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Best Barbecue: Friendly folks and smoky perfection 

Uncle Willie's Original Bar-B-Que and Fish

Ah, barbecue. Perhaps no other food genre is as fickle as the cold-smoking of animal parts for hours and hours. Time, temperature, even the quirks of particular cuts of meat become factors in the big old gumbo of barbecue's potentially fatal variables. And even though the cooks at Uncle Willie's are as susceptible to inconsistency as anyone who ever worked a pit smoker, the barbecue from this downtown Oakland hole-in-the-wall has the force of personality. Put it down to Willie Thomas' proprietary moppin' sauce, which he calls "bugga juice." Put it down to the acute smokiness of the meats — chickens, pork ribs, and beef links — that emerge from the restaurant's partially mesquite-stoked barrel smokers. Even put it down to the friendliness of the folks who work the order counter. Whatever. With pork fibers wedged between your teeth, fingers stained with deep hits of smoky, and the sweetness of housemade peach cobbler making your tummy throb, Uncle Willie's seems just about perfect.

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(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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