West Coast barbecue, almost any Southerner/Texan/Missouran/carnivore will tell you, is not known for its excellence. But lord, do we keep trying. San Francisco's BBQ boom -- I can count nine restaurants and food trucks in the past 18 months -- has brought in a couple of promising newcomers. One of them, Cedar Hill Kitchen and Smokehouse, is the subject of this week's full-length restaurant review.
Jon Rietz and Emily Lai opened the Marina restaurant after working together at Memphis Minnie's, arguably the city's most polished barbecue stop. Rietz, a Texas native, is smoking a variety of meats Texas-style over white oak: brisket, ribs, chicken, pulled pork. The restaurant is frustratingly uneven -- especially when it comes to its brisket, which by rights should be the restaurant's focal point -- but his pulled pork is often fantastic and his barbecued chicken, downright awesome. I'm hoping that, as with the best pit masters, time only improves Rietz's barbecue.