Minnesota's Best Barbecue Sides

A look at Bark and the Bite’s winning supporting cast

A number of side dishes from local restaurants in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Upper left corner: Revival St. Paul’s stellar sides include drop biscuits, candied yams, and mac & cheese. Upper right corner: Surly Beer Hall & Restaurant’s brussels sprouts with toasted sesame seeds and Picnic Potato Salad. Lower right corner: The mouthwatering Skillet Corn Bread with honey maple butter from Rudolph’s. Lower middle and left corner: Bark and the Bite’s Cider Vinegar Slaw and baked beans

photo by terry brennan; styled by lara miklasevics

Bark and the Bite

It was love at first honey-spiced hush puppy.

A convenience-store counter/food truck combo based in northeast Minneapolis, Bark and the Bite is the brainchild of two junior-high friends, Noah Miller and Toph Heubach. Their culinary careers include previous stints at Lucia’s, D’Amico Cucina, and Sapor. Miller rose through the ranks as a chef while Heubach learned the art of service and craft bartending. After Sapor closed, the duo hit on an idea: to enliven what they felt was the anemic Twin Cities barbecue scene. They started a Kickstarter campaign and invested in a slick, red food truck. Soon, they set up shop inside Sunny’s Market & Deli.

“When we started, we ate at every barbecue place we could, and we found the sides to just be OK: frozen fries and the dreaded soggy mayo slaw,” says chef and co-owner Miller. “We knew that we wanted our sides to show the same care we take with the meats and sauces.” The sides include a garlicky, creamy potato salad tossed with peppery arugula and some absolutely addictive spicy, crunchy, and just-barely-sweet hush puppies—which have a funny back story.

“When I was growing up in Memphis, they had a seafood restaurant with a big pond outside full of fish,” Miller says. “I would always make my parents order the hush puppies, and I would always save a few in my pockets to feed the fish.”

As an adult working on recreating taste memories from childhood, he noticed most traditional hush puppies tasted like fryer oil, so he started making variations. First, he eliminated dairy—it made them too dense. “After about seven different variations, I struck on a key part using fresh corn and pureeing it in to the mix,” he says. “Playing around, we tossed them in honey and our spice rub to help play off of the sweetness in the batter.”

Meanwhile, the potato salad—born out of a year-long Project BBQ pop-up at Sapor—is absolutely fine-dining level eating. Miller and Sapor chef/co-owner Tanya Siebenaler wanted a potato salad with a twist. Fresh arugula adds a nice peppery note, and apple cider vinegar is lightly sprinkled on the cooked potatoes just before the salad is assembled.

Don’t forget the coleslaw, with that wonderful, back jaw-twinging, cider-vinegar bite that just makes a pulled-pork sandwich. It’s the sassy, tart-tongued friend who keeps your ego in check. And then there are the beans: slow-stewed legumes with the right balance of sweet, toothsome creaminess and smoky porkiness from added bacon. Order all of it and taste what can come from two friends living the slow-and-low dream. -J.S.

2207 University Ave. NE, Minneapolis | 612-470-2275 | barkandthebite.com

Jellybean and Julia’s

There’s solid barbecue at this 30-seat strip-mall restaurant—named after the owners’ daughters’ middle names—but it’s the sides that sing. The mac and cheese has big ol’ cavatappi noodles and a blend of barbecue seasoning, cornbread fritters come with a hint of cheese on the inside and jalapeño jam on top, and the beans include pulled pork and brisket. -J.D.

530 W. Main St., Anoka | 763-421-9749 | jellybeanandjulias.com

Bayport BBQ

This Bayport restaurant is also a real-deal record store. The meats—coaxed slowly from tough-worked muscle into subtle, silky existence with steady, soft heat—are always the star, but the sides deserve respect, too. Load up on creamed corn, yellow squash and onions, and au gratin potatoes, along with the expected coleslaw, potato salad, and fat slices of bread. -J.S.

328 Fifth Ave. N., Bayport | 651-955-6337 | bayportbbq.com