Dining

Smoke Show

Barbecue in the California tradition
Cathead's BBQ

California has always provided safe haven for iconoclasts.

This is good news for Pamela Schafer and Richard Park, chef-proprietors of Cathead's BBQ, because Cathead's menu draws liberally from regional barbecue traditions the country over--a move Park admits "might not fly" if Cathead's were located in his native Tennessee.

But in kinder, gentler San Francisco, we embrace innovation. If you want to cook your collards without pork, and the greens are silky, tender and deeply flavored--even without the swine--that's fine by us.

Cathead's, which started as a pop-up and now occupies the former SoMa home of Big Nate's, serves Carolina-style pulled pork: slow-smoked over cherrywood and lashed with vinegar ($7; $8 as a sandwich). But it also serves cornmeal-crusted barbecued tofu ($7; $8 as a sandwich), the likes of which you would never find at the legendary barbecue joints in Lockhart, Texas.

The sticky exterior of the St. Louis-style pork ribs gives way to a thin layer of wobbly fat and tender meat ($7), and the pillowy namesake Cathead biscuits ($5) are especially good slathered with honey butter and dotted with pepper jelly.

It may be California-style barbecue, but that's not stopping us--and it shouldn't stop you, either.

Cathead's BBQ, 1665 Folsom St. (at Division St.); 415-861-4242 or catheadsbbq.com

Cathead's BBQ 1665 Folsom St. San Francisco CA 94103 415-861-4242

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