B Side BBQ is the newest member of the Brown Sugar Kitchen family. Opened in December of 2011. B Side BBQ follows in the traditions of many “rib joints” that once dotted the San Pablo corridor. Although Oakland has its share of rib joints, I urge you to try the “best in show”.
In my opinion, a true test of great BBQ begins at the soul. B Side BBQ starts with the best quality, locally sourced, sustainably raised meats available from Prather and Niman Ranch Beef and Pork as well as Mary’s Free Range Chicken. All the meats here enjoy basking in the warmth of the hickory and apple hardwood fueled rotisserie smoker.
B Side BBQ has a full bar and some inventive libations blended with B Side’s own house-made infusions. B Side BBQ’s resident alchemist, Phil Surkis, mixed all the drinks. We tried the basil kissed South of the Border Lemonade (basil vodka, mezcal, cilantro, agave and lemon) served in a mason jar. The ever so yummy Westside Julep (rye, minted brown sugar syrup and lemon) was one of the best juleps I’ve ever tasted.
We ordered a starter of Fried Okra Bites, a Pulled Pork Sandwich with a side of Smoked Mashed Yams and a BBQ Smoked Chicken. Everything is served on individual metal cookie sheets.
This was no lucky roll of the dice; a great deal of research and development has gone into everything on the menu. The fresh Okra Bites were fried to perfection in a cornmeal coating served with a Creole Aioli. The chicken was phenomenal, moist, smokey and perfectly cooked. The Smoked Mashed Yams were the bomb. Sweet, smokey and mashed all in one dish, sounds like heaven to me. All of the BBQ meats are moist and full flavored.
Now let’s talk sauce. For those of us accustomed to ketchup based, molasses gilded sauces; you’re about to be shaken to the core. This sauce is sweet and spicy with smokey caramelized fruit notes. Truly, it is like no other BBQ sauce I’ve ever tasted and I pleased to note that I really enjoyed it. The sauce accents the meat as opposed to overpowering it.
Brown Sugar Kitchen and B Side BBQ share a rare restaurant commodity: consistency. Their creations taste the same as they did when they opened.
Phil Surkis and Tanya Holland are the founders of the wildly delicious and incredibly successful Brown Sugar Kitchen and B Side BBQ in historic West Oakland.