Hog Heaven

'Cue up for first-rate ribs at James & James; ambience gives a boost to the vittles at Powell's Place

One of the best parts of a barbecue orgy is you get to relive it for the rest of the day via the sauce under your nails. As we rolled to the car, eau de barbecue wafting in our wake, I started planning my next trip to James & James. I want to taste the fried fish and brisket, so I'll have to take a couple of friends. I wouldn't consider ordering anything but ribs myself.

On another ribs note, Powell's Place, a 23-year-old fixture on Hayes Street owned by Emmit Powell (of Emmit Powell and the Gospel Elites fame) and his brother, Mel, is still going strong. With its salmon walls, chandeliers, and pictures of the Gospel Elites, Aretha Franklin, Bobby Bland, and Luther Vandross lining the walls, this is definitely not the new Hayes Valley.

The ribs at Powell's are the baked-in-the-oven variety, the sauce not too exciting. And the fried chicken, Powell's signature dish, had been cooked ahead on the night of our visit.

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But there's still something satisfying about the place. Where else in the middle of the city can you get a dinner of smothered pork chops, liver and onions, or ox tails (with two sides plus corn muffins) for under $10? The corn and green beans may be canned, but the black-eyed peas are great, the service superfriendly, and the jukebox outstanding.

As we left, we noticed a brown Cadillac with big fins idling outside while its owner ran in for takeout. Definitely a classic.

James & James Ribs 'N Thangs, 5130 Third St, S.F., 671-0269. Tues-Thurs 8 a.m.-11 p.m.; Fri 8 a.m.-3 a.m.; Sat 10 a.m.-3 a.m.; Sun 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Powell's Place, 511 Hayes, S.F., 863-1404. Open daily, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.

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