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A barbecue revival hit the Bay Area hard at the dawn of 2011, but in some ways, Josh Kemper’s South Berkeley ‘cue house is a throwback to classic East Bay shops like Everett and Jones and the shuttered Flint’s — places serving up half a dozen types of smoked meats reflecting a variety of barbecue styles. The ribs are infused with sweet-tasting mesquite smoke, the brisket is capable of a fierce crust the color of black coffee, and the Frito Pie — Kemper’s nod to Texas trailer-park cooking — is actually good. Best of all, the meats are savory enough to make Kemper’s house-made Kansas City-style barbecue sauce purely optional.

— John Birdsall

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