Tucked away in Old Town Olive Branch, MS, Sidestreet Burgers has a cool, semi-vintage/hipster sort of vibe. While the King and I are totally down with the clean-but-grungy feel and decor, I’m aware that some people might
be a little bougie not be able to appreciate the small quarters, old wood, tattered floors, and mismatched seating. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with being a little bougie. The King tells me I am a little bougie too, but I disagree. I’ll tell you what, if I am, when it comes to food, fellowship, and fun, all that goes out the window…well, kinda.
Anyway, what I like about Sidestreet is its unique menu and daily specials. These dishes aren’t your average fare. The food seems to be a sort of fusion between American diner classics and a variety of world flavors. For instance, of course, they have burgers that you can get dressed pretty much any way you want (even with fried egg, which I’d totally try), but they also have quesadillas with sriracha and ranch, gyros, and quite a few sandwiches that feature meats marinated in Asian-inspired marinades. This brings me to my first dish from this visit. (Drops head in shame) Yes, I ordered two dishes…again, but in my defense, the King helped me eat them…but I also ate some of his…smh. Okay, anyway, let’s get to it.
Pork Bahn Mi: King(3/5) Me(4/5)
The Pork Bahn Mi is definitely a sandwich for a well-rounded, cultured palate. Traditional palates may want to sit this one out or get your adventurous lunch partner to try it and then snag a piece of his or hers. It’s made with Vietnamese-style pork, cilantro, jalapeno, pickled carrots, spicy mayo, and cucumbers. Okay, let me help you to a little info about me, so there will be no misunderstanding between us, I don’t do extra hot. I don’t fool around with the jalapenos— I mean, I like the way they taste, but they don’t like me, and I’m okay with that. I like me enough to let them stay where they are, or have them in very small amounts– like one per foot of sandwich. So, I asked them to hold the jalapenos but keep the spicy mayo. I should have told them to hold the cilantro because they dropped way too many on my sandwich, and I ended up taking quite a bit off. The shredded carrots were pickled pretty well. I could taste both the true flavor and sweetness of the carrot and the tart acidity from the vinegar. All that’s fine and good, but the person who dressed my sandwich, once again, was far too generous. S/he’s going to give the whole kitchen away!
Okay, now, let’s put that all together. Once I removed the excess, I REALLY like the sandwich. The King REALLY did NOT like the sandwich. The bread was amazing. It seemed to be on something like a French baguette. It was crusty (crusty is only a good thing on baked goods….just saying), and chewy, and light, yet it held up to the wetness from the spicy mayo, and juices from the meat and cucumbers. The bright, semi-sweet punch and heat from the spicy mayo, along with the tangy flavor from both from the pork and carrots were balanced by the satisfying freshness and crispness from the cucumber and the butter and glutenous goodness from the bread. The pork was done well here. It was not over seasoned, so the unique pork flavor still came through. I’d certainly eat it again.
Garlic Potato “Wedges”-loaded : King(1/5) Me(1/5)
What I will NOT eat again is any form of potato wedge from here. First of all, these are SLICES
Let me start by stating this, I don’t think they fry ANYTHING at Sidestreet. So, I suppose this makes everything healthier, and I suppose I should appreciate this, and I do, but in the case of what I want to eat with my burger/sandwich,
“You’re My Gyro”: King(2.5/5) Me(4/5)
I like Gyros, and this one was no exception. It consisted of three thickly-cut lamb-beef strips on a 7″ pita. You can dress it yourself in the condiment/toppings area of the dining room. I made sure to put the house-made Tzatziki on mine because a gyro ain’t a gyro without the Tzatziki.
If you’ve never tried a gyro, you should. I think it’s a pretty safe choice for even those who like to stick to the basics. The lamb-beef strips have a distinct, but good flavor. To me, it tastes almost like a patty sausage without any spice but with a hint of sweet, but it feels more like a softer version of a summer sausage. I don’t think I’m doing it justice, but it’s good. The Tzatziki sauce is good to me. The King says it tastes like ranch dressing. I just rolled my eyes at him–what, ranch, really? If he’d said sour cream, I could have rolled with it.
Anyway, it’s generally made with strained yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, olive oil, salt, sometimes lemon juice, dill, mint, or parsley. Now, don’t be alarmed I have never had any with any cucumber chunks or anything, it’s all blended really well. And on a gyro, tangy, acidic, punch from it adds a subtle, but noticeable, flavor twist that helps break up the sweet from the pita and the savory from the meat. All-in-all, I think gyros are a perfect on-the-run meal and a great way to take a break from burgers.
The King’s Burger: King(4/5) Me(3/5)
Well, I know I said gyros are a great way to take a break from burgers, but I didn’t really need a break, so I ate a piece of the King’s burger…so I could write a review (wink). The Burgers at Sidestreet are good, but not spectacular. I gave the burger a three because it was pretty average. It may have been a little healthier because the patties are baked, so that counts for something, but I wanted it to be over the top, with some gourmet flavors, because the name implies that they’re all about burgers. Don’t let me sway you from getting a good, healthy burger from here, because I’d definitely get another.
Overall: King(3.5/5) Me(3.5/5)
While I enjoy going to Sidestreet, my favorite things about it are its eclectic menu and hipster vibe (though I’m not a hipster, I can dig it). The prices are very reasonable, and I think you get the portions are filling. The 3.5 is because I see the potential, but most of what I’ve had has been just okay, or I didn’t really care for. I’ve tried a few other dishes that I haven’t reviewed like Jake’s Stupid BBQ pork Nachos that I found to have so many salty-by-nature ingredients that eating it literally gave me a headache, and the garlic roasted okra, which was okay, BUT I haven’t found my Sidestreet go-to just yet. I do realize that every place isn’t for every person, but I am really trying here because of the creative cuisine and because it has all kinds of local restaurant awards, so I figure I just gotta find my favorite thing, and they have plenty to choose from. Aside from the main menu, they have daily specials listed on the monitor above the ordering station. The first time I went, actually got to talk to their culinary visionary and chef, who’s also the owner, and found him to be passionate about creating out-of-the-ordinary dishes that challenge the expectation and the traditional hankerings of his diners. I think that’s pretty cool, so I’ll go back every now and then on a quest to find my Sidestreet bae.
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