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Magnificent Obsession: Ryan Farr's New Oakland BBQ

Have brisket, will travel.

4505 Burgers and Barbecue


The barbecue gods have not been kind to Oakland, which has lost, in the past few years, its best purveyors of the genre: Double D, B-Side, BBQ Hut—all gone well before their time. The arrival of a new branch of 4505 Burgers & Barbecue—Ryan Farr’s Divisadero spot—in the old Glenn’s Hot Dogs space in Oakland’s Laurel neighborhood was supposed to help turn the tide. Then the restaurant’s hoped-for winter opening was pushed back to early spring of 2018—the usual vagaries of the industry, or perhaps the latest proof of that pernicious Oakland barbecue curse.

This digital age does have its perks, however. Farr decided he didn’t have to wait—not when the use of a commercial kitchen and collaboration with the food-delivery app Caviar meant that he could start serving East Bay customers right away. Which is welcome news because, among other things, 4505 serves some of the best barbecue brisket around—thick-sliced, fat-striated, lightly smoky, and encrusted with peppery, coal-black bark. It’s a texture thing, mainly. Farr, in the manner of pitmasters since time immemorial, won’t divulge all of the particulars. But the key, he says, is to just keep cooking it—low and slow, as they say—until the brisket wobbles and shakes like a holiday Jell-O mold. It’s as much art as science, and, thank the gods, Farr seems to have it down.


Originally published in the January issue of San Francisco 

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