The BBQ Spot | Santa Rosa

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

The BBQ Spot Santa Rosa
A road trip through the south sparked a pit fire for Rob Fernandez, owner of Santa Rosa’s smokin’ new que, The BBQ Spot.

Traveling through Dallas, Lousiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, he discovered amazing ribs, brisket and barbecue. After honing his craft for a few years in his backyard, Fernandez got his bbq mop wet at the Cotati Farm Market this summer and took a runner-up ribbon for his brisket at the Wine Country BBQ (against some steep competition).

In October 2011, the 29-year-old opened a small storefront on Santa Rosa Avenue that’s quickly becoming a lunch-time go-to for meat lovers who’ve followed their noses to the under-the-radar rib joint. BiteClub (and company) mowed through the “Small Feast”, a half-rack of ribs, four pieces of chicken, a pound of brisket, four sides and four slices of cornbread for $40 without hesitation. Our Little Riblet declared the St. Louis style ribs to be the best she’d ever had.

Brisket’s a top contender — though to really ring my bell, I’d like to see a little more fat and bark (I’m a Southern girl at heart). The ribs, cooked in a brown sugar rub, get the flavor dead right, if not always the texture. On two occasions, they were a little chewy, rather than fall-off-the-bone tender. The chicken and pulled pork are solid second-fiddles and the sides sparkle with crispy coleslaw, skin-on fries, top-shelf sweet and tender baked beans (with a hint of green pepper) and sheet-pan cornbread that’s a nice sauce-sopper.

Bottom line: Smoke rings don’t lie — The BBQ spot is the real deal and a welcome addition to what looks to be return to serious Southern flavors in Santa Rosa.

Channeling Man vs. Food? The Legend is a half rack of ribs, four pieces of chicken, a pound of brisket, a pound of pulled pork, a large order of fries, two sides and two pieces of cornbread. If you can eat it all in one sitting, it’s free. If not, it’s $$38.75. DINE IN ONLY.

The BBQ Spot, 3448 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa, 585-2616.


Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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  1. next best thing to southern barbecue i’ve had in sonoma;a few (hopefully) helpful hints:offer desserts-peach cobbler,key lime pie or pecan pie,moon pies are a must! also,rc cola is a good thing for southerners to remember home by..having pulled pork for a plate is good,but for sandwiches in miss.,ala,and tenn it needs to be chopped and served on an oversized hamburger bun-with a dollop of coleslaw on top for the diehards..the sauce is good(i tried the original),but i felt it was unduly spicy- not sugary and smoky enough..also too thin in important side to offer is turnip or collard greens cooked with salt and ham hock-which means providing apple cider vinegar and mcilhenneys tobasco sauce..beans were pretty good,mac and cheese was very good..above all,SUGAR HAS NO PLACE IN CORNBREAD!!!..

  2. The Brisket in the picture looks like a half a pound. Our Brisket plate is weighed out to 6oz. a little over 1/3 of a pound. If you would like, come in and talk to me personally. My name is Rob I am the owner. It sounded like you didn’t get a proper portion. I would like to make it up to you. The thing about Brisket is when it cooks down over half of the weight is lost.

  3. Thank you for your reply. My plate amounted to one small slice of meat. I would say i received 1/3 or less of the plate shown above. Is that your normal serving size?, I know what beef costs (am partial to grass fed, myself) .

  4. Hi TD we just want you to know that Brisket is extremely expensive to produce and put on a plate. We only use high quality Angus Choice Brisket. Therefore we have to serve the portion size that we do. As much as we would love to pile your plate with Brisket, it’s just not possible. We do have a Texas size option for $3 more to ensure that our customers get enough to eat. We hope that you will take this into consideration and give us another chance, thank you for your comment.

  5. I have to admit I as excited to try the brisket. I ordered the lunch plate for $11.25, my sister ordered the pork bbq sandwich for $8.75. I have to admit the brisket was good with lots of bark. I was however disappointed in the fact that my serving of meat did not amount to much.My sisters sandwich was piled high and had twice the meat of my plate. While the BBQ was good, I doubt we will be going back after feeling very shorted. I can find better food for almost $12 somewhere else.

  6. No they were remodeling the restaurant. They are still there and apparently growing.

  7. Oh yea – just tried to call (Sat. about 6 pm) and NO ANSWER. Are they out of business already???????????????

  8. Just checking out this bbq place I heard on the radio today. Hope these posts aren’t right – been waiting for a decent bbq for years. One that sounded good in Windsor is already out of business. Wish I could figure out where this place is.

