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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Short Rib at T-Dub's on Fridays

Posted By on Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 7:58 AM

click to enlarge Combo Plate No. 5, beef short rib and chicken, $19.95. - JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
  • Combo Plate No. 5, beef short rib and chicken, $19.95.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

click to enlarge LUIS CHONG/YELP
  • Luis Chong/Yelp

Thomas Ware's a big guy, and personable. "Welcome to T-Dub's," Ware says to anyone ― whether they're listening or not ― who steps up to the counter at his 3-week-old barbecue place, semi-hidden within the warren of parking lots and bail shops near the Hall of Justice.

T-Dub's on Fridays is in the old Yellow Pa Taut space, with its bizarrely Beach Blanket Babylon-meets-Excalibur fantasy wall reliefs, the Golden Gate Bridge smack up against a castle's stony ramparts. Ware, in black T and beanie, is a sober figure amid the whimsy. He lays down the rules. "Nobody comes to T-Dub's without getting a taste of something," he says, dangling a boneless, sauce-glazed hank of baby-back rib meat over the counter in my direction. It's fantastic: Gray meat fibers plump with collagen, the fat rendered out, slippery, and vivid with the barbecue sauce that's T-Dub's animating spirit.

I've ordered a to-go box of Combo Plate No. 5, short ribs and chicken ($19.95). Ware summons me from the table where I pretend to be absorbed in CNN on the flatscreen ― he's got a bronto-rib joint perched between tongs. "Just to show you," he says, "this is tender." With one move he slips off the meat, a dark, hulking sheath of soft protein, and wedges it into a takeaway box.

Back at the office I probe the short rib, a beast struggling to rise from a shiny tarpit of sauce. The rib's coarse, heavy meat fibers splay out along a sheet of connective tissue, and the taste is intimately beefy: earthy, with tallowy richness and a kind of wheezing sweetness. The chicken, by contrast, is chewy, tongue-pink flesh under skin that's turned leathery on the grill. Coloring everything is the taste of the sauce, equal parts sweet and vinegar, teased out with Liquid Smoke. It's good, though after three mouthfuls my palate's exhausted. The sides (you get two) offer a bit of relief: Devmyster's Dirty Rice, studded with little clusters of finely ground pork, and Pop Yo' Collar collard greens, sanded with so much white pepper your tongue goes numb. After a while, that begins to feel like mercy.

T-Dub's on Fridays: 15 Boardman (at Bryant), 624-3360, Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Contact me at John.Birdsall@SFWeekly.com

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