Summertime conjures romantic images of backyard cookouts—of grillin’, chillin’ and hanging out with friends and family. Then again, there’s the flies, the scorching heat and slaving away for hours trying to get them ribs right. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Here are a few of our favorite places in the South Bay to get that giant hot dog with perfectly “snappy” skin, juicy charbroiled burgers and fall-off-the-bone, mouthwatering ribs with minimal effort. Just insert credit card. (JD)

Hot Dogs

Billy’s Hot Dogs
E Brokaw & Junction Aves, San Jose
The South Bay is full of hot dog street vendors, but most are hard to pinpoint as their locations change daily. However, one man, Billy Holguin, has been posted up in the same spot for more than 25 years—on Brokaw Avenue (by Fry’s Electronics). Billy’s dogs aren’t fancy or pretentious. He simply offers a good old-fashioned hot dog, chips and soda for around seven clams. Billy also has Polish dogs, hot links and perhaps one of the most amazing condiment bars I’ve ever seen on a hot dog cart; it’s got the standard sauerkraut and onions along with just about any sauce one could dream up—including a very impressive hot sauce collection. (JD)

Chiaramonte’s  Sausage & Deli
609 N 13th St, San Jose
Though it’s not a traditional hot dog joint, it’s important to give props to a place that’s been making its own Italian sausage for a century—since 1908! They sell the product of their delicious family recipe by the pound, or you can simply walk in and get an amazing sausage sandwich topped with housemade marinara any time. The sausage comes in four flavors: garlic, mild, hot and “quick pass the milk!” (JD)

Happy Hound
15899 Los Gatos Blvd, Los Gatos
Serving up some of the best dogs in town, this family-friendly spot has created cherished childhood memories since 1971. Their links have some of the best snap around, and their handspun real ice cream shakes are a terrific accompaniment. The eponymous Happy Hound is served Chicago-style with red onions, tomatoes and relish on a pillow-soft bun. (JD)

Logan’s Big Dawgs
2036 Agnew Rd, Santa Clara
Another hot dog cart that’s been in the same location for many years and comes with the added bonus of umbrella-covered outdoor seating, Logan’s has all the usual cast of characters (i.e., hot dogs, Polish and hot links) but they’re really known for their exotic array of hot dogs—such as the extra-spicy habanero link, sweet and spicy Cajun-pineapple link and a chicken andouille sausage. Not feeling like a dog? Logan’s also has grilled chicken and tri-tip sammys to round-out the menu. (JD)

Mark’s Hot Dogs
48 S Capitol Ave, San Jose
Mark’s has kept the same iconic signage, building (aptly nicknamed “The Orange”) and delicious, snappy links since 1936—even after it moved from its original location in 2000. The chili dogs are the thing to get here, and the best part is you don’t have to leave your car to eat one. Yes, Mark’s still provides nostalgic carhop service of yesteryear, but with only eight parking spots it’s best to get there early. (JD)


BBQ 152
8295 Monterey Rd, Gilroy
This hidden gem is located less than a mile west of the Gilroy outlet mall and serves up the best smoked tri-tip on the planet; it comes out beefy, smoky and fork-tender with one of the most beautiful smoke rings I’ve ever witnessed. Once you’ve polished off the tri-tip, make sure to get your daily serving of fruit by ordering a berry cobbler—an absolute treat, featuring flakey crust and apple-berry filling. Pro tip: get a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. (JD)

Blue Rock BBQ
3001 Meridian Ave, San Jose
At Blue Rock, they specialize in thinking beyond borders, grilling up Tennessee-style pulled pork alongside their Indonesian beef and pineapple skewer. It’s the perfect BBQ joint for the globally minded Silicon Valley. (DI)

Henry’s Hi-Life
301 W St John St, San Jose
This BBQ joint has been chillin’ and grillin’ in San Jose for 50 years, and they don’t call themselves “world famous” without cause. They’ve been featured on multiple food-oriented shows, including The Travel Channel’s Man v. Food. Henry’s continues to be a destination for steaks, ribs and brisket—but they also seek to innovate. They recently introduced a burger made with a menagerie of meat, including ground beef, NY steak, top sirloin, filet mignon, rib eye steak and a pork belly blend. (WR)

Jon Jon’s
13005 Oakland Rd, San Jose
Though it may be the least visually appealing location on this list, it is arguably one of the tastiest. This Q joint was originally started by the Rev. John Erwin, Jr. who brought his Georgia BBQ stylings to the South Bay in 1995. Their ribs are off-the-hook good, with a strong smoky flavor, good bark and fall-off-the-bone texture. They might be the best ribs in the South Bay. If one craves the heat, their hot links range from spicy to “Dear God, what have I done to deserve this?!” (JD)

