Blue Cheese Coleslaw
Kerlin BBQ (address and info)
Kerlin’s sides veer toward the old school, but the unexpected star is the blue cheese slaw. The creamy, thick slaw of cabbage, carrot, and housemade blue cheese dressing has a massive richness of flavor, and doesn’t skimp on the cheese -- in fact, it seemingly attempts an equal cheese-to-veggie ratio. We like the gutsy move to actually make the slaw’s flavor more intense than Kerlin’s great 'cue -- it’s unconventional, but highly satisfying. Also getting high marks at Kerlin are the pickles. There's a surprising and lengthy spicy, peppery chile kick to the crisp, thin slices, which are seasoned with red pepper, garlic, dill, clove, and cinnamon. Owner Bill Kerlin notes that the cucumbers and dill are grown on-site whenever possible. The trailer takes an aggressive approach and succeeds. Score one for the risk-takers.
Chipotle slaw, pinto beans La Barbecue (address and info)
E Cesar Chavez
Like La Barbecue itself, the sides here are a study in craftsmanship. We love the beans, which have a nice (though moderate) pepper-heat level, complemented by a very thick gravy. La Barbecue’s Ali Clem says the process is simple: "We just soak them overnight in a spice blend, then add jalapeños and cilantro." The results are some of the best beans we’ve ever tasted. The popular choice here is the Chipotle slaw, a dish solid enough to be featured as a recipe in The New York Times. While quite crunchy, the thin-but-peppery, creamy dressing brings plenty of the chile heat that Texans love. Both sides are musts during your next visit.