"There's a new sheriff in town. She has a smoker and she's not afraid to use it."
So says the Twitter description for B-Side BBQ, an excellent new barbecue restaurant in West Oakland. But the "new sheriff" is already a neighborhood favorite. Chef / owner Tanya Holland is the seasoned veteran of the nearby successful soul food restaurant, Brown Sugar Kitchen, and her new restaurant is the "flip side" to her popular flagship establishment. She and her husband, Phil Surkis, have lived and worked in West Oakland for seven years and are helping to bring more great eats to the community.
My husband and I stopped by three days after their official open to visit the newly renovated space. The former home of Yardie Jerk, B-Side BBQ now has a warm, country-and-western feel with whimsical touches.
Tanya commissioned local artist April Banks to create artworks for the restaurant that will make you do a double-take. Look closely and you'll see Tanya and Phil making cameos in these classic western scenes.
They were already out of their smoked brown sugar rubbed brisket by the time we placed our order, so we chose the pulled pork sandwich ($8) and the St. Louis Ribs ($10 half-order / $18 full order). Sides come separately, and we went for the day's seasonal vegetable (collard greens with garlic, $4) and spicy coleslaw ($4). The "Dark and Stormy" sauce (made with molasses and honey) I chose for my barbecue was a perfect complement to the crunchy coleslaw heaped on my tasty sandwich. The ribs were juicy and hearty; be sure to grab some of the complimentary wet nap towelettes to help clean the smoky, saucy aftermath off of your fingertips (unless you go for the finger-licking route, which I highly recommend.) And definitely try the housemade lemonade ($3) if you're looking for a sweet refresher to accompany your meal.
Tanya and Phil currently split their time between B-Side and Brown Sugar. She was busy in the kitchen and the dining room, with Phil helping her and her staff serve her customers. Stay tuned for the next iteration of B-Side BBQ. More items are on the way for the menu, and they'll increase B-Side's hours over time. Phil also mentioned they'll be expanding the existing space to accommodate more seating and lengthen the bar. We'll definitely be heading back for the brisket and cornbread.