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BBQ is a favorite all-American classic. While recent tastes have expanded to include international BBQ styles like Korean and Brazilian, the Texas-style, sweet-and-tangy BBQ is still a winner for the American palate. The Diablo Valley proudly boasts several top-rate BBQ joints offering tender, smoky and tangy BBQ that fans can’t get enough of. Here are five popular Diablo Valley BBQ spots to try.

Back Forty Texas BBQ
100 Coggins Drive
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
(925) 935-1440

The Back Forty story began in Austin, Texas, a genuine barbecue state, and took roots in Pleasant Hill, California where it created a Texas barbecue state of mind. A family-owned restaurant offering up “the best BBQ in the Bay Area,” according to the website’s boastful promise, Back Forty Texas BBQ has numerous awards to back up its bragging claims. Back Forty BBQ competes against the nation’s top barbecue operations, and was named #1 Barbecue in the Nation in 2011 by the Nugget BBQ Rib Cook Off where it is regularly voted #1 Barbecue In California. Even better, Back Forty Texas Barbecue Sauce was “twice named the best Barbecue Sauce in the Nation,” so you know this place is the real deal. Everything you crave at a BBQ joint is here, plus the appetizers, salads, burgers and fish choices that round out a fine menu. Enjoy live entertainment in the downstairs Saloon every Friday and Saturday evening. Visit the website for downloadable menus and to check out the events calendar. Catering, banquets and online ordering for carry-out are also available.

Barney’s Hickory Pit
3446 Clayton Road
Concord, CA 94519
(925) 680-9761

Barney’s Hickory Pit has been at the same location in Concord since the place opened in 1957, and is still family owned. At Barney’s, all meats are barbecued in the restaurant’s brick pit and cooked over wood for authentic flavor. The menu offers barbecued open or regular closed sandwiches of beef, pork, turkey or ham, plus several non-barbecue options such as a grilled cheese or club sandwich. Opt for the barbecued pork spare ribs in three-sized portions, sliced barbecued dinners or barbecued steaks, including top sirloin. A short listing of sides offers pepper poppers, onion rings, fries or coleslaw, plus a few salads and soups to complete the meal. Barney’s Hickory Pit also serves breakfast with a variety of standards such as omelets, pancakes and French toast, plus additional selections where barbecue meats continue to make an appearance. Take-out is available.

Slow Hand BBQ
1941 Oak Park Blvd.
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
(925) 942-0149

Family-owned Slow Hand BBQ presents its wood-fired BBQ meats smoked slowly over oak logs, along with sauces and sides made from scratch and a large selection of craft beers on tap. Food is served family style on a tray of butcher paper and you’re encouraged to grab a fork and dig right in, or use the plates provided if you would rather have a plate to yourself. Order tri-tip, beef brisket and pulled pork meats by the quarter-pound or half-pound, St. Louis and baby back ribs at half-pound or full racks, hot links by the link, half-pound or full pound and either half or whole chickens. All-time favorite sides of coleslaw, mac ‘n cheese, BBQ beans and potato salad round out the Slow Hand BBQ experience. Catering a party or event? Check out the catering menu that includes several items not on the regular menu, such as turkey and prime rib roast. Read all about it at the website, and view the full line of bottled and on-tap beers on site to wash those BBQ babies down.

Beaver Creek Smokehouse
601 Main St.
Martinez, CA 94553
(925) 335-9915

Beaver Creek Smokehouse gets high praise for its ribs, chicken, pulled pork and just about everything else this popular BBQ joint has to offer. Beaver Creek sources the best meats, including Neiman Ranch, Homestead Natural Meats and Mary’s Air Chilled Chicken, among others. Owner and pit master Rob Zavatero has won numerous awards for his BBQ ribs, chicken and pork among the many top 10 awards won over the last few years. Everything here is made from scratch, including all sides and desserts made using the finest ingredients. Visit the website to view the menu for meal specials, taster specials, a la carte items, sides that include Beaver Creek’s BBQ sauce in mild or zippy and awesome bread pudding with bourbon sauce dessert. Catering and on-site parties are available.

Bonehead’s Texas BBQ
Walnut Creek
(408) 421-3612

Bonehead’s is a BBQ catering operation that provides catering services for special events. If you have never tried any of Bonehead’s food and are considering an event for 100 or more, Bonehead’s will deliver samples of its food for you to taste. “It’s only fair,” says Bonehead’s. For an event under 100, Bonehead’s will still let you taste but it needs to be on Bonehead’s time, “more or less.” The Texas BBQ choices include baby back ribs, smoked beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken, sausage and the “Sloppy Duroc,” a sandwich like a Sloppy Joe made with Duroc’s famous BBQ sauce and ground beef. There are also several sides to round out the meal, such as tater salad, baked beans, fresh cole slaw, house salad and southern peach cobbler for dessert. Check the website for complete descriptive information, plus prices and services offered.

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Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a member of an independent filmmaking group. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.