When Aisha and Kasim Syed—owners of the Tap Room, Palo Alto Brewing Co. and the Rose and Crown—were looking to open up QBB (Quality Bourbons and Barbecue), the first thing they needed was a pitmaster. A Craigslist ad later, they heard from Sunnyvale native and CIA-trained Ryan Pang.

“We had interviews and tastings with a couple of different chefs,” says co-owner Jon Andino. “Ryan was the best, so we came to an agreement.”

Pang is a disciple of Barbecue Hall-of-Famer Ric Gilbert, and though he might not be a household, those in the competitive BBQ world know him as one bad dude. His competition team, Bad S BBQ (the “S” is for Sunnyvale), has been on the scene since 2010 and taken home more than 100 awards. His top achievement has been winning the People’s Choice award at the Silicon Valley BBQ Championships every year since its inception in 2013.

“I am trying to bring competition quality barbecue to the masses,” Pang says. “QBB has given me the platform to use my competition barbecue skills paired with my formal training and over a decade as a chef.”

With a top chef secured and a prime location on Castro Street in downtown Mountain View, the only thing the restaurant needed was a hook.

“Whiskey was always in the plans,” Andino says. ”The original name was Quality Beers & Barbecue, but we changed it because places that have bourbon have beer, but the inverse isn’t always true. We decided to focus on bourbon to have a more focused and unique product.”

And focus on bourbons they most certainly did, as QBB has well over 100 different varieties to suit every taste and budget ($6 to $59).

My dining partner—a former butcher and bourbon connoisseur—was just as excited as I was to try QBB, like opening the first Christmas present. We were a bit disappointed that there were no two- or three-meat combos, except the preset House Plate ($18), but our waiter told us the best thing to do is order a one-meat combo and then order other meats à la carte. We went with a half slab of pork ribs ($22); prime brisket plate ($17); one-third of a pound of pulled pork ($9); and one-third of a pound of pastrami ($11).

And, of course, a meal at QBB wouldn’t be complete without a bourbon or two, so we ordered up a classic Four Roses ($6) and the 9-year-old Belle Meade Sherry Cask ($22). It should be noted for bourbon purists that the Belle Meade isn’t a true bourbon, per se, as a bourbon—by definition—must be aged in an oak cask. But this is just semantics.

The bourbons arrived first and we dived right in. The Four Roses is a really incredible buy. Despite the inexpensive price tag, its flavor is right up there: robust and full-bodied, yet it goes down smooth. As for the Belle Meade, the first thing one notices is the dark amber color that can only come from long aging. Its dark, fruity and caramel notes made it a sublime accompaniment to barbecue.

After eyeing the bevy of smoked meats before us, we both girded our loins for the inevitable meat sweats. First was the pastrami, a real treat, as house-made pastrami is almost unheard of. And, boy, is it worth it. Beefy, tender and not overly salted, this would make for an incredible Reuben. The pulled pork came next, and it arrived topped with lightly pickled red onions and drizzled with a vinegar-based Carolina barbecue sauce. The pulled pork was as it should be: juicy, smoky and loaded with melt-in-the-mouth porky goodness. We then moved on to the brisket, and here the meat seemed a bit too lean for prime. It lacked that signature smoke ring that usually comes with brisket. The meat was a bit tough and disappointing, as even the flavorful spice rub couldn’t save it.

Fortunately, we saved the best for last, as the pork ribs were spot on: smoky, fall-off-the-bone tender. The flavorful spice rub put us both in barbecue heaven. It should be noted that QBB doesn’t drench their meats in sauce, but instead serves it on the side.

QBB has closed a gap on Castro Street, as a quality barbecue joint was much needed in the area. In a foodie-driven society that’s always looking for outré tastes, it’s nice to settle in with some down-home, classic American fare.

“I hope to capture the audience who appreciates quality and a chef-driven BBQ joint,” Pang says. “We offer a quality dining experience, creative specials, quality sides and one of the Bay Area’s most extensive, yet approachable, bourbon menus.”

QBB  216 Castro St, Mountain View. 650.969.1112