San Francisco Review: Lilly’s Bar-B-Que #1

I stop for smoke signals.
Eater rating: 4.0 / 5  4

Since the end of January I’ve been staying with friends in the Bay area, hopping around from kitchen to kitchen with my mobile food porn studio feeding those in my path. On a trip to Nob Hill the other week to pack up my studio for yet another transition I decided that, shit… I’ve just spent 5 bucks in tolls and 10 bucks in gas getting into the city – I should dick around a bit while I was there! After all, it is what I do best! 😉

Fog on the Golden Gate Bridge

Like a bug to a light…

I’m naturally drawn to water so my first stop was to follow my line of sight and head to the marina area where I got my first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge masked in fog, that I’m pretty sure is there most of the time. (I know it’s kind of crazy that I’ve been to SF so many times previously and have now lived here for over two months without ever seeing the bridge before. Don’t judge – sometimes I’m slower than the other children.)

Next I knew I wanted to see Fillmore, Divisidero, and Haight, so with those streets in mind I wandered up and down the blocks taking in as much as I could. I’m only in SF for less than one week now, so every moment needs to count. Struck by the need to pee and a slight hunger, I started looking for a good parking space in the middle of some action. As I was cruising down Divisidero, my eyes noted that the street was filled with smoke, then my nose noted that said smoke that was connected to the slow cooking of meat. I looked to my left and saw smoke billowing out of the chimneys on the side of Lilly’s Bar-B-Que. Of course I pulled over as soon as humanly possible, jumped out of my car and ran across the street dodging traffic and almost getting run over by oncoming cars (who I may or may not have told off in bold vivid language – hey man, I was in a crosswalk. Bitch had the right-of-way.)

Pitmaster Mike

The one and only Pitmaster Mike.

Once inside Lilly’s I was greeted by Mike, the incredibly charming pit master behind the counter. Mike told me that he had been working hard all day to make me, just me, some brisket so good that it would make me homesick for the south. 😉 Now I know Mike wasn’t reeeeaaally smoking his succulent meats all day just for me but he totally had me eating out of the palm of his hand. Between the smell coming from the smoke pit and Mike’s confirmation that I was in for some killer brisket, I was forced to go on a rapid hunt for an ATM machine that would actually read my effed up magnetic strip. Four stores and 5 bucks in ATM fees later (D’OH), I was back in the smokey interior of Lilly’s, cash in hand and brisket in front of me.

bbq beef brisket

Smoky, juicy, meaty deliciousness

Not gonna lie, I have some pretty high standards as far as brisket is concerned – which is why I almost never order it! I hate being let down by food and brisket is one of those things that lets me down more than 50% of the time I order it. This brisket, however, did NOT let me down. It was super tender and moist with a nice smoky flavor. The only thing I would have changed would have been to ask for the sauce on the side so I could taste the naked goodness of the meat by itself. I chose the hot variety of sauce and, while it was pretty good, I would like to try the mild and medium to see if they bring anything else to the party. The meat party. In my mouth. Mmmmmmmm.

Pitmaster Mike

Mike, a man who knows his ‘que!

Before heading out I talked to Mike for a few more moments and told him that he (and Lilly’s BBQ) may or may not appear on the internet soon. I mean – come on – I plan on posting pretty much every day of my life online but in reality about 1/50th of the days (if that) get posted. 😉 If this were twitter I would give myself a hashtag – #lazy… #justsayin. I only bring up my laziness to say that the brisket was good enough to motivate me to spend the morning writing about it and subsequently daydreaming over smoked meats. (Side note on my laziness: I wrote this almost a month ago and haven’t posted it yet. Oops) If you find yourself in San Francisco wandering along Divisidero and are in need of some delicious smoked meat (who isn’t?), follow your nose over to Lilly’s Bar-B-Que, get the brisket and tell Mike that that crazy girl Amanda who was in taking pictures and drooling over his meat says “Hi” and wishes she was there too. (Did I mention that I just loved Mike?) 😉

Lilly’s Bar-B-Cue #1
705 Divisadero Street
San Francisco, CA 94117

*Oooo one more thing: This review is for the brisket and brisket alone. Both of the sides I ordered (green beans and coleslaw) were mediocre. Very mediocre. Go for the bbq, not the sides! 🙂

12 comments so far:

  1. Fresnobites says:

    Nice article. It’s sad that the sides detract from the restaurant in general. The brisket must have been really good to ignore those.

  2. Nicole says:

    Nice! I’ve been craving some good bbq lately. I think I might have already had my fill of tri tip, so brisket is sounding pretty good right now…

  3. Girlll.. Deliciousness on a plate. Now stop dick’n around and give your fan club some more posts. We all love hearing from Miss Amanda. And I’m sure Mike’s a new fan too!

  4. Rachel says:

    I woke up with pork on the brain and wandered over to your site for inspiration. Instead I see this great article for Lilly’s BBQ. I think I’ll now make brisket! 😉 Who knows when I’ll ever get to the left coast, but I’ll keep Lilly’s in mind if I do!

  5. Spill says:

    I love the BBQ and a nice simple restaurant and a touch of home..

  6. Deanna says:

    Like Pavlov’s dog – my mouth is watering after reading this!

  7. Mel says:

    Thanks for the San Francisco food tip. I’ve been to San Francisco and I love it there but I’ve only been to the Wharf. Brisket is soooo good when it’s cooked right. And it looks like Mike cooks it right. I can’t wait to check out Lilly’s Bar-B-Que the next time I’m in the Bay Area.

  8. Keith Taylor says:

    Hope this is the way to Amanda’s heart ! If you have a spare moment and fancy an English Grumpy Old Man’s take on Eating out by Staying In, please give my web site and blog and quick gander, it would be a real coup for me to have a place in such illustrious company. Look forward to your response when time and inclination are married.

  9. Jimmy says:

    Wow, what an awesome find! Will be heading to your neck of the woods soon and have been complaining to my wife for three weeks about the upcoming trip…my latest excuse just yesterday was a little subtle but actually made her think for a minute, “and you know, there’s probably no where to get decent barbeque”…can’t wait to surprise her with this place when we get there. =D

  10. That brisket does look awesome! We are headed out to San Fran in September and like you, we are like a moth to a flame when it comes to being close to the water.

  11. Love this review!! We are headed to the city in about 4 weeks and I’m heavy into my research for restaurants. I have 3 nights… I think the Thursday will be at the Farmer’s market (we have two teens with us…they should like that!) But am open for the other two….

  12. This is the type of places I like to eat. A friend of mines recommended this place. I will be in the area in a few weeks. I am really Excited to get some good BbQ.
    after reading your review I am getting really excited.