A couple of days ago there was a thread on Oakland Barbecue, generally lamenting the lack of top-notch Q in the area.
rtmonty, a gentleman and a scholar, recommended Stim's Texas BBQ in Santa Rosa. So credit that noble hound (or houndess if I've missed my guess).
What a find! Admittedly, it takes a well-motivated hound to call Santa Rosa "in the area."
The place seems to be in the process of a name change. The sign out front is now Black Bean BBQ. In the rear, a sign still advertises Stim's Authentic Texas BBQ. Intriguingly, there is a drive-up window, but I couldn't tell if it was operational.
Inside, it's a bus-yourself operation, but the tables and booths are much nicer than most no-frills Q joints. The decorations are mostly photos of local high school sports teams. If that description worries you, if you are a fierce advocate of holes-in-the-wall, let me say that walking in the door your fears will melt like pork fat. They obviously take their craft seriously.
I ordered the pork ribs and beef brisket with sides of onion rings and black beans. I think this cost $11.95, but I might be off by a dollar either way.
Let's start with the ribs. Two came with my combo. They're beautiful. Perfect color and a nice solid pink smoke ring. And you can taste that smoke. The ribs come unsauced, just as God intended. And you don't need the sauce. I ate one sauced and one not. The texture of the ribs was exactly right. One of my major peeves with Q is an overfatty rib and these were meat laced with fat, not a tremendous glob of fat scissored by meat.
These ribs are by far the best I've had since moving to the Bay Area a year ago, easily better than Bo's, E&J's, KC's, Doug's, Flint's, and Memphis Minnie's.
No beef ribs, if you're curious.
The sauce was good too, by the way--of the thin (but not watery) vinegary unsweet variety. I do wish it had been a little hotter, but to be honest I didn't bother checking if they had a hotter sauce.
The brisket was very tender and had a good flavor. Unfortunately, for some reason, it was served a little on the cold side. But don't come for the brisket. The ribs are what made the trip.
The sides were mixed. The black beans were very boring and sat in a ladle-them-yourself container in the middle of the room--odd for a place that calls itself Black Bean BBQ.
The onion rings were fantastic. Real onion rings, not strings. Beer-battered I'm sure, they come
out nicely golden--slightly reddish even. These might be a little oily for some tastes.
Chicken and hot links were also on the menu. They also had a small unimpressive wine list, but hey it's nice to have options.
I can't recommend the place highly enough.
Black Bean BBQ
557 Summerfield Road
Santa Rosa, CA
Thanks again, rtmonty!