Gallery: Behind the Scenes at CatHead's BBQ, San Francisco

  • Cherry Wood

    This is where it all begins. Cherry wood awaiting its final destination (the smoker).

    Light'n Up

    7 a.m. Pamela starts up one of the two pits with cherry wood.

    Cherry in the Pits

    CatHead’s uses cherry wood to smoke all its meat except the brisket.

    Ready for Meat

    The two smokers were put in by the building's previous occupant, Big Nate's BBQ. They were installed the day of the 1989 earthquake.


    The briskets are cooked in an electric smoker with hickory and apple wood. The restaurant goes through about 100 briskets a week.


    Richard loads pork butts into the wood smoker for a 14-hour low-and-slow treatment over cherry wood.

    Brisket Time

    A whole brisket brined in Coca-Cola and smoked for 12 hours.


    Cook Michael Curran seperated the point (fatty end) from the flat (lean). CatHead's gives customers a little of each in every serving.

    No Teeth Necessary

    The super-tender brisket barely stands up to a knife.

    Butts in the Pit

    A day's worth of pork butt are ready to come out of the pit after being smoked for 14 hours.


    Pork ribs are basted with a vinegary finishing sauce after coming out of the smoker.

    Smoked Mushrooms

    Portabella mushrooms are one of the barbecued veggie options on the menu. The 'shrooms are rubbed in an oil and seasoning blend then smoked.


    After marinating in a secret spice blend, another vegetarian option, tofu, is rolled in cornmeal and fried.


    Potatoes for potato salad, greens, beans, and sauce simmer in preparation for the crowds.

    Servin' it Up

    Cook Michael Curran plates up some steaming hot sides.

    Combo Plate ($18)

    Two mains (brisket and pork ribs) and two sides (greens and mac and cheese), with a biscuit and pickled veggies. It easily feeds two.


    CatHead's has four sauces to choose from: Texas Red, mustard sauce, habanero, and pepper vinegar. I found myself mixing them all together.

    Cathead Biscuit

    This huge biscuit— flaky on the outside and soft inside&mdash is served warm, with pepper jelly and honey butter.

    The Pit

    It's always there, silent and smoky.