Marin Blog · Dining in Marin Collection

Hot Off the Grill: Marin County's Tastiest Barbecue Bites

Posted in Blogging Marin on Friday, July 7, 2017 by MCVB Staff

By Whitney Butler


Nothing says summer like barbecue.


American BBQ is a cooking tradition that dates back to the 1500s when indigenous tribes passed the technique to colonists; as it spread across the country, different cultural groups added new spices that would go on to create the regional distinctions we recognize today.


There’s no wrong way to enjoy a BBQ, but the best way is with friends and family, and preferably a cold drink in hand. You can do all that and more in Marin County, where BBQ is mixed with local, fresh ingredients and done up just about any way you want.


Check out these popular BBQ joints on your next summer adventure in Marin. 


Roadside BBQ


You’ll smell apple, hickory and mesquite woods burning well before you see the Roadside BBQ sign at Northgate Mall in San Rafael.


Owner and operator Randy Kaplan has worked in restaurants for more than 20 years; he partnered up with pit boss Francisco "Pancho" Tornez in 2006 to open the first Roadside BBQ in San Francisco.


In 2010, a second Roadside BBQ opened across the bridge in Marin County, where people come from all over to try their tender meats served any way you want: wet, dry, rubbed or mopped.


With large portion sizes, a casual setting and plenty of options for the whole family, a BBQ dinner doesn’t have to be a celebration or weekend-only affair. Enjoy hours of slow-cooked work without the hassle; they’ve got everything from Memphis-style pulled pork and Texas beef brisket to fried chicken with all the fixin’s: coleslaw, potato salad, French fries and more.


Pig in a Pickle


If you’re not sure where you stand on BBQ styles, the best place to try several is at Pig in a Pickle at Town Center in Corte Madera.


Chef Damon Stainbrook has an impressive pedigree; he’s worked with executive chef Bradley Ogden at the Lark Creek Inn and Thomas Keller of Napa’s French Laundry. It’s no surprise, then, to see such finesse in his creative BBQ menu, which features flavors and cooking styles from all over the South.


Stainbrook also brings fresh, local ingredients into the BBQ mix; everything is made from scratch at Pig in a Pickle, from the fresh-baked buns to home-style pickles and sauces.


The casual atmosphere is great for an easy weeknight meal, or call ahead for your next large family gathering and they’ll bring everything right to your door.


Best Lil' Porkhouse


Rock legend Sammy Hagar has been seen enjoying BBQ at this next spot: Best Lil’ Porkhouse in San Rafael.


The red-and-white-checkered paper that lines the baskets there are a throwback to many BBQ restaurants in the South, and a good reminder that great BBQ doesn’t have to be fancy to taste amazing.


Tradition runs the show at Best Lil’ Porkhouse, from the Texas toast to the minimum 12 hours of smoking time that goes into each beef brisket—you can’t rush perfection! Classic sides like fried okra, baked beans and mac ’n’ cheese are tasty supporting actors to slow-cooked meats.


The sandwich menu is most impressive (smoked French dip, lil’ piggy sliders, BLT on Texas toast!), which makes this a great place to stop for a quick lunch or dinner.


Nick's Cove


Who says BBQ can’t be luxurious? At Nick’s Cove in West Marin, they’re serving BBQ oysters in a rustic setting along the water’s edge.


The award-winning restaurant is a local treasure with rich history that dates back to the 1800s. They serve farm-to-table cuisine, but it’s the new additions to the property, including several luxurious waterfront cottages and an on-site farm and garden, called The Croft, that have people clamoring to make reservations.


And here’s the best part: When you check in, Nick’s Cove delivers fresh BBQ oysters right to your cottage door! What could be more luxurious?


Enjoy a cocktail watching the sunset, or make s’mores in a fire pit under the stars.


Who has time to cook meat for 12 hours?! In Marin County, you can enjoy all the slow-cooked flavor without the mess and experience BBQ in both traditional and novel ways.


For all you need to plan your Marin County vacation, visit the Marin Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website or Facebook page.