Whether looking for brisket, pulled pork, chicken, Texas style or Korean, we’ve got some fine barbecue in Marin, and it comes in all flavors. Stretching from Corte Madera to Novato, explore our county’s best smoked, grilled, and charred meats along with famous pickles, mac salad, beer, and your favorite side. The 2023 readers’ choice Best of the County winner is Pig in a Pickle (pictured above). For the rest of the Marin Magazine‘s Best of Marin County BBQ picks see below.
Our 2023 Dining category sponsor is Rodney Strong.
Because there are so many great ones, we’ve broken it down by region: Central and Northern Marin.
Cute aluminum trays piled with brisket, pulled pork and house-made hot links are just part of the appeal; the sides of Parker House rolls, collard greens and kettle tallow chips have their own following.
341 Corte Madera Town Center, 415.891.3265
Barbecue from a trailer embedded into the wall is the main attraction at this mechanic’s shop turned eatery where tall former bay garage doors slide open to reveal washed concrete floors and a craft beer garden with fire pit. The ‘cue gets all the love but salads, BBQ tacos, those famous pickles, and a wide selection of tapped and bottled beers plus wines round out the menu. Kid-friendly and dog-friendly with outdoor seating and frequent live music.
2001 Sir Francis Drake Blvd Fairfax, 415.300.3099
Forrest Murray, Jr. of San Rafael’s Forrest Fire BBQ designed the perfect tribute to his father: Saint Louis-style pork ribs, chicken, and beef tri-tip, cooked low and slow before he pulls them from a wood-stoked barbecue. These are the signature meals he prepares on his Southern Pride Smoker outside Marinwood Market in San Rafael on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with his mobile catering business and soon at United Markets, San Rafael and Gold Gate Market, Sausalito. Inside a cast iron pan logo of his business rests an outline of the state of Alabama stamped with “928” to reflect Murray’s roots and the date of his dad’s birthday.
The go-to dish at owner Ali Mobasser’s Persian barbecue restaurant is the koobideh. Seasoned with grated onion and seven spices, including turmeric, saffron, sumac and white pepper, the meat is “koobidehed” (meaning, beaten with the spices) before grilling. While the outside is charred, the beef’s skewering allows for even internal heat and easy turning during cooking, locking in flavor. “It keeps the juices from spilling out,” says Mobasser.
555 E. Francisco Blvd, San Rafael; 415.256.9878
There are no bells and whistles at this RV park deli better known for its California Reuben and Atherton Club sandwiches than its Korean barbecue. That needs to change. From a tiny, gas-fired grill, Korean-born chef-owner James Jung grills beef for garlic-and-vinegar seasoned bi-bim-bap and for stuffing into tofu sushi, among other treats. Though the kimchi isn’t grilled, it’s a must-try. “This restaurant is my retirement project,” Jung says and laughs.
1530 Armstrong Ave, Novato; 415.897.5770
Marin native Chris Stafford moonlights as a pit master, pulling his portable rig to gigs (including regular stops at his Uncle Matt and Uncle Joe’s Indian Valley Brewery in Novato) to serve up what Stafford calls central Texas style ‘cue. A Brandt brisket cut is his signature dish with little more than salt, pepper, Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and time to smoke over oak before the beef gives in to a lacquered crust and a disarmingly pink interior. It is a dish that just might make a name for Marin barbecue.
1016 Railroad Ave, Novato; 415.755.8129