  9. It’s pretty clear that this “Chef on the Loose” picked an apt moniker. Probably because he’s out of a job.
    It’s always great to get some intelligent reviews written about what’s going on foodwise in Sonoma County, but this kind of hack job should be left off. If you don’t know anything about what you’re writing, don’t waste our time phishing. As for the sauce, it is different than most of what is served up around here. To my taste it’s pretty reminiscent of that Texas classic from back in the day done by Walter Jetton.

  10. Its On BBQ Spot! Give me until after New Years. And as far as “off days” happening… restaurants don’t last long without consistency- Period.

  11. Hey “Chef on the loose” it sounds like you visited us on an off day. Which can and will happen with cooking BBQ, but I find it hard to believe that the Brisket and Ribs were both “off.” I’d really like to taste the BBQ that you can cook and see if it holds a candle to what we are putting out. As for our sauce everyone that has eaten here besides you loves our sauce and they always ask for extra. People like you don’t bother us, don’t come in. We pride ourselves on providing great BBQ for the people of Sonoma County. If you can do any better please keep everyone in tune on what you are doing. Good luck!

  12. “Over-cooked, and lacking in BBQ character”… Strange tasting sauce, and an even weirder mac-salad…just offer 3 bean already and keep it out of the mac. The steamed like texture of the brisket was very un-bbq like complete with NO actual bark, as well as the ribs. The chicken was eatable, but like the rest of what was offered not really bbq- more steam and and smoke.

  13. We were so excited to go try out the new BBQ place. BBQ is one of my all time favorite foods! We never had a really good place in Santa Rosa. We get there at 6:00 p.m. last weekend to try out the food. It is a kind of dive looking place in semi-dark. But never judge a book by it’s cover. We get a parking spot walk up just as the girl is taping a sign up on the door. OUT of FOOD say WHAT!!! At 6:00-6:30 p.m. out of food. That is a normal dinner dining time… I have to say I am sadly disappointed. Don’t know when we get back to that side of town for a while…. I will call next time to see if this place has food… Must be good to run out of food.

  14. First visit tonight. Wonderful!

    Home late on a Friday night and called in a take-out order after a quick look at the web site.. Chicken and rib platters was the plan, but chicken had flown the coop. So, brisket was the next choice. I don’t have much of a history with brisket, but I really liked it. It was very much like a really good pulled pork (only beefier).

    The ribs were very good, perfectly cooked. Not fall off the bone mushiness, you have to pull gently with the teeth. Chosen sides were fries, baked beans, macaroni salad, and coleslaw. three were fretty standard, but the baked beans were a stand-out. Awesome.

    My only disappointment was, instead of getting the advertised cornbread, the order had garlic bread. If they had run out of cornbread, I would have liked a heads-up. My taste buds don’t think garlic bread and BBQ are compatible.

    All-in-all, a great meal.

  15. Friends had a Christmas party the other night, and I had suggested Rob’s BBQ as being pretty good. The host had intended to go over and check it out, but it didn’t work out, so he ordered a healthy amount of just about everything the BBQ Spot has without tasting first. Everyone was thoroughly impressed with the Q. I had to spend a lot of time explaining what a brisket is. Good stuff when people taste their first good Barbeque. Go Rob.

  16. I am sure that you enjoyed your Applebee’s meal…& that means all the more food @ the BBQ Joint for those of us who LOVE real bbq!!!

  17. you got no taste if you went to applebees daddyo…..

  18. You whiners kill me! If you knew anything about BBQ you would know it takes hours and hours to do a pork butt or brisket. I am sure they had raw meat in the cooler, but you can’t just throw it in the smoker at noon and have it ready at 5:00. This all says the place is the real deal, which means I can’t wait to go!

  19. I went there last night at 6:30pm and they were out of brisket and pulled pork. The 2 things that I wanted to try. Friday appears to be a busy day. I’ll have to give it another try some other day. With my mind set on BBQ, I drove down to Porter St for a tri tip sandwich. I’m dying to try this place though. The reviews have been great and owner seems really cool.

  20. Don’t go to Texas and whine like that. Their true BBQ joints run out consistently and that’s the way it goes. Call ahead next time.

  21. Stopped by today. 2lbs of brisket. I ate it all. Next, The Legend.

  22. Hello Deborah we apologize for the fries that were served to you last week. Due to a supply issue we were forced to use a different brand of french fries. We are back to our regular brand of fries and they are really good. I agree with you fries are great with BBQ thats why we offer them. Thank you for your comment we are always looking for ways to make the restaurant better. Hope to see you soon.

