In the 1920s, decades before it became The Cats Restaurant & Tavern, the Cats Roadhouse was known around town as a notorious speakeasy and bordello. The identity of the 19th-century building changed several times afterward, from realty office to gun shop to sporting-goods store, before reemerging as a tavern in 1967. These days, the renovated space pays homage to old-timey saloons?in the Wild West days of shot sheriffs and not-shot deputies?with touches such as stagecoach wheels and a curved mahogany railing from San Jose's oldest courthousek.
When it comes to food, however, the tavern adheres to a different tradition. The Cats stick to BBQ made by pitmasters who have all been certified by barbecue legend Paul Kirk. Cooks slow-smoke pulled pork and St. Louis ribs for at least six hours, plus sear chops and steaks?including a 16-ounce bone-in ribeye?over oak fire at up to 1,200 degrees. Local wine and craft beer complement succulent feasts, which unfold amid nightly live music; view the upcoming music calendar here.
Michelin praises the authentic recipes, but diners will appreciate how Jang Su Jang seems to have something for everyone. Request a grill-topped table to cook your own short ribs or brisket, or sit back and enjoy the kitchen’s take on braised fish and jumbo dumplings.
Before he opened the Smoking Pig BBQ restaurant in downtown San Jose in 2011, Paul Reddick worked as a semiconductor sales manager. Eventually, though, life led him to southeastern barbeque. It's a good thing it did because the Smoking Pig is incredible. Try a uniquely-named appetizer like the Chicken Lollipops, Redneck Sundae, and Potato Grenade. Settle on ribs covered with secret sauce and smoked for 4 to 6 hours or beef brisket rubbed with a top secret brisket rub and smoked for over half a day. Pulled pork is pork shoulder roast that is smoked until it literally falls off the bone. It’s then hand-pulled for sandwiches and multi-meat combos. Desserts are chef’s choice each day. And what would good food be without music? Check the Smoking Pig website for its schedule of live music. Open seven days a week.
At Rib-licious, barbecue connoisseurs work tirelessly behind veils of smoke to outfit fresh cuts with savory dry rubs before slow-cooking them to juicy perfection. Anchoring the diverse menu, customizable combo meals treat diners to one of five meaty masterworks. Signature Rib-licious ribs join forces with the customer's choice of brisket, chicken, or a hot link to form a succulent tag team, which forcibly suplexes hunger and deems someone a nonvegetarian with each smoky bite. Alongside protein-packed main acts, classic southern sides arrive in the form of macaroni salad, baked beans, coleslaw, and corn on the cob. Garlic bread accompanies each meaty dish, and homemade barbecue sauce lends an extra dose of flair to bites and full-body bibs.
In case you were wondering, you read that right: it’s Hawaiian, and it’s barbeque. And, it is delicious! Eddie Flores Jr., one of the two founders of L & L Hawaiian Barbeque, came up with the term to describe the fusion of a traditional American dish, barbeque, with the unique Hawaiian flavors from America’s favorite vacation state. L & L became a franchise in 1988 when they expanded their one location all over Hawaii and in 1999, to the delight of those who already knew about Hawaiian barbeque, they expanded onto the mainland. One of the things that set L &L Hawaiian Barbeque apart from other restaurants, beyond their neat fusion of foods, is what you get for your money. Eddie and Johnson (the other founder) serve up traditional Hawaiian plate lunches, which include a serving of macaroni salad, a really big serving of the desired entrée and two servings of rice in addition to a drink. There’s a mini version—that IS a lot to eat—and there’s also burgers, a fun noodle bowl, and so much more! L & L may not be good if you don’t like barbeque or Hawaiian, but if you don’t know how you feel about the combo and you do like delicious, give them a go! You probably won’t be disappointed.
In a neighborhood known for its diverse residential architecture, it makes sense that one of the most beloved taverns looks more like a house than a bar. And to many, it's always felt like home: the historic building originally served as boarding for Italian immigrants, and in its current state, it has adopted a crowd of sports-loving regulars who come out for Sharks Nights and 49ers games.
As early as 9:30 a.m. on football Sundays, Henry's opens its double front doors so people can gather at the gleaming wood bar, in one of the dining rooms, or if they've violated a schoolmarm's rules, facing a corner. There's breakfast in the morning, but the restaurant is most known for its barbecue. Entrees range from teriyaki chicken to 20-ounce porterhouses and come paired with a baked potato and garlic bread. The food has built such a reputation over the past 50 years that it's attracted special guests such as Jimmy Fallon and Man v. Food's Adam Richman.