Some say what burns never returns—or, if it does, leaves a defunct Northeast parking lot in its ashes and reconstitutes the embers to smoked piggy goodness.
This happens to be the case for Bark and the Bite, which opened a new St. Paul location earlier this month after a fire devastated their former Minneapolis home: Sunny's Market and Deli. Sandwiched between a wicker store and Black Coffee and Waffles at the corner of Marshall and Cretin, you’ll find co-owners Noah Miller and Mark Myers already crushing it.
What has historically housed a photoshop, a gluten-free bakery, Heirloom, and other odd assortments of industry over the years has finally settled into a bonafide southern BBQ pigpen. While Myers notes that customers in the Twin Cities sometimes have an issue identifying regional barbecue styles, coming in with the expectation of saucy Kansas City-style ribs, Miller rights the course with his Memphis upbringing—delivering a spiritual rubdown to each rack and pushing the notions of what southern-style cooking can deliver.
“You never really reach perfect. There’s never really a perfect rack of ribs. Even for me, if I see a rack of ribs come out of the smoker and I think that looks perfect, to Noah it’s never quite perfect,” says Myers.
But in the endless quest for that perfection, it helps to have some stasis. Going from a nomadic food truck of five years to a convenience store to an honest-to-god home has allowed customers to stop following their noses and have a permanent place to barrel down on some carcass. With near-constant foot traffic since the re-opening April 1, they’ve already had to order a second smoker (which will be installed this weekend).
However, Miller and Myers are both cognizant of their roots at Sunny’s, as well as their stints at various higher-end distilleries and breweries.
“When we moved to Sunny’s, we had a lot of people who would say ‘I’m going to save up and come and get a sandwich when I get paid on Friday,’ and that really touched, I think, all of our staff. It was something really important, where we’re not just feeding the elites. For some people, this is their affordable luxury,” says chef Noah.
B & the B plans to keep their price points affordable and keep the restaurant a fixture for regulars, rather than keeping with the curated nature of some other barbecue joints cropping up around the cities. Sammiches start at $6.99; platters with a side, sauce, and Texas toast start at $11.49.
And it’s not just good economics at play. Chef Noah is a sauce polymath who might be capable of inspiring cannibalism were someone to forego a single drop on their fingers. So far there are four sauce-some options on the menu, expertly ranging from sweet cherry, to a vinegary and serrano-based “WildFire” sauce.
If you ride hard for Nashville, they’ve got you covered with Tennessee hot wings, smoked AND fried. Cool it all the fuck down with some potato salad peppered by arugula and mustard grain, and you are on your way to your neighbor’s backyard pool-party. Also, have you ever heard of a Jackalope? Though not native to Minnesota (or earth), it is one of the premier vegetarian menu options: shredded, cooked, sauce-slathered jackfruit maintaining the feng shui of the carnivorous universe.
For the the thirsty, after the 45-day public commentary period mandated by the City of St. Paul (we know, it’s weird), Bark and the Bite will be receiving their liquor license as well as the ability to serve beer from their buds, such as Black Stack Brewing, Bad Weather, Modist, Sociable, and Pryes.
Hold onto your guts for a grand opening and menu expansion slated to drop mid-May. Brisket is coming.
Bark and the Bite
2186 Marshall Ave., St. Paul