The Best Dishes at Smokestack, Dogpatch's New BBQ Shrine

By Virginia Miller | May 15, 2014 By Virginia Miller  |  May 15, 2014
Photo by: Virginia Miller

Following our pre-opening sneak peek into the kitchen at Dave McLean's Smokestack in the Dogpatch, now it's time to pass on some of our early favorite dishes on the menu from Dennis Lee (who is also chef-owner of Namu Gaji). We have one word for you: brisket. We've road-tripped for weeks through the South to "study" regional 'cue and sauces, so after two visits to Smokestack, we confidently proclaim this as destination-worthy brisket. Lee's brisket is appropriately fatty, thick-cut, fall-apart tender, with a perfectly crusted skin - it's a lot like the fatty-fabulous brisket we remember loving at Uncle Frank's in Mountain View before it closed in 2011, but Lee uses top-quality Waygu beef. We can't help but elicit a sigh of delight with each bite.

But we shouldn't let the brisket steal all the thunder. Lee's menu focuses on barbecue styles from Kansas City, through the Carolinas, down to Texas, and then peppers in Asian accents. Flavor possibilities range from kimchi BBQ sauce to South Carolina-inspired Dijon mustard sauce to North Carolina-style vinegar sauce. The beers from McLean, who also owns a little place called Magnolia Gastropub in the Haight, are always exceptional. There are cask-conditioned, hand-pulled brews along with a stellar spirits selection and cocktails from bar manager Eric Quilty. (Look out for our cocktail highlights coming next week.) For now, you should plan time to head down to the airy-cool space and get in line for some of the most exciting BBQ in town. Visit daily from 4 PM to 12 AM. But first, have a look through our food and interior highlights below. 2505 Third St.; 415-864-7468

  • The calm before the storm: at 4 PM, Smokestack is already bustling, but it's still mellow. After 5 PM, the place is packed with locals and beer/BBQ/cocktail devotees. The vibe feels like a neighborhood party in a lofty, one-room space unlike any other in town - historic and modern at once.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    Watch out for a special of Texas toast to show up on the chalkboard. The bread is grilled in lard - yes! - and topped with cheddar cheese. Not to mention, it's toast, which San Francisco can't seem to get enough of these days. We'd love to see it become a menu staple.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    Mountains of meat: that divine Waygu brisket is on the left. Another favorite - chile pork sausages oozing cheddar cheese - sits in the middle. On the right, layers of house pastrami, tender and blessedly fatty. You can order by the pound ($8-$32, depending on the meat), or grab a platter to eat in.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    There's a changing array of pickled vegetables, from cauliflower to scarlet turnips, and dried, jerkylike meat sticks.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    Here is Devil's Gulch Ranch chopped pork, brisket and pastrami with a side of macaroni salad. (Watch for chopped beef tongue and cheek on occasion.) Lee and crew smoke the meats in two J&R Manufacturing smokers and two wood-fired grill pits, using oak and almond woods. The BBQ pairs beautifully with Magnolia beers, from classics to new and experimental brews, like the New Speedway Bitter.

  • It flows like this: check the chalkboard for daily specials, then wait in line to order at the counter. Grab your platters and move on to a communal picnic table, individual tables lining the walls or to the bar.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    A hearty and gourmet side of cranberry beans mingling with shredded chunks of pork.

  • Photo by: Virginia Miller

    Besides meat sticks, there's also house jerky, like grilled harissa and lime ham jerky.

Places Mentioned

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Barbecue Dogpatch
Food22 Decor19 Service17 Cost$26
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Namu Gaji

Asian The Mission
Food23 Decor21 Service20 Cost$31
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Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery

American Haight-Ashbury
Food21 Decor21 Service20 Cost$32

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