  23. I can’t get this place out of my mind. Via a recommendation from a nearby store we went there 4 days after it opened for a late lunch sandwich. It was us and another small family eating in. We had brisket sandwiches and couldn’t get them out of our heads, they were perfect.

    We went back on Tuesday night–after all the Bite Club press –and had to wait in a line! This time we had the sampler plate with chicken, ribs, brisket and two sides. All were just so tasty and satisfying. The sauces used are flavorful yet you can still taste the tender meat.

    I’m really happy for this young man that his restaurant is taking off. In fact I think he’s already outgrown this small space. Now that the hot dog place next door is gone maybe he can knock out the wall and expand a little, but not too much too fast as it would be really sad to see this place fold. Looking forward to my next trip when I plan on taking home a tub of the fabulous BBQ beans.

  24. Well if you really know what goes into making great bbq ribs, brisket and pulled pork.. you would know that it doesn’t cook in 5 minutes. As for comparing this small brand new restaurant to Cattleman’s you are crazy! The owner did apologize for the food shortage, go in and give it a try and quit complaining. You are comparing Apples to Oranges when using your analogy with Cattlemens. It’s people like you that help put small newly opened restaurants that are still trying to work out the kinks out of business! They have only been open for a little over a month…Merry Christmas to you!
    As for The BBQ Spot… and my friends think you are awesome, and no I don’t know the owner or anyone else that works there..we just know great food when we eat it!!

  25. Took my 15 year old son for lunch last weekend, the brisket was outstanding and pulled pork excellent, don’t order the fries, ho-hum, I will talk the advise from others and order beans or mac salad next time…but BBQ and fries go together for me, it’s extra food (fries) to sop up the yummy BBQ sauce.
    We will be back for the platter, looking forward to trying everything in one sitting.

    A welcome addition to Sonoma County, definatly a value!

  26. We had the sampler last night with ribs, brisket and pulled pork and everything was incredibly delicious! I’ll be back…a lot!

  27. Husband and I tried BBQ Spot this weekend. Everything was really delicious. They make their macaroni salad like my grandma and I love that. Pulled pork was my favorite. Brisket was good, but I like mine w/out sauce. Their chicken was really tasty, but I like Smokehouse BBQ’s in sebastopol better. We will definitely be back.

  28. Funny thing is that picture got me to go back. I had my boyfriend pick up ribs a few weeks before, but then i saw taht picture online and was like…whoa! does it really look like that? I had to check it out. haha.

  29. Merry Christmas every one of us! I’m tearing up at all the goodwill.

    It takes a big person to actually take the time to circle back and make an apology. I’m sure you’ll have an extra rib in your stocking this year.

  30. I wrote the idiotic comment that started all this. It was stupid and for that I apologize. I wish you well and will be in to support your business.

  31. Tried Sweet T’s today. Awesome! Some of the best b-backs I’ve ever had. Can’t wait to try the BBQ Spot but will wait until the “shortage” issues are worked out.
    No business will survive by satisfying the tolerant few. It’s all about volume especially in the restaurant biz. It seems that BBQ joints have a no apologies attitude on the subject of running out of product. When was the last time you walked into Cattlemen’s and saw a sign that read “sorry we’re out of steak tonight”.
    2 basic rules of business that are too often lost on good Intentions: you never get a second chance to make a first impression & YOU CAN’T SELL WHAT YOU AINT GOT!!

  32. Rob, didn’t mean to imply you had done an owner generated review. One time I read a review of some greasy taqueria (my fave) and one of the reviews said “Very healthy, I eat there 3 times per week.” I thought that was so funny. The owner who wrote that made it pretty clear it was an owner generated review.

    Best of luck to you! I don’t think it is a bad location, and the only congestion is right at costco. I think if a place is good people will go.

  33. whaa whaa whaa not get a dollor from me…….I somehow think the owners after reading your post might be thinking “Good!!!, that guy will never be back”. Having 4 kids who have worked as servers I can tell you, restraunt owners are so glad when people like you do not come back. More room for the people who will come in and say, WOW that was good!. Hell of a lot better than Applebee’s”.

  34. Stopped in on Friday after work, expecting that they might be out of a thing or two given the BiteClub write up. Sure enough, no brisket. I totally understand this and in speaking with the woman at the counter she told me that they had prepared TWICE as much that day as they normally do and still ran out. I ordered the ribs with slaw, beans and cornbread. Excellent all the way around. I look forward to enjoying this place for some time to come.

