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Barbecue at the Crossroads 

How I found the meat oasis

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Heading toward Sonoma from Napa recently I found myself on a rural stretch of road with a powerful hunger and no clear idea where to stop for lunch. Then, like a desert oasis, a colorful sign beckoned me: the Schellville Grill was just ahead. I was saved.

The Schellville Grill is exactly the kind of place you want to find at a lonely crossroads, in this case highways 12 and 121. I've passed the restaurant a number of times over the years, but never stopped. I was glad to finally satisfy my curiosity—and my appetite. A hulking smoker out front and the whiff of wood smoke told me this roadhouse meant business.

Inside, the cash only-restaurant is bright and colorful with loads of photos and Americana bric-a-brac on the walls. The lunch menu offers burgers ($11.95), smoked pork ribs ($16.95), tri-tip ($14.95) and brisket ($18.95) sandwiches and a pulled-pork and grilled-cheese sando ($15.95) they call one of the best in America. It gets my vote.

The pork shoulder is smoked for a leisurely 10 hours before it's shredded into a juicy mound and piled between two slices of toasted sourdough. A gooey layer of cheddar cheese and caramelized, bourbon-napped onions ties it all together. But hoist this sandwich at your own risk. The abundant pork spilled out on the plate and made picking it up without spilling the contents onto my lap difficult. A fork and knife are the best way to approach this stellar sandwich.

Schellville Grill, 22900 Broadway Sonoma. 707.996.5151.

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