Barbeque in the 1980s. You were gone too soon, Andrea. We miss you!
– Ardie A. Davis | National Barbeque News • June 2013