    As for those you whining about them running out of food: Hey, guess what? If you read about it on the BiteClub website, probably a few thousand other people did too. Did you ever think about that? Guess not. I hope you enjoyed your sizzling platter at Applebee’s (I mean you didn’t even go to Chili’s for their Baby Back Ribs?).

  35. Man some of these responses are harsh…Haven’t tried it yet but plan to…As someone else said, good places run out of stuff and it’s game over. That just means they don’t buy too much meat and make it the next day. Big deal! It’s FOOD folks. If you’ve been to any places like Flints or others in the greater Bay Area it’s the same deal. Get there early because things can run out.

    Either way, can’t wait to try it since brisket is awesome…A word to the owners: Don’t try to impress internet trolls….They can stick to dried out Porter St. and Applebees that they consider “real bbq” lo….What a joke…

  36. I went there on Saturday night around 7pm with my family of 4. Three of us ordered the brisket, and one ordered pulled pork. So, whatever happened on Friday night with the running out of food did not happen on Saturday. I thought everything was excellent, the staff was friendly, and portions were good. I’m not a huge fan of coleslaw but their was very good – crispy and fresh and not too sweet or heavy. The cornbread was so delicious that our two teenage boys asked my husband and I for $4.00 so they could buy 8 more pieces to eat at home (7 were gone by the time we got home). We will be back – I don’t mind driving all the way down Santa Rosa Ave for good BBQ. Looking forward to trying the ribs another time. I hope they do well.

  37. Southerners understand that when our favorite BBQ joints run out before we get there, it’s because we were late that day.

  38. On the issue of our website photo that was just a template before we got our real picture on there. We just got our website up and running and are still in the process of doing all the final editing. We apologize for any confusion on what our restaurant looks like. We are not elegant or fancy in any way shape or form, we just serve real BBQ the way it should be.

  39. Hello just wanted to let everyone out there know that we here at The BBQ Spot are doing the best we can to bring real southern BBQ to Sonoma County. It’s true we have been running out of food these last few days following our excellent review on Bite Club. We apologize for the inconvenience to our customers and first time visitors that weren’t able to order what they wanted. We are learning from our mistakes in our quest to bring amazing BBQ to Sonoma County. We understand that some people may be upset when we run out of food, but please don’t be angry with us “Won’t get a Dollar from Me.” I know who you are and if you come into The BBQ Spot I will greet you with a smile and serve you the best BBQ I possibly can. Thats just who I am and what I do. I am doing this for the people of Sonoma County, you all deserve real southern style BBQ. In order to be sure you can get what you want the best time to visit us would be at the typical lunch or dinner hour 11-2 and 5-8. Thank you all for your positive comments and reviews we couldn’t do it without you!

  40. Sorry, I meant to say I agree with ChuckVan about it taking time to properly prepare BBQ. We did show up last night around 7:00 PM and found out they had run out, but they were polite and explained the situation to us. So, we went back today for and excellent lunch and were very satisfied!

  41. I did ask the owner to respond to this…hopefully he will.
    I gotta agree that Applebees is a pretty questionable comparison.

  42. If your backup choice was Applebees, then you probably wouldn’t have appreciated quality food anyway. Applebees borders on McDonalds quality. There’s a reason their prices are so low.

    And I agree, places run out, especially during a rush and a good review/article. You can’t rush quality, especially brisket. We plan on going back today!

  43. You had me at Applebees.

  44. Gee doncha hate people who whine and cry about people whining and crying?

    You and your friends won’t be there? Sounds like 4 more good reasons for me to go. Enjoy your Applebees!

  45. Well, I guess “Won’t Get a Dollar From Me” just found out what good BBQ is about. It’s slow smoked meat done with care and pride, and when you’re out, you’re out. My suggestion is, you should have taken the chicken, because you’ve probably never tasted smoked bird done that good. There are some joints in Texas that sell 600lbs of que by 12:30pm and hang up the ” Sold Out” sign. I’m sure Rob now sees how good his product is and will adjust as he has funds available.

