Pop-ups are still popular in San Francisco, but eventually a few of them turn into full-fledged restaurants or – like in the case of Sneaky’s BBQ – a semi-permanent restaurant.
Sneaky’s BBQ started out in 2008 as an underground caterer, and it continues to cater private parties with its menu of Carolina-style barbeque and fixin’s (i.e., cornbread, baked beans, cole slaw, mac and cheese). But for five nights of the week, Sneaky’s serves up its barbeque delights inside the Rebel Bar on Market Street near Octavia.
Some might call the juxtaposition of the leather/motorbike décor with BBQ as a match made in heaven, while others might be left perplexed. Especially when you’re quietly eating your BBQ ribs and downing a pint of beer while sitting next to a stripper pole (Rebel serves a primarily gay clientele and features go-go boys on the weekends.)
When I visited one night with my friends Debbie and Cynthia, it seemed more people were coming in for the happy hour than the BBQ. As for the menu, I found the two-meat plate with choice of two sides a great value at $26. And in some ways, it’s enough food to share between two people.
The two meats I tried was the brisket (thickly sliced meat from Creekstone Farms) and the kurobuta pork belly. While pork belly is my favorite, Sneaky’s version came to the table unusually dry. It was disappointing, but the brisket made up for it with its tender slices of meat with a distinct smoky flavor. It was so good I didn’t even bother with the sides of BBQ sauce (a bit runny) that’s served with the plate.
The mix of sides we got were enjoyable, from the crunchy cole slaw to the braised collard greens to the spicy baked beans. (I didn’t try the mac and cheese that Cynthia ordered because I could only do so much to overload my cholesterol.)
Desserts are provided by another local business called Hot Mess Baking, and are limited to cookies, cakes and pies. Debbie tried the chocolate chip bacon cookie and thought it was interesting, but nothing spectacular.
Sneaky’s BBQ is hit and miss, with a few delights (brisket, cole slaw, beans) and one notable disappointment (pork belly). In such a temporary feel, I expected and wanted more from the BBQ, dominating the ambiance so all one thinks about is the food. Instead, it still feels like something someone sneaked into the place under the radar.
Rating: 2 out of 4 camera snaps
Sneaky’s BBQ, 1760 Market St. (inside Rebel Bar), San Francisco. PH: 415.431.4200. Open Wednesday through Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.; closed Monday and Tuesday. No reservations. Website
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