Alameda a la carte: Best Lil' Porkhouse
Alameda a la carte: Best Lil' Porkhouse
The Best Lil' Porkhouse serves up BBQ at Alameda South Shore Center. Photo by Cheryl Connick.
I was excited when I heard there was a new BBQ place opening up here in Alameda. Being from the South, I crave the slow-cooked smoked meats of my youth and have had a hard time finding good places that do it right. So, last Sunday my family and I ventured out to Alameda South Shore Center to give the Best Lil’ Porkhouse a try.
The South Shore spot is the third restaurant for this local chain, which hails from Marin; its other locations are in Corte Madera and San Rafael. The restaurant uses organic meats and ingredients from Snake River Farms in Idaho (which also sells its meats online and will ship to your doorstep), Painted Farms (brisket) and Mary’s (free range chicken).
Best Lil’ Porkhouse is centrally located in South Shore, and seems to get good foot traffic. It has a decent sized outdoor dining area that is configured in an L-shape, with comfortable chairs and plenty of space between tables. The inside is nice too: The space has high ceilings and a long, well-stocked bar that runs along the left side. Televisions dot the bar area, and on the day we visited, they were tuned to Sunday football games. Fun music was playing in the background —a mix of country with a smattering of Jimmy Buffett – and the place had a good vibe, friendly and casual.
It was crowded when we arrived at noon, with almost every table taken. The hostess greeted us right away and we got a table close to the front of the restaurant and received a tray of peanuts to shell when we sat down. My kids spotted a stack of games in the corner behind the hostess stand and grabbed a deck of Uno cards to play while we waited for the food — and it was a good thing they did, given the length of our wait.
The menu had a good selection of appetizers and BBQ, and the selection of beer on tap was impressive. I was excited to order the Mini-Beauregard Platter for $39.95. It has a quarter pound of pulled pork, a quarter pound of beef brisket, a half-rack of ribs and your choice of four sides—all to feed two to three people (my husband I split this). It was also supposed to come with a half chicken and Texas toast, but they were out of those items — rats!
The restaurant’s side offerings are many, and we agreed on the fried okra, mac and cheese, coleslaw and sweet potato tots. My older son ordered the appetizer chicken wings and my younger one, the Macho Pig Nachos. The nachos came out right away and were a fun riff on traditional Mexican nachos. Their version had baked beans, BBQ sauce, spicy pulled pork and cheese over tortilla chips. It was good and I’d order it again.
But shortly after that, the server came over to tell us they were out of the chicken wings and asked if chicken tenders would be okay to substitute. My son said yes, but we were all in agreement that wings would have been better and that they were out of way too many items for our liking.
The platter finally arrived – 32 minutes after we ordered. Our food took way too long to come out of the kitchen, and from the look of the other patrons, they were in the same predicament. I was surprised that a manager wasn’t working the room, reassuring guests and doing some damage control, because I think most people are sympathetic toward a new restaurant and can understand there may be kinks to work out.
That said, the ribs were smoked just right, and had great flavor. The server told us the restaurant smokes its own meats, and it showed. Other BBQ restaurants that I’ve tried use liquid smoke to give the meat flavor, and it tends to taste artificial.
The pulled pork was good, although a bit dry, and I wish they had offered a South Carolina (Low Country) style version, which is a mix of mustard and vinegar — more tangy than sweet. The brisket was tender and had the right amount of fat on it. Overall, I was impressed with the food and enjoyed the side dishes — especially the corn muffins.
It seemed like we weren’t the only people in Alameda happy that a BBQ place had opened up: When we left the restaurant, there were still people coming in, which was nice to see. I just hope those people will come back, as I’m sure they had the same experience as we did. That said, I’d give Best Lil’ Porkhouse another chance.
Best Lil’ Porkhouse, 2201D South Shore Center. 521-7675. Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.