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In a sea of franchised sameness, Pleasanton’s Red Smoke Grill stands out. The specialty of the house is Santa Maria–style tri-tip, with a lightly smoky, crusty, juicy flavor. The tri-tip-and-blue sandwich combines thin-sliced beef with blue cheese, caramelized onions, and horseradish sauce on a specially made roll. Other standouts include the rotisserie chicken, pulled-pork sandwich, and grilled chipotle prawns. Although the pork ribs were tender enough to eat with a spoon, they lacked smoky flavor, while the barbecue sauce had a creep-up-on-you heat. Sides include small pink beans simmered with bacon, ham, tomatoes, and garlic. Also try the roasted-corn salad and creamy coleslaw. Red Smoke Grill makes its own desserts: bread pudding, crème brûlée, and an excellent Southern-style “Cocoa-Cola” cake—a dense, brownielike dessert. Lunch and dinner daily.
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