South and West

Why? "It tastes goooood. And it's nice and meaty and hot enough to make you sweat a little."

The sauce is available at mild, medium, and hot temperature levels; we tried the hot stuff on the tender, smoky chicken ($5.75/ $10), where it was a little too hot. But it wasn't too hot to interfere with the enjoyment of Brother-in-Laws' splendidly fragile brisket ($9/$16), or the supple, crackling-good hot links ($6.25/$11.50). The sides (again, two per entree) include smoky baked beans sweet enough to work against the heat of the barbecue; deep, pungent, intense, vinegary greens; and a potato salad that's a nice, soothing foil for the other, more intense flavors. The peach cobbler ($2), meanwhile, "ain't my mama's, but it's not bad; it's sweet like it should be, and the fruit's soft, like it should be. The whole thing's too watery, though."

Our last visit was to J's Pots of Soul, a small Hayes Valley hideaway of considerable spiritual warmth. Works by Henry Ossawa Tanner, Ernie Barnes, and other African-American artists decorate the walls, and the room's yellow hues accentuate the sunshine that streams in the windows at lunchtime. The staff bestows good fellowship on each and every customer, and by the end of the meal you're absolutely cheered. The food's good too. The meatloaf ($8.50) is as soulful as can be: dense, juicy, nearly rare, and latently powerful. "There's flavor injected in every ounce. That's soul food," said Jesse. "You've gotta sop up every last drop; you can't help it." The fried chicken wings ($8.50) suffer from uninspired breading, but the meat is wonderfully juicy, and the pepper-flecked corn bread that comes with every entree has a nice crumbly consistency. Other sides include humdrum braised cabbage; ponderous baked beans; rich, full- bodied, thoroughly satisfying mashed potatoes; and sliced yams glazed with cinnamon butter and grilled until hot and crisp.

John Kinchen drowns some barbecue in Brother-in-Laws' house-made sauce.
Anthony Pidgeon
John Kinchen drowns some barbecue in Brother-in-Laws' house-made sauce.

Location Info


J's Pots Of Soul

203 Octavia St.
San Francisco, CA 94102-5813

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Hayes Valley/ Tenderloin

Mozell's Kitchen

6286 3rd St.
San Francisco, CA 94124

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Bayview-Hunters Point


Brother-in-Laws Bar-B-Que 705 Divisadero (at Grove), 931-7427. Open Tuesday through Thursday 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10:30 a.m. to midnight, Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. No reservations. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: small lot. Muni: 21, 24. Noise level: normal.

J’s Pots of Soul 203 Octavia (at Page), 861-3230. Open Tuesday through Sunday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations not necessary. Not wheelchair accessible. Parking: possible. Muni: 6, 7, 71. Noise level: normal.

Mozell’s Kitchen 6286 Third St. (at Paul), 467-1682. Open Wednesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reservations not necessary. Wheelchair accessible. Parking: possible. Muni: 15, 29. Noise level: normal.

Powell’s Place 1 511 Hayes (at Octavia), 863-1404. Open daily 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Reservations usually unnecessary. Not currently wheelchair accessible. Parking: possible. Muni: 21. Noise level: normal.

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"You're supposed to be able to feel soul," said Jesse, contemplating our culinary odyssey and his own far-flung heritage. "I'll go back to Brother-in-Laws because of the food and what it reminds me of, but I'll go back to J's for the food and how the place makes me feel now. I'll go there to feed my soul."

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