  46. Walked in the door at 3:30 this afternoon as two guys walked out looking upset. There were two people seated eating. As I looked at the menu and got ready to order brisket (as a previous poster said, if you don’t do brisket you’re not a BBQ joint) I was told, and I quote: “We’re out of everything but the chicken.” As I stood there and tried to comprehend why I had driven 30 minutes to get to this joint knowing that it wasn’t to order chicken the guy says to me, and I quote: “Come back for dinner.” I did not say one word. I walked out the door, called my three buddies who were five minutes away, and told them to meet me down the road at Applebees. I am sick and tired of “Local” joints like this crying and whining when they go out of business. This is why places like this go out of business. It is FRIDAY afternoon, the weather is perfect, you’ve just had a great write up in Bite Club, and you don’t have anything but chicken. Plan ahead, staff up, cook more brisket, do what you gotta do to have your menu items available when a customer walks through the door. The location is not very convenient for most people, and when I battle traffic and get there ready to spend money and am told you don’t have anything but chicken then let me tell the owner this: Not only will I not be back for dinner, I won’t be back. Today you lost about $60 from the four of us, but over time that amount lost will be over $1000 easily. By the way, all the menu items were available at Applebees, the prices were very reasonable (it was happy hour), the waitress is “local”, and the beer was cold.

  47. Stepped by to get some brisket last week after I received an email from them announcing they were open. As a brisket fan, their brisket was quite good, although I think Biteclub hit it on the head when you said it needed more bark. Mime was a little dry, but had a great taste and did not require a knife to cut. Their BBQ sauce was a little vinegary, making it was more Memphis/ St. Louis than Texas style. (They have Memphis mentioned on several wall hangings, hint, hint.) The portion was impressive. The cole slaw was as good as Julie B described. I’m certainly going back, although it would be hard to take any of my vegetarian friends there as I didn’t see any suitable entrees for them on the menu.
    Finally there’s two great places where I get BBQ brisket without having to stand over my Weber for 8-10 hours. (The other great brisket is on Bodega Hwy west of Sebastopol and is more Texas style.
    Now for someone to offer great BBQ beef ribs, my other favorite. Think I’ll fire up the Weber and have some..

  48. Hello all,

    We just finished the website. We are still making some final edits. The picture has been changed. No owner generated reviews here. A friend made my website and got a little excited. In fact, we are all excited about how much everyone likes our restaurant. Thank you for all the wonderful comments, they are much appreciated.

  49. Apparently one has opened out in Glen Ellen at the old BBQ spot and there’s a sign on the Day’s Inn for BBQ. We’re BBQ-a-licious again!

  50. Wow, another bbq place to try. I haven’t made it to Sweet T’s yet.

  51. Good Grub! The wife even liked it! Got some for the clubhouse and it forced the prospects out of the responsibility of cooking duty!

  52. I agree, that was a little weird. It reminded me of how Sweet T’s is trying to do the “elegant southern” thing.

  53. Great food! Went there last night just before the dinner rush, and the service was great: personable without being over the top. The owner came out and spoke with each table at least once during the meal. Very nice guy!!

    I like that they give you the option of having brisket in the baked beans, or vegetarian baked beans (you do have to ask for it that way, though). The baked beans were awesome, and the brisket was well rendered. The coleslaw was perfect – crispy with a good amount of tang and sweetness and not too much mayo. I really liked the cornbread, too! I make my own sweet cornbread and am very picky, so I was pleasantly surprised that I liked their cornbread.

    Overall, it’s a solid hit! My family will definitely be going back.

    The only thing missing was sweet tea…

  54. Agreed. Kind of cheesy. And BTW, um…what’s with the picture of the restaurant with a grand piano on the site? That’s just bizarre for a BBQ spot, and not at all what the place looks like.

  55. Just curious at what the price is for lunch-style plates such as ribs,pulled-pork or brisket sandwich? Thanks,Natasha

  56. I’ve been down to Rob’s place a couple of times now, and it comes about as close to a Texas BBQ joint as you can get in Sonoma County. If you don’t do brisket, you’re not a BBQ joint, nuff said. A few twists in the flavors on the sides, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a plus. I know some of the joints in Texas are using oak and pecan and other woods, but hickory is the flavor I grew up with and still the best, and that’s what you get at the BBQ Spot. Good smoke in Santa Rosa.

  57. Heather, should Bite Club reviews be a place where people can promote their business? I think this comment by Mark G. should have his comment removed for self promotion. Gosh!!! There are enough owner generated reviews on BiteClub, which is not your fault of course, but self promotion????

  58. Rob is a very good bbq chef. We have have been enjoying his bbq for years. Every football since I can remember, rob always had either the pulled pork, beef brisket or ribs going. We we heard he was opening a new barbeque restaurant in Santa Rosa, we helped him build his website.

  59. So excited to try this! Real bbq at a decent price, not fancied up! I

  60. Great food, try it out! Nothing better than real Southern BBQ. The ribs are to die for….so is the Brisket, baked beans, cornbread and service.

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