The Best Nontraditional BBQ Sides to Enjoy in Austin
Secret ingredients, inspired cultural mash-ups, and more
Cream Spinach at Smokin Beauty
Creamed spinach alongside beef has been around since Peter Luger was in short pants, but here it shows off as a perfect pairing with Vietnamese-tinged barbecue fare. Order it with a toasted baguette as an app or straight up as a side. There are no wrong answers.
Mom’s Green Beans at JNL Barbecue
Comfort food at its finest. Most days, this side dish sells out first, which shows you just how craveable it is. With a new brick-and-mortar location on Cesar Chavez, the JNL crew will now serve up their top-notch meat in style.
Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole at Stiles Switch
There's almost no way to make a bad dish involving tots, and with their cheesy tater tot casserole, the folks at Stiles Switch have fallen in love with the queso side of the equation. Normally served with their Wednesday smoked prime rib special, this side will help knock you out for the rest of the day. Nap time!
Spicy Smoked Peanuts at Distant Relatives
With its mix of Texas barbecue and Southern-laced African flavors, Distant Relatives relishes the nontraditional, at least from an old-school Central Texas perspective. There's no better example than the spicy smoked peanuts. It's like Five Guys if somebody gave a damn.
Braised Cabbage at LeRoy & Lewis
With its roots in German meat markets all around Central Texas, it's no surprise to see cabbage at a BBQ joint. LeRoy and Lewis kick it up a notch with a beer braise and lots of sausage. That sounds like a main course, come to think of it.
Sweet Pepper and Cucumber Kimchi at la Barbecue
The ladies at la Barbecue are all about pushing the envelope, while still serving up traditional barbecue meats. Given this, the inclusion of kimchi mixed with sweet peppers and cucumber makes all the sense in the world. It's a yin-yang of flavor.
Buttered Potatoes at Rudy’s
Sure, potato salad is available at all Rudy's locations, but this San Antonio-based outfit has an even better spud option. With perfectly cooked red potatoes floating in a butter-laden liquid, these little numbers make decent barbecue into a superb meal.
Hash Browns at Bill Miller Bar-B-Q
While their 'cue doesn't measure up to the rest of this list – stick with the fried chicken and sweet tea – kids from 1 to 92 love these hash browns. With their inclusion of onions and just a little crispiness throughout, they are more like home fries. Whatever you call them, it's worth a visit.
Potato Salad at the Salt Lick
Admittedly, it doesn't get more traditional than potato salad, but not the way it's made at the Salt Lick. The consistency is halfway between the standard version and mashed potatoes, served a little warm. Then there's the use of the house sauce in this recipe, made with pineapple juice for sweetness. The combo is killer.
(Free!) Pinto Beans at Cooper’s
Barbecue ain't cheap, so my go-to for Downtown budget eating is to order a chopped beef sandwich from Cooper's and then load up on free beans and bread. Beans this good being gratis is a mindblower. Make sure to get plenty of broth for sopping.