The Bay Area is not, generally speaking, barbecue country.
But you wouldn't know that walking into West Oakland's new B-Side BBQ. At the latest venture from Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen, also in Oakland, you're met with a wallop of meaty smoke.
The brisket is rubbed with brown sugar and spices ($9 for a half-order; $16 for a full), then cooked low and slow until the tough cut is supple, precisely like it ought to be. The Dark and Stormy St. Louis pork ribs ($10 for a half-order; $18 for a full) borrow flavors from the eponymous libation, including ginger and brown sugar, swapping Drake's stout beer for rum.
Sides are often an afterthought at even the best barbecue joints, but not here. Thin slices of Wonder bread are replaced by thick slices of buttery, griddled Acme pain de mie.
And Holland's version of baked beans ($4), Great Northerns flavored with ham hocks, bacon and burnt barbecue ends and sweetened with brown sugar and molasses, almost upstage the barbecue. We also rather like the lightly pickled vegetables ($3), a mixture of cauliflower, carrot, radish, jalapeños and onion.
It may be NorCal-style barbecue, but B-Side has a Southern soul.
B-Side BBQ, 3303 San Pablo Ave., Oakland; 510-595-0227 or bsidebbq.com