Mesquite & Oak
856 N 13th St, San Jose
This relative newcomer is making big waves on the South Bay BBQ scene, serving up what may be the best Texas-style beef brisket around. Their juicy, thick-cuts of smoky brisket go perfectly with a side of beefy chili. They are also turning heads with their inspired BBQ brunch. The weekends menu features smoked brisket hash and their own take on chilaquiles—pulled pork piled high atop Fritos. (JD)

216 Castro St, Mountain View
Quality Bourbons and Barbecue—you had us at hello. This Mountain View establishment hasn’t even been open a year, but they already have secured a place in the hearts of plenty of locals. Featuring a straightforward meat menu and a serious assortment of craft bourbons, whiskies and ryes, this is the place to go for smoky meats and smokier tumblers. (KL)

At Juicy Burger you really can have it your way—just step up to their seriously stacked condiment bar. Photo by John Dyke

At Juicy Burger you really can have it your way—just step up to their seriously stacked condiment bar. Photo by John Dyke

Sam’s Bar-B-Que
1110 S Bascom Ave, San Jose
Run by one of the South Bay’s original restaurateur families—the Carlinos—Sam’s has roots that trace back to the late 1930s. They hand-cut all their meats, make their own sausage and grind their burgers fresh every day. All their Q is smoked in-house in their custom-made smoker and served up with their terrific house BBQ sauce. Their slow-smoked prime rib (Fri & Sat only, after 5pm) is limited in time and quantities—but worth seeking out. (JD)

Smoking Pig
Multiple Locations
The Smoking Pig began as a simple backyard hobby. It has since blossomed into a full-fledged local chain with two locations in San Jose and one in Fremont. Besides the BBQ staples like juicy ribs and flaky brisket, Smoking Pig has some interesting originals, like their signature “wolf turds”—bacon-wrapped, meat-and-cheese-stuffed jalapeños. Their sauces are also bomb, so be sure to try them all. (WR)

South Winchester BBQ
1362 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose
Inspired by California-style BBQ as well as the grilling traditions of the Carolinas, South Winchester BBQ’s outdoor patio setup gives off an ambience reminiscent of a fresh country-style diner. This spot takes pride in their smoked BBQ and specialty craft beers. Enjoy a cold one while awaiting your food and take in the aroma of the smoky, oak wood fire at the back in the restaurant. Their BBQ tri-tip and tender pulled pork are delicious; so are their sides of garlic bread and potato salad. (WR)

TAOB Pit Stop
484 Blossom Hill Rd, San Jose
The Art of BBQ—a.k.a. TAOB—approaches the grill with the same intention as a painter approaching the canvas. Their special rub and secret sauce help coax out the award-winning flavor of their tender ribs and finger-lickin’ chicken. TAOB isn’t just about the meats, though. They also have fantastic sides. Try their mac and cheese and corn nibs. (WR)

Trail Dust
17240 Monterey Rd, Morgan Hill
This downtown Morgan Hill favorite has been serving up oak-smoked Q done the right way for almost 30 years. The smoky, lightly glazed ribs are the thing to get here, as well as any of their USDA prime steaks. Patrons will definitely not die of thirst while visiting, as Trail Dust boasts an impressive array of more than 20 craft beers on tap. (JD)


Big Basin Burger Bar
14413 Big Basin Wy, Saratoga
Big Basin Burger Bar serves up patties fit to quench a mountain man’s appetite. Bored with beef? Try their bison burger with gruyere cheese and caramelized onions on a multigrain wheat bun; or their lamb burger, topped with Italian feta cheese and tzatziki sauce. You can even create your own original by selecting from their assortment of proteins, cheese, special sauces and other toppings. (KL)

Brown Chicken Brown Cow
397 E Campbell Ave, Campbell
This laid-back restaurant keeps things simple, serving up 100 percent grass-fed burgers and free-range chicken, along with a tasteful, and tasty, selection of sides. Featuring indoor and outdoor seating, a full bar and a rotating tap list, it’s a great place for a fast, casual meal. (DI)

The Burger Pit
1349 Blossom Hill Rd, San Jose
This South Bay burger institution was founded in 1956 by a man named Al Berger (really!), who built the Burger Pit into a large regional chain before things fell apart in the ’80s. This is the last remaining Burger Pit, and therefore it’s the best. You really can’t go wrong ordering any of their fresh-ground burgers, but the classic bacon and cheese steerburger is always a good call. (JD)

Clarke’s Charcoal Broiler
615 El Camino Real, Mountain View
Mountain View natives know that this is the spot in town to go for a no-nonsense, juicy burger. The has been serving locals since 1945 when it was founded by H.W. Bill Clarke—who was stationed at nearby Moffett Field—and his wife. They serve steaks, ribs and other BBQ staples, but the item to beat is the Clarkesburger. Enjoy your meal on inside or on the patio.

