The Tin Roof BBQ is in the industrial section of town, tucked away in a nondescript set of steel buildings.
Though the setting is unremarkable, the fare is excellent. It’s one of my favorite lunch spots in town, the place I usually meet up with buddies to shoot the breeze and devour savory servings of tri-tip, ribs and pulled pork.
Tin Roof is pleasant but no-frills. Table service is brisk and friendly. Sometimes, during the lunch rush, the servers are nearly galloping around the place juggling orders of smoked turkey sandwiches, hot links and loaded potatoes, wonderfully rich and fatty concoctions that seem to erupt with butter, cheese, barbecued beef, cream cheese and chives.
Sounds good, right? Tastes even better. A meal by itself, as the saying goes. Worry about your cholesterol tomorrow.
The clientele here tilts toward the male. Otherwise, the customers are a diverse lot, with youngbloods and graybeards sitting side-by-side, suited execs in one corner and construction workers in another.
I seldom walk in without recognizing someone, whether it be a city council member, a local industrialist, or my go-to handyman. There’s some classic country music playing, but not blaring, on the sound system.
It is a friendly place, and the noise level is moderate to somewhat high, as friends greet each other and banter while ingesting palate-pleasing comfort food.
And that food is consistently delicious.
Tin Roof’s tri-tip sandwich is its signature offering, and diners can choose from one of four variations: The Favorite, served with garlic aioli and balsamic caramelized onions; the Santa Maria, with garlic aioli and homemade salsa; the Original, with creamy horseradish sauce; or the Homemade BBQ, with BBQ sauce and sweet fried onions.
Each will make your taste buds scream with joy.
Owner and operator Richard Berardi and his family are fussy about what they serve. Berardi arrives early and stays late, often tending the BBQ where a blend of lump charcoal and oak is constantly glowing hot.
“We want top quality, and we want good value. We don’t skimp on the portions,” he said.
Tin Roof, which opened in 2005, is a family operation. Richard’s wife, Karen, also works at the restaurant, as do daughter Sara and son Levi.
I’m partial to the tri-tip sandwiches, but Tin Roof is always evolving, with daily specials that sometimes surprise. On my last visit, I tried the tangy seafood jumbalaya off the special board and was happily sated. Those seeking lighter choices might try the soup and salad, the Caesar, Spinach or BBQ Chicken salad or the Tin Roof Chef salad.
“You can as light and healthy as you like here,” Richard said.
His personal favorite: The Reuben, stacked high with slow-roasted brisket.
Sandwiches range from $7.59 for the hot links version to $8.59 for one of the tri-tip offerings. For another $2.50, you get a drink and one of the sides, such as macaroni and cheese with sausage, sweet smoky beans, garlic rosemary mashed potatoes, macaroni salad or coleslaw.
While locals dominate at Tin Roof, don’t be shy. Everyone is treated well here, and the food appeals, whether you’re from Lodi, California, or Lodi, New Jersey.