Here are a few Atlanta barbecue joints serving sides that are diverse, unexpected, sometimes messy, and almost always a lot of fun.
Green papaya slaw from Sweet Auburn Barbecue
Cool, crunchy papaya often is used in Southeast Asian cuisines as a spicy contrast to meaty dishes. Sweet Auburn honors tradition by adding to its slaw a bit of heat that marries well with sweet-savory hoisin and sesame dressing. The resulting slaw can stand on its own, but it works even better with a rich meat like beef brisket.
656 N. Highland Ave., Atlanta. 678-515-3550, sweetaurburnbbq.com.
Chili cheese fries from The Greater Good BBQ
Some barbecue side dishes cut through the richness, smoke and fat inherent to smoked meats. Others simply shout, “you can never have too much of a good thing.” These chili cheese fries fall into the latter camp.
A foundation of hand-cut fries is doused in an excellent chili that makes use of the restaurant’s smoked brisket, then topped with house-made smoked jalapeno queso. A few red onions and peppers are scattered throughout for color, texture and maybe a hint of propriety. Without a few vegetables, this dish might drive diners to full-on hedonism.
Multiple locations. 404-303-8525, greatergoodbbq.com.
Redneck Lasagna from Sam’s BBQ-1
Owner-pitmaster Sam Huff said this side dish came about when he saw a customer combine his Brunswick stew with mac and cheese. A classic was born.
The combination has made an impact on customers, as well. A customer once told Huff it saved his life. Huff scoffed, but the customer went into detail: He was a cancer survivor, and he’d gone through chemotherapy treatments. During treatment, Redneck Lasagna was the only food he could keep down. Now, he takes pints of the side dish to current patients at the same ward where he was treated.
“All my years doing this, that’s one of my favorite stories,” Huff said.
4958 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta. 770-977-3005, bbq1.net.