Juicy Burger
630 Blossom Hill Rd, San Jose
This San Jose original has been flipping flame-grilled patties since the early ’90s, when they had three locations. Their recent switch to humanely raised, antibiotic- and hormone-free Meyer Angus beef has really made a huge difference in the quality of their meat. The real standout here at Juicy Burger is their gigantic condiment bar that has just about every veggie and sauce one could think of—and some I’d never expect—to help diners make the burger of their dreams. (JD)

The buttery steak rolls help set Kirks Steakhouse’s burgers apart. Photo by John Dyke

The buttery steak rolls help set Kirks Steakhouse’s burgers apart. Photo by John Dyke

Kirks Steakburgers
Multiple Locations
This no-frills burger joint has been serving up charcoal-grilled steakburgers since 1948. Each patty is hand-mixed using Kirk’s own special blend of beef to make for one incredibly tasty treat. My all-time favorite is the half-pound Big Kirk, which comes served on a soft and buttery steak roll and is cooked to the customer’s specifications. Make mine medium-rare, please. (JD)

Konjoe Burger Bar
Multiple locations
For those looking to mix things up, Konjoe Burger has proven adept at spinning inspired new takes on the classic burger. Featuring a slew of tasty sauces—including hoisin ketchup and sambal mayo—and a delicious house seasoning for their fries, Konjoe is a Silicon Valley burger gem. (DI)

Main Street Burgers
Multiple locations
Dubbed the “Burger and Shake Nirvana,” Main Street Burger lives up to its honorary title. The Nirvana Burger features double patties, melted gouda and housemade spicy mayo, all held together with soft ciabatta bread. If you can’t decide between a burger and ribs, try their BBQ Bliss Burger with bacon, onion rings and barbecue sauce. I’ll take two of each, please. (KL)

Mo’s the Breakfast + Burger Joint
Multiple locations
While many diners know Mo’s as a great place to grab breakfast, it’s their burgers that are the real stars of the show. Their Bacon, Bacon, Bacon Burger is topped with slices of bacon and a savory bacon relish—and has bacon mixed into the patty itself. But the grandpappy of them all is their ginormous Hangover Burger, which comes with cheddar cheese, bacon, chorizo and a sunny-side up egg that will help one forget that extra shot, or three, from the night before. (JD)

Mojo Burger
1401 Foxworthy Ave, San Jose
This family-owned gem serves up their charbroiled specialties with a signature Mojo staff smile.Burgers and sandwiches aren’t the only delights to ogle here—don’t miss out on their fan-fave chili cheese fries and thick, creamy milkshakes. (WR)

Original Joe’s
301 S 1st St, San Jose
OJ’s is known for a number of things—like the charmingly gruff waitstaff and heaping portions of Italian-American fare. But the best item on the menu is arguably the burger. They’ve been doing it the same way since 1937—rolling the ground beef with finely chopped onions and serving it on a tangy french roll. Dress it up however you like and be sure you have a napkin nearby. It’s fun getting a bit messy in such a classy joint. (NV)

Sliders Burgers
1645 W San Carlos St, San Jose
Despite its name, Sliders Burgers does not actually serve any bite-size burgers. What they do serve is an exotic array of hamberduccis made from just about anything you would want to eat but were afraid to try. Elk? Yep. Bison? Check. Ostrich? Sure. Wild Boar? Affirmative. They also have boring ol’ beef, turkey and veggie burgers, as well—but why bother? (JD)

 St. John’s Bar & Grill
510 Lawrence Expwy Ste 110, Sunnyvale
This place is known for dishing out huge burgers and mountains of golden fries, so it’s best to come with an appetite. Serving Silicon Valley for the past 40 years, St. John’s continues to draw regulars and hungry newcomers alike. The restaurant has many large TVs, making it a great place to catch the game while enjoying a brew and a bite. (DI)