Summary: E&J's offers the best BBQ in the Bay Area, albeit in modest surroundings.
I'm not from the South (hey, not even the US) and I will admit it: I don't know anything about barbeque. I know, though, that for many people barbeque is a religion and that no restaurant on the West Coast "does it right." But as far as this uneducated Californian palate goes, Everett and Jones (or E&J's as it's commonly known) does it extremely well.
There are several E&J's locations in the East Bay, each one independently managed by different family members. We patronized the Berkeley location (at San Pablo, north of University) for many years before moving to San Leandro and finding the Hayward location more convenient. The food - in particular their wonderful BBQ sauce - tastes the same, but the portions are a little larger. There is also a swanky location at Jack London Square, but we've never gone there. Like the Berkeley location, the Hayward E&J's is quite modest, though it recently underwent a renovation of sorts, its walls were painted and the cheap chairs and tables look tidier. Still, this is not the kind of restaurant you go to eat-in unless you have to, mostly it functions as a take out joint.
Its menu, like that of the Berkeley location, is very simple. It offers pork ribs, beef links, chicken and sliced beef, in small ($6.25 to $7) and large ($8.25 to $9) portions and combos ($13 to 22). The meats are slow cooked and served with mild, medium or hot BBQ sauce. Their hot sauce is very fiery, too fiery even for Mike. I usually go for mild and he for medium. The meat is usually good quality, though it can be uneven and sometimes it has too much fat. The links are almost invariably wonderful. I often find the chicken to be too dry for my taste. Side dishes are potato salad (pretty good), corn-on-the-cob, or Baked Beans and sliced wheat bread.
In all, we love E&J's and frequent it often.
Everett and Jones
296 A Street