A tri-tip slider, with meat of indeterminate smokiness
3375 Adams Avenue, San Diego
A little while back, I caught wind that hipster sandwich shop Burnside had rebooted itself with a barbecue theme. As self-appointed local barbecue doyen, a position I realize is somewhat oxymoronic, I knew I had to check it out.
The recent remodel transformed the place from Hipster Johnny Rockets to a chicken-fried version of same. They now play country music, at least while the sun is up, and have incorporated more raw wood into the decor. It’s comfortable, though it feels out of place considering how Normal Heights is not, no matter what their designers try to tell us, Memphis.
Even after substantial Googling, I remain unsure exactly which award Burnside’s “award-winning” pulled pork is alleged to have won. As pulled pork goes, Burnside’s is comparatively wet and smooshy. The salt factor borders on excessive (as with everything from the kitchen), but the crispy coleslaw piled on top of the sandwich cooled things down and added a much-needed dimension.
Picking some tri-tip out of a slider reveals meat of indeterminate smokiness. With the excess of cheese plus lettuce, tomato, and hot buttered bun, the net effect is opulent but not particularly “barbecue.”
Point of fact, the entire operation feels more soul food than barbecue, and that’s even a stretch because they’re not exactly doing “meat-and-threes” with succotash and collards. Hipster soul food isn’t a totally new concept. Brenda’s has been killing it in San Francisco for years. But barbecue is something very specific. It’s more than just smoking meat — it’s a culture and a history into which Burnside doesn’t fit. “Southern influenced,” maybe, but not barbecue.