You know what we love most about celebrating America’s birthday? Barbecue. We also know that we’re not alone here.
Americans have a long history and love affair with barbecue. As a nation, we’ve been devouring slow-roasted barbecue since the Civil War. Historians can trace barbecue’s history (with African, Indigenous, and Caribbean roots) back to the 1540s when Spanish conquistadors observed the Chicksaw cook meat over barbacoa.
Since then, it’s become a quintessential part of American cuisine and summer cookouts. Many states, especially those in the south, have their own barbecue styles and sauces.
Texas, for instance, has a slow-roast pit style, while Tennessee serves its meats with tomato-based sauces. Even in North Carolina, the western and eastern parts of the state have their own styles (and claiming either is the best is enough to start a war).
Listing who has the best barbecue can be hazardous, with die-hard fans from the barbecue belt each insisting their version is the best.
While we’re not taking sides on which style is better (we wouldn’t dare), we do have opinions on our favorites within our network of food trucks.
The Best Bay Area Barbecue Spots
Whether you’re into traditional Texan or vegan BBQ, there’s something for you. Here are some of the BBQ vendors to get or book for your upcoming Independence Day celebration.
Best Vegan Barbecue: Vegan Mob
Vegan Mob is adored by vegetarians and omnivores alike. Seriously, people who swear they hate vegetables love this food truck!)!
After adopting a plant-based diet, Chef Toriano Gordon experienced a complete transformation in his health and felt inspired to share his love of healthy, plant-based foods with others.
He serves up a wide selection of vegan barbecue and soul food options inspired by his family’s recipes. He never skimps on freshness or flavor.
You don’t have to take our word for it, either. One reviewer shared, “Everything they do is incredible. I would have to say that their ‘fried chicken’ could be the best I’ve ever tasted.”
If you’re near the Mission, we recommend trying the spicy vegan fried chicken, shrimp po’boy, or brisket.
Best Texas-Style Barbecue: Capelo’s Barbecue
Reviewers often call Capelo’s “the best barbecue spots on the peninsula,” and with good reason.
Their pitmaster, John Capelo, grew up in Texas Hill country and brought the best southern barbecue techniques to the Bay Area.
Capelo’s serves up a variety of juicy, tender briskets and hot links, smoking meats for up to 18 hours to produce quality results for his customers.
Several rave reviews aren’t just about his meats, but the mac and cheese (one reviewer called it “top notch.”). If you prefer your barbecue meatless, they also have a veggie burger with your choice of BBQ sauce.
Capelo’s is more than just a food truck. They also have a beer garden featuring local craft beers! If you have a chance to stop by either the truck or their Redwood City beer garden, we recommend trying the hotlinks, pulled pork, or smoked chicken.
The Best Brisket: J&D’s BBQ
What started as a humble pop-up at a Bay Area barber shop has ignited a barbecue sensation, quickly leading to large-scale catering events.
A native of San Franciso, JD Anderson says barbecue was a huge part of his family and upbringing. After a work-related injury in 2015, he went all-in on his passion for barbecue and launched his full-time food truck business.
JD is incredibly exact in his approach to brisket, from his secret seasoning recipe to the wood he chooses to smoke his meat low and slow.
If someone in your group isn’t a meat-eater, have no fear! J&D’s offers a variety of vegetarian and vegan options, such as their stuffed portabello mushrooms and kale salad.
If you visit his truck (and we hope you do), we recommend the chicken plate, brisket, or baked beans (which one reviewer described as “money.”). You can find J&D’s at various locations throughout the week. Follow them on social to find out where they’re headed next!
Best Korean Barbecue: Korean Bobcha
From the Korean word for food truck, Bobcha is all about tasty and healthy Korean specialties with a California twist. Korean Bobcha’s signature bulgogi burritos and build-your-own bibimbap bar are what they’re known for, but their Korean BBQ lovers box and grilled chicken BBQ is the go-to for party or office catering and takeout.
Each box includes your choice of 2 proteins, steamed rice, spring mix salad, and Bobcha orange sauce. If you want, you can turn all of this into a burrito, as well. It’s a favorite across the board.
Try the Best Barbecue in San Francisco
It’s officially summer, and barbecue season is in full swing in San Francisco. Skip firing up the grill and go local with tasty barbecue from local restaurants and food trucks.
Whether you prefer the southern style, are craving a low and slow-roasted brisket, or seeking meatless options, the Bay Area has something for everyone. You can find out where all these barbecue creators will be by heading here.