West Oakland’s B-SIDE BBQ

Phil Surkis and Chef Tanya Holland.

By Robert Arnold Part 1 -Food for the Soul What if I were to tell you that West Oakland is home to bay area’s newest “Gourmet Ghetto”? Hear me out. You may already know about the French trained, award winning Chef Tanya Holland and her now legendary Brown Sugar Kitchen restaurant on Mandela Parkway.  Well, she’s done it again on San Pablo Avenue with her latest venture, B-Side BBQ. B-Side is a full service restaurant focusing on a high quality meats, vegetarian sides, and artisan cocktails. The critics have already caught on- It’s the highest scoring barbecue restaurant in the bay area according to the Zagat Guides. Both Food & Wine magazine and Travel & Leisure have included B-Side on their lists of the best new barbecue in the USA. Yes, the barbecue will make you, “slap yo momma”, but that is far from the whole story here. What might be the most impressive thing about B-Side is that Holland, and her husband and business partner, Phil Surkis, decided to open up shop in a neighborhood that some would call “rough” and “gritty”.  Even the mayor of Oakland told Holland, “You have guts to open on that block.” The truth is that Holland and Surkis are no strangers to opening in areas that are perceived as “no man’s land” for restaurants. When they opened Brown Sugar Kitchen on Martin Luther King’s birthday in 2008, many foodies were apprehensive about traveling to West Oakland. Soon, Holland’s cornmeal waffles and fried chicken proved too powerful, and now patrons are lined up, waiting to sample Holland’s French influenced take on Southern and Soul food. Back at B-Side BBQ, Holland says, “Every day we have customers who thank us for being here”.  Indeed, B-Side may very well be a catalyst for change for this stretch of San Pablo. Since B-Side opened, A private company has purchased the historic California Hotel building two blocks away, and is refurbishing it. New trees have been planted along the corridor. Positive change is in the air. Holland’s restaurant isn’t only feeding patrons, it’s nourishing a community. Feeding people is her passion, and she takes it very seriously.  She uses local purveyors to source the highest quality meats and produce she can find.  With Surkis behind the bar mixing up “West Side Julep’s”, the husband and wife team light up when talking about their neighbors. “We welcome all who come through our doors”, says Holland from their restaurant located at 3303 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland. For information and orders visit: www.bsidebbq.com or call 510-595-0227.
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