5 Top BBQ Restaurants in Sonoma County
Sonoma County doesn't just barbecue its meat, it calls in top-notch chef talent to craft its locally-raised smoked brisket, pit pork, pulled chicken, and ribs. So grab a big pile of napkins, ready your appetite, and prepare for a real feast complete with gourmet potato salad and cornbread.
Fans of sumptuous fried chicken and barbecue can rejoice. Using its wood-fired grill to great advantage, Sweet T’s cuisine is inspired by both New Orleans and the South as a whole. For the trio combo, choose from ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, pulled chicken, tri-tip and/or house made pork sausage link, plus two sides and a biscuit. Or go for the Cajun gumbo with shrimp, smoked chicken, Andouille sausage, veggies and rice; or that crispy fried chicken with smashed potatoes and slaw.
You know you're in the right spot in Sonoma when you see the metal flying pig sculpture. Chef Rob Larman (formerly of Rob's Rib Shack and La Poste) keeps the menu authentic with Austin-style beef short ribs, beef brisket, baby back ribs, barbecued pork shoulder, Carolina style pork, sausage, and fried chicken. Try to arrive hungry, and by all means, stock up on napkins before you dig in!
In addition to gleaming white subway tile and brick accents inside, this friendly joint on the Healdsburg Plaza features a big barbecue pit out back, where beef short ribs, brisket, St. Louis style pork ribs, pork shoulder, homemade sausage, and chicken are slow-cooked over California oak and cherry wood. The smoke-flavored meat comes unadorned: choose from delicious sauces like zingy North Carolina vinegar; gutsy South Carolina Bourbon Dijon; and a tangy, dark espresso sauce.
It can be hard to choose from the delicious side dishes here, which include Brussels sprouts sautéed with bacon; sweet potato tater tots with maple dip; and horseradish-kissed Granny Smith apple slaw.
Blink and you might miss this gem, tucked away in a framed-in porch on the edge of a parking lot next to The Barlow in downtown Sebastopol. But it's well worth seeking out, for owner Larry Vito's lovely 28-seat eatery is the real deal. Vito trained at the Culinary Institute of America Hyde Park and served as the longtime chef at San Francisco's Stanford Court before turning his talents to an enormous industrial smoker stocked with apple, oak, and nut wood. His star recipes include Drunk & Stoned shrimp (with a whiskey-fennel marinade); cheese-stuffed new potatoes; hog belly cured in brown sugar, black pepper, and the sweet smoke of Gravenstein apple wood; and a Sonoma County-sourced, 20-hour Texas-style brisket.
Enjoy stunning views of Bodega Bay along with juicy, tender meats from Ginochio's indoor and outdoor smokers. The Big Papa BBQ Platter includes tender smoked beef brisket, 14-hour smoked pulled pork, dry rubbed and slowly smoked pork ribs, and sausage, plus pickles and two sourdough bread slices (overall, enough for a really hungry eater, or to share). Hamburgers are made with Stemple Creek organic, all natural, grass-fed beef from nearby Tomales farmland, while the Moo Sandwich features 14 hour-smoked beef brisket or beef tri-tip on a toasted French roll.
Sides include smokey sweet beans with onions and peppers, crisp and salty fries, coleslaw with a barbecue tang, and traditional potato salad. This place is open for breakfast as well as lunch, and the 14-hour smoked Texas style beef brisket hash is a popular morning choice. Both indoor and outdoor seating are available.
Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet.