Geary is a long avenue that stretches nearly the entire length of San Francisco from Market Street all the way out to Ocean Beach. Along the way it speeds through downtown and several neighborhoods all with their own splash of San Francisco-ness. Once it crosses Arguello is becomes the Richmond District which is a large and encompassing area. I get out their occasionally to visit Green Apple Books and figure since I took the exhausting trip on the 38 Geary MUNI bus I may as well make the most of my time here and hit some places to eat, of which there are many. They seem to take up every other storefront as you make your way down Geary and are mostly of the Chinese, Mexican, coffee shop variety. Though every now and then something different appears, in this case GS Riverside BBQ, a small corner spot serving up smoke meat stuff, and of course I am so going to give it a try.
Truth be told, I knew about this place, but in a different guise. It used to be called Roadhouse BBQ and I had been a couple times a few years ago and remember mostly liking it. Now it seems they have new owners, a new name, new paint job and a slightly revamped menu--thus I was interested to give them a shot and see if things had changed, stayed the same or gone south. The menu offers a handful of wood-smoked meats and a nice selection of Southern-nish side dishes and in order to get the full flavor profile I chose the "Three Woods"--a 3 meat plate with 2 sides and cornbread for $19.95 (though now I believe menu prices have gone up about $2).
Here we have the Texas beef brisket, the Memphis pulled pork and the pork ribs with a side of sweet potato fries, spice braised greens and a corn muffin. If this looks like a lot of meat, it was, more than I expected really and when you compare it to what I got at 4505 Meats--this is a monster plate. But let's start with the one semi-bad--the corn muffin--it was dry, dry, dry for something so small. And while that made it unappealing to eat by itself it actually worked out well when I crumbled it over the braised greens. The mix of the spicy juicy greens and the sweetness of the muffin were a complimentary blend that was very tasty. The greens were cooked tender and braised with garlic, though I think they could cut the spicy pepper kick down a notch, some folks might find it too much. The corn muffin actually helps cut some of that also. The fries were cooked to order so nicely salty crunchy without being burnt.
But ultimately I'm here for the meat so let's just dive in to that. Overall, the meats were served hot (hello 4505--you see it can be done) and were appropriately tender, juicy and for the ribs fall off the bone. All of them also had a nice smokiness in their flavor without being overpowering. the brisket had a pleasant char on the outside and great medium rareness on the inside. They also didn't overpower you with sauces either. The put just a little squirt across the top and each sauce is also on the table in bottles in case you want to add more. A slightly spicy Texas, a little smokey sweet Memphis and a South Carolina mustard vinegar. Each with it's own unique flavor though the meats we well done on their own and didn't necessarily need the sauce but it's fun to experiment and see which goes well with each meat. The pork goes with any of them and the brisket works best with the tomato based sauces. Either way I don't think you can go wrong with any of the meats you choose. After scarfing down this entire plate--YES I DID--along with bottomless ice tea, I was happily bloated and meat satisfied and actually looked forward to a nice long walk home to settle all the food.
I know going out to the Richmond District is a haul for folks and the idea of riding the 38 can be a drawback but if you somehow find yourself out that way and are looking for some pretty good bbq you should really give GS Riverside a try. You don't have to eat as much as I did, but you might be meat happy if you do.