Five of Dallas' Best Barbecue Sides

Categories: Barbecue

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Slow Bone's spicy mac 'n cheese and divine hushpuppies.
In honor of Sunday's sold-out Meat Fight, we're celebrating smoked animal flesh all week long in our inaugural Meat Week, in which we celebrate the procuring, cooking and face-stuffing of dead-animal flesh.

Popular opinion of barbecue sides is that they should support the primary meat. Cole slaw cools the mouth when spices overpower. Bread soaks up sauce. Smothered greens add color/ham to the plate.

But sides can be much more. When a barbecue restaurant puts the same focus and effort into their cornbread as their brisket, everyone wins. Every part of your barbecue indulgence should be delicious, and if a side isn't good enough on its own then it isn't good enough to appear alongside lovingly and diligently smoked meats. Here are just a few of the sides that have caught our attention.

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It looks so innocent.
Lockhart Slaw at Lockhart Smokehouse
As a child I refused to eat anything mayo-based, but with the wisdom of age I've come to appreciate the tangy cooling effect of a well-executed slaw. The first bite I had of Lockhart's slaw was so good I didn't realize I had mechanically spooned in for more until I'd already had two more mouthfuls. These were immediately followed by a low, slow burn, one that took over my entire mouth just as I started to notice it. Lockhart has some fancier cole slaws, including a bleu cheese-based one, but the buried sriracha, paprika and cayenne in their titular one elevates it past just cabbage and mayo.

*****

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Brisket Deviled Eggs at Lockhart Smokehouse
Lockhart seems to specialize in making eccentric tweaks to classic sides. Their deviled eggs are no exception. There's room for a lot of variation in deviled eggs, considering that you can make limitless adjustments to the filling, which in its simplest form is just the egg yolks blended with mayonnaise or mustard. Lockhart pumps up the flavor and plays with the texture by incorporating bits of brisket into the mix. It's surprising to find brisket used almost like seasoning instead of a main dish, but these little things are addictive.

*****

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Hushpuppies at The Slow Bone Barbecue
Slow Bone has a lock on barbecue sides. Everything from their peppery mac and cheese and their holy sweet potatoes is masterfully executed. But the stand out is their hushpuppy.

Technically, at Slow Bone, hushpuppies are considered a "bread option" and not a side dish. That designation is up for debate, but we'll skip it because it's so damn good to see proper hushpuppies. When you crack open a hushpuppy it should be fluffy, steaming and flecked with green. You should absolutely not see pure yellow inside -- the omission of fine chopped green onion and/or parsley is egregious, and enough cause to flip your table without anyone thinking you've overreacted. Growing up in Louisiana the fried cornmeal was a staple at any festival or cook-out, and it was wise of owner Jack Perkins to include them on the menu.

*****

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The Cheezy Corn Bake at Mike Anderson's BBQ
Cornbread is the sort of dish that is always the subject of debate. Region to region and house to house people disagree on things like sweetness, firmness, white cornmeal or yellow cornmeal. No two cornbread recipes are exactly the same anywhere, and the variations deserve their own cookbook series.

Mike Anderson's BBQ skips all that by transforming their cornbread into something else entirely: the cheesy corn bake. Cornbread turned into a casserole consistency, filled with poblano and onion and topped with cheese. Descriptions of this dish range from "heavenly" and "transcendent" to just inarticulate moans. It's a rich and deep sweetness, balanced with heat, that offsets the smoke and tang of Mike Anderson's legendary barbecue sauce, which comes in its own compartment on the cafeteria-style trays. The cheesy corn bake may sounds like some poorly-marketed box dinner, but the quivering yellow mass is nothing short of sublime.

*****

Fired Okra at Mike Anderson's BBQ (above left)
The best description I've ever heard for fried okra is to call it Southern popcorn. When done properly there's a lightness to it that's usually impossible to find in fried foods, and the addictive quality of the little nuggets is hard to overemphasize. There's an art to converting the slimy, finger-like okra pods into something edible (they are creepily called "lady fingers" in other parts of the world) and when properly stewed, fried or stuffed into seafood few vegetables are more delicious. Mike Anderson's has some of the most compulsively-eatable fried okra I've had in years, both dry and as a vehicle for ketchup or barbecue sauce. While there are no delusions that fried okra is good for you, it's wonderful to see vegetables turned into something that produces the same ravenous effects of other barbecue staples, proving there's space at the table for everything in the food pyramid.

Previously in Meat Week:
- Yes, Even Texas Barbecue Needs Sauce
- The Making of Meat Fight


Location Info

Lockhart Smokehouse

400 W. Davis St., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Slow Bone Barbecue

2234 Irving Blvd., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

Mike Anderson's BBQ

5410 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
17 comments
poppymann
poppymann

Except not one joint in this town can make a pot of beans to save their fucking lives.

cajunscouse9
cajunscouse9

I've never been one for sides, but last week I made my first visit to Pecan Lodge. With my Two meat plate I went by Justin's recommendation from a twitter post and had the greens. Hands down those are the best greens I've ever had. My now deceased mamaw is likely rolling over in her grave at my statement, but it is true.

J_A_
J_A_

I hope these taste better than they photograph

Greg820
Greg820

The Habanero Mac & Cheese at Lockhart is just that--excellent Habanero flavor and heat along with creamy pasta and cheese.  

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

who came up with the Slow Bone sides

noahwbailey1
noahwbailey1

The fried okra is better at Slow Bone. And the mac and cheese at Pecan Lodge deserves to be on here.

JohnNeelyBryan
JohnNeelyBryan

Fries from Mac's? Baked potato casserole thingy from Sammy's? Lemon cake from Meshack's? Fried Chicken from Pecan Lodge (damn right it can be a side)

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

Meh. Top 5 from from the only 3 BBQ joints in town.

jackperkins
jackperkins

@ScottsMerkin The Sweet Potato casserole and the fried okra method were developed mostly by Kyle Thornton.  The Mac and Cheese recipe was adapted from one given me by Oora Utley.  The Brusselflower recipe came from my wife. Peggy Pearle.  The Pea Salad recipe is pretty much the one my grandmother Francis High and my mother, Barbara Perkins used, as is the makeup and method of the greens.  Do you have any other specific questions?

wynnedutch
wynnedutch

@Sharon_Moreanus agreed, i'm not going to get into disputing the items listed, but to only consider 3 places for a list of top 5 is pretty ridiculous. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@jackperkins Sure, was that a sarcastic dickhead reply or a feel free to come in and experience a great experience at my restaurant reply?  Cadence is so hard communicate through this comment section.

blarg
blarg

@1dailyreader @jackperkins The mac and cheese was next level and I dream about it but yeah, my ribs were basically meatless but my brisket was okay while my husband's ribs were meaty but brisket was all fat!  I guess it's just luck of the draw.

1dailyreader
1dailyreader

@jackperkins I hope ScottsMerkin takes you up on a great experience because it was a food experience for me when I had a meal.  The hush puppies and mac and cheese were my favorite.  I could have used more ribs on my plate so, next time, I'll have your 3 meat plate.  I'll pick my favorite but I'm sure it's all good.

jackperkins
jackperkins

@ScottsMerkin @jackperkins Why don't you pop by and introduce yourself.  I'll show you around and help you experience a great experience.

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