Of the three places I've had bbq in the bay area, I have to say Nate's BBQ is the best, then Johnson's then memphis minnie's.
I judge a bbq place only by the beef brisket because i think that pork ribs don't take too much skill to make tasty
In terms of sauce, sauce belongs on the side, not on the meat
when i look for good bbq, i look for smokiness, tenderness, and juiciness:
Nate's: the meat has above average smoke flavor, is just OK tenderness wise and above average on the juiciness, this is the best the bay area has to offer imo, but Nate's is very inconsistent, sometimes i'll go there and it will just be tough and rubbery, the sauce is decent
Flint's: i'm pretty sure this is just beef that's boiled first, it was really inedible, tough, rubbery, no smoke flavor, the sauce is good, i went to the san pablo location and it just wasn't very good
Memphis Minnie: decent smoke flavor, but tough and not very juicy, almost like smoked beef jerky, its better than flint's though, i think the sauces suck too
Johnson's: the most tender and juiciest brisket, BUT no smoke flavor, so a big disappointment
Maybe i'm being too harsh because i'm comparing these places to central and east texas bbq, but i just can't help it....