1941 Oak Park Blvd, Pleasant Hill, CA | 925.942.0149 | website
I’m always on the lookout for anything new to add into the lunch rotation near to our office in Coco county. Slow Hand BBQ, a brick and mortar restaurant was opened last summer by Dan Frengs who has been perfecting his technique of slow cooking meats over oak logs in a mobile smoker. He started out in the beer business, working for Chimay and Duvel, and he began to barbecue at events which eventually developed into a full time gig. He took over the Smokin’ Okies BBQ Joint in Pleasant HIll which was known for its southern tradition of slow cooking in real fire pits over almond, cherry and oak wood. The restaurant is located in a quiet strip mall that is just over the hill from the office and I have become a passionate fan from the first visit. Because of the owner’s background in the industry, the options for beers on tap offer superb companions to the ‘que.
On my first visit, I had the $10 lunch special with the 4 ribs (choice of baby back or St. Louis style), a small side and a fountain drink. The ribs are huge, like Flintstonian lollipops because you can pick up the rib and the meat literally falls off the bone. The texture is incredible, succulent and tender, with a nice char and each bite was infused with an intoxicating smoky flavor. Initially I thought four ribs wouldn’t be enough, but these were big meaty pieces and quite filling.
One day I was particularly hungry and ordered a half-rack of Baby Back Ribs ($12.95) along with a small side of the coleslaw, which came with two small sweet rolls. Way too much food!
The Texas Style Brisket is amazing, the meat is slow cooked until supple and still marbled with fat, simply seasoned with salt and pepper
And look at this fatty piece that was rendered into a slice of rich beef bacon, you can tell this stuff is cooked slow and low…
There is something pristine about the meat that demands your attention and makes you want to devour it plain and unadorned. But for the saucy ones, the restaurant offers quite a few options. The two squeeze bottles on the left are house sauces, the dark brown one is sweet and thick, the orange one is thin textured, vinegary and spicy, a squeeze of both is just the thing. If you like spicy, they have a jalapeno sauce, and the one on the far right is made with habanero peppers.
The Pulled Pork Sliders are stunning, three small rolls are filled with a huge pile of pulled pork that is mixed in with a Carolina-style mustard vinegar sauce.
The buns are elastic and tender but somehow manage to hold together a large amount of savory rich meat with some coleslaw tucked in, which our server recommended. I enjoyed this immensely, but could only finish two of the three buns.
Now as far as the sides go, I am completely down with their Coleslaw, which is full of crisp bright flavors from the slices of fresh bell peppers and cilantro which are tossed in a zesty vinegar based dressing. It is the perfect antidote for the platters of rich fatty meats.
Potato Salad is German style and contains no mayo, and is made with vinegar, oil, onion, cider and bacon. This and all of the sides are served warm or room temperature.
The BBQ Beans are not too sweet, but very saucy, flavored with beer, brisket and chunks of bacon.
The Mac and Cheese is rich and cheesey and strangely compelling, but I wished they would heat it up to melt the cheese and that there was an oven browned crust…
I’m cursed and lucky after finding this place… it’s rare to find such magnificent food this side of the Caldecott, but now I am completely ruined… Oh and one last thing, don’t park in the lot on the left side. I got a hand written note that the lot is not for restaurant patrons. There is no sign that I could see, but someone in one of the offices apparently had the time and motivation to school